If you’ve wondered where I’ve been since December, I’ve been deep in thought (and under a pile of kleenex, colds, and chicken rice porridge). But mostly in thought, reflecting on this little space of Internet where I like to talk about food and the many low-sodium tricks that keep said food bright, bold, and beautiful.
Oh, side note, I was also in New York taping a little segment on the DR. OZ SHOW and making Low-Sodium Bloody Marys Dr. Oz himself. So that happened too, and it’s airing this upcoming Monday, so set your DVR or you know stay in bed all day and watch it.
But back to the blog, over the past four years, we’ve conquered some of the most difficult low-sodium challenges. We’ve managed to create low-sodium dumplings, smoked fish, and yes, even salt-free bacon. We’ve overcome the sodium traps when eating out, eating abroad, and eating during the holidays. Oh, and eating on dates. And I’m pretty sure we’ve proven — with every bite — that low-sodium diets can be limitless, with the right ingredients and the right attitude.
So that was memory lane. Now where do we go next? Is there anything left after making salt-free bacon? Or making salt-free Bloodies with Dr. Oz? Well, the answer is yes and I’ve decided to go back to the beginning.
This year, I want to rewind a bit. I want to start, well, at the start and tackle some of the biggest challenges of a low-sodium diet — mainly the high-sodium foods and products you love and crave — and give you all the tools you need to live and eat without them. And still be satisfied. It’s about learning, creating, and getting confident in your know-how (both in the grocery store, out at a restaurant, and back in the kitchen).
Every month we’ll cover one food topic together, whether it is that salty canned soup or an order of crispy bacon. I’ll tell you some of my favorite replacements on the market shelves as well as the fresh ingredients I use in the kitchen. We’ll makeover recipes with creative substitutes. And I’ll load you up with product recommendations. Probably some fun cooking techniques and lifestyle tricks, too. And by the time we are ringing in 2016, no sneaky sodium culprit will come in between you and a good meal. Or a good life. Not even a bagel with cream cheese and lox.
Great. So this month, let’s chat about bread. The thing you like to dip into soup or sandwich around deli meat. Or cover in avocado spread. Or toast in small squares to then toss with a salad. Bread is good. Bread can also add up to a lot of sodium – often over 200mg of sodium sodium per slice, depending on the product; sometimes over 600mg of sodium per bagel (two halves, depending on brand); and often over 400mg sodium per cup of seasoned croutons. But don’t give up on bread altogether, because there are some easy, low-so alternatives that will make your lunches, soups, and Caesars shine.
Today, let’s start with croutons.
You can of course always make them by buying low-sodium bread — my favorite brand is Alvarado No-Salt-Added Bread — cutting the bread into cubes, spraying it with oil and salt-free spices, and then toasting the bread at 400dg F until golden and crispy, about 5 to 8 minutes (watch it closely so it doesn’t burn).
But for those days when low-sodium bread is difficult to find or time is limited, here is another awesome swap: pasta. Yes, pasta. Mainly, bow tie pasta, for both casual and formal crouton occasions. With the help of cooked pasta, an oven, and some spices, you can transform these noodles into a crunchy topping worthy of a salad or a casserole or a bowl of soup.
BAKED BOWTIE PASTA CROUTONS
- 1/2 teaspoon salt-free garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt-free dill weed
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups cooked and drained bowtie pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat oven to 400dg F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, mix the spices together until well combined. Add in the pasta and the oil. Mix again until everything is evenly coated. Then place the spiced pasta on the baking sheet in a single layer and bake until golden and crispy, about 5 to 8 minutes.
Use the croutons immediately or keep them in an air-tight container on the counter for up to a week.