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Hi Everybody, Debbie Benson here... 

This is where I can tell you about what I know, what I have found out, and here I can also rant a bit. 

Since I was a little girl I have been aware of sodium, both high and low levels, as you learned in my first Season-It Newsletter 3 Tips That Help A Low Sodium Diet.  Starting Benson's Gourmet Seasonings has been a dream come true.

As I learn and find helpful information, tips, products, recipes, and websites, I will share the information with you here.  Then, you can follow-up and do your own research and make your own, more informed decisions regarding your health, or the health of a loved one.  Knowledge helps you and gives you the power to make better decisions.

It's not just about what you don't do or can't have.  It's also about things you can or should do or add to your diet that can make a difference. Here we go...

Blog

  1. Seasonings are so important when cooking a healthy diet. There are ways you can bring out the flavor of seasonings, herbs, spices, and chilies. How you cook them, when you add them and how you store them all make a difference when trying to maximize flavor.
  2. Many who must give up salt (Dr. says) find it very difficult to enjoy the food without salt. It takes time, on average (depending on how much you cheat) about 3 months for the taste buds to adjust to food without salt and know that if the food seasoned properly it can be enjoyed. Yes, enjoyed. Salt is just a habit and after a while without it or so much of it, you will start to taste the food and not just the salt.
  3. Breadings - These can be tricky on a low sodium diet because sodium in breadings can be sneaky.  Plain flour is most commonly used to bread meats or vegetables for cooking, especially frying.  Flour tends to need salt otherwise it tastes bland like paste.  Try adding seasonings (like Gusto) to the flour before breading; this makes a big difference in the flavor.  It is not bland, and you still achieve a crispy coating.  Try other breadings like ground nut flour or nut meal.
  4. What do you think? Do you know your fruits and vegetables? Are chilies a vegetable or a fruit?
    This picture might have given you a clue.
  5. There are over 500 known varieties of chiles in the world, with all chiles originating in Central America. Chilies don't have to be hot but they do add flavor. Learn to add some to your food and you will add flavor. The same chilies will taste different when they are fresh (if you use the seeds or not), dried, powdered, smoked, pureed, and of course by how much you use.
  6. Wishing you a Happy 4th of July. I love fireworks, so we will watch them tonight. Barbecue is popular today. Typical barbecue sauce can be quite salty (high in sodium).
    Here is a link for my Barbecue Sauce Recipe in the cookbook. It can be a bit spicy with the Calypso. (You can cut back on it to make it milder) It still has a kick with Gusto but not hot. 
    Enjoy! Click here: http://www.BensonsGourmetSeasonings.com/Spicy-Barbecue-Sauce-Recipe 

  7. Sometimes We Just Need A Little More Umph.
    Same when cooking. Try stronger seasonings like Bravado Chili Seasoning, Calypso Jamaican-Style Hot & Spicy, Gusto Garlic and Herb Pepper (more of an all-around seasoning) best when browned.
  8. Gift Ideas For Father's Day And June Is Men's Health Month
    Cooking Gifts For Easier And More Flavorful Meals Especially When Following A Low Sodium Diet

    Cooking gifts would be appreciated by almost anyone that cooks, especially when on a low sodium diet.

  9. Grilled Low Sodium Vegetables

    At this time of year, Spring and Summer, with all the varieties of vegetables coming into their season. Nothing is more beautiful than a platter of grilled vegetables. Make sure to grill extra vegetables to add more flavor and serve in sandwiches, salads, omelets, snacks, etc. 

    Learn 8 tips for added flavor when grilling vegetables

  10. Salt-free seasonings are the key to living with a low sodium diet. Low sodium diets do not have to be bland. You need good quality salt-free seasonings. The seasonings need to be fresh with good aroma and you need a variety of them. You will be surprised how quickly you can become tired of the same flavors day in and day out, without salt.
    Read more click here

  11. This infographic is about sodium facts that lead to an unhealthful heart. Did you know that something labeled healthy must have a sodium level less than 480 mg? Watch those serving sizes, they can be small.

  12. This infographic has a lot of information to help you learn more about sodium. Where to find it and how to choose lower sodium options. You can see how sodium can add up throughout the day. 


    Million Hearts Infographic about Sodium


  13. 3 Tips to Help Calculate Your Daily Sodium Intake

    When you are told to go on a low sodium diet.
  14. Low Sodium Cooking Tip: When blending or chopping fresh parsley do not use the stems as they taste bitter.
  15.  Cook with a rainbow of colors.  You've heard the saying "We eat with our eyes first."  Choose to make your food more colorful.  This tip makes your diet more interesting with a variety of colorful fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains.  Here are a few ideas you might try. When using a basic yellow or white onion, try adding a red onion or some green onion maybe a shallot.
  16. Yes, There are hundreds of varieties of avocados. It’s amazing that 95% of avocados sold in the US are grown in California and about 90% of those are Hass. That may be why so many folks think there is only one type of avocado or 2 if you consider ripe and unripe.
  17. It is a flavorful Italian condiment.
    When you think of condiments it is usually ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, relish, hot sauce, and salsa. 

