Most Americans are consuming too much salt, largely from eating restaurant-prepared meals and processed foods. So, the more meals you make at home — with whole, fresh ingredients — the better. No time for that, you say? There are still ways you can cut your sodium intake: the USDA advises reading labels labels closely for low-sodium ingredients at the grocery store, and use super-salty condiments like salad dressings, soy sauce and ketchup sparingly.
If your taste buds miss the salt, sub in other spices and flavors like black pepper, curry, rosemary, basil, ginger and lemon juice. Sharon Palmer, a registered dietitian and author of The Plant-Powered Diet, keeps her meals and flavors fun by substituting unusual ingredients, such as quinoa instead of oatmeal in the morning and a Mediterranean couscous salad instead of rice with her low-sodium vegetable soup at lunch.
• 1 cup cooked quinoa (may substitute steel-cut oats if this is too unusual), with ½ ounce chopped walnuts, 1 cup fresh berries (such as strawberries, blueberries or raspberries) and 1 cup soy milk (fortified with calcium and vitamin D)
• 1 cup vegetable soup
• 1 whole-grain pita half-filled with ½ cup garbanzo beans, ¼ cup lettuce, ¼ cup chopped tomatoes, ¼ cup cucumbers
• ½ cup tabouli (couscous) salad with ½ ounce pistachios
• 1 cup fortified soy yogurt, with ½ cup peaches
• 1 cup stir-fried vegetables with 2 ounces tofu and ½ ounce sesame seeds, with ½ cup Asian vegetable slaw
• 1 cup brown rice
• Soy banana smoothie: 1 cup fortified soy milk with 1 small banana