Did you know that baking soda is loaded with sodium? Just one teaspoon contains over half of the maximum recommended adult daily intake (1,258 mg compared to 2,300 mg). And, depending on the brand, baking powder can also deliver a significant amount of sodium to our homemade muffins and quick breads.
One of the nutrients that we consume in excess of healthy limits is sodium. It is ubiquitous in the food supply, over 70% coming from processed foods with the number one source for Canadians being bread and baked goods. Sodium is added to food as salt (sodium chloride) or in leavening agents, baking powder and baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). It is also added as sodium phosphates to a variety of food products.
Cooking from scratch and knowing a few simple tricks can help you bring down the amount of sodium you consume:
- Make your own stock or purchase pre-made stock with no added sodium
- Buy canned tomatoes and pulses (peas, beans and lentils) with no added sodium
- Learn to use citrus juices and vinegars to brighten the flavour of dishes and reduce the need for salt
- Look for lower sodium versions of high sodium food products such as soy sauce
- Instead of adding salt, consider using high sodium food ingredients in small quantities to add other dimensions of flavour, such as cheese, capers and prepared mustard
- Read labels and choose breads with lower sodium levels – some pita and multigrain breads contain less than 100 mg per serving while other breads, such as naan for example, can be over 400 mg per serving
- Sprinkle large flake salt as a finishing touch to certain dishes – the large flakes dissolve more easily and with their large surface area increase the perception of saltiness. As a result, often far less is needed to achieve the desired taste
Health experts recommend adults consume no more than 2300mg of sodium per day and ideally limit intake to 1500mg per day (¾ teaspoon as salt).
Try this low sodium soup recipe with du Puy lentils, a favourite at Upbeet for their slightly nutty flavour and ability to hold their shape when cooked. Taste before you add the wine vinegar and the sherry and then again afterwards. You will be amazed at the flavour change and you won’t need to add more salt!
- 1 thin strip double-smoked bacon or tempeh bacon (30 g)
- 1 small onion, diced (85 g)
- 1 large clove minced garlic
- 1 small leek, diced (70 g)
- 1 small carrot, sliced (60 g)
- 1 stalk celery, sliced (50 g)
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste, no sodium added (30 g)
- 8 cups chicken or vegetable stock, no sodium added (2L)
- 1½ cups French lentils, sorted and rinsed (280 g)
- 1 Sachet d'Epices (bundle of 3-4 parsley stems, sprig of thyme, bay leaf and teaspoon cracked black peppercorns, garlic clove)
- 3 strips lemon peel
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 Tablespoon dry sherry
- 1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
- Render the bacon in a large sauté pan to release the fat. If using tempeh bacon, you will need 1-2 teaspoons vegetable oil to extract the smoky flavour. Remove and discard the bacon or tempeh.
- Add the onion and garlic and sweat until translucent.
- Add the leek, carrot and celery to the pan. Cover and sweat until the vegetables are tender.
- Add the tomato paste and sauté until brown. Add the stock, lentils, sachet, and lemon peel.
- Simmer until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes.
- Remove and discard the sachet and lemon peel strips. Add salt, pepper, sherry and wine vinegar.
- Garnish with fresh parsley and chives.
- Depending on stock and bacon/tempeh used, the finished soup will have approximately 200 mg of sodium per 180 mL serving. If you use any stock or tomato paste with added salt, eliminate the salt at the final step.