The Skinny on Salt

Crystalline killer in waiting, essential culinary seasoning or soothing
therapeutic accessory? Sodium chloride is all these things and more.


November-Decmber 2012

by Allan Richter

What a reversal of fortunes for purveyors of salt. In its centuries-old history, salt was once such a valued commodity it was traded as currency over which fierce battles were fought. Today, the mineral is treated as a lurking menace that has a rising chorus of public health authorities warning about the life-threatening consequences of eating too much of it.

The body requires as little as 250 milligrams of sodium a day, proponents of salt restrictions say, but the average American consumes from 3,400 to 3,700 milligrams a day. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend no more than 2,300 milligrams, about a teaspoon of salt, and only 1,500 milligrams for African-Americans and people with high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease.

Americans are so awash in salt that years of public education efforts by the US government—
including the Dietary Guidelines and mandated labeling of sodium content on packaged foods—are “doomed to fail” if processed foods are not reformulated with lower sodium levels, Sonia Y. Angell, MD, a Centers for Disease Control official, said in a recent report (American Journal of Public Health 9/12). At issue is the fact that most salt in our diets comes from sources outside the home kitchen.

Some 77% of sodium consumed is already in packaged and restaurant foods, the CDC says. Another 12% is naturally occurring in food and 11% is added during cooking and at the table. Most people “have little control over their sodium intake,” Angell said. “To reduce sodium intake meaning­fully requires diligent attention to packaged food labels when shopping and knowledge of the sodium content of menu items before ordering in restaurants—a nearly impossible task to sustain.”

Surender Neravetla, MD, author of Salt Kills (Health Books Now), says the ubiquity of salt has made people complacent. “We have grown accustomed to salting our food without realizing how dangerous the consequences are,” he said. “Salt is permanently disabling or prematurely killing millions and millions of people every year.”

Some 56 million Americans suffer from conditions either caused or aggravated by consuming salt, says Neravetla, director of Cardiac Surgery at Springfield Regional Medical Center in Ohio. High blood pressure inflicts damage on multiple organ systems, he and others add, including the heart.
Sodium makes your blood retain more water, which in turn forces your heart to pump harder and hikes your blood pressure. Impaired blood flow can lead to an array of conditions, including impotence, vascular dementia, blurry vision and kidney failure. High blood pressure can harm pregnant women and their fetuses because it can cause premature delivery and low birth weight, observes Robyn Webb, MS, a Washington, DC nutritionist and author of You Won’t Believe It’s Salt-Free! (Da Capo), a low- and no-sodium cookbook. In addition, Webb says, excessive sodium can leach calcium from bones and heighten the risk of osteoporosis.

“Some people assume that if they are among the two-thirds of the population that is not sodium-
sensitive and don’t have high blood pressure, then they don’t have to worry one bit,” Webb says. “Think again.”

Timothy Harlan, MD, author of the diet book Just Tell Me What to Eat! (Da Capo), links excessive salt consumption to obesity. Harlan points to one study of other cultures in which those with the lowest–sodium diets had the lowest BMI. On Day 16 of his six-week diet plan, Harlan encourages followers of the plan to pay closer attention to their sodium consumption and try their hand at a couple of low-sodium recipes rather than eating processed foods. (Harlan puts sodium consumption in the average American diet at a whopping 6,000 milligrams, or 2½ teaspoons of salt, a day.)

Monitoring sodium consumption is tricky business not just because of all the foods the mineral is hidden in, but because a salt craving can mask other medical conditions. While many people who crave salty carbohydrates are after the carbs, a true salt craving can be a symptom of decreased cortisol production by the adrenal glands, a condition known as Addison’s disease, says Scott Isaacs, MD, author of Beat Overeating Now! (Fair Winds). Salt cravings, Isaacs adds, should prompt a visit to your healthcare practitioner.

