Quick and Incomplete Notes on Low Salt Food

I've had to change my diet recently after learning that I have a heart condition. It's not possible to completely eliminate salt (unless I want to only eat rocks), so I'm not going to be able to get to a zero sodium diet, but I have decided to eliminate sodium from my diet wherever I can. Here's a few of my notes on what I look for when buying food.

Sandwiches: Sandwiches are mostly out as lunchmeat is high in sodium. And bread and cheese are not much better. But I've found a solution that works for me, and that is this: Plainville Farms no salt turkey breast from Whole Foods, Ezekiel Low Sodium "Food for Life" bread, and thinly sliced Swiss cheese. The turkey breast comes sliced from the Whole Foods deli counter, and it's great. It tastes like carved turkey. The bread comes frozen, which is odd, but it actually contains no sodium, if you get the low sodium version. It toasts up nicely and is whole grain. And the sliced cheese that has the lowest sodium is always Swiss cheese. And going for a thin slice limits sodium even more.

Soda: I really should avoid diet sodas overall, for multiple reasons. But I'm only human, and I love the taste of Diet Coke. Diet Coke, and most diet soda, is NOT free of sodium, however. Instead, I buy Zevia diet soda, which is sodium free. For the diet cola, note that Zevia makes versions both with caffeine and without. It seems as though the caffeine free version might be available only at Whole Foods.

Frozen meals: At first, I thought, I'm not really on a low calorie diet, and I love things that are spicy, including things with buffalo sauce. But have you looked at the nutrition info on any spicy or "power" TV dinner? Some of them have more than a thousand milligrams of sodium, which is nuts. If I'm going to have a sodium bomb, I'm going to get a pizza, not some microwave frozen dinner.

So, I started reading labels and I've noticed that Healthy Choice has a series of frozen dinners, most of which under the "Cafe Steamers" sub-brand. A lot of them have less than 500 or 600 milligrams of sodium, which is relatively good, considering that it is prepared food. The other thing about them is that they seem to taste better than most other healthier frozen meals. They come in a special tray that keeps the sauce in the bottom while the meat and vegetables steam above them. That means that the meal comes out of the microwave in much better shape than you'd expect. I always put the meat and vegetables into a new bowl then pour the sauce from the original bowl over the food. The sauce, and the way you heat this up, really helps you end up with something that taste good, and it's not a mushy blob. And some of the flavors are ones you wouldn't normally find in a "healthy" frozen dinner, like beef chimichurri, which has an actually spicy sauce, and the barbecue seasoned steak with red potatoes, which has a nice barbecue sauce. The portion of steak, especially in the barbecue one, is tiny. But that's OK. It's only a 9.5 ounce meal, so it's not going to be 8 ounces of steak. And it's nice that some of these have beef instead of just the more common chicken.

Most days, I'll have a Cafe Steamer bowl for lunch. I've been really happy with them.

Tortilla chips: No salt tortilla chips are easy to find at Whole Foods, less easy to find elsewhere. But paring them with pre-made salsa is a lost cause, even "low sodium" salsa is high in sodium. If you're not going to make your own salsa (which we've done a few times, but it's hard to find the time), you've got to find a plan B. For me, I've started buying little six packs of individual cups of guacamole. It's not reduced sodium, but since they're tiny little individual cups, I prevent a sodium overload via portion control. Chips + guac = a good snack when I'm starving.

Frozen french fries: Did you know that Whole Foods sells frozen fries that are unsalted? They air fry up nicely, and your partner can always choose to salt their portion. I put a little bit of fake salt on mine.

Canned veggies and beans: Read labels. Most canned veggies are high in sodium. Some of them don't have low/no sodium variants. Switch to frozen veggies when possible. Those rarely have much sodium. Whole Foods does have some good low/no salt variants, though, for some things. Like, canned (or Tetra packed) beans. Yes, you can buy dried beans and they're sodium free, but if you're lazy and don't want to cook from dried beans, you can have some choices for low/no sodium canned beans.

I'm sure I'm forgetting some things. I'll try to update this as I think of more things to share.

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