Sodium-Saving Tips

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Hungry Girl,

I've noticed your recipes are generally lower in sodium than they used to be -- something I really appreciate! How can I lower the salt content in some of your older recipes without sacrificing flavor?

Sodium Counting in Cali

Hi SC in C,

Hungry Girl's Sodium-Saving Tips

Yup, Hungry Girl has gotten more sodium conscious since I started it back in 2004. And since we're ALL about flavor here at HG (if it doesn't taste good, why bother?), we've developed ways to reduce the salt content in dishes without making them any less delicious. Here are some sodium-slashing tips 'n tricks you can apply to any recipe...

Salt-free seasoning. Omitting the occasional dash of salt may seem obvious, but that could leave your food tasting boring and bland. Instead, swap it out for a salt-free seasoning blend, like Mrs. Dash Original. I used to be skeptical of the taste of these mixes, but when working on the HG diet book, I discovered they're fantastic! You may want to omit other seasonings called for in the recipe, to balance out the additional seasonings in the no-salt blend.

Lower-sodium staples. Now more than ever, there are many sodium-free, low-sodium, and reduced-sodium products on shelves. Choose these when a recipe calls for broth, ketchup (check out Heinz No Salt), seasoning packets (Mrs. Dash has a whole lineup that's salt-free), tuna (StarKist makes low-sodium tuna pouches, which I love), etc. Saving a little sodium wherever you can will really make a difference. P.S. Products with lower sodium counts aren't always labeled "reduced sodium." Spend some time at the supermarket, flipping over packages and finding your best bets.

No-salt-added deli meats. For recipes that call for deli meat (like turkey) or precooked meat (like chicken), keep an eye out for no-salt-added options. If you don't see these pre-packaged, check the deli counter. (Boar's Head has great no-salt-added turkey.) Or just go with the lowest-sodium variety you see. Another option is to cook and slice it up yourself... Use one of those salt-free seasonings I mentioned earlier. This is especially great for recipes that call for precooked chicken. Cook up a bunch at once to use throughout the week!

Rinse canned items. If a recipe calls for canned beans or veggies, make sure you rinse them really well. Rinsing eliminates about 35 percent of the sodium amount listed on the can. (Pretty much all HG recipes with canned beans call for them rinsed, so those sodium savings are factored into the stats.) Starting with no-salt-added canned goods can save you even more sodium. You can also substitute frozen or fresh veggies in a recipe; just adjust the cook time as necessary, and check to be sure the frozen veggies are salt-free.

Reduce or omit condiments. Mustard, hot sauce, salad dressing, etc., tend to be high-ish in salt. If you can't find reduced-sodium options, just use less or skip 'em altogether. (FYI: A little cayenne pepper can replace the heat of hot sauce, and vinegar and lemon juice are both sodium-free and make good dressing swaps.) This also goes for pickles and jarred jalapeños, which tend to be on the high end when it comes to sodium.

Swap in meat for soy crumbles. Soy crumbles are great at lowering calorie and fat counts, but they have a bit more sodium than meat. If you're watching your sodium intake, check out this email on how to sub in ground beef or turkey for those meatless crumbles.

Cheese finds. Sargento makes some of the tastiest reduced-fat cheese slices in the business, and those slices also happen to be significantly lower in salt than a lot of the competition. And skinny slices like Sargento Ultra Thin and Kraft Natural Slim Cut will save you sodium, fat, and calories!

Bonus sodium-savers! For any recipe that calls for jarred salsa, use chopped fresh tomatoes and onions instead. If you don't want to do a lot of chopping, pick up no-salt-added canned diced tomatoes and just add some chopped onion. You can also use canned crushed tomatoes in place of pizza sauce or pasta sauce. Just season it up, and you're good to go.

P.S. Check out this massive roundup of salt-slashed supermarket finds!

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Today, April 16th, is National Eggs Benedict Day. Whip up our Eggs Bene-chick Mug, but use reduced-sodium ham to slash some salt...

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