In Defence of Low Salt

Everyone talks about low calorie, less sugar, low carbs, etc. You can stock a whole bookcase in a bookstore with diet books. But “no one” talks about salt. That has a lot to do with the fact that if you eat too much calories, sugar and carbs it will show in the form of fat on your body. Eat too much salt it will only show in a medical test.

When like me you were forced to really think health wise about food before you even got out of college, you realise that we still have a long way to go to really healthy eating habits. If you never eat out, cook all your food with fresh produce, no store bought bouillon, no spice with salt or sugar in it, no processed sauce, etc. You are golden, you control all your food intake. You get platinum if you grow your own veggies. If only I had a garden.

We don’t have to eat salt free, your body needs salt, some more than others. The daily recommendation is 6 grams for a healthy adult. Low salt diet means eating less than that. Most people eat 9 grams a day according to studies 1. The European Union is actively working on getting salt levels in processed food lowered.

I’m a personal believer that we should stop automatically adding salt to everything. Think about what you are cooking and the ingredients that already contain salt. Cheese, processed meats(even unprocessed meats), ketchup, mustard, mayo, etc. Just put salt on the table and let everyone decide for themselves how much salt they want in their food.

Ever watched the Cake Boss, Buddy Valastro’s cooking show on TLC? Every time he adds salt, he says: “Now we add a pinch of salt” and he proceeds to scope 3 fingers full of salt and dumps them in the dish. Believe me if you are cooking something like pasta with sausages your sauce for sure doesn’t need added salt. The sausages and the salt you added to the water for the pasta will make the dish salty enough.

When I cook and eat at home I can easily stay within the salt limits appropriate for my health.

Spaghetti & Bean Balls

The dish pictured above is a recipe from Thug Kitchen. I did not add salt to the pasta cooking water(I never added/add salt to cooking water) and did not add salt to the sauce plus I skipped the nutritional yeast. The only salt comes from the beans because I got them canned instead of dry and cooking it myself and the canned tomato sauce. Even so it was less than 0.5gr of salt for the whole dish from which I ate two days.

Just put salt on the table and let everyone decide for themselves how much salt they want in their food.

I’m a foodie tho and I like eating out, actually I like eating out when not in the mood for cooking and a sandwich won’t do. But mostly, I finally started reaching that fase when I can make certain dishes better than when I eat out. It’s when I crave ethnic foods like Vietnamese, Indonesian and such that I really dine out. But on that those day that I’m tired, lazy or in no mood for cooking I’ll get a burger or something like that.

Hudson Burger

I tried several burger places and some of them add a lot of salt to the meat. I mean the burger already has processed sauce on it, some cheese and one strip of bacon. There is no need to add salt to the meat.

The fact that so many food contains a lot of salt, every time I eat out, for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I have to balance, balance and balance even more to keep the salt intake within limits. The culinaire world might scuff at using less salt, but salt is as addictive as sugar. We are just not used to eating less salt. Once you are used, which takes one to two weeks. You won’t miss the excessive salt and will find a lot of food taste better with less to no salt.

1. Read on Blendle Ongemerkt minder zout consumeren zonder dat later te compenseren | Or download the PDF of the article here.

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Food for the Soul

Thirteen years since I moved from Aruba to Holland and I can safely say I will never get used to some things. I have come to love the seasons, and how the nature changes every time. While I love it’s (mostly) always beach weather on Aruba, as a kid I got bored reading the weather forecast in the newspaper. Which went like this everyday:

Thirty two degrees, sunny, partly cloudy with a chance of rain. Wind is 8 knots from North East.

Right. You must know the wind almost always comes from the North East on Aruba and only changes with bad weather. Even at 18 years old we would skip class if there was a storm coming so we could go to the beach and see how the usual calm sea would turn into huge waves eating up the beaches and flooding the hotel pools. That’s how unusual it used to be on Aruba to get different weather. I learned things have changed a lot due to climate change.

This week fall has made its entrance again, with strong winds, lots of rain and thunderstorms. I love this kind of weather, it’s the cozy stay at home, read a book and cook a nice dish, weather. But it also reminds me that winter isn’t far behind and that it will be months before I will feel the hot sun on my skin again. Thirteen years later and I’m still not used to cold below 15 degrees. This year when spring started and we had the first day of warm weather it was like finding that forgotten 5 euro bill in your pocket. I went straight to the ice cream parlor after work, got an ice cream and sat outside eating it while basking in the sun. It was 17 degrees.

creole fish

Creole Sauce with Cod Fish

So, fall. When fall comes around I get more in the mood for cooking again. Because I never got used to some things like Dutch cuisine or lack of good hot sauce, I still miss the island food. By island food I don’t mean the 4 Wendy’s, 2 Taco Bells, 2(or 3) Burger Kings, 2 Kentucky’s, I lost count Subway’s, Pizza Hut, Domino’s and uncountable Chinese restaurants on 74.52 sq miles of an island. Nope.

I miss Coco Plum in caya grandi where I can eat the best fresh red snapper in sauce crioyo with funchi. I miss being able to buy the best BBQ on Sunday, eat amazing lobster at Fishes and more or the simple pastechi tuna from Pastechi House. I could keep going; pumpkin soup at Suikertuin, pumpkin soup at Alice or a nice tenderloin grilled in the backyard. None of the above I can eat here authentically, I can only try to match it as best as I can.

After three days of fall weather I decided nothing would taste better than creole seafood to sooth the soul for the incoming cold. I dusted off my “Essential Caribbean Recipes” cookbook, went to Marqt(I never loved a grocery store like I do Marqt) for all organic ingredients, including the line caught cod fish. The result was delicious and soul soothing.

In my thirteen years living here I went from, doesn’t like eating, to a foodie who loves cooking and eating good food. I will probably never get used to winter or how distant people are here compared back on Aruba where friendships are formed easily, but I’ll always have good food and my cooking abilities to transcend borders.

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