    Here is

  18. Always keep fresh lemons and/or limes on hand.


  19. First step:  Take the salt shaker off the table and don't add salt to your cooking.


  20. When substituting fresh herbs for dried herbs usually the dried herbs are much stronger.  The rule of thumb is 3 to 1. One Tablespoon = three teaspoons of fresh herbs to 1 teaspoon of dried. For best results, the dried should be fragrant. The more aroma you smell, usually the fresher they will be so the best flavor.

    Read more
  21. Using salt substitutes to make food taste salty should not be your only goal. When eating a low sodium diet, you need flavor too. You will need to learn how to get rid of bland food. This includes learning how to increase flavor by using salt-free seasonings, fresh herbs, fresh vegetables, citrus and fruits, kinds of vinegar, different cooking techniques and following good low sodium recipes.

  22. Some people just love and crave salt. Are you one of them? Do you love salt on fries, eggs, rice, chips, or tomatoes? How about avocado, soups, steak, corn, popcorn, oatmeal, or grapefruit? Have you seen anyone salt pickles or pizza? Besides copious amounts of sugar and caffeine, today’s typical American sure does have an affinity for salt in their diet.

    Why do people crave salty foods?

    For starters, 
  23. The powers-that-be, doctors, nurses, dietitians, recommend that people take in between 1,500 milligrams or less with health problems and maximum 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily for a healthy person. For the record, one teaspoon of table salt equals about 2,300 milligrams of sodium. If you’re like most people in America, then you’re consuming way more than that amount on a daily basis.

    What are some tips for calculating your daily sodium intake?

    For starters, read the labels of the foods you’re eating, because these labels tell how much sodium is “in there” per serving.
  24. If you mention the word “salt” to people, the vast majority know exactly what you’re talking about and what it is. “The white stuff you put on food” is the typical response, right?

    Then there’s the word “sodium,” which not as many people can clearly identify. Some people use salt and sodium interchangeably, as if they were the exact same thing, but that’s not the case.
  25. Why are so many people today suffering from conditions such as hypertension? Could it stem from consuming foods with too much salt? That could be a factor.

    The American Heart Association recommends that we take in no more than 2,300mg (milligrams) of sodium per day and most low sodium diet guidelines should be 1,500 mg or less per day, but the average American eats 3,400 milligrams daily.
  26. I just shared a post which was shared by the Daily Dish on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/TheDailyDish.us/?fref=tsThis is about tips to help lower your sodium intake.  Here is a similar article I wrote a while back on this topic. Enjoy.
    http://www.bensonsgourmetseasonings.com/7-Tips-To-Do-And-7-Tips-To-Avoid-When-Eating-Out

  27. I just read an article about how to shop for popcorn in EatingWell Magazine. This has some good tips.  Did you know that popcorn is non-GMO? At least for now.  However, I would look for organic just to be sure it is a safer choice.

    Here is a link to an article I wrote a while back about popcorn.  After all, it is because of my Mom's love for popcorn that we developed Table Tasty salt substitute as a popcorn seasoning.  Here is a link to my article:   Healthy-Snacks-Popcorn-A-Whole-Grain-Snack
  28. Did you know just one tablespoon of soy sauce
  29. A bulb of garlic is called a head or a whole head of garlic. 

    Each of the wedges is called a clove of garlic or a garlic clove.

    1 clove of garlic = a teaspoon.

    • Prepare the garlic and use it.  Don't chop the garlic too far ahead of time as it starts oxidizing and turning bitter. You may have noticed on most cooking shows, they chop the garlic and it goes directly into the pan.  This is best way for the best flavor.
  30. How you store garlic makes a difference in the flavor and health benefits
    • Store garlic in a cool dry place.  Not in the refrigerator and don't freeze it as freezing deadens the flavor.  Stored properly, fresh garlic will keep a month or more.
  31. How you purchasestoreprepare and cook garlic, makes a difference in the flavor and the health benefits.

    Purchase the freshest garlic, as it has the best taste.
  32. I love garlic both for the health benefits and for it's flavor.  You might have noticed, all of the seasonings have garlic in them.
  33. Happiness Is Like Jam You Can't Spread Even A Little Without Getting Some On Yourself
  34. "Mise en place" simply translates "In it's place". This is an important cooking term and is used by all well trained chef's and cooks. You'll see this done on cooking shows in restaurant kitchens, bakeries, food trucks and hopefully your kitchen.  

