Need no salt info

tami_ohioAugust 17, 2012

Dad is diabetic and has congestive heart failure. They have put him on a no salt diet. He also needs things besides fruit/juice to bring his sugar up FAST when it drops, because when it drops, it drops YESTERDAY fast. He used to eat a couple of the mini milky way bars to catch it, then something to stablize it. Might not have been the best choice, but it's what worked for him. Not all text book methods work for him.

So, I need bread recipes, desert recipes, and meal recipes with no salt. Ideas. Us kids are doing the cooking. That means transport, too, at the moment, as he can't drive far, and then gets tired, and unsure of getting back in the house. He has about 15% use of his heart. Exercize is not an option. He does his limit now. Dr. says don't push. Said that in 2001. They ate out because he can't cook and clean up after, and mom can't cook any more. Meals on wheels isn't an option yet.

Any suggestions? Tomorrow I will spend time on the heart assoc web site.

We can't cook from scratch completely. And the selection of no salt or no salt added in the grocery store? Hah! Not much.



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OK, you'll probably read it on the Heart Assn website, but understand the difference between salt and sodium. Yes, salt is part sodium, but there are salt substitutes available. But sodium? that's in a whole bunch of OTHER ingredients besides salt. You'll see when you start reading labels.

But cooking from scratch might just mean fresh meats, chicken or fish and fresh veggies and salads and fruit, homemade dressings for the salads. Bread is a tough one, because it has large amounts of sodium. I recommend just learning to eat a lot less bread.

Good luck. Your Dad is lucky to have you!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 8:49PM
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Also, "low fat" often means more sodium. Sue has a fabulous blog that should be of help to you.

Here is a link that might be useful: Please, DON'T Pass the Salt

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 9:00PM
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Tami, my best advice is all from canned veggies nor store breads nor cookies nor cakes. All salad s from scratch...
Forget any idea of a salt substitute....just use lemon juice and herbs....lots of parsley.
And be very careful of bottled sauces and dressings...I would skip entirely!
Low sodium isn't really hard....just cook from scratch and don't add salt.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 10:20PM
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Tami, you can find a lot of information about low sodium cooking, low sodium products, and low sodium recipes from the links found on my blog that ynnej mentioned above.

Check on the right hand side under "Low Sodium Information." Dick Logue runs the Low Sodium Cooking site. He's got information, recipes, and even a free online newsletter. Plus he's published several great low sodium cookbooks. Don Gazzaniga runs MegaHeart, and his site also has information, recipes, a monthly online newsletter, and he's published several low sodium cookbooks. Those two sites alone will give you a wealth of information and guidance.

For low sodium products, check out the links under the heading "Low Sodium Products." Healthy Heart Market and Heart Wise Food have a plethora of low sodium products. I order from both frequently: Things like salt-free pickles, truly low sodium soy sauce (much lower than grocery store offerings), salt-free mustard, etc.

Finally, check out the low sodium blogs I link to: Low Sodium Blog, Sodium Girl, and The Daily Dish. These three women have great blogs filled with interesting recipes and product reviews. They are so upbeat that you can't help but feel encouraged after reading one of their posts.

My husband is another member of the 15% heart club, suffering from congestive heart failure. I do a lot of from-scratch cooking, but sometimes I need a break. That's where the online stores come in handy. I realize I'm fortunate to live in an area where there's a Trader Joe's and Whole Foods not too far away. Both have decent selections of low sodium products available, especially TJ. Also, my local grocery stores carry several low sodium items. And more new products are becoming available. Just last week I discovered that Oroweat bread is now selling a low sodium whole wheat bread. It's got 100 mg sodium per a large 1-1/3 oz slice. Not no-sodium but an improvement.

Speaking of bread, Safeway sells a really low sodium whole grain bread that only has 5 mg sodium for two small slices. Trader Joe's sells two varieties of no-salt whole grain bread. Most grocery stores sell either the Alvarado St. no-salt sprouted multi-wheat bread or Ezekiel 4:9 low sodium bread. Depending on the store, you might find the breads in the freezer section.

