Hello health-conscious readers! Welcome to the first installment of a three-part series on one of my favorite topics: how to live SOS-free.
You may or may not have heard that term — but what does this acronym actually mean? It means eating food without added salt/sodium, oils/fats, and added sugar/sweeteners.
At first, cutting out these common ingredients may sound like an extreme concept, but it’s actually an amazing way of living — healthy, colorful, and delicious!
All of my recipes have what I call the “Garden of Eydie treatment” — I cook with no, or minimal amounts of salt, little to no added oils, and no added sugars.
Eating like this is a way to be kind to yourself, as eating whole and unprocessed plant food is the best case scenario for your health and well-being. Your body will thank you.
An SOS-free life means steering clear of concentrated, processed foods that do damage to our minds and bodies.
Think of it this way: Salt is concentrated sodium, oil is concentrated fat, and refined sugar is concentrated sugar. We get more than enough salt, fat, and sugar in natural foods; there’s really no need to eat the processed versions.
Of course, the concentrated versions are addictive! That’s why it’s so hard to eat just one or two potato chips, cookies, or pieces of cheese.
And while they may taste good in the moment, these ingredients are the cause of almost all chronic diseases and ailments, from heart disease and type two diabetes to obesity and even cancer.
What’s the Problem With Salt?
Sodium is a natural ingredient, and we need some of it in our diets to stay healthy, but table salt is actually a concentrated version of this mineral.
Humans need no more than 1/4 teaspoon of sodium per day. If you’re a fan of the salt shaker, you know that this is not very much.
The overconsumption of salt is linked to high blood pressure, stroke, osteoporosis, stomach cancer, and heart disease; the scientific evidence is clear.
Sadly, the standard American diet (otherwise known as the “SAD” diet!) is ALL about the salt. Processed foods have tons of added sodium to make them taste good and stay preserved as they sit on store shelves.
In fact, natural foods taste even better without this inflammatory substance. Once your palate adjusts to the lack of added salt (it takes about a week or so), you will be delighted at how delicious the unadulterated flavors of food can be. Something as simple as steamed broccoli and blanched greens will delight your palate!
If you have too much salt in your diet, you might feel bloated, overly thirsty, or have a foggy brain. And even if you don’t feel anything out of the ordinary, cutting way back on salt will help you lead a longer, healthier life.
This is not about throwing out your entire salt supply! A tiny bit is just fine. The key is learning how to cook, shop, and eat without it; reading labels more carefully, adjusting recipes, and trying new ways of cooking.
Once you start reading the fine print at the grocery store, you’ll be surprised at how much sodium lurks in everyday food. Including sweets!
Cooking Without Salt
When you use whole, unprocessed ingredients and cook with love, your food will taste as wonderful as you will begin to feel.
Local fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes have amazing flavor, If your palate is accustomed to processed foods and/or animal products, it will reset itself fairly quickly. Once it does, you will begin to appreciate the naturally vibrant flavors in whole, plant-based food.
If you’re wondering how to cook without salt, the key is exchanging the shaker for fresh and dried herbs, spices and citrus. These key ingredients add a world of wonderful flavor without the negative effects of salt!
Check out my recipes for Cucumber Salad With Cucumber, Dill, And Mustard Dressing; Smoky Veggie-Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms With A Spicy Creamy Herb Sauce; and Alphonso Mango and Curried Chickpea Salad to learn how to cook some delicious dishes with little to no added sodium.
And remember, while an SOS-Free life may take a little bit of getting used to, I promise it’s worth it! Imagine being healthy, energetic, and youthful — at any age!
That’s what it’s like to live in the Garden of Eydie.
Stay tuned for parts two and three of this SOS-Free series where I’ll talk about why you should avoid added oils/fats and sugar/sweeteners!