Similarly, if you are retaining water, a condition known as edema, make sure sodium is the true culprit. While excessive sodium consumption is the most common cause of water retention, it isn’t the only cause, observes United Kingdom-based health writer Hazel Courteney, author of 500 of the Most Important Health Tips You’ll Ever Need (Cico). Food intolerances, usually of wheat and dairy products from cows, can trigger edema. Water retention can also occur during pregnancy.

Mineral Imbalance

Consuming too much sodium throws your sodium-to-potassium ratio askew. As it is, the average American consumes roughly 2,000 milligrams of potassium when the recommended value is 3,500 milligrams. The sodium-potassium ratio should be closer to 1:1. But, with excess sodium in the mix, the ratio is four times more sodium than potassium, says Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, author of Real Cause, Real Cure (Rodale).

That’s a problem because our kidneys evolved to excrete potassium and retain sodium, a system not made for a diet light on potassium and heavy on sodium, Teitelbaum says. When our kidneys fail to adapt to this diet, the result is high blood pressure. At issue is nitric oxide, which relaxes arteries. A high level of sodium in the diet can block nitric oxide, while potassium activates this substance, reducing pressure in the arteries and lowering the risk of hypertension.

Reducing sodium consumption can yield myriad benefits. If Americans cut their daily sodium intake by just 400 milligrams, or a fraction of a teaspoon, some 28,000 lives could be saved and $7 billion saved annually in healthcare costs, the CDC estimates.

Cooking more at home, care­fully reading labels when shopping, and asking for less or no
salt added when ordering at restaurants is a prescription for trimming your sodium consumption.

Cutting or avoiding certain foods altogether can keep your sodium consumption in check, too. A CDC study this year found that just ten foods accounted for 44% of the sodium that Americans consume. Bread alone contributed to more than 7% of the daily sodium intake among the study’s 7,227 American subjects. Bread (one large plain bagel can contain 700 milligrams of sodium) was followed by cold cuts, pizza, poultry, soups and sandwiches. The list also included cheese, pasta and mixed-meat meals such as meatloaf and snacks, each adding up to 4% of daily sodium consumption.

Salt by the Spoonful

Sodium in One Teaspoon, by Salt Type

Table Salt 2,300 mg
Kosher Salt 1,800 mg
Sea Salt 1,600 mg
Light Salt 1,150 mg

 

Source: Beat Overeating Now!
(Fair Winds) by Scott Isaacs MD

Courteney, the health writer, adds hot dogs, sauces, olives, potato chips, preserved meats and pickles to the list of high-sodium culprits. Even some chocolate drinks can contain high amounts of salt.

Only a few people with hypertension are very salt-sensitive, however, so eating less salt may not correct the problem immediately; it can take years of a salt-restricted diet to do the job, according to You: The Owner’s Manual (HarperResource) by the television personality Mehmet C. Oz, MD, and Michael F. Roizen, MD.

For foodies, the good news about a salt-restricted diet is that your taste buds can become acclimated to less salt, says Harlan. He points to an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study in which people who ate a salt-restricted diet over five months were able to perceive salt more intensely.

It’s easy to deceive yourself. You may think you’re doing your heart a favor by reaching for, say, pumpkin seeds, flaxseed and sunflower seeds for their healthful unrefined oils, but many of these goodies, when bought packaged, come salted.

Harlan encourages consumers to employ a “20/5” rule when checking packages in the market. It’s a good sign if the sodium content (as well as fat and cholesterol content) is less than 5% of the daily recommended value, but you should reconsider if it’s more than 20%. (Use the reverse percentages, Harlan recommends, to gauge proper total carbohydrate, dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals—less than 5% is not good, more than 20% is.)

Harlan also recommends reconsidering the product if sodium is one of the first three ingredients listed, since ingredients are listed in order of amount by weight.

Adding to the confusion is that some foods can be labeled “no sodium/salt added,” even though they contain ingredients naturally high in sodium, Harlan observes. These foods include baking soda, miso, flour, celery and crab.