Please check out the links on my blog. I think they will be encouraging to you.

Here is a link that might be useful: Please DON'T Pass the Salt!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 11:22PM
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Oh dear, Tami, I'm sorry to hear that your Dad's health is poor, I hope he's stronger quickly.

As has been mentioned, the best way to control what's in your food is to make it yourself. I know that's not always possible, but hopefully it is some of the time.

Sue's blog is very educational and helpful and I know you'll find lots of information there and on the sites she's provided.

Of course, you already know about diabetes. It's scary, but when Dad's blood sugar dropped, he kept a can of Mountain Dew in the fridge. That stuff is all sugar. His favorite, though, was a spoon full of my homemade jam, nearly any flavor, followed by protein like cheese or hard boiled egg.


    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 11:44PM
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You may be surprised where you will find hidden sodium/salt. Check out the foods at the Healthy Heart Market link below for lots of options.

If you are going to do baking for them you will want to switch to sodium-free baking powder and baking soda. Hain Featherweight Baking Powder is sodium free while Clabber Girl has 60 mg per 1/8 teaspoon. Baking soda - 150 mg per 1/8 teaspoon, while Ener-G brand has none.

There are some sodium-free breads available, but not all of them are also low-carb and high fiber. I have a friend with similar health conditions who uses Food for Life Ezekiel 4:9 Low Sodium Sprouted Bread ( When I looked on-line the Low Sodium version has zero sodium and 15 g. of carbs., but the high-fiber helps off-set the carbs. It's found in the freezer case (it's in the health food section at our local stores). She stores it in the freezer and snaps off a slice or two as needed.


Here is a link that might be useful: Healthy Heart Market

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 7:41AM
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Forgot to add....

I wonder if Nutrisystem would be an option? I know they have diabetic as well as some low-sodium choices. Another friend used them for her elderly diabetic mother.


    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 7:51AM
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Oh, and watch the cottage cheese, that stuff has a surprising amount of sodium in it, I was absolutely flabbergasted.


    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 10:37AM
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Well, I'll try this one more time. Got it all typed, hit preview, and it's gone!

Thanks everyone. I'll be checking out the blogs for sure. And look into getting the low/no sodium baking powder & soda.

I can bake for them. The cooking is being done by us kids. Dad just can't do much now. He's doing good to do a little driving to get to our houses for dinner. The boys are only 3 miles away, I'm about 12. Still not bad. Problem with cooking from scratch is time. Guess we will find it. Dad doesn't know from one minute to the next what he wants or can eat. Ever since his heart attacks in 2001 there are things he just can't put in his mouth that he used to love, including leftovers. Sometimes he can't even look at it. And it changes from one minute to the next.

Annie, I don't have to worry about cottage cheese. He hates it! Guess I should come spend a week with you and learn to can. Problem is, we would spend more time talking and eating than we would learning to can! The last time I canned anything was years ago, and I have about a dozen qts of spaghetti sauce that needs dumped down the drain, it's that bad!

Thanks for all the help. I knew exactly where to go for help!


    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 12:46PM
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My ex is in the same situation - diabetes and congestive heart failure. He is also unable to exercise or even sit up for long. He deals with his blood sugar dips with cookies like ginger snaps or graham crackers. For a while I cooked for him and then I shopped for him or the kids did. We were all good label readers. I introduced him to online grocery shopping (Safeway delivers) when I was working far away. It works for him because he can read all the nutritional statements easily.

He tried for years to get by on prepared foods and not ever actually cook except to unwrap something and stick in the microwave. He managed to stay out of the the emergency room for a while but it eventually caught up with him about two years ago. He realized he had to cook for himself. I helped him with basic methods and a selection of labeled spices and herbs. I put big notes on each bottle for him. He says he feels better, eats better, and spends less money. What a surprise. ;) He will never be a foodie but he is managing to feed himself.

