Monday, May 23, 2011

Low sodium in Vegas

Sorry I've been lagging a bit on updates, we've been very busy. A couple weekends ago we were in Vegas for a friend's wedding, and after that I got very sick with my usual Vegas ick. Damn smokers. (OK, it may have been half secondhand cigarette smoke and half my epic cocktail intake, but I'm blaming it on the ciggys.) I thought I'd do a brief write up on how I managed to stay with a reasonably low-ish sodium diet while in Sin City.

Breakfast: I packed a bag of low sodium granola. When I got my morning coffee, I picked up a small glass of milk and used about 1/2 cup with my granola. <100mg. This was my secret... if you start out your day SUPER low, you have a lot more leeway.

Lunch: Every day I had a large vegetable salad with some chicken or salmon. I asked the server to leave off any glazes or sauces, anysalad ingredients that I thought might have come from a food service can (beans, corn, water chestnuts) and all nuts (in case they were salted). Either a very small amount of dressing on the side, or liberal amounts of olive oil & balsalmic vinegar. The sodium level probably varied a lot based on the type of meat and whether it was brined or marinated, but I'm guessing the salads generally clocked in <300mg, or not much more.

Snacks: I packed my own, homemade ZERO sodium trail mix. Beyond that I did not snack at all. While I was drinking, I avoided sugary mixers and super sweet cocktails that would make me more prone to snack on other people's munchies & appetizers. I stuck to rum & diet coke and gin & tonics. Not harmless, but at least reasonably low sodium.

Dinner: Coming into dinner time, I was probably <500mg, counting breakfast, lunch and cocktail mixers. So for dinner, I ate what I wanted, just intentionally avoiding obvious sodium bombs like soy based sauces or items described as "salt crusted". If I even went up to 1000mg for dinner, I still was at a reasonable level overall.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Low sodium product review: Vital Choice canned salmon

I have made no bones about my love for salmon cakes. At this point I've done 4 or 5 variations on that basic recipe, it's a weeknight staple. My husband loves it, my kiddo loves it, and it's made with handy, dandy shelf stable canned salmon. Which makes it a great fallback when I can't get to the grocery store.

But wait... canned salmon? Isn't there a lot of sodium in canned salmon? Yes, yes there is, 306mg of sodium for a 3oz serving. Not good. However, there is an alternative. Vital Choice offers no salt added "traditional pack" canned sockeye salmon, with a mere 64mg of sodium for a 3oz serving. (Their serving size is a bit odd, so I did the math for you. Their standard "traditional pack" salmon is comparable to the nutritiondata numbers.)

But here's the key: how does it taste? It tastes EXACTLY like the full sodium version. Last year, I ordered a box of their standard variety to keep in our pantry, and the Vital Choice was clearly a taste winner over the canned wild salmon at our local grocery store. The no salt added variety shares that same rich, fatty sockeye flavor... which beats the pants off of farmed atlantic salmon (even fresh farmed salmon). And in every other way, it tastes absolutely identical to the full sodium variety.

If you order a 24 can pack you get free shipping, which makes the cost is equal to the price at my local grocery store. Full flavor, low sodium and the same price? No brainer!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Fruity Custard Pops

This post goes out to everyone with a teething toddler. My 3 year old is finally getting his last set of molars (he's been late with all his teeth), and you parents know what teething does to a kid. Their poor mouths hurt a lot, which means they don't want to eat much. The combination of pain, hunger and blood sugar swings makes them into cranky little beasts. Can't say I blame them, I'd be pretty miserable too.

I discovered the original recipe for these custard pops about a year ago and they were a big favorite last summer. I've tweaked the recipe more and more and eventually I just had to write down my variation. They're pretty tasty, teething or not... but they're a godsend when you have a sick or teething toddler who won't eat much proper nourishing food. If you're making them for a child who's not eating much, be sure to make them with full fat milk and yogurt.

Fruity Custard Pops

1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 tablespoon honey, maple syrup or sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 banana (on the brown side)
1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup fruit puree (applesauce, freshly pureed berries or soft stone fruit... strawberries and peaches go well) or 1 jar fruit baby food

Put the milk and eggs in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Whisk regularly as it warms up, once it starts to get slightly steamy add the sweet stuff & the vanilla. After that whisk continuously until it starts to thicken. (Food safety note: I've checked with a candy thermometer, the point where it starts to thicken is around 165 degrees, which is the safe point for cooked eggs.) As soon as it starts to bubble, take it off the heat and pour into your blender. Add the banana, yogurt and other pureed fruit. Blend thoroughly until there are no more banana chunks. If it's very frothy, let it sit for a bit before filling molds. Fill your ice pop molds to about 1/4" below the top of the mold, put the sticks in and pop in the freezer until frozen. Makes 8-12 ice pops.

A few words about ice pop molds: I see these fancy, expensive instant ice pop molds are all the rage. I'm not impressed. To be honest, I'm lazy. I would rather make 8-12 healthy ice pops in one fell swoop and have them sitting in my freezer than mess around with fixing up a fresh pop every time a whining child asks for one.

However, I also don't recommend going with the cheapest ones you can find in the Summer section at your local discount store. When you try to pull the pop out of the mold, you'll often find that the stick pops right out. Cue sobbing toddler. The ones we use most are Tovolo molds, we have the ones that look like ice cream cones and some of the normal ones. They're a little more expensive, but they're sturdy and frustration free. We also sometimes use the Kinderville silicone molds, however those are a little tough for little hands to manage squeezing the pop up without squeezing it out and onto the floor. The Kinderville ones are nearly drip proof though, which is nice.

Tropical Cod with Mango Relish

IMG_7650This recipe kind of came together over a few meals. First I did the relish just scrounging things that were about to go bad in the fridge... it was so tasty, I've made it a few times since over broiled fish. But frankly, the fish was a wee bit bland, so today I got the idea to do a coconut crust... oh man it's tasty! And so easy!

As is it serves 2-3, but obviously if you doubled it to serve 6 you'd use up the whole avocado & mango. It comes to about 100mg sodium per serving.

Tropical Cod with Mango Relish

1/2 of a medium mango
1/2 of an avocado
1/2 tablespoon minced red onion
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice

3/4-1 pound cod or another mild white fish
1 whole egg
1/2 cup shredded dried coconut (unsweetened)
Coconut oil for frying

Cut the mango and avocado into roughly 1/4" chunks. Mix them with the red onion, cilantro and lime juice. Set aside so the flavors can meld.

Heat a small amount of oil to a medium high heat. Divide the cod into a reasonable size pieces. Whip up the egg with a fork and spread the shredded coconut on a small plate. Dip the cod first into the egg and then coat on both sides with the coconut. Fry the fish on both sides until lightly browned and the fish flakes in the middle. Serve with the mango relish over the top.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Low sodium bento

Bento 5/2/11
Originally uploaded by thatgirljj

I've been doing lunch bento boxes for maybe 6-8 months now. Not all the time, and they're not always photo-worthy. But this week's quasi-Italian bento turned out fairly well.

Red pepper & smoked zucchini salad: 10-20mg sodium
Low sodium meatballs: 100mg
Fresh mozzarella (2oz): 90mg
Low sodium pasta sauce: 15mg

No recipes yet, the meatballs are going to need quite a bit of tweaking before I'm satisfied with them. I used to use the South Beach greek meatballs recipe (as illustrated by Kalyn's Kitchen), but of course, that quantity of feta is out of the question these days.