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22 Mar 2010

Reduced sodium doesn’t have to mean reduced flavor

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March 22, 2010 Category: Food And Beverage Posted by:



Sodium intake is increasingly being watched by consumers, regulators and health groups as public service organizations are referring to high sodium diets as the single greatest problem in the American diet. What most at-home cooks don’t know is that it is possible to reduce the sodium in recipes without losing out on flavor. Whether it’s a traditional turkey sandwich or a pasta primavera, favorite foods can still be enjoyed when trying to reduce sodium.


“My culinary philosophy is that everyone can manage a reduced sodium diet through delicious, satisfying cuisine,” says New York City chef and cookbook author Tom Valenti. “There are several ways to add flavor to your favorite meals but still cut back on salt.”


Valenti offers five quick tips to help you cook healthy and flavorful meals:


Add fresh herbs: When cooking pasta, rice or fresh veggies there is no need to add salt to your water. Instead, enhance meals by cooking with fresh herbs. In order to retain flavor, add herbs toward the end of cooking and use sparingly – you can always add more.


Make your own broth or soup: Packaged soups and broths are convenient, but most have very high sodium levels. Use lower sodium bouillon granules in half the amount called for on the packaging to create your own delicious homemade broth or soup to control sodium content.


Canned goods: Buy canned goods that clearly state, “no salt added” or purchase these goods in cartons instead. You can usually find these products right next to the regular canned goods in the grocery store. Always remember to rinse all canned foods thoroughly after taking them out of the can to remove about 1/3 of the sodium.


Top it off: Instead of using high sodium and calorie sauces or condiments, top off dishes like sandwiches or grilled chicken breast with fresh salsa or reduced sodium cheese. Sargento’s new Reduced Sodium cheeses offer great flavor for health-conscious consumers looking to indulge their cheese passion without sacrificing taste and are available in shreds, slices and snacks. With 25 percent less sodium, the new cheeses are worthy substitutes for regular natural cheese in both cooking and snacking. Health experts even claim that as little as a one-gram sodium reduction in the American diet per day can help.


Read the label: Always read ingredient labels and do the math. The sodium content on the nutritional panel is based on the number of servings the package states. While a can of soup may say 770 mg of sodium, it bases that number on 2.5 servings; 770 multiplied by 2.5 equals 1,925 mg of sodium in that can of soup.


“The best way to control your sodium intake is by learning how to cook at home from scratch and including foods you love with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables in recipes,” says Valenti.


Zucchini, tomato and provolone bake


1 pound (about 4 small) zucchini squash

1/4 cup prepared pesto

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup panko breadcrumbs, divided

1 pound plum tomatoes (about 5 medium), cut into 1/4-inch slices

8 slices Sargento Sliced Reduced Sodium Provolone Cheese



Wash zucchini but do not dry. Cut crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices; transfer to a microwave-safe casserole dish. Cover with lid. Cook in microwave oven three to four minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain in colander; rinse with cold water to stop cooking. Transfer to clean kitchen towel or paper towels to dry. Toss zucchini with pesto sauce and pepper.

Sprinkle 1/2 cup breadcrumbs in bottom of 8- or 9-inch baking dish. Spoon half of zucchini mixture evenly over crumbs. Arrange half of tomato slices over zucchini; top with four slices cheese. Repeat layering with remaining zucchini mixture, tomatoes, cheese and breadcrumbs.

Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Helpful tips:

Pesto and panko brands vary in sodium content. This nutrition information is based on Buitoni and Kikkoman brands.

Find more healthy cooking tips and recipes at

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