Lemon or lime juice, dry wine, balsamic vinegar, mustard, spices, herbs, garlic, onions, pepper - add the brightness that is lacking when you leave out the salt. Make your own chicken broth for best flavor. You can buy salt free chicken stock but it's pretty anemic stuff. That adds a lot of flavor to cooked rice, etc. Capers have a lot of flavor. There is sodium, too, but you don't need many capers. Chicken piccata is very tasty sans salt.

I hope your dad decides to try a bit of cooking. Ex was a lifelong non-cook. Now he brags about his own cooking to me.


    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 1:25PM
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Tami, be sure to check out your local natural foods stores or the health food sections of your grocery stores. That's where you'll likely find the Ezekiel 4:9 low sodium bread and other products. If you can get to a Trader Joe's, they've got a pretty good selection of low sodium products that might make things easier for your family: whole grain breads, wraps, salsa, soups, broths, sliced swiss cheese, deli turkey, salami, etc. They even have a printable list of their low sodium products. I live about 35 minutes away from the closest one, so I don't get there very often. When I do, I stock up and store items like the lavash wraps and breads in my freezer.

Health food stores usually have a good selection of Amy's products. They've got some great read-to-eat soups and even frozen meals that are low sodium Check out the link below for more information. I keep cans of the Light in Sodium re-fried black or pinto beans in my pantry along with a couple of cans of the Light in Sodium tomato bisque. I also keep a couple packages each of the frozen macaroni & cheese, vegetable lasagna, and Mexican casserole bowl. I use the re-fried beans all the time and think they taste great. The tomato soup and frozen items are mainly for emergencies -- those times when I'm not feeling well enough to cook, etc.

Please check out the Healthy Heart Market & Heart Wise Food sites. Even if you don't order from them, seeing the kinds of products available may help you in your grocery shopping. You just might be able to find the same products in your local stores.

Trader Joe's Low Sodium Product List

Here is a link that might be useful: Amy's Light in Sodium products

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 2:30PM
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Tami, you come any time and I'll be happy to teach you to can. We can talk and can simultaneously!

And you could take home lots of salt free home canned goodies for your Dad like green beans and corn and low sugar peach jam.


    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 11:51PM
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Just passing this info along because often we forget about this:

If there are products you find you like that are not carried by your local store, talk to the manager and see if they are willing to try ordering some for you. I think as more and more seniors go on low-salt diets (my entire family is on low-salt diets, including my 35-yr old niece and nephew due to high BP they were born with), more markets are willing to seek out the low- and no-salt foods.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 2:07AM
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I have to say thank you again!

Barnmom, it's not that dad doesn't know how to cook, right now he can't. And mom is no longer able to.

Annie, you never know when I might take you up on that. Is there room for the motor home?!

Jkom51, you are right, many forget to ask management about carrying certain products. I have asked at other times for other products. I'll keep it in mind now, too. Thanks for the reminder.

Shambo, thanks for more things to check out!

Now, does anyone have a recipe for baked beans that I can make from scratch that will taste like my mom's made with Campbell's baked beans with ketchup, mustard, bbq sauce, & brown sugar added?!

For dad's chili, even tho I bought a can of Bush's low sodium kidney beans, I think I am going to just go buy a bag of dry kidney beans, and soak them, cooking them in water in the crock pot all day tomorrow, and then add them to the chili. Even with rinsing the canned ones I'm afraid it's going to be too much sodium.


    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 1:28PM
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Tami, these are the baked beans I make. They have a lot of flavor, but I control the salt content. The recipe is from Cook's Illustrated, and I've made several adjustments. Besides using lower sodium ingredients, I cook the beans until tender before adding the acid ingredients like molasses, brown sugar, and catsup.

I really depend on no-salt-added spice blends. I've found several at Penzey's and World Market. If you can get a good assortment, you'll find making lower sodium dishes much easier.