Salt Substitutes

Many consumers substitute sea salt for table salt, believing they are avoiding the health risks associated with the latter. But there’s not much added benefit to sea salt, says Robert Davis, PhD, author of Coffee is Good for You: The Truth About Diet and Nutrition Claims (Perigee). Sea salt (and kosher salt) have coarser grains and therefore less sodium by volume (see table above). But there is no solid evidence to back up claims that the sodium in sea salt is less harmful because the salt is less processed than table salt, says Davis. And levels of any additional minerals in sea salt are so low that they are not likely to provide a health benefit, he adds.

Davis concedes, however, that the minerals in sea salt can add flavor, which could let you ease up on the amount of salt you put on your food.

For a healthy salt substitute, wellness writer Courteney recommends nori or kelp flakes from seaweed. Isaacs suggests buying a camping gear salt shaker with a removable top to carry around with you filled with your favorite chili powder, black pepper or paprika. Chili pepper, like paprika, contains capsaicin, which stimulates thermogenesis, a process that converts extra calories into heat. Black pepper, also a natural fat burner, contains piperine, which studies show increases the energy needed to digest food.

The avalanche of anti-sodium research has the salt lobby parading a raft of studies of its own, most feverishly since the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans adjusted recommended salt levels downward two years ago. The Salt Institute, an Alexandria, Virginia, trade group, has trotted out studies pointing to the risks associated with a low-sodium diet. One Harvard Medical School research paper linked insulin resistance in healthy people to low-salt diets. And an American Journal of Hypertension study last year found that people on low-salt diets developed higher levels of rennin, cholesterol and triglycerides, which increase the risk of heart disease.

Indeed, why not turn to salt for the solution? That’s the question that Mark Bitterman, author of Salted: A Manifesto on the World’s Most Essential Mineral, with Recipes (Ten Speed Press), is asking.

Bitterman, selmelier, or salt expert, of The Meadow, an artisanal salt, chocolate and wine boutique shop with Portland, Oregon, and New York locations, is excited about the revival of interest in artisanal salts, evidenced by the growing popularity of fleur de sel caramels, or salted caramel, as well as the combination of salt and chocolate. These are salts that have history and culture behind them and have been carefully cultivated, says Bitterman, whose book profiles 80 artisan salts and their characters and stories.

Bitterman writes poetically, even romantically about these purer varieties of the mineral. “Sprinkle the parchment-fine flakes of Maldon sea salt on homegrown butter leaf lettuce dressed in a shallot vinaigrette, and you will experience a chlorophyll dynamo that strums at the very heart of nature,” Bitterman writes in Salted. “Salt sates the alchemist’s desire, transmuting food to fantasy.”

Perhaps the compromise can be found in Bitterman’s thesis. Make the effort to learn and appreciate fine artisanal salts, replacing the two basic refined salts produced by large chemical companies and found on most shelves (known as vacuum pan salt and industrial sea salt), Bitterman reasons, and your sharpened culinary know-how will translate to other areas of improved nutrition.

“Salting mindfully, and with a basic understanding of a salt’s properties and behavior,” Bitterman says, “will lead inescapably to better nutrition and better tasting food. Master salt, and virtually every food will shine in a new light.”

When a Salt Cocoon Can Help

A dip in the dead sea and visits to rooms and caves
made of salt can be therapeutic.

By Linda Melone

When Linda La Rosa’s five-year-old daughter, Gina, developed a congested cough one October, she tried all the traditional remedies without success. “She’d cough all day and night with no relief from cough medicines,” says La Rosa, a teacher’s aide from Rockaway, New Jersey. La Rosa’s pediatrician tried various antibiotics without success. Allergy tests came up negative aside from a mild reaction to cats (to which she was rarely exposed) and pollen, but very minimal, says La Rosa.

Gina’s relief came in spring, when the cough subsided. This cycle repeated itself until Gina turned 7½ years old. Finally a pulmonologist diagnosed her with allergy-induced asthma, which he believed may be related to mold from fall leaves. Steroids and an inhaler three times a day provided some relief but not much.

