When you are on a low sodium diet, some of the foods you miss most are the snacks. However most snacks you want are usually very high in sodium, fat and low in nutrition. Let’s see if we can come up with some better low sodium party food and heart healthy snacks.
1. Fresh Vegetables: Of course fresh vegetables are great for the heart. Packed with nutrition, low in calories, low in fat, high in fiber and very satisfying. For snacking try something with a crunch. Vegetable sticks or crudites. Depending upon how you cut them they are excellent for dips, spreads and vinaigrettes. Carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, etc. are good choices, by themselves or with a dip. A vegetable many don’t know about and makes a great snack is jicama. If you are not familiar with jicama, it tastes somewhat like a cross between an apple and celery. It’s crunchy, and is very good to use like a chip for dips. It’s available in most grocery stores.
2. Fresh Fruits: Are another healthy snack choice. Fruit is low sodium, low fat, full of nutrition, fiber and very satisfying. Try anything with a crunch. Apples are great and there are so many varieties. The more tart apples like Granny Smith are lower in sugar. Pears are good. Frozen seedless grapes taste a lot like popcicles.
3. Traditional Snacks but Low Sodium Versions: There are unsalted versions available of the most common snack foods. Look for unsalted potato chips, unsalted corn chips, popcorn without salt, unsalted nuts, no salt added nut butters, low or no sodium crackers. Taro root chips or banana chips are good. Many of these snacks are baked or dehydrated instead of fried.
Note: Avoid any trans fats and hydrogenated oils. Very bad for the heart.
4. Choose heart healthy options for dips:
- Guacamole: Avocados may be high in fat but it is the good fat that is good for your heart.
- Fresh salsa: Without salt (use fresh limes or lemons instead). There are many types to choose from, not just tomato. Try salsa as chunky or smooth, green or red, hot or mild. Many more types including fresh pineapple salsa or mango salsa. Be adventurous.
- Bean dips: Blend or mash your own prepared beans or no salt added canned beans (drained and rinsed). When most folks think of beans for a dip they think pinto bean dip. Try using other beans such as, black beans, red beans, garbanzo beans (chick peas) for hummus, cannellini beans, etc.
- Dairy based dips: For a more traditional dairy based dip, you can use non-fat or low-fat dairy products versus the regular versions. Choose a dairy, soy or non-dairy sour cream as they are all good tasting, just watch the sodium. Most brands have different amounts of sodium.
Note: Remember regarding most products, the lower the fat, the higher the sodium.
5. Low sodium ways to flavor dips:
- You can add a tasty salt substitute, salt free seasonings, herbs and spices, freshly ground black pepper (try the mixed peppercorns as they are beautiful in a dip), minced fresh chili peppers (from hot to mild, in red or green), minced bell peppers, (red, yellow, green and more), a dash of hot sauce, freshly minced herbs, and the juice of fresh lemons or limes work great.
- A drizzle of flavorful extra virgin olive oil, nut oils, even flavored nut oils, like lemon, garlic, or chili, taste great in dip or as a dip.
- Almost always add fresh minced garlic and onions to your dip recipes. Instead of just using the regular yellow or white onions, try some of the other varieties. Try shallots, green onions or scallions, red onions, sweet onions like maui, walla walla, vidalia, and chives. Just by adding a variety of onions or adding roasted garlic or caramelized onions you can make very flavorful low sodium dips.
Now folks on a low sodium diet, do not need to feel left out during the holidays, parties, or celebrations. They have choices for delicious low sodium party food and a variety of heart healthy snacks.