Thursday, July 21, 2011

Spin Cycle--Food, Glorious Food

Jen at Sprite's Keeper wants to hear about food this week for the spin cycle.  I foresee everybody being quite hungry by Friday.
There's lots of ways I could go with this topic.  We love food around our house (really who doesn't love food?)  The biggest change we have made recently has been reducing sodium from our normal diet.
Four years ago I had a fun adventure into the world of kidney stones.  I passed two--worst experience of my life, and yes they were far more painful than labor.  I ended up in the hospital so they could remove the 20+ stones that remained in my kidney.  After recovering from the surgery my urologist ran tests and told me I needed to cut down the amount of sodium I was eating.
Do you have any idea how pervasive sodium is in the diet of the average american?  I started checking labels as religiously as some check for calories.  What I found startled me.  Sodium is everywhere.  It is incredibly difficult to avoid.  Even soda has a ton in it.
The place it impacted my cooking the most was in side dishes.  I liked using those easy to make pasta and rice mixes.  Easy to throw one of those in to go with our veggie and meat.  When I started looking at the amount of sodium a serving has (and who decided that a serving was so stinking small?) I shuddered and put the packages back on the shelf.  And started to hunt through the recipe books looking for simple alternatives to the packaged side dishes.  It's not easy to find simple to make side dishes.  Most are as complicated as main dishes.
I floundered along cutting sodium where I could (which is much easier now than it was when I started) and being frustrated by the amounts in everything.  There are a lot more no sodium added canned goods now.  and reduced sodium products are showing up more and more often.  But what really helped with the meal planning was winning a subscription to Emealz.  It's a site that give you an itemized grocery list and recipes for a week.  I found that knowing what we are having, and having all the stuff to go with it, side dishes and vegies included, makes cooking a much easier endeavor.  And what really impresses me about Emealz is that most of the things you make are from scratch, not totally from packaged foods.  This helps with the sodium issues I have.  And really, we are all benefiting from the reduction in intake of sodium.  Although, I still have trouble with the whole snacking thing--I love sunflower seeds, and chips, and dry roasted peanuts, and just about every other salty snack out there.
Over all, the more I make from scratch, the more I can control the salt I eat.  I'm learning to enjoy the art of cooking and getting way better at the planning part--you know getting everything to be done at the same time.
So now go see the other spins that are up about food.  I guarantee you'll be hungry by the time you are finished.

small cycle


  1. sodium is awful in those sidedish things. I don't even buy them anymore. We usually end up having a potato thing with our meat and veggies

  2. Side dishes can be troublesome. I don't buy those things but JR does when I go out of town. What makes me crazy is that he salts everything before he even tastes it. It is getting to be a running argument.

  3. I keep meaning to reduce our sodium, but never get around to it. I didn't realize too much of it could cause kidney stones. That gives me even more incentive to get healthier!

    Great spin.

  4. Salt is one of my enemies, too - I cut it out a long time ago, especially since my dad was getting kidney stones on a regular basis when we were growing up, and it's possibly hereditary (which my sister proved by having a kidney stone a month or so ago...ack!) Since I've avoided salt for so long, I end up noticing that something seems too salty for me (though hubby will say it tastes fine to him - the guy who adds hot sauce to everything, and probably fried his palate long ago...heh). I had to stop buying those side dishes, too - because they tasted too salty to me (and I finally started reading labels). ;) You're right - some side dishes take the same kind of work as the main course! :) I should check out that emeals site - I remember when you were just starting that, and wondered if you'd like it. Sounds like it's worth it! :)

    Spin: Cooking Passion Started at a Very Early Age

  5. Yes the amount of sodium in food is crazy.

  6. I'm sadly going to be changing my eating habits soon. The awesome food at my bar is starting to make my ass hate me so I'm munching on almonds instead of nachos. Stupid ass. :(

  7. Sodium is a hard one. With the already limited diet we're on, having to cut sodium would probably put me over the top. I do tend to buy frozen veggies vs canned because of the sodium factor but that's about it.

  8. Cooking from scratch is the best, but time factor can be a problem on a busy work week.


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