While there’s nothing wrong with the predictable hunger killers – peanuts, pretzels, a piece of fruit — these go-to mini-meals are distinctly uninspired. Our weekly Man Food series will help you fight the scourge of boring snacks.
Salt may make your meals taste better, but eat too much of it and you could be doing yourself a big disservice. Excess salt consumption can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke, according to Harvard School of Public Health.
Warnings about eating too much salt are nothing new, but it seems that most people haven’t been getting the message. Nearly 90% of American adults – and 98% of adult men – consumed more than recommended 2,300 milligrams of salt a day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Extra salt sneaks into our diets in a number of ways. The CDC pointed to deli meats, bread, pizza, and cheese as a few of the culprits. Also to blame are “savory snacks.” Cutting back on processed foods, including those convenient but too-salty treats, is one way to keep your sodium consumption in check.
Fortunately, there are plenty of delicious low-sodium snacks out there. Here are five recipes for snacks that don’t rely on excess salt for flavor.
1. White Bean and Roasted Garlic Dip
Store-bought dips are often packed with extra salt. You can cut the sodium without sacrificing the flavor by making your own dips and spreads at home. This white bean and roasted garlic dip from Health is a good substitute for hummus and contains just 94 milligrams of sodium per serving. (An equivalent quantity of premade hummus can contain more than double that amount.) Serve this dip with fresh-cut vegetables rather than crackers or chips to further cut back on your salt intake.
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 whole garlic heads
- 2 (16-ounce) cans canellini beans or other white beans
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- ¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves for garnish
Directions: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cut the top third of garlic heads off so tops of cloves are exposed. Place heads, unpeeled, in ovenproof dish and drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil. Cover with aluminum foil; bake 30 minutes.
Uncover and bake until the garlic cloves are soft and golden brown, another 30 to 40 minutes. (Make ahead and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.)
In a food processor, combine the beans, roasted garlic, remaining 3 tablespoons oil, and lemon juice and process until smooth. Add the salt and white pepper. This will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
To serve, transfer to a bowl, garnish with the parsley leaves, and serve with vegetables.
2. Fruit Salad in a Jar
Substituting salty snacks with fruit is a good way to cut back on sodium in your diet. This recipe for fruit salad in a jar from The Kitchn makes it easy to increase the amount of fruit in your diet, and is also a good way to use up produce that’s on the verge of going bad. You’ll need two half-pint mason jars or equivalent-sized containers to prepare this recipe.
- 1 small apple, chopped
- 1 medium tangerine, peeled and sliced
- 1 cup fresh pineapple, chopped
- ½ cup blueberries
- 1 lemon, juiced, plus 2 slices for garnish
- 2 tablespoons walnuts
Directions: Divide the chopped apple between two half-pint mason jars, followed by the tangerine, pineapple, and blueberries.
Pour the lemon juice over the fruit salad. Add the walnuts on top, and garnish with the lemon slice.
Eat immediately, or seal jars and store in the refrigerator for later. Fruit salad can be prepared up to a day ahead of time.
3. Baked Sweet Potato Chips
Crispy, crunchy potato chips are a hard-to-resist snack, but they’re high salt content means they’re off limits for many people. But you can still enjoy a handful of chips as a snack when you make them yourself. These baked sweet potato chips from Minimalist Baker are high in vitamin A, low in salt, and sure to satisfy your snack cravings.
- 2 organic sweet potatoes (roughly 150 grams each)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt (optional)
Directions: Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Position the oven rack in the center of the oven.
Rinse sweet potatoes and pat them dry. Slice potatoes into very thin, uniform slices (use a mandoline slicer if you have one). Slices that are too thick will not turn crisp in the oven.
Toss the sliced sweet potatoes with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt (optional). Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and cook for about 2 hours. Turn the chips and rotate pan after 1 hour of cooking.
Once chips are crisp and golden brown in color, remove them from the oven. Let sit for 10 minutes, then serve.
4. Lime and Chili Popcorn
Sprinkling on salt isn’t the only way to flavor a bowl of freshly popped popcorn. Instead, try a combination of lime and chili powder for a zesty, low-salt snack. This recipe is from Rachael Ray.
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Zest of 2 limes
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- ½ cup popcorn kernels
- Salt (optional)
Directions: Mix the melted butter with the lime zest and chili powder. Reserve.
Heat the vegetable oil and popcorn kernels in a covered pot over medium-high heat. Shake the pot until the popping slows, about 3 minutes. Once the popcorn is popped, toss with the flavored butter. Sprinkle with a small amount of salt, if desired. Serve immediately.
5. Fruit and Nut Trail Mix
Trail mix is the perfect filling snack if you’re on the go, but prepackaged varieties can contain a lot of extra salt. Even make-at-home versions may be too sodium-heavy if you use presalted nuts. To make a healthier but still delicious snack, follow this recipe from Eating Well, which calls for unsalted nuts to keep sodium levels in check.
- ¼ cup whole shelled (unpeeled) almonds
- ¼ cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup chopped pitted dates
- 2 ounces dried apricots, or other dried fruit
Directions: Combine almonds, peanuts, cranberries, dates, and apricots (or other fruit) in a medium bowl. Serve immediately, or store in airtight container or plastic bags for up to 2 weeks at room temperature.
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