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Low-sodium for your health

A reader has asked me to spend some time with low sodium cooking. There are a variety of reasons people need restrictions in their diets, low sodium is only one. The most common restrictions will come from food sensitivities and/or allergies. Sodium restrictions generally come from hypertension or a few other physically related causes.

While the human body must have some salt in the diet, we, here in America, tend to consume more sodium than is minimally necessary. Much of this has to do with the convenience foods that dominate our culinary landscape. Most of these foods are just loaded with sodium, this is in part as a natural preservative, but even more so to boost the flavors that convenience foods generally lack.

So, that's what salt is really for in our cooking. To enhance flavors, highlight flavors, and generally make our finished dish delicious. A famous chef once said,” We use salt in our cooking not so that we can taste salt, but so that we can taste everything else."

When considering lowering the amount of sodium in your cooking, bear in mind that this takes some getting used to. Once you have gotten through an initial period of flavor adjustment all the foods you prepare will taste just wonderful. Cooking fresh foods is always a very rewarding experience, and most foods have a certain amount of natural sodium.

When moving towards a lower sodium diet you must almost completely eliminate canned and convenience foods. Some of them claim to be lower sodium, but you will have to examine the nutritional labels closely to see if it matches your dietary needs.

Sesame Shrimp (low/no-sodium)

4 servings

8 ounces Rice pasta

1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced

1 1/2 cups frozen peas

2 tsp Sesame oil

2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed

Rice pasta sauce 

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1 tsp dried parsley

1/4 cup Rice vinegar

1 tsp Sesame oil

1 tsp fresh ginger, grated

2 tsp honey

2 tsp corn starch

1 tsp Sesame seeds, to sprinkle at finish

In small bowl whisk together all ingredients for sauce and set aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, lightly oil a small skillet. Over medium heat sauté 2 teaspoons of sesame oil, add shrimp and sauté until they are pink, stirring occasionally, about 4 to 6 minutes, after about 2 minutes add the garlic. Be careful not to have the heat so high as to brown the garlic.

When pasta is three minutes from being finished, add mushrooms and peas to the pasta pot. Bring water back to a second boil and finish cooking the pasta.

When shrimp is two minutes from being finished add sauce and bring to a simmer for those last two minutes.

Drain the pasta, mushrooms and peas. Place on your serving platter and top with the shrimp and the sauce. Garnish with a sprinkle of sesame seeds over the top just before serving.

As you can see from the recipe above the only sodium is what naturally occurs in the foods listed. Also, we used rice pasta making the recipe wheat free/gluten free .

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