High-Intensity/ Low-Sodiumby Alice Foster on 02/05/12
Yesterday I went to two of my favorite stores, Penzeys Spices and Vom Fass. If you haven’t heard or visited either of these places you’ve got to try them. I love them for multiple reasons, the employees are super friendly, knowledgeable and helpful and both of these places help me make my meals tasty, creative and healthy. Penzeys Spices here in St. Louis is on Manchester in Maplewood. the second you walk in the door you are wrapped in sweet and spice and everything nice. Penzeys has every spice, herb or blend of the two you could think you want, and of course one’s you didn’t know you wanted but now inexplicable need. Vom Fass is just a few store fronts down Manchester from Penzeys and replaces scents with actual flavors. Upon entry your first time you might need a minute to digest the rows and rows of clay and wooden casks lining the walls, you see, Vom Fass specializes in specialty oils, vinegars, wines and spirits all contained in casks and dispensed into a bottle size of your choice. You can find aged olive oil and balsamic vinegar of course but you can also stretch your mental palate by thinking of how you can incorporate porcini mushroom olive oil or strawberry vinegar into your next meal. Not sure if you want to spend the money on red pepper oil just to find out when you get home it’s not what you wanted? Well, that’s hardly a problem because the employees at Vom Fass encourage you to sample each and every flavor you’re considering. You can purchase a small or large bottle and when you’re finished bring back the clean bottle to get it filled with your next flavor adventure. And this is precisely what had brought me down to Maplewood today, an empty bottle.
The reason I write about either of these stores on a healthy eating blog is because, as I have already stated, they are part of my healthy life. Specifically a low sodium and low blood pressure life. Salt is a flavor enhancer, that’s one reason it’s added to so many foods. So do you get it? Who needs the salt when you have spices, herbs, flavored oils and vinegars! By using these products in my cooking I can reduce the amount of added salt I consume. Sodium can contribute to high blood pressure (hypertension) and therefore kidney and heart problems. To help reduce and maintain healthy blood pressure, which is below 120/80, you too should reduce the amount of sodium in your diet. (To read more about the blood pressure and sodium link check out the references at the end of this post.)
Back to my empty bottle; I had a 250 ml bottle that I wanted to refill and after teetering back and forth I settled on Bordeaux red wine vinegar. Its accompanying card describes it as having a “very rich bouquet and is quite fruity” and suggests its use in sauces on salads with meat because of its “pure and natural taste”. At a $1.49 per 100 ml I got a deal on this superb non-salt flavor enhancer.
Now my object of desire at Penzeys on this day was a replenishment supply of chicken soup base and seasoning. My mom introduced this to me as a way that she was cutting down sodium in her and my father’s diet. The chicken soup base can be used just like bouillon cubes but with anywhere from ¼ to ½ the amount of salt as traditional bouillon. I love having this in the pantry for when I need just a little chicken broth and don’t want to open a whole can or when I’m completely out of chicken broth, it saves the day. All you do is mix 1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon for every 8 ounces hot water and you’ve got delicious, rich tasting stock. Penzeys also has the base and seasoning for beef, pork and seafood.
If you don’t have a Penzeys or Vom Fass near you get on their websites or visit you local grocery store and see what they have to offer in the herb and spices and oil and vinegar isles to start on your own low sodium, high intensity flavor adventure.
Pimenta, E., Gaddam, K. K., Oparil, S., Aban, I., Husain, S., Dell-Italia, L. J., & Calhoun, D. A. (2009). Effects of dietary sodium reduction on blood pressure in subjects with resistant hypertension. Hypertenstion, 54, 475-481.