Repeat After Me: Reduce the Amount of Salt, Sugar, and Fat!
Written by Gayle
Some time ago I read and reviewed the Book, Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss (click here to read the summary and review). Since then I have been so aware of how much of those three ingredients are packed into so much of our food, especially the packaged, prepared, restaurant, and fast foods that are so easily available today. Right after I read that book I would walk through grocery stores or drive past fast food joints and think, “Poison, poison, poison!”
But I have also been thinking about how easy it is to be harming ourselves with the way we cook. It’s true that when I cook at home we’re not eating chemical convenience foods–especially when we choose organics–but I might be adding just as much salt, sugar, and fat as what is in those convenience foods.
|How-to on Roasting Vegetables, click here|
So I have been doing a little research and experimenting to reduce those three ingredients in many of my recipes. Here’s what I’ve found:
Salt is a flavor-enhancer, so when you start reducing the amount of salt, things just start to taste bland. But as I learned from the book, a taste for salty food is acquired. Babies do not like salty foods, and we can reduce our desire for salt. People who have been forced to reduce their salt intake soon find that they don’t like the food salty anymore. Zero salt is not the goal, since we do need some sodium in our diet–it helps regulate our heart rhythm, helps our muscles to contract, and regulates our blood–but there is little doubt that the vast majority of us consume too much salt.
- Start by removing the salt shaker from the table.
- Second, reduce the amount of salt in recipes by 1/4 to 1/2.
- Give yourself and your family a few weeks to adjust, and then reduce further.
- Remember that many foods naturally contain some sodium, so it really is unnecessary to add more.
- Get creative with herbs and other healthy flavorings. Onions, garlic, italian seasons, curries–there are so many great herbs to enhance your recipes.
- Baked goods may need the salt to assist rising, so reduce by 1/2 to 1/4 and see how that works.
|Recipe for Fruit Salad with Farro click here|
Sugar is the culprit in so many health problems. This Huffington Post article outlines ten ways that sugar is adversely effecting our health. Heart damage, cancer production, belly fat, leptin resistance, liver damage, memory deficiency–the list goes on and on. There is never a good argument for increasing our sugar consumption. And remember that a taste for overly sugary foods is acquired as well. A nephew of ours spent two years in Korea, and came home not liking sweet candy at all. When we stop eating so much sugar, the cravings will go away. (Unfortunately, once we start eating sugar again, the desire returns!)
- Reducing sugar in baked goods is a little tricky because sugar adds moisture to the finished product. Again, start by adding 1/4 to 1/3 less sugar than what your recipe calls for. Pay attention to see if the end product is acceptable.
- Don’t add more sugar to something that’s already sweet. For example, if you are going to have some ice cream, don’t add additional toppings.
- Reduce serving sizes. Instead of eating two cookies, eat one. Instead of one half-cup of ice cream (the regular serving size), eat 1/3 cup. If you’re splurging at the ice cream parlor, get the child’s size.
- Substitute treats. Fruit with a small amount of chocolate sauce is preferable to ice cream with chocolate sauce!
- Don’t make sugary foods convenient. If you want a treat once in a while, make it hard to get it–you have to drive or walk to the ice cream shop, or you have to take the time to make it at home. And make small batches!
- Remember that our bodies convert white flour to sugars, so make sure you are using as many whole grains as possible. The increased fiber and protein is a much healthier choice.
|Recipe for unsweetened applesauce found here|
Now, fat is an interesting case. Salt, Sugar, Fat taught me that our bodies are wired to eat as much fat as possible–there is no “bliss point” for fat. Our bodies never get to a point where we say, “That has too much fat in it.” So we can’t count on our taste buds to tell us, like they do with salt and sugar, that a certain food has too much. But it is clear that we do eat too much fat. Again, zero fat is not the goal–we need fats for good health–so let’s make better fat choices.
- Use healthier fats, such as olive oil, but reduce the amount by 1/4 to 1/3.
- In baked goods, substitute half of the fat in the recipe with unsweetened applesauce, bananas, or softened, mashed prunes. This works great for homemade granola.
- Cut the amount of meat and cheese, and double the amount of vegetables. This is great for soups, stews, and other main dishes. I have a favorite breakfast casserole, but when I make it as directed in the re
cipe, it is like a heart attack in a pan. So I’ve been reducing the amount of cheese and adding cooked shredded potatoes, onions, and red peppers. This is also what I did for my Cream of Broccoli soup recipe (found here.) The original recipe had nearly double the butter, less broccoli, and the cheese was in the soup. The cheese as a garnish helps everyone to control the portions.
- Choose leaner cuts of meat, or substitute. Ground turkey or chicken are wonderful choices instead of beef for your lasagne or enchiladas. And tofu works great in stir-fry dishes as well.
|Saundra’s Banana Date Breakfast Bar Recipe found here|
Live in Abundance
With all of the talk of reducing, I don’t want to let go of the attitude of abundance. There are SO many delicious and healthy options. So while we are about reducing, let’s also add!
- Add chia seeds and hemp seeds to everything from salads to smoothies to cereal to baked goods. The added nutrition is amazing!
- Add a healthy smoothie to your routine. You can pack so much nutrition into a breakfast or lunch smoothie. (Check out our Deli for some great choices!)
- Add a new fruit or vegetable to your regular routine. Haven’t tried collard greens? How about roasted brussels sprouts? Give them a try! Throw some watercress or slivered fennel bulb onto your salad! Think you don’t like persimmons? Give them another try!
- Add a new spice or herb that you haven’t tried before, or a squeeze of lemon or lime. Jazz up those taste buds.
|Nectarine Smoothie recipe found here|
It’s a challenge to live in a world that has so many unhealthy foods right in our faces all of the time. It does take a little more awareness and care to make healthy choices. But let’s go into 2015 mindfully and make this a healthier, happier year!