The low-down on sodium
No doubt you've heard about, read about, thought about the concern of sodium. Sodium means salt. So when you read on a label the word sodium, that actual refers to the amount of salt in the food. Many of our foods, even whole foods like bread, cheese, milk, beans, meat etc. contain sodium, often more than enough sodium.
Salt is necessary for body function, however the daily need for sodium in 1500 mg. You should not exceed more than 2300 mg of sodium on a daily basis. Studies show that North Americans average 3500 mg per day! Excessive sodium intake increases blood pressure which can lead to heart disease, so it's important that try to stay within 1500 mg of salt daily.
Many foods contain loads of salt, try to choose foods that are low in salt when possible. I believe in yummy, delicious dishes not bland tasteless food. Herbs and spices can be used in soups, stews and other recipes so that minimal salt is needed.
Also make sure to read labels and look for products with "No salt added" like these canned beans below.
The recipe below was adapted from a great soup cookbook called Ken's Soup Krazy by Ken Kostick. There are lots of great veggie soup recipes out there, but most of them can be quite high in sodium. When following soup recipes, try these tips to reduce the salt:
1) Choose low-sodium broth,
2) Use half the amount of soup base and half water, or
3) Use water instead of broth and add tasty fresh like onion, garlic, chili pepper OR salt-free seasonings (Mrs. Dash) or other herbs and spices.
To make a meat-free soup an actual healthy, whole vegetarian meal, you want to make sure there is still a protein source. Bean soups and minestrone are always a great choice, however there are some wonderful vegetable soup recipes out there. It's easy to add a can of white beans to any soup recipe, like the sweet potato recipe below to ensure enough protein for fullness and other nutrients in your meal. Serve soup with a side of toast or corn bread muffin.
Sweet Potato Curry Soup
4 cups vegetable stock
2 cups water
1 cup applesauce
3 medium sweet potatoes (4 cups), peeled and cubed
2 medium potatoes (2 cups), peeled and cubed
2 apples, peeled, cored and cubed (we used local royal gala)
1 small onion
1 can white kidney beans
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp black pepper
3/4 tsp curry powder
1 bay leaf
Low-fat sour cream or plain yogurt
1. In a large soup pot, combine the stock, water, and applesauce. Bring to a boil.
2. Add sweet potatoes, potatoes, apples, onion, lemon juice, basil, cinnamon, curry powder, black pepper and bay leaf. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.
3. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minute. Add white beans. Use a hand blender, puree the soup until smooth.
4. Top with a swirl of low-fat plain yogurt or sour cream.