A year later Gina went to the shore for a weekend. Surprisingly, by the end of the weekend Gina’s cough was completely gone. Curious to find a link between the ocean visit and the relief of Gina’s symptoms, La Rosa did a bit of research and discovered that salt air often helps those with breathing issues. She also found out that salt caves mimic this effect.

So when La Rosa heard of a salt cave opening in her area, she signed Gina up for sessions at Respira Salt Wellness Center in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey.

“We started off with three sessions a week,” says La Rosa. “Within a month or so she no longer had her cough.” Her pulmonologist declared her lungs completely clear. Gina, now 11½ years old, continues salt cave treatments and is completely off all medications. “We were thrilled to know that we had stumbled upon something natural that could finally help her,” says La Rosa.

A Healing Mineral

As a mineral more often associated with negative health issues such as hypertension, salt seems like an unlikely healer. Yet its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties make it a boon to those with respiratory ailments. In the same way saline nasal sprays and gargling with salt water helps ward off infections, inhaling tiny salt particles may help ease a number of breathing-related disorders.

A number of studies, including one published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood (3/07), show that inhaling hypertonic saline improves lung function in cystic fibrosis and bronchial asthma patients. “Bacteria doesn’t like salt, so it makes sense that we can use saline to help disorders,” says Moshe Lewis, MD, a San Francisco-based wellness expert specializing in natural pain relief.

“Although there’s some debate over how much it can help viral infections, there’s definitely some support for its effectiveness. It’s natural, it’s safe and it’s gaining popularity.”

International Roots

Called halo therapy (halo is Greek for salt), speleotherapy or salt room therapy, salt mines and salt therapy are currently in use widely throughout Eastern Europe and have begun to flourish in the US.
Salt caves use a device called a halogenerator, which was invented in the 1980s, says Etya Novik, owner of Respira Salt Wellness Center. This equipment produces dry salt in an aerosol form.

Treatments involve simply relaxing or playing (for children) in the salt-infused room for approximately 45- to 60-minute sessions. As you inhale the salt-laden air (which is described as smelling “clean”) the tiny particles enter deep into your lungs. Once there, the salt particles absorb moisture, clear mucus and kill bacteria.

Novik initially became interested in halo therapy when her seven-year old daughter developed asthma. “Therapies started in Europe but many doctors in the US had never heard of it. It’s still on the cutting edge.” Novik’s pulmonologist gave her the go-ahead. Novik used a combination of halo therapy along with reiki (a form of energy healing) and massage.

Her daughter, now 10, was able to eliminate one of her two medications and often carries around her rescue inhaler without having to use it. “I’m happy when the thing expires and she has not had to use it,” says Novik. Her daughter remains under the care of a pulmonologist.

A randomized, placebo-controlled study published in the journal Pneumologia (7-9/07) showed that halotherapy improved the quality of life in patients with emphysema, as measured in walking distance, a common quality of life parameter for those who have emphysema, says Corey Schuler, DC, LN, national medical educator for Natural Health International, a leading supplier of Himalayan Crystal Salt, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. “We’ve seen success with salt treatments used to treat those with emphysema, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma and various other conditions,” says Schuler, who compares the effect as similar to that of a neti pot (a small pot
used with saline water which helps clear sinuses).

Schuler uses a dry salt inhaler with his patients, which replicates halotherapy (dry salt inhalers
may be found in many health food stores and online) and says salt caves are now popping up in Minnesota. “It’s easy, you simply go to the cave and inhale.”

A Cautionary Note

Although its proponents claim halotherapy is safe for everyone since the salt is not absorbed into
the skin, Schuler does not recommend salt therapy for people with blood pressure in the high range of about 190 over 100. “We don’t know how the salt will be absorbed,” he says.

