A friend told me the other day about a discussion she had had with her boyfriend about salt. Specifically, they were disagreeing about the addition of salt to mashed potatoes. She claimed that she was brought up to eat mashed potatoes without any salt added at all, and found that her boyfriend’s cooking contained far too much salt. When she told me this, I’m afraid my sympathies laid with the boyfriend. Mashed potatoes without salt is like a pina colada without pineapple, or a screwdriver without orange juice – it’s just not conceivable! And what about fries without salt? Disgusting! I admitted to my friend that I too was a big fan of salt, and consider it to be one of the most important aspects of correctly seasoning a dish.
I didn’t think anything more about the topic until I discovered that I would be choosing a recipe from Aranka’s low-salt food blog for this month’s foodblog swap. Although I admit to panicking slightly about the thought of having to cook something that contained little or no salt, my interest was also piqued. Why would anyone want to eliminate salt from their cooking?
After a little research on the internet, it soon became clear to me that most of us eat far too much salt in our everyday diets. The biggest problems associated with a high-salt diet is high blood pressure and heart disease. And the biggest sources of high-salt foods come from pre-packaged meals like those bought at takeaway joints or in the supermarket, as well as tinned or preserved foods. But for those of us who tend to always cook from scratch using only fresh ingredients, unfortunately we are also to blame for adding too much salt to our foods.
There are some options for ensuring your food remains tasty without adding salt. Using herbs and spices for instance is a great way of giving flavour to food and allows you to add less salt than you otherwise would. And if you are using salt, then use course salt rather than regular table salt, as it contains less sodium.
So am I going to stop using salt? No. Salt is such an important aspect of my cooking that I simply can’t part with it. But I have learned my lesson, and going forward I’m going to ensure that I monitor my salt use, adding only when necessary and as little as possible while still ensuring that my food is well seasoned and flavourful. And I also intend to re-assess my usage of preserved or tinned foods and try to always opt for cooking with foods in their most natural states.
For my Dutch readers, check out Aranka’s low-sodium foodblog called “Aranka’s Foodblog – Ongezouten“. I chose to cook Aranka’s Beetroot and Thyme soup as I’ve been experimenting a lot lately with beetroots. And I have to say that I am now in love with beetroot soup! I slightly simplified Aranka’s cooking method in order to make the recipe fit into the “busy work night meal solutions” category. It would also be perfect for Sunday lunch, especially as the weather starts to cool back home in New Zealand.