Monday, July 1, 2013

July 4 and Sodium-- Danny's Top Five

My sister Danyelle is here, with another top five! We've collaborated on some of the best ways to enjoy the upcoming holiday (you didn't forget did you?!) without going overboard on the salt and processed foods.  Here's to enjoying Independence Day, without the high blood pressure!

One of my favorite things to eat on the 4th of July is ribs. To me, these are a must have. We all know the fall-off-the-bone quality that we long for once summer barbecues roll around.  But what about flavor?  That’s just as important.  Most ribs are brined, rubbed, or marinated before being put to the fire.  Then they’re covered in one of the many varieties of delicious barbecue sauce.  For those of us following low-sodium diets, eating or cooking ribs can be a challenge!  If you’re cooking ribs this holiday, an easy way to cut out a bunch of sodium is to stay away from bottled or packaged marinades and rubs.  These types of condiments can be added to Jewel’s list of “processed foods.”  Sure they make infusing flavor into your food simpler, because all the mixing work is done for you.  But most of these premixed seasonings are LOADED with salt. 

Tip 1:  Make your own rub or marinade.  By doing this, you can control how much salt is in the seasoning.  You can even follow a recipe online for ribs, and if a recipe calls for a tablespoon of salt, try using just half a tablespoon.  It’s as easy as that! 

Tip 2:  Leave the barbecue sauce on the side. If you want to be friendly to your low-sodium friends, don’t slather barbecue sauce on the ribs when they come off the grill or out of the oven.  Mix up some sauce in a bowl and let people apply it for themselves.

No July 4th celebration is complete without side dishes.  And my family is big on the sides.  You’ve got so many to choose from:  potato salad, macaroni and cheese, pasta salad, coleslaw.  But watch out for hidden sodium content in these dishes that usually have a ton of ingredients. 

Tip 3:  Serve more simple vegetables. Sides like potato salads usually have a ton of mayo or mustard or dressing stirred into them.  Try incorporating more sides that have vegetables and simple seasonings.  Like one of my favorite things to eat:  Corn on the Cob.  No salt needed there!  It's natural sweet taste is just enough.  Mix chilli powder and lime juice and zest into some unsalted butter for a great low-sodium and flavorful spread for the corn.  Or try grilling a few vegetables, flavoring with some balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  Speaking of vinegar….

Tip 4: Set aside the bottled dressings.  The best pasta salads usually have a thick coating of Italian dressing.  But you can make your own vinaigrettes and dressings to go over pastas and vegetables with just a few simple ingredients.  Most start with an acid (balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, or even lemon juice) and some olive oil.  Add in some garlic, herbs, and however much salt you like.  It tastes fresh with, of course, half the sodium!

Lastly, dessert! There are so many things to choose to go along with your 4th of July dinner, but there's nothing better than slicing some watermelon and lighting some fireworks. 

Tip 5:  Incorporate the red, the white, and the berries!  The best thing about the summer is the abundance of fresh fruit and berries.  For a low-sodium sweet trying making a dessert that includes some of the best summer fruits.  Or just eat the fruit by itself with some homemade whipped cream! You can’t go wrong with either option.

I hope these recipes help give you some ideas of what to cook.  Good luck and have a great 4th of July!!!!!