If you go to a salt cave, Schuler recommends asking about the salt’s origin. “The best salt comes from Pakistan, as it has the broadest range of minerals.” In addition, from an ethical perspective, ask whether the salt is blasted out of the mine. “While blasting harvests a lot more salt, it’s terrible from an ecological perspective and a health perspective, as dynamite residue ends up on some of the product,” says Schuler.

 

Where to Find Salt Caves

Along with its health benefits, relaxing in a salt cave qualifies it as a rapidly
growing popular spa treatment with new centers opening each year. Search under your
state’s name and “halotherapy” or “salt caves” to find one near you.

Here’s a partial listing:

Chicago

Galos Cave Spa
Timeless Spa and Salt Cave
www.galoscaves.com
www.timelessdayspa.com
Colorado Salt Spa, Boulder www.saltspacolorado.com
California Salt Chalet, Encino
Diamond Family Spa,
Rowland Heights
http://saltchalet.com
www.diamondfamilyspa.com
Florida The Salt Room, Orlando www.saltroomorlando.com
Virginia Williamsburg
Salt Spa in Williamsburg
www.williamsburgsaltspa.com
New Jersey Respira Salt Wellness Center
Bask Spa at Revel
www.respirasalt.com
www.revelresorts.com
New York City La Casa Day Spa www.lacasaspa.com
Massachusetts Alantra Spa, North Reading www.alantraspa.com

 

The World’s Biggest Mineral Bath

At the Neve Midbar public beach less than a mile from the Qumran caves, where Bedouin goatherds found the ancient Dead Sea Scrolls 65 years ago, Dierdre Mutimutema, 29, a banker from Zimbabwe, walked along the beige and gray sand with an armful of smooth black mud she scooped up from the Dead Sea. With her free hand she reached into the pile, gently dabbing small clumps on her chin and cheeks. Although an Israeli tour bus was waiting for her, Mutimutema walked slowly and dreamily, as if she had just woken from a nap.

She in fact hadn’t slept, but she did spend an afternoon in the Dead Sea’s salt-thick and mineral-rich waters. “It’s refreshing,” she said with a broad smile. “I feel lighter.”

A couple enjoy the therapeutic powers of the Dead Sea’s mineral-rich and skin-softening black mud.

Welcome to the world’s biggest therapeutic mineral bath. Set in the heart of the Great Syrian-African rift valley—at 1,320 feet below sea level, the lowest spot on Earth—the Dead Sea attracts visitors the world over for its rich mineral content and the healing powers many swear by. Its waters contain 21 minerals including magnesium, calcium, bromine and potassium. A dozen minerals are found in no other sea or ocean, Israeli health and tourism officials say.

At the International Psoriasis Treatment Center at the Dead Sea, patients are treated for psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, atopic dermatitis and eczema with what health practitioners have termed “climatother­apy,” combining the high concentration of salts in the Dead Sea with exposure to high-intensity UVA made more tolerable by the natural filter of the extra distance sunlight has to travel to this low spot.

At the public Mineral Beach, bathers scoop up mud from shoreline barrels prepared by beach officials. Families and other beachgoers cover themselves and each other head to toe, hoping to beautify and smooth their hair as well as their skin.

Oleg Hayoyshyn, 51, a tourist from the Ukraine who spent five days this summer at the Dead Sea with his wife and daughter, had a different wellness mission in mind. Burdened with severe sinus pain, Hayoyshyn said he was experimenting with his own treatment.

Although submerging your head in the Dead Sea’s waters is a rare and risky feat because doing so can bitterly sting your eyes, he repeatedly dunked his head to clear his nose with the water while his wife stood by with a dry towel. Bearing the sting, Hayoyshyn said, was a preferred, more natural approach than the alternative: “I don’t like special sinus and nose sprays because of the chemicals in them,” he said.

Sima Weiskop, 53, visits the Dead Sea from her home in Tal El, in northern Israel, for two or three days each month. She was bathing at the beach by the Isrotel Dead Sea hotel in the Ein Boqek region. After immersing herself in the hot salty water all day, she often returns for a night swim. “If I come here many times,” she said, “I find I don’t get sick in the winter.”
—A.R.

