But after lupus caused her kidneys to fail, Jessica Goldman Foung dove head first into studying the connections between food and health—with a focus on the salty side of life. Now she’s a regular contributor to Edible San Francisco, Huffington Post Living, and just published her first book, Sodium Girl’s Limitless Low-Sodium Cookbook.
The key to a successful low-sodium diet? “Creativity,” says Foung, adding that she loves whipping up dishes from scratch. “Two of my favorites are creamy chicken curry and beer butt chicken,” she says. (Both recipes are in her book.)
While restaurants tend to go overboard on salt, Foung knows how to successfully navigate a menu. “I’ve learned to look for key words that signal a high-sodium content, like “cured, brined, pickled, marinated, and breaded.”
So what does a low-salt queen stock in her fridge? We found out…
Can you tell us about your condiments? Isn’t it hard to find low sodium ones? What are your faves? I keep tamarind paste, salt-free marinades, horseradish, and jam on hand at all times. Some low-salt faves are Westbrae Natural No-Salt-Added Stoneground Mustard, Ginger People Sweet Ginger Chili Sauce, Pomi or Eden brand salt-free tomato sauce, and Good Garlic Hemp Seed Mayonnaise.
You have a ton of raw greens. If you told me what I am about to say when I was nine, I would have told you your pants were on fire: I LOVE VEGETABLES. I’m especially obsessed with cabbage at the moment. But I try to be daring, and I tell people just starting a low-sodium diet to find a vegetable that looks weird and unfamiliar, then learn how to use it. Surprise is the best way to overcome the desire for salt.
Great tip! How do you eat your greens and vegetables while keeping salt in check? My husband makes me green juice every morning. And whether I put them in a frittata, on rice, or eat them on their own, I try to incorporate my greens and purples and reds and whites into every meal. Good produce needs little else to taste savory and satisfying. But a drizzle of sesame oil, a squeeze of citrus, a little chili pepper flake, or sautéed garlic never hurts.
Is that milk on the far left? It’s formula! I have a six-month-old girl who’s becoming an avid eater herself. Her first food was (unintentionally) wine poached pear, which she grabbed off the table. She’s since been introduced to my good friends rice cereal and yams.
What’s the orange concoction and below it? It’s my homemade sun-dried tomato hummus. It’s easy to whip up (thank you, immersion blender), and with the help of pre-shredded veggies, below it, and some sturdy collard greens, I can have a lunch wrap in minutes.
What about the reddish-purple container? I love to make salt-free pickles out of anything and everything: from chard stems to cherries. And recently, inspired by several local Asian restaurants, I decided to pickled eggs. I use red cabbage to dye them and rice wine vinegar to give them tang. I used these for a salt-free Bi Bim Bap dish I make sometimes.
What do you do with the lemon wedges? Citrus is one of my kitchen staples. It’s a simple way to brighten a dish, from vegetables to pasta to homemade Bloody Marys.
Speaking of, there don’t seem to be any guilty pleasures here aside from the alcohol. How do you indulge? I love candy, and I always have chocolate-covered something hanging around in my kitchen.
You also don’t seem to have a ton of protein. What do you do for protein? Oh, I definitely eat meat and there’s fish in the paper wrapping on the top shelf. I’m a very lucky kidney patient in that I don’t have to restrict my protein or my potassium intake at the moment. I generally only eat meat a few times a week. But if you handed me a rack of ribs, I’d finish them. —Sharon Feiereisen