    Whenever you begin a recipe, you set out what what you will need, everything in its place.This includes cooking equipment, pots and pans, food processor, bowls, cooking utensils, measuring cups and spoons, etc.
  35. This is a cooking term.  The little browned bits on the bottom of your pan when cooking, is called fond.  Deglaze the pan by adding a liquid. Usually something like (water, wine, juice, tomatoes, milk, broth or stock) to loosen those browned bits. Then continue by scraping them off the bottom (usually with a spoon or spatula).
  36. Here you are trying to eat healthier and now you found out that most salad dressings are very high in sodium. Read the labels and understand what the amount of sodium is per serving which is usually 2 Tablespoons. Many of us use much more especially for a large salad. The amount of sodium can vary by brand, so look at that too.
  37. Brown and White Eggs in a Basket

     I always thought brown eggs were better, however I recently learned different
    •       Brown eggs are laid by red hens, and white eggs are laid by white hens.
  38. Starting a low sodium diet, your first thought might be to find a salt substitute. You think you've got to replace the salt taste in your food. Using salt substitutes to make food taste salty should not be your only goal. More than you realize, you need flavor too. You will need to learn how to increase flavor. Start by using salt free seasonings, fresh herbs, fresh vegetables, citrus and fruits, vinegars, different cooking techniques, trying new foods and following good low sodium recipes.
  39. Most of the sodium we get from our diets is not usually from the salt shaker, but from processed foods like canned foods, microwave foods and a really big source is fast foods. So to start lowering our daily sodium intake we must learn to cook differently.

    This means learning to cook from fresh ingredients, from scratch and cooking without salt. Now you think if you take the salt out of the recipe and fix it the same way it will be ok. Maybe not exactly the same but it should still taste good.
  40. Remember when I told you that often the lower the fat, the higher the sodium?  
    Here is are some examples per serving:
    • Whole milk, 1 cup 98 mg sodium
    • 2% milk, 1 cup 100 mg sodium
    • 1% milk, 1 cup 107 mg sodium
    • Nonfat milk, 1 cup 145 mg sodium
    • Half n Half, 1 Tablespoon, 6 mg sodium
    • Half & Half Fat Free, 1 Tablespoon 22 mg sodium
    • Heavy whipping cream, 1 Tablespoon 6 mg sodium
    • Sour cream regular, 2 Tablespoons 16 mg sodium
    • Sour cream reduced fat, 2 Tablespoons 22 mg sodium
    • Sour cream fat free, 2 Tablespoons 42 mg sodium
    • Cream cheese regular, 1 oz 100 mg sodum
    • Cream cheese light, 1 oz 200 mg sodium
    • Mascarpone, 1 oz 16 mg sodium 
    • Yogurt regular, plain 8 oz 104 sodium
    • Yogurt lowfat, plain 8 oz 159 mg sodium
    • Yogurt fat free, plain 8 oz 175 mg sodium  
    This information is to help make you aware of the hidden sodium in your food that can add-up in a day.
  41. Raw onion, whether it sliced or diced, adds both flavor and crunch to fresh salsas, salads, sandwiches and burgers for example, but sometimes they are too strong. Tip:  After you cut them, place in a sieve or colander and rinse briefly under the tap with cold water. The water washes away the strong sulfur juices which will mellow both the pungent flavor, aroma and hopefully no more tears. This is quick and easy and it works.
    Learn more low sodium cooking tips: 
  42. Interesting fact:  Most adults in the US have not discovered the health benefits of walnuts, or any tree nuts.  (Peanuts don't count here as they are not really a nut but a legume, a bean.) A recent study has shown that 94.5% of adults do not eat tree nuts of any kind. Not even pecans or almonds. That leaves only 5.5% of all adults (ages 19-50) that eat tree nuts!  These numbers are shocking, especially since there are so many documented health benefits of nuts, from heart health to weight loss, just from eating about an ounce of tree nuts, (about a handful), 5 days a week.
  43. To help lower your sodium intake. First get rid of the salt shaker. Don't use salt. Find a salt substitute like Table Tasty. Look for products labeled “low sodium” (contains less than 140 mg per serving), “very low sodium” (less than 35 mgs preserving) or “sodium free” (less than 5 mgs).
  44. In the US, tomatoes are a fruit and a vegetable.  Interesting how this came about.
    Tomatoes botanically are a fruit, but, according to law, they are a vegetable. During the 1800's, New York's port taxed imported vegetables, but not fruits. An importer wanting to cut costs, went to court stating tomatoes were fruits.  His case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled, that produce often served with meats or fish is a vegetable. So, he had to pay a tomato tax and today we think of tomatoes as a vegetable.
  45. Save on your daily sodium intake, just by using unsalted butter instead of salted. You can save quite a bit of additional sodium and it tastes better. You might not think this is a big deal but it adds-up, especially when cooking for holidays or special occasions.   