 

Breathe Easier with
Himalayas Salt Inhaler

Thousands of people with respiratory ailments have visited European salt mines for speleotherapy, breathing in the clean, rich salt air. Scientific studies back speleotherapy as an effective way to get relief from respiratory conditions. Replicating the salt mines experience is the Himalayas Salt-filled Inhaler. The device can be refilled with Himalayan Salt, with more than 80 trace minerals and elements to help give you relief from asthma, chronic cough, colds and other respiratory conditions. Visit www.TheSaltLady.com.

 

Versatile Salt Blocks
Make Handy Kitchen Tool

There are many uses for Himalayan Salt Cart’s slabs of Himalayan Pink Salt blocks. One of our favorites is to heat it on the grill and cook our favorite barbecue items to perfection on it—meats, fish, vegetables, and more. You can even do homemade pizza on a round block.

You can also use the tiles as cutting boards and serving dishes, as salt is naturally anti-bacterial and anti-microbial. With proper care, these durable tiles will last surprisingly long. Visit www.HimalayanSaltCart.com.


The Benefits of a Himalayan Salt Lamp

A Himalayan Salt Lamp is a chunk of Himalayan Crystal Salt that has been mined and attached to a sturdy base made of wood or some other durable material. These salt lamps range in size from 3 lbs to 60 lbs., or more. The salt lamp is drilled out at the center of the base beneath the lamp to provide a space for a light source. Adding a light inside a Himalayan Salt Lamp warms the salt from within and is said to facilitate the release of negative ions from the Himalayan Salt into the atmosphere.

Himalayan Salt Lamps are aesthetically pleasing and enhance mood. Many people place several salt lamps in a room. Himalayan Salt Lamps come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and designs to accommodate any size or style room. Visit www.YourSaltLamps.com.

 

 

Explore ‘World of Salt’
with The Spice Lab

The Spice Lab’s Sea Salt Collections introduce the ‘World of Salt’ in unique gift pack sampler sets to explore exotic new tastes and enticing aromas. These affordable, portable, and decorative packages come in 4, 6 or 11 test tube sets. Each has a custom, American-made wooden base constructed from recycled shipping pallets and other discarded wood. Each Pyrex test tube with all-natural cork stopper contains from .6 to 1.3 oz. of salt, depending on its density, with most having over 1 ounce of sea salt. A reference card offers suggestions matching salts with dishes. Also included is a bamboo salt spoon. Visit www.thespicelab.com.

Frontier Offers Variety of Gourmet Salts

Frontier Natural Products Co-op features an enticing variety of gourmet salts. Its alder smoked salt gets its authentic flavor from being slowly smoked over true alderwood. Hawaiian Red Sea Salt is non-processed and rich in trace minerals found in sea water. A small amount of harvested reddish Hawaiian clay (Alaea) enriches the salt with iron-oxide. Traditionally, Hawaiians used this salt in ceremonies to cleanse, purify and bless tools and canoes, as well, in healing rituals for medicinal purposes. Frontier’s Grey Sea Salt is an all natural sea salt, unrefined and unprocessed, sourced from the Guerande Region in Brittany, France. This mineral rich sea salt is harvested by traditional Celtic methods using a paludier, a craftsman salt harvester. For more, visit www.frontiercoop.com.

 

 

HimalaSalt’s Ethically
Sourced Sea Salt

HimalaSalt is ethically sourced, artisan-made pink Himalayan Sea Salt and is Kosher Certified, Green-e Certified (made by 100% renewable wind and solar energy), and sustainably packaged, with 5% of profits going to the environment and back to the source community.  All of HimalaSalt’s pink Himalayan Sea Salt crystals are hand-harvested from a protected source deep in the Himalaya Mountains, using centuries old artisan methods that do not include the modern practices of dynamite blasting or child labor. To learn more about HimalaSalt’s array of products, visit www.himalasalt.com.

