Think cooking with less salt has to be bland? Think again! Yesterday we took a peek at Jessica Goldman Foung's new cookbook, Sodium Girl's Limitless Low-Sodium Cookbook, and today we are sharing her most tried-and-true tips for taking low-sodium meals to the next level. Even Bloody Marys, those notorious salt bombs, can be both low-sodium and delicious — and Jessica shares a recipe to prove it.
4 Tips for Better Low-Sodium Cooking
1. Go on an adventure with your spices. Instead of seeing a low-sodium diet as a restriction, think about it as permission to explore all the spices you've been wondering about, but have perhaps been hesitant to try. "Think of it as an opportunity to metaphorically travel all over the world," says Jessica. "Remember: the more adventurous you are with your flavors, the more surprised and satisfied your palate (and your dinner guests) will be. Meaning, you won't even notice the lack of salt."
2. Play around with vinegars, oils, molasses and marmalades. Prepared condiments often have a shocking amount of salt. "But just a splash of flavored vinegar or oil, molasses, and even fruity jams and marmalades will keep things juicy without all the extra salt," Jessica advises. Try them in sauces, marinades, dips — anywhere you need a little extra flavor.
3. Citrus, citrus, citrus. Use fresh lemon or lime juice to brighten up anything from steamed vegetables to rich pastas.
4. Make it look good. We eat with our eyes as well as our mouths, so make your low-sodium meal look its best by using pretty plates, glassware and garnishes. "Just like when you dressed up for prom, a little extra oomph can make you and your food feel special," says Jessica. "So splurge on the linens and the ceramics, and make your meal look like a million bucks."
Low-Sodium Bloody Marys
Makes 10 cups
large celery stalks, with extra stems for garnish
small red beets, trimmed and peeled
red bell peppers, stemmed and seeded
no-salt-added tomato puree (see Note)
1 to 2 teaspoons
prepared low-sodium horseradish
1 to 2 teaspoons
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 to 1 teaspoon
white wine vinegar
Ice, for garnish
If you are using a juicer, juice the celery, beets, and bell pepper. Place the liquid into a pitcher or large mixing bowl and add the tomato puree.
If you are using a blender, put the celery, beets, bell pepper, and tomato puree into a blender. Pulse until you have a vegetable smoothie. Then make a sturdy pouch out of some folded cheesecloth and, over a pitcher or a large bowl, carefully pour the blended veggies into it. Gather the cheesecloth at the top to close and then squeeze. Really squeeze, many times, until all the juice runs out of the cheesecloth and all you have left inside is dry veggie pulp. If you don’t have cheesecloth, you can also pour the veggie smoothie into a fine-mesh sieve and use a wooden spoon or the bottom of a ladle to press down on the puree, squeezing the juice through until you have strained every bit into the pitcher or bowl. Set all your vegetable scraps aside.
Now that you have your vegetable juice, add 1 teaspoon of the horseradish, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, the smoked paprika, cayenne, juice of 1 lemon, and vinegar to the pitcher or bowl. Whisk together and taste, adjusting the spices (oh hello, horseradish and pepper) according to your cocktail preferences. I like mine spicy!
Place the Bloody Mary mixture in the refrigerator to chill, 15 minutes minimum or 2 hours maximum. When you’re ready to serve, fill glasses with ice. Pour in Bloody Mary mixture and add a celery stalk for garnish. Cut the remaining lemon into wedges and offer them to guests as well for extra citrus punch. Finally, stir, sip, and savor.
A 24-ounce jar of tomato puree has a little more than 3 cups, so you can always fill the jar with 1 cup water and shake to loosen the leftover tomato puree to make 4 cups.
Don’t be afraid to be creative with your presentation. The preparation above is classic. But if you have salt-free pickled grapes, cherry tomatoes, or green beans lying around, throw them in, for heaven’s sake. And instead of rimming the glasses with salt, spackle the tops with a blend of freshly ground black pepper, paprika, and lemon zest for color and extra spice.
• Check out Jessica's blog: Sodium Girl
• Find her book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: Sodium Girl's Limitless Low-Sodium Cookbook by Jessica Goldman Foung
Do you have any tips for better low-sodium cooking?
(Image: Matt Armendariz)