Barbecued Baked Beans
Cook's Illustrated 2/2005

Serves 6 to 8
4 slices bacon, chopped fine (Use 2 slices low sodium bacon or omit altogether and add 1 tsp. smoke flavoring 30 minutes before serving)
1 onion , minced
4 cloves garlic , minced
1 pound dried small white beans, rinsed and picked over [See Notes]
8 cups water ( or use homemade chicken broth or pork broth)
1 cup strong coffee (black)
1/2 cup barbecue sauce (I used 1/2 cup no-salt-added catsup & 1 tbsp. salt-free barbecue seasoning)
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons brown mustard (or use 1 tsp dry mustard powder)
1 tablespoon mild molasses (I used 2 tbsp.)
hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)
Table salt (omit) and ground black pepper

1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 300 degrees. Cook the bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until beginning to crisp, about 5 minutes. Stir in the onion and cook until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes.

2. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Stir in the beans, water (or broth), coffee, barbecue sauce (catsup & spice blend), brown sugar, mustard, molasses, 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco, and 1 1/4 teaspoons salt (omit salt altogether). (Before combining beans & flavorings, cook for at least 1 hour and then add all the flavorings. See "Notes" below.) Bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Cover and transfer to the oven. Bake, stirring every hour, until the beans are tender, about 4 hours. (I used slow cooker)

3. Remove the lid and continue to bake, uncovered, until the liquid has thickened to a syrupy consistency, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Season the beans with additional barbecue sauce, Tabasco, and salt and pepper to taste. (I didn't add any additional seasoning)

Notes: I soaked the beans overnight & rinsed. I cooked them for 45 minutes at a very low simmer with 1 bay leaf, 4 small cloves garlic cut in chunks, and a tea ball filled with whole peppercorns & allspice. I drained them, reserving the cooking water. I sauted the onion, garlic, & 1/2 a jalapeno pepper in olive oil. I added the beans & homemade chicken broth to cover, along with the coffee & a teaspoon of dry mustard. I added the molasses, brown sugar & catsup after the beans became tender. I added 1 tsp. of liquid smoke near the end.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 2:36PM
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I know that this thread is pretty much about salt, but since he's diabetic, I thought I'd pass along a website where I found a LOT of really good low carbohydrate recipes, including some for breads. I had to order some ingredients online, since they're not always found in the store (or are really expensive) but I've been able to make some rolls that are only about 3 carbs each that pass for hot dogs/brats/hamburgers, cookies, and a carrot cake that was really quite delicious, at only a few carbs per piece. You can reduce the sodium as needed, too.

Here is a link that might be useful: Low Carb Friends

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 3:01PM
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Oh, I KNEW I could count on all of you!

Shambo, I'll try those beans. I will be omitting the garlic in everything I make,as I will be eating it also, and am allergic to it. Which will make buying spice blends a pain, too. Oh, well, Benedryll, here I come!

cj47, thanks, I'll check that out too.

I just ordered the baking powder, baking soda from Grainlady's link. Dad doesn't eat much bread, but he's got to get his carb somewhere.


    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 3:41PM
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Tami, I have been using the Featherweight no sodium baking powder from Healthy Heart Market for at least seven years. It works perfectly in muffins, quick breads, scones, biscuits, etc. So I think you'll be really happy with it. I can discern no difference in either taste or texture in the finished products. Another great thing is that you use the exact same quantity as any regular store-bought baking powder. So no fiddling with adjusting recipes.

The Ener-G baking soda is different, though. You must remember to double the quantity of baking soda that is called for in the original recipe. So if your buttermilk pancakes call for 1 tsp., you must use 2 tsp. of the sodium-free baking soda. And the recommendation is that you get the quick bread cooking as soon as the baking soda is added. I know some fellow low sodium bloggers who regularly use this product and feel it works well.

I had a favorite bran muffin recipe that originally called for several teaspoons of baking soda. When I tried it with the no-sodium product, the end result had a terrible metallic taste and horrible texture. Since then, I've never used it for any recipe that called for more than 1 tsp. of baking soda. However, most of the time, I just use recipes that call for regular milk rather than buttermilk. That way I can use Featherweight and don't have to worry about doubling quantities or whether or not the end product will have a weird taste or texture.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 4:18PM
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Tami, there's always room for you, DH, AND the motor home! Come on up, any time.


    Bookmark   August 19, 2012 at 8:44PM
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