Over the Salt

Mindful choices for healthy and low sodium cooking

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30 minute scones

Scones or biscuits

Scones photo by Ria Loader September 2014

My sister taught me this recipe when she was here over the summer. In Australia we call these ‘scones’ and in America, these are often called ‘biscuits’. It’s a quick recipe that relies on the ‘shortness’ of the pastry by way of butter. In this case, it is low salt, and low sugar, but not low in fat, just so you know. The buttery taste is the point, in this case. Something that satisfies the craving for fat, but without blowing out the salt requirement. Giving in to cravings occasionally is a good way to stick to the low-salt diet.


2 cups of flour
2 tablespoons flour for coating the final mix
1/2 cup baking sugar (or splenda, xylitol, date sugar, your choice)
1 egg (optional)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk (or substitute)
1 stick of butter


Chopped dates, apricots, sultanas, raisons


Combine the dry ingredients – flour, sugar, fruit
Soften the butter and combine by hand until it makes ‘crumbles’
Make a well in the middle
Add the milk (Colleen says the milk should be 1/3 up the well so vary accordingly. I just pour it by eye)
Combine by hand until it sticks together
(yes, you can add extra flour or milk to make it sticky but maleable but do not overwork it)
Form into a rough square about an inch thick
Cut with a knife into 12-16 pieces
Rough form with palms and put onto parchment covered baking sheet about 1/2 inch apart
Put into pre-heated oven at 400 degrees farenheight for 18-22 minutes until golden
Done when they spring back
Cool for 5 minutes and enjoy!

Eat within 3 days or freeze to enjoy later

Visual Stages - photo by Ria

Visual Stages – photo by Ria overthesalt.com

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Cooking with low salt

I’ve learned a bunch of things in the past year about reducing or eliminating salt from our diet. Most of the heavy work was right at the beginning, where I read the ingredients on every can, jar, package and bottle of food in the house. I was so surprised to find how much sodium and potassium were in almost everything. And if it had low salt, then the sugar and fat were higher than usual. Through a process of elimination, and re-learning to cook with raw ingredients, we were able to keep the salt minimal, and well within the impossible-sounding 1500 mg a day we were presented with at first. Nowadays, it is a rare thing indeed for Raven to exceed 1000 mg a day, and my own salt intake is around 1500 most days.

We had been reading cans for a while (for sugar content), but had missed the sodium as a health risk. Now we are shopping in the produce rows at the grocery store, for the most part, and cautiously adding other “safe” foods along the way. The amount of processed food has gone down so much, we are losing pounds effortlessly without feeling like it is any kind of diet.

It does take practice, and mindful attention, but I have to say it is worth it. My sweetie is taking the heart meds and diuretics (which helps) and has dropped 60 pounds now. For me, just following along and eating the same food has dropped 45 pounds. That’s like a small person. It certainly leads to more energy to do the things we want to do, and playing with recipes has been a whole lot of fun.

Have been collecting recipes and photos along the way, and the next little while will see me posting a bunch of vege bakes, fabulous potato dishes, and quick ways to make caramelized onions. Hope you are enjoying our journey as much as we are – R

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Over the Salt

Salt in various forms - image by frenchbyte from morguefile.comLet’s face it. There is too much salt in canned food, packaged food, and snacks. Gone are the days when salt was a rare condiment, when sitting “above the salt” indicated wealth or prestige. Now we’re in a world where salt is used as a preservative as much as a flavor enhancer. Sometimes, the amount of salt in recipes is too much for good health. Nowadays, I use much less salt in cooking, and when I do use it, I do so mindfully.

When my spouse had heart failure a few months back, a low salt diet became necessary for his recovery. Otherwise, he would have too much fluid build up in his body and lungs, and that would be what I’d call a very bad thing. When I took a look at the pantry, almost all the food had to go. Soups? Out. Frozen dinners? Gone. Breads? Only a few brands would work. Mystery food from restaurants? Gone forever. Needless to say, this prompted a re-evaluation of what constituted health food. It also meant an urgent call to my sister, Colleen, to provide recipe help. As a chef, I was sure she would have the scoop on approaches to take. I also asked my extended social networks, in person and online for suggestions.

I experimented with sauces, spices and snacks made from fresh ingredients. By reading all the labels, it was even possible to find brands that were okay to use as part of recipes. When my sister came to visit for a few weeks from Sydney this spring, we had a lot of fun finding recipes that could work as-is or be adapted. We’ve decided to share those here, and continue experimenting together as a Sydney to Seattle collaboration. We hope that others will join us in trying low salt, savory dishes that taste delicious.