Salt from Salt Sisters for Every Occasion

Salt Sisters offers a wide range of gourmet salts, from organic French sea salts to flavored sea salts fused with pure, natural ingredients such as Black Truffle, Chili Verde, Chipotle, Expresso Brava, Ghost Pepper, Green Tea, Habanero, Jalopeno, Lemon Twist, Lime Fresco, Roasted Garlic, Smoked Serrano, Spanish Rosemary, Spiced Curry, Sun Ripened Tomato, Szechuan Pepper, Thai Ginger, Toasted Onion, Vanilla Bean, Vintage Merlot, White Truffle and Wild Porchini. Visit www.SaltSistersOnline.com.

 

Redmond’s Earthpaste
Natural Toothpaste

To create toothpaste as natural as possible, Redmond Trading started with hydrated Redmond Clay and added Xylitol, essential oils, and its Real Salt product. Unlike many brands of toothpaste, Earthpaste contains no foaming agents like SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) and no chemicals like titanium dioxide to make the paste bright white.  Visit www.RedmondTrading.com.

 

RECIPE

Old-Fashioned Chicken and Rice Soup

 14 SERVINGS/SERVING SIZE: 1 CUP

PREPARATION TIME: 10 MINUTES

COOK TIME: 3 HOURS

CHILLING TIME: OVERNIGHT 

Ever look at the sodium content of most canned or boxed chicken soups?
Let’s just say the numbers are truly astounding. But not here.
Everyone loves a good chicken soup when a bit under the weather.
This soup, made with fresh herbs, is sure to resolve all your ills.

Chicken Stock

1 (4-pound) chicken, cut into parts, washed
2 large onions, unpeeled, quartered
4 medium-size carrots, unpeeled, cut into chunks
4 large celery stalks, chopped coarsely
6 sprigs fresh parsley
6 black peppercorns
3 bay leaves

Soup

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large celery stalk, sliced diagonally into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon salt-free all-purpose seasoning
1 cup long-grain basmati rice
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme 

1. Prepare the stock: Put the chicken parts in a heavy stockpot.
Add the onions, carrots, and celery stalks.

Add 3 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Skim the surface and remove any gray residue.

2. Add the parsley, peppercorns, and bay leaves.
Partially cover the pan and simmer over low heat for 2 to 21/2 hours.
Remove the chicken parts and set aside to cool, then refrigerate overnight.

3. Line a large colander with cheesecloth and strain the broth, pressing on the solids.
Discard the vegetables and reserve all the broth.
Transfer the stock to a large container and refrigerate overnight.

4. Remove the stock from the refrigerator. Spoon off any solidified fat and discard;
the stock should be clear.

5. Prepare the soup: In a large pot, heat the olive oil.
Add the onion and saut. for 5 minutes. Add the carrots,
celery, and all-purpose seasoning and saut. for 3 minutes.
Add the rice and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil.
Lower the heat and simmer for 6 to 7 minutes.

6. While the rice is cooking, remove and discard all the bones and skin from the chicken parts.
Cut about 1 pound of the chicken meat into small pieces for the soup.
Save any remaining chicken for another use.

Wrap the leftover chicken in an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

7. Stir the cooked chicken into the soup and cook for 3 minutes.
Season with freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Sprinkle the soup with the parsley and thyme.

 

DID YOU KNOW?

The average can of soup contains half a day’s worth of sodium!

 

BASIC NUTRITIONAL VALUES

Calories 130

Calories from Fat 25

Total Fat 3.0 g

Saturated Fat 1.0 g

Trans Fat 0 g

Cholesterol 30 mg

Sodium 45 mg

Total Carbohydrate 14 g

Dietary Fiber 1 g

Sugars 2 g

Protein 11 g 

From the book You Won’t Believe It’s Salt-Free!, by Robyn Webb.  Reprinted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group.  Copyright © 2012.

 

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