Low Sodium Thanksgiving – Third Year

stuffing-croutonsI am reprising this post from two years ago when I cooked my first low-sodium Thanksgiving dinner — attending to sodium because of my father’s congestive heart failure diet requirements.

Most preparations are staying the same, though I am dividing the stuffing this year into two parts. The first half I will prepare in a crockpot. The other half I’ll roast inside a pumpkin. Watch for a picture.

Each year this preparation gets easier and easier, because so many people are experimenting and trying out new ideas. But another reason is my local Penzy’s spice store  — the selection of low salt and no salt spices continues to increase giving me more and more options.

Start November 2011 Thanksgiving Post

I’ve just read an article, Experts Warn: Thanksgiving Poses Hidden Sodium Dangers, describing the dangers of stealth sodium in Thanksgiving foods. The Associated Press article, which appeared in NJ.com points out that people can reach and exceed the appropriate daily sodium intake just in the one holiday meal. A big thank-you to my cousin, Sandy, for sending me the link.       

To get started, I’ve ordered a free-range turkey. It’s organic and not brined. I’ll find out exactly how much sodium it contains, but I’ve been told by Whole Foods that it will be on the low-end.

The hardest part of my plans is the stuffing. Every brand that I’ve examined —  I’ve used packaged bags of stuffing in past years — has 400 milligrams of sodium per serving or more, and some have as much as 600 milligrams. I’ve tried three supermarkets. So this year I have a new stuffing strategy — I am preparing the stuffing from scratch.

To get started, on each of the past three days I have purchased a baguette at the grocery store bakery — whole wheat, white, and something else — I can’t remember. Reading the labels, I’ve found that these baguettes are lower in sodium than most other breads in the supermarket bakery. I’ve sliced each loaf, cut each piece into squares, put the squares on a cookie sheet, added a bit of garlic powder, and put the sheet in the oven for 30 minutes at 200 degrees. I now have two Ziploc bags full of giant croutons.

Tomorrow I plan to make stuffing with unsalted butter, low sodium  broth, at least two eggs, fresh and dried herbs, onions, dried peaches and raisins, and a few other ingredients and to get the seasoning as good as possible I’ll probably need to do a lot of tasting. As with many low-sodium recipes the ingredients include 1/4 teaspoon of salt, but I’ve discovered that I can measure out that much and then experiment with adding at first only a pinch of it and then another pinch. Often I do not need to add anywhere near that quarter teaspoon.

Check out these other posts about my family’s low-sodium adventure.

Aging Parents, Disease of Aging, and Sodium - Low Sodium Diet: Seniors Get Started in their Eighties - Hospital Cafeteria with No Low Sodium Options - Making Sense of Sodium Labels and Numbers - Five Lessons Learned About Cutting Back on Sodium - Cooking and Eating on Vacation  –  We Kept to the Program on Vacation! - Figuring Out How to Adjust a Much-Loved Thanksgiving Recipe  - Making Choices that Lower the Count - New Research About American Sodium Consumption

2 thoughts on “Low Sodium Thanksgiving – Third Year

  1. Thanks for the informative blog post. How did the pumpkin stuffing turn out? We tried about 5 different low-sodium versions leading up to Thanskgiving, and finally settled on one that included homemade bread, eggs, low-sod broth, onions, celery, and poultry seasoning (baked in a round, glass pan). The top could have been crispier but the consistency and flavor was great. My husband has to keep a daily sodium in-take of less than 1k mgs so we have to be pretty strict about our cooking. Cheers.

    • Hi Brooke! The pumpkin stuffing turned out beautifully! I bought a pumpkin that was intended for cooking, cleaned and scraped it out, filled it with the stuffing, and cooked it in the oven for about 90 minutes.The stuffing was extra moist, and I served it on each plate on top of a piece of the pumpkin, so it looked great. Some people ate the pumpkin and some did not. I think that using the pumpkin as the cooking container took away some of the yearning for salt because the other herb flavors melded so well.

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