Low Sodium Cooking Adventures

I'm really behind in my posting. Honestly, I thought about just posting the links to the original recipes and calling it a day. I even thought about pretending these recipes didn't happen just to feel caught up. But I'm a terrible liar and that feels like lying.

I had a really awesome day yesterday and I want to write about it - but before that happens... I must make some progress on the small mountain of recipes that have been through my kitchen recently. Without my fan fair, I want to talk about the couple of the low sodium recipes that I've tried out. Very rarely do I think about the nutritional components of anything when I'm cooking. I'll swap out heavy cream for light cream but, I'm normally thinking about making something a bit lighter ... not healthier... if that makes sense.

Recently, I learned that my grandparents are on low sodium diets. This makes sense they are both 80+ but I still had never processed what that meant for eating right. Turns out sodium is a sneaky little devil. Some quick research I did told me that our family members 55+ should stick to a diet that has 1,500 mg of sodium or less. Quick math had me attempting to find meals that would be less than 500 mg of sodium.

Without further ado, here are 3 of the 4 that I've attempted so far.

Honey Blueberry Bran Muffins (based on this)
These are most certainly the healthiest muffins I've ever made. When you look at the shopping list, you'll agree with me. These little breakfast wonders have no sugar... but instead use honey. They also prompted me to buy "wheat bran" which now makes me think I could make my own raisin bran. Probably wrong.

Either way, my grandparents lovingly each ate one of these immediately ... but when my brother tried them he asked me if I had forgotten the sugar. Just a little expectation setting for you if you decide to give these a go.

(Step 1) Preheat the oven to 400°F. Prepare 12-18 muffin cups/tray.
(Step 2) In a large bowl, gently whisk the dry ingredients together (wheat bran, whole wheat flour, baking powder, and baking soda) – so that the dry mix is well blended.
(Step 3) In a medium sized bowl (or large 4 cup liquid measuring cup), whisk the wet ingredients together (olive oil, Greek yogurt, honey, eggs, water).
(Step 4) Add the pureed ginger and orange zest (the liquid mix should be a light yellow color) and stir until evenly distributed.
(Step 5) Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, mix until the ingredients have blended together (scraping down the sides of the bowl often). Gently stir/fold in the frozen blueberries.
(Step 6) Place the filled muffin tins in the center of the oven. Bake for 10 minutes at 400F. After the first 10 minutes have passed, reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and continue baking until the tops of the muffins are browned.
(Step 7) Eat.
Chicken with Olives & Lemon (based on this)
I feel like a lot of the recipes I peeked at were heavily influenced by citrus flavors. I guess people use citrus to provide more natural appealing flavor outside of salt. This particular recipe is another great one to pull together in advance of the work week... which is exactly what I did.

Nothing hyper fancy about this but it could quickly become of those safety recipes you can quickly whip up. It's always nice to have one or two of those in your pocket.

(Step 1) Preheat oven to 400. Combine first 4 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add chicken to bag, seal and shake. Marinate 15 minutes at room temperature. Easy right?
(Step 2) Arrange chicken mixture in a broiler-safe 11 x 7 –inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle chicken evenly with oregano and the next 4 ingredients (through shallot); top with lemon slices. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes.
(Step 3) Remove chicken from oven. Preheat broiler to HIGH.
(Step 4) Place chicken 3 inches from broiler element; broil on HIGH for 3 minutes or until chicken is browned and done.
(Step 5) Serve over your favorite grain. I went with rice because I love my new rice cooker... but I think orzo or cous cous would also have been great. Quinoa would have felt way to healthy ... plus my grandparents have no idea what quinoa is. I know because I asked.
Cheesy Pasta with Broccoli (based on this)
Remember when I got a lot of broccoli for $1? Well this is how I used the rest of it up. I'm pretty sure my grandparents questioned how I managed to make cheesy pasta without busting the sodium limit - but this worked and it was good. It feels like a bit of trickery with cream cheese, milk, nutmeg... and then cheese.

(Step 1) Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. During the last 3 minutes of cooking, add broccoli to pan; drain. Place pasta and broccoli in a large bowl.
(Step 2) Combine milk and flour in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Cook 5 minutes or until slightly thickened; remove from heat. Add 2 tablespoons Parmesan and remaining ingredients, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Add cheese mixture to pasta mixture; toss. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan.
Shopping List
Honey Blueberry Muffins
1 ½ cups wheat bran
1 ¾ cups whole wheat flour
1 ½ tablespoons sodium-free baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda* (*if you use sodium-free baking soda, use twice this amount)
2/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (plain, non-fat)
1/2 cup honey (1/3 cup works if you prefer less sweet)
2 medium sized eggs
½ teaspoon pureed ginger
1 ½ tablespoons grated orange zest (approx. zest from 1 medium sized orange)
2/3 cup water, filtered
1 ½ – 2 cups frozen Maine blueberries (the little ones!)

Cheesy Pasta with Broccoli
8 ounces uncooked mini penne pasta
5 cups broccoli florets (about 1 medium head)
1 1/3 cups fat-free milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
2 tablespoons 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2.5 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2/3 cup)

Chicken with Olives & Lemon
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, halved crosswise
Cooking spray
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
15 oil-cured olives, pitted and sliced
1 large shallot, sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced

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