Modern life is busy. I often feel like the proverbial one-woman band, simultaneously beating a big bass drum, while blowing into a horn, and kicking my legs in the air. Most of my days are spent on overdrive and there are moments when I find myself suddenly wondering… when the (bleep) did I last eat..? I am STARVING. Although I do sometimes succumb to the lure of ordering out, eating out, or picking at food I just know I shouldn’t, here are some ideas for speedy stuff that won’t compromise your low sodium diet.
Not just for kids anymore, and not just with jelly either. Keep a jar of unsalted peanut butter on hand – always. It is incredibly healthy, filling, and goes with all sorts of things. Even smoothies! Pair it with preserves, honey, sliced banana, low sodium bacon (cooked of course), granola, you name it. Along the same lines, always keep a supply of unsalted rice cakes (yes, I know they taste like coasters but they do make a good base for PB and more), as well as unsalted matzoh on hand. I either freeze homemade salt-free bread for emergencies, or many markets nowadays sell salt-free loaves that also freeze beautifully. Which brings me to…
Before you drive-thru anywhere, or are tempted to do so later in the day, just pack yourself a sandwich. My favorite concoction is a whole wheat veggie wrap. Spread it with hummus, sprinkle liberally with paprika, then top with shredded carrot and chopped parsley. Roll it up and you’re good to go. Wrap up roasted veggies, cut or shredded raw veggies and sprouts, marinated tofu, bits of leftover grilled or cooked meat, rice, salt free beans, well – pretty much anything. And of course, you can always make a mean egg sandwich.
#3: THE INCREDIBLE EDIBLE EGG
Hence, number three. Eggs rock. They are delicious, protein rich, and take mere minutes to prepare. Hard-boiled, soft-boiled, scrambled or fried, sunny side up or down. It makes no difference. It’s all good! Pair them with low sodium toast and bacon for breakfast anytime. Or wrap them around some Swiss cheese and sauteed veggies for an easy omelette.
#4: A WORD ABOUT SALADS
Okay, let’s be honest, when it feels like your stomach is eating itself and you’re half crazed with hunger, how many people are thinking oh boy, a salad would really hit the spot? That said, salads are about as easy as it comes, require absolutely no cooking, and can even be purchased ready made, washed, bagged and begging to be thrown into a bowl and consumed. There are a ton of delicious dressings in the RECIPE INDEX, so go grab some veggies! Toss in some salt free chickpeas and low sodium tuna and it’s even better!
Pancakes make every meal. With ten minutes, a handful of ingredients, a stove top, pan or griddle, you can have a hearty and completely satisfying, slightly decadent, breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The only complaining you’ll hear is when you run out. Don’t forget to keep a bottle of REAL maple syrup on hand at all times!
You might sense a theme going on here, and if so, you’re right. Most breakfast foods are fast, and rightfully so, because few people have time most mornings to prepare a three-course meal. So anything breakfast-y tends to be pretty instantly gratifying. Shredded wheat and many pre-made granolas are both sure bets when it comes to cold cereal. Keep a box or bag stashed in the cabinet at all times and splurge whenever you find a new kind you can eat. It’s fun to experiment and it lessens the boredom of eating the same thing over and over. And cereal doesn’t have to be eaten out of a bowl with milk. Throw some in a bag and munch on it instead of something salty. Make your own snack mix using cereal, chocolate chips, unsalted nuts, dried fruit, and unsalted pretzels. Or mix granola with yogurt & fruit for a treat. Cereal bars, granola bars, and other meal-type replacement bars are awesome to store in a bag/glovebox for anytime snacks, and they’ll save you from pulling into a drive thru!
My daughters and I are sweets fiends, but fortunately a lot of our cravings are directed into the healthy realm via fruit. Keep a selection of fresh produce out on the counter and you’ll find yourself reaching for it daily. Dried fruit is also great, especially if you live near a bulk food shop, natural food store, or wholesale warehouse, like BJs or Costco. Even if you don’t, supermarkets sell wide selections of dried fruit mixes and it’s fun to taste test them all. Apple and fruit sauces are yummy, can be made ahead of time and stored, or purchased and kept in the pantry for daily snacks. Lots of fruit purees now come in pouches (and not just for babies either). Toss one in your purse or pocket for a quick pick me up. Canned fruit (juice-sweetened only!) and those little plastic fruit cups also make a great snack alone, with yogurt, cereal, or stirred into a bowl of oatmeal. My all-time fave? Diced peaches, oatmeal, and a little maple syrup or brown sugar on top. Yum! Last word: SMOOTHIES.
#8: BAKED POTATOES
If you own a microwave and a potato, you can have a light meal ready in ten minutes. Take said potato, scrub well, pierce all over with the tines of a fork, stick in microwave and set timer to 10 minutes. Many microwaves even have a specially-labeled “baked potatoes” button. Could it be any easier? Top with unsalted butter, sour cream, fresh herbs, low sodium Swiss cheese, salt free salsa, the list goes on….
Keep a couple of cans of low sodium tuna in the pantry. Not only can you make a simple tuna salad with this, but you can also stir it into pasta, combine with veggies, melt under cheese on a rice cake, and more. If you like shrimp or those small (low sodium) scallops, keep a bag of the frozen, cooked kind in your freezer and you can have a meal going speedy quick. Frozen fish fillets are also a fantastic option and can be defrosted fast under cold running water.
Chips are kind of like chocolate: have you ever met someone who didn’t like them? And if so, did you trust them? You can buy unsalted or lower salt potato chips, tortilla chips, even pretzels at most supermarkets. I eat a ton of unsalted tortilla chips and salsa all year round. Check out all of the low sodium dips and salsas in the Recipe Index.
#11: CHEESE AND CRACKERS (AND FRUIT)
We keep a box of unsalted or lower sodium crackers or unsalted melba toast and low sodium Swiss cheese on hand at all times. Pair with crunchy grapes, apple or pear slices, some wine, and you’ve got yourself a lovely little meal.
There’s always pasta. Countless shapes and sizes to keep you amused, all you need is a pot of boiling water and 10-15 minutes. Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and most supermarkets sell salt free or lower sodium jarred pasta sauce, as does the Healthy Heart Market. Or join me as a Daily Dish Patron and get my foolproof recipe for Pantry Pasta Sauce! It takes 5 MINUTES – faster than the pasta! – and it’s absolutely delicious.