Friday, February 28, 2014

Low sodium cheddar cauliflower soup

Planning to try this - with a few tweaks (ex: original recipe uses 2c water, I am using 2 cups of my home-made broth - no sodium added from lamb ribs - fat removed).

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 large leeks
1 med head cauliflower
2 cups broth
2.5 cups milk
1 bay leaf
1/2 t pepper
3 tbsp flour
1.5 cups Heluva Good Reduced Sodium Cheddar cheese
1 tbsp lemon juice

if all works well - this should make 8, 1 cup servings at 45 mg sodium each.  The directions provided look a bit strange, so I plan to go about it in this manner

cook cauliflower in the broth with bay leaf and pepper.  Toss bay leaf, strain, set cauliflower aside for a bit

cook leeks in the olive oil - once soft, add flour - then milk and broth slowly, making a nice thick sauce like I do with pot pie, then the cauliflower to what I hope is a nice thickened mix.

remove from heat - add cheddar and lemon juice.

Not 100% sure what to expect, but I don't like the original recipe idea of adding milk to heated oil.  I have too many issues with curdling.  Hoping to follow a standard 'white sauce' type of cooking works.

update - I didn't try this, but the Heluva Good reduced sodium cheese did wonderfully when I made cheesy potatoes the other day.  Started with the mirepoix (salt free butter, garlic, onion, celery, carrot), created a whitesauce and added some Mrs. Dash and 8 ounces of this cheese shredded.  While much different in taste from the standard ones made with velveta or extra sharp cheddar and mushroom soup, it was really tasty and the kids have requested it again.   It does amaze me that this is a tasty cheese - without the salt.  I imagine that if I put it on the table with other cheeses, people would ask for the type as it does taste good on its own.  It is delicious on sandwiches as well.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Menieres Disease - a good thing?

We finally know what has been going on with my husband.  It has been a long road, but happily? Yes, now have a name and plan of attack.  It is Meniere's Disease.  No, there isn't a cure, but we are trying meds and low salt (1200 mg per day max).    The goal - 300 mg per meal (max) and that leaves 300 mg to split between two snacks.

It has only been two weeks, but the ringing is lower and the nausea/vomiting and dizziness have gone for now.  We know it is no guarantee, but it has been over a year since he has felt this good.  It is nice to have him feeling better again.

So, on to the low-sodium diet.  Right now, just getting to the 1200 mg per day is a huge learning curve for me.  Luckily we have been making our own bread for a while.  Now it needs to become habit.  I found the bread recipe online ( - I can't find the page right now - it has been almost two years ago, but recipe is below) while looking for a robot instructable.  Gave it a shot and very glad I did.  It does have 124 mg of sodium in the entire recipe.  I adjust with seasonings to go with the meal (garlic/pepper/onion/various oils) or change up the flour content (white, wheat, cornmeal, oatmeal, flax seed, etc.).

Basic recipe - start oven pre-heating at 400 degrees.  Then combine 3 Tbsp yeast, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/2 cup oil - mix well.  Add 1.75 cups hot water (if you have a water-softener - adjust for this - we do with 15 mg per 8 oz water).  Mix well.  Let set for 15 minutes.  Add 5-6 cups of flour - blend and knead for a minute or two until a nice elastic dough.  Make into 30 rolls (or 3 pizza crusts, or 12 hoagie rolls, etc.) and let set for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes of rest, into the oven with the dough.  Bake 10-12 minutes.  Viola - if you did the 30 rolls, and have a water softener, you now have buns with about 5 mg of sodium each!  Much better than the bread we normally bought at 150 mg per slice!

Water softener note - you can use other 'salt' pellets, but like I mentioned, we are only two weeks into this diagnosis, so I am figuring out foods first, other items next.  

So, one fun recipe meatballs marina.

Start by making one bread recipe into hoagies - though sized for 10 from the recipe.  15 mg sodium per bun.  Then I used Aldi's no salt added spaghetti sauce (it is winter in MN - I have to use what I can find locally right now).  25 mg per 1/4 cup.  I used the entire jar (5 servings or 125 mg sodium total).  Did I mention we live on a small farm and I have three teenagers to cook for as well?  The change is happening.  The kids are in support - big time, but it is a challenge right now to make meals both will like and enjoy.  I read it takes 3 months for taste buds to adjust - so maybe by summer. 

Anyway, I found that lamb is the lowest sodium meat I have available in my freezer.  Beef, pork, chicken, and turkey are next (in order from lowest to highest).  Glad the guys like to hunt - venison and pheasant are lowest in sodium and when we have more, I am looking forward to using those meats again.

The meatballs:  two pounds of ground lamb (530 mg sodium), 3/4 cup oatmeal (0 g sodium), garlic, onion, pepper, 2 eggs (124 mg sodium), 1/2 cup milk (50 mg sodium), and mix well.  I then form the mixture into 20 meatballs, cover with the jar of sauce and bake at 350 until done.  Each meatball is figured at 35 mg of sodium.  (including sauce)

For the meal:  1 bun (15 mg sodium), 3 meatballs (105 mg sodium), plus 1/2 ounce of mozzarella cheese (75 mg sodium) makes a generous sized and delicious sandwich with 195 mg sodium.  Add some steamed frozen veggies and fruit for a wonderful meal.

I just got done calculating my oatmeal cookies (a favorite here) and they should come in at 6 mg of sodium per cookie.  They are large size cookies, so will fit into a snack with a cup of milk without issue.

Right now we are only looking to control sodium content.  I will worry about fats more once I finish learning about sodium.  I would love to say - we are there, but after two weeks, I still have a ton to learn.

I have ordered Heluva Good Low sodium cheddar cheese and some Hain sodium free baking powder to try.  Pizza and Taco's are favorites.  Because I am too cheap to purchase taco seasoning, we have made our own for quite some time - salt free - huge bonus!  I also started making my own sausage a while ago as it was cheaper and easier to use our own low fat beef, pork or lamb than to purchase pre-made sausage.  Still working to perfect this one without salt, but the two I have tried so far have been really successful.   

Anyone else just learning how much salt is in everyday foods - my best tip to start - read every label and buy some things to have on hand.  $3.79 for a can of soup seems steep, but it has 35 mg sodium per serving and if I am at work and my husband has to fend for himself - $3.79 is a pretty cheap price to maintain his good health.  The peanut only peanut butter is also good - no sodium and he can put on some salt free crackers or bread I make for a great snack.  Even add some to celery with raisins (another snack he has always enjoyed).

His other option after a busy day - cook some meat using no-salt seasonings, cook some pasta- add a bit of whatever flavor oil or salt free butter you like, add seasoning and cooked frozen veggies.  If you aren't good with seasonings, I have found that Mrs. Dash or Benson's really help - kind of no thought required.  We are all learning, but having some 'instant' things on hand really helps when others have to do the cooking.

I would love to hear about your no salt/low sodium recipes.  If you have a blog, please leave me a link!  Thanks

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Operation Write Home

My first attempts at making cards for Operation Write Home.  While creating scrapbooks and altering don't phase me at all - making simple little cards can be agonizing.  Not that I don't enjoy, just that it is not something I feel talented at.  Kind of like knitting vs. crocheting - one is easy, the other is hard, but the tools are similar.

So, the website (here: said simple is good - and to make a lot of space available for writing.  The card fronts are attached to smooth white cardstock - so lots of space to write.  Both are blank inside.

I found the Lion and Zebra stamps at Stampin Place (here: and thought they were really cute and would make wonderful cards.