    You will find most brands of salted butter have a different amounts of sodium.  Usually the cheaper the brand, the more sodium. You will notice this when reading the amount of sodium per serving.  Unsalted butter has 0 mg of sodium per serving where as salted can go from around 30 mg per serving to 90 or 100 mg per serving (usually a tablespoon) sometimes even higher.
  46. colorful bell peppers

    Make your food more colorful. You've heard it said "We eat with our eyes first". Sometimes we get tired of eating the same thing all the time.  Just by adding more colors, the whole dish changes. Plus you are adding not just color but also flavor and nutrition.  

    Try starting with colorful bell peppers.
  47. High Potassium Fruits, Vegetables and DairyOne of the best ways to lower your blood pressure naturally, is to increase your potassium to about 4700 mg daily. This is about double the suggested daily sodium intake of about 2000 mg.  

    Potassium is found in low or high amounts in just about everything we eat. and higher in fruits, some vegetables like potatoes, legumes (beans), nuts, seeds, dairy, meats including fish, molasses and chocolate.
  48. Variety of Onions
    Health Benefits of Onions
    Most of us think of onions and we think tears and strong flavors and not about how healthy they are.
  49. Bowl of Guacamole DipWhen it comes to parties and dips Guacamole dip is one of the most requested.  It is made with fresh avocados and fresh ingredients which will help keep it low sodium. However, a low sodium dip is not usually served at parties. Guacamole dip can be high sodium by adding salt, a commercial seasoning packet, hot sauce which is usually high in sodium or a combination of these.
  50. Learn How To Cook Quote by Julia ChildPost
  51. Since yellow trays today are associated with chicken and only chicken, this helps avoid cross contamination and helps with inventory control.  But what prompted this color for chickens? Many associate yellow with baby chicks however you want yellow chickens for the best flavor and these yellow trays help reflect the yellow color.

    Look for yellow chicken.

  52. In a chicken egg many of you may be surprised to learn that... most of the sodium in eggs is in the whites.  If an egg has 77mg of sodium then around 13mg of sodium is in the yolk and about 64mg of sodium is in the white.  Learn more surprising facts about eggs>>>http://bit.ly/1HvDEKj
    Egg Illustration
  53. Mirepoix

    One of the most basic and most important flavor builders is a French cooking term or technique called a mirepoix. This one cooking technique will help you a lot to create more flavorful food. All of you should know about it and start using it when cooking, especially for a low sodium diet.  

    What is a Mirepoix ?

    It’s a combination of chopped aromatic vegetables, traditionally onions, carrots and celery.
  54. Nuts add good flavor to food.  If you toast them in a dry skillet over medium heat for  3 - 5 minutes (until you can smell them and they are golden), shake the pan like you would for popcorn.
  55. Eating out on a low sodium diet? Here are a few tips: Ask to have no salt added to your food, no sauces or gravies, no condiments, and take a bottle of Table Tasty salt substitute with you to the restaurant. Click for more tips about what you should do when eating out and tips about what youshould avoid.
  56. Variety of Vinegar in Bottles

    Have a variety of vinegar available, especially for a low sodium diet. Most of us are familiar with apple cider vinegar, white distilled vinegar and balsamic vinegar, but there are so many more types and flavors.

  57. Did you know that October is National Chili Month?  I almost missed it. I love chili and I am a bit fussy about it.  When you are on a low sodium diet, sometimes you crave chili but it's usually very salty. Now, you can satisfy your chili cravings and no one will believe it's salt free. Below are two low sodium chili recipes for you to try.  Enjoy! 

    Simply Chili and Vegetarian Black Bean Chili Recipes




  58. The first tip is using 
  59. Having good health, especially a good healthy heart, is not just about not doing certain things.

  60. Yellow Chicken


    When possible choose whole chickens.  Whole chickens are considered premium or the best chickens.  Premium for size and look.  No bruises or blemishes or broken bones and usually a very nice size (a little bigger and this increases your chances of a more yellow color, as they have grown more and are a little older).

  61. Salt Shaker


    First step:  Take the salt shaker off the table and don't add salt to your cooking.

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Disclaimer:  This will be information, ideas and comments only. You should check with your doctor before changing your diet.

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