January 27, 2012

Lo-So January Week 4: Chelsea Salt-Free’s Her Very Own Recipe

The girl doesn’t need any introduction. So let’s just get to straight to words from Chelsea and week four of her heroic journey through the low-sodium world…

Week Four has been marked by two milestones: entertaining Low-So style and branching out beyond Sodium Girl’s ravishing recipes to create my very own.

Last weekend, I hosted a little fête for a friend’s birthday and really wanted to showcase some tasty low-so treats. Remember: I live below the Mason-Dixon Line. Three amigas of mine host an annual Bacon-Off (and, it’s incredible/one of my favorite days of the year). Sodium is alive, well, and extremely welcome here. The thought of creating finger foods for those who aren’t exactly on board with chicken sausage (let’s just not talk about tofu) was a tad daunting. And yet, as always, Sodium Girl had scrumptious solutions.

Her strawberry balsamic bruschetta and sausage pepper poppers were a homerun with the homeboys and girls. And Mrs. A (a friend who has gone Low-So all month with me) brought the heat with her very own, irresistible Low-So Chicken Wings.

Hosts with the most, take note: serving crowd-pleasing Low-Sors d’oeuvres is a breeze.

As promised last week, I spent Wednesday night attempting to recreate the best Low-So meal I’ve had all month: a dish created on the fly by a courageous citizen chef. And since, thirty-six hours later, no one is suffering from salmonella, so I suppose it is worth sharing the recipe on the Interwebs (see below).

In all, Low-So January has been easier, more interesting, fun, and flavorful than I ever could have expected.

The past 26 days have also transformed the way I see and think about food. These changes have already permeated my daily routine. When hit with a craving, I find myself actually pausing to think about what taste I’m dreaming of rather than bum-rushing co-workers en route to the vending machine.

Twizzlers, I don’t know how to say this, but I barely miss you anymore.

I use spices from the pantry that had nearly atrophied from inattention. And everywhere I go, people want to know more about Low-So living and in many cases, try it out for themselves.

In short, I think Low-So could be more than an up-and-coming trend or the hottest new fad. It may just be the culinary equivalent of the little black dress: absolutely timeless.

p.s. For all the canine-loving Sodium Girl readers out there, thank you for the puppy love. I’m sorry for keeping him from you for so long–please find a visual below.

What’s his name? Here’s a hint: the favorite Low-So dish I had all month is named after him.


adapted from Taste Food’s Red Hot and Low-Sodium Chicken Wings

Serves a medium sized gathering


For the marinade, pour olive oil into a shallow dish. Add the 33rd and Galena spice mix until the marinade turns a dark red color–this blend consists of Tellicherry black pepper, paprika, nutmeg, sage, cayenne, crushed red pepper, and oleoresin of basil. And for a little more heat, add some chili powder or red pepper flakes.Coat both sides of the wings in the oil and spice mixture and refrigerate to marinate at least 4 hours. Your prep work is officially finished. High five.

When it’s time to get cooking, preheat oven to 425 dgF.

Prepare the the BBQ sauce by mixing the ketchup, honey, vinegar, and lemon juice until well combined and set aside.

Place the wings on an ungreased baking sheet and bake them in the oven for 20 minutes. Flip all the wings and baste the top of the wings with the BBQ sauce. (As an added step, you can transfer the wings to a fresh baking sheet before slipping on the BBQ sauce–this will allow the skin to get crispier, as long as you don’t mind dirtying up two baking sheets).Cook the wings for 10 minutes and then flip the wings again. Baste with more BBQ sauce and throw them in the oven for a final 10 to 15 minutes.

Take those juicy suckers from the oven and arrange on a plate for some finger licking goodness. Serve with cool, low-sodium Greek yogurt and some fennel or celery stalks.


Serves two


  • 1 small butternut squash, about 1 lb
  • 1/4 lb  chicken breasts
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • ground ginger
  • salt-free five spice powder
  • cinnamon
  • wild rice, quinoa, any combination of your favorite grains- 1.5 cups
  • dried cranberries- ½ a cup
  • 1 orange

Preheat oven to 400d dgF. Halve the squash lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out and discard seeds. Peel squash or cut into larger chunks and keep steady on the cutting board while cutting off the peel with a knife. Cut into 1-inch cubes. Toss with ½ a cup of olive oil, 1 1/2 tbsp ground ginger, 1 tbsp five-spice, and 1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon.

Transfer to a large baking sheet and spread in a single layer. Roast, tossing occasionally, until just tender and golden brown, about 35 minutes.

Note: I like my squash super roasted and left them in the oven for 45 minutes. But feel free to adjust according to taste.

Prepare wild rice, quinoa and/or any combination of grains you want as your base in a lowso way (i.e. no salt when you boil them).

Note: An easy shortcut here is to use a quick/steamable bag of rice, which are sold at Whole Foods (two brands to search for: Annie Chung and Seeds of Change–the latter tends to have higher sodium content, so check nutritional facts before you buy). 

Grate one side of the orange for zest and add to grains. Then cut in half and squeeze over the grains (should yield about 1/3 cup of juice). Add roasted butternut squash, dried cranberries, and 1 tbsp cinnamon and 1 tbsp ground ginger to the grains. Mix and let the mixture sit at room temperature.

Rinse chicken breasts and slice into stir-fry sized pieces. Coat hot skillet with ¼ cup of olive oil, saving the remaining ¼ cup to add as it dries. Reduce stove to medium heat and rub chicken with a mixture of ¾ tbsp cinnamon and ¾ tbsp ginger.

Cook chicken over heat while constantly stirring for about ten minutes.

Add grains to hot skillet and mix with chicken on low heat for 5 minutes. Add cinnamon and ginger to taste and serve. Enjoy.


waiwa January 27, 2012 at 11:41 am

how can i get an invite to this bacon-off??!?!

Gabrielle January 27, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Thank you thank you thank you for the hot wings recipe!! I absolutely love hot wings and have missed them since my lupus diagnosis and I was thinking about ways I could make my own low-sodium wings/strips for a Super Bowl party I’m having with my friends next week. Once again, thank you thank you thank you!!!!!!! :):)

Sharon, San Francisco, CA February 5, 2012 at 11:17 am

Thank you! I’m loving seeing someone take this on who doesn’t have the specific need to! I, on the other hand, have all the maladies of mid-life that make going lo-so a goog thing to undertake!

and THANK YOU for some recipes that serve two! I only cook for myself and there is a dearth of recipes out there that make for small quantities!


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