Going crackers and lowering salt intake
“Egyptians used salt for embalming. Let’s take the hint!” Harvey Diamond
Let’s consider salt. I know, I know, it is one of those subjects that we don’t want to talk about. Yet, the straight up facts are that it is a huge problem in our grab and go culture.
The nitty gritty facts are that adults should ingest no more than 2300mg of sodium a day. The average daily consumption of the average American is more like 4000mg to 5000mg, almost 50% more than recommended!
It is true that salt is a necessary mineral for metabolic functions, such as transporting nutrients, transmitting nerve impulses and contracting muscles. But the human body doesn’t really need much salt for these functions. In fact, we can get most of the salt we need from whole foods such as dark leafy greens, fruits and veggies.
So why is too much of a good thing so terrible for us? When we ingest too much salt, water is flooded into the blood stream and tissues to water down the sodium present so the body can function. (This is why we drink have to guzzle gallons of water after those french fires.) This in turn, increases the pressure in our veins and arteries causing hypertension and strain to the heart. Overtime, as the circulatory system gets stretched out time and time again, the blood vessels begin to lose their elasticity and the heart has to work harder and harder. This is a no win scenario resulting in heart disease and strokes.
So how do we lower our sodium levels? Almost 75 percent of sodium in the American diet comes from processed foods. Oh, and we Americans just love those processed foods, like cheese, frozen entrees, pizza, hot dogs and chips. A fairly easy way to reduce sodium in your diet is not to consume any processed foods.
On top of that, choose whole foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. Cook at home. It takes a bit more time, but with the right planning it is very rewarding and cheaper.
Make sure and read labels for the sodium content in food. Is a real eye opener if you have never done it before! You will find that innocent looking cottage cheese has almost 1000mg of sodium per cup and canned goods, like tomatoes, corn and peas are packed as well.
Snack foods are one of the worst sodium offenders and they are so easy to make at home, without all the salt. Crackers are fun to make and very delicious. I love this cracker recipe. It is a beautiful basic recipe that you can add different herbs, seeds and spices to get many different flavors. Let your imagination run wild and have fun reducing your sodium.
Whole Wheat Crackers
1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup of unbleached flour
¼ cup of finely chopped nuts or small seeds
(I like to use sesame seeds)
1/8 to ¼ cup of raw sugar
½ teaspoon of salt
4 tablespoons of salt free butter
½ cup of low fat milk
Heat up the oven to 325 degrees and get ready to go crackers! Whisk the first 5 ingredients together in a bowl. Cut the butter in to smallish chunks and drop in the flour mix. Either cut in the butter or squish them with your fingers, till the mix is crumbly. Slowly mix in the milk till the dough comes together in a nice mass.
On of piece of baking parchment paper, roll the dough out as thin as you possibly can. If you leave it kind of thick you could possible break your teeth on the crackers. (just possibly) Slide the dough on the parchment paper onto a baking sheet. Cut the crackers with a pizza cutter into strips, squares, diamonds or whatever strikes your fancy. Spray with a fine mist of water and sprinkle with something fun, like black sesame seeds. Pop in the oven and bake for anywhere from 20 minutes to 45 minutes depending on how thick they are. You can tell they are done when the edges start to brown and the middle is firm.
Some different flavor ideas-
1) Add 2 tablespoon of cumin seeds and 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika to the batter. Sprinkle with smoked paprika before baking. (my fav!)
2) Add 2 tablespoons of dried basil and 2 cloves of pressed garlic to the batter. Sprinkle dried basil before baking
3) Add 2 pieces of crumbled bacon and 2 tablespoons of finely grated sharp cheddar to batter.
4) Add 2 tablespoons of herbs de Provence and 2 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese to the batter, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
5) Add two tablespoons of finely crumbled blue cheese and walnuts to the batter, sprinkle with finely chopped walnuts.