Having a young child around is part of where I find my blog topics on food. This weekend Anastacia and I were preparing a meal together and I placed on our dinner table some sriracha salt. A wonderful mix of chilies, citrus zest and Himalayan sea salt – stick around for my recipe.
She began eating her meal and watched as I finished the preparation of my salad with this lovely salt. Timidly she asked if she could try some. “Of course you can!” I exclaimed, “salt is absolutely wonderful and this one is fabulous in the flavour department”. She looked up through sheepish eyes and admitted that at her moms house it is a banned substance because it’s “bad for you”.
Why salt has become the enemy for some folks floors me. With the information age we are far better off to do our own research than to buy into the latest fad food omission of the moment. Like fats, one day it’s great for you and the next it’s not.
Lets settle this with a bit of my opinion shall we?
In and around the time that low fat, low carb and low calorie diets were making their way on the scene (read: microwaveable lazy man food and the like) scientists and snake oil salesmen alike were ramping up to tear down salt.
Like any decade, there are food fashion “do’s” and “don’ts” and a host of crazed food police supporters touting the benefits of the diet of the day.
I don’t support the anti-salt campaign.
Salt used to be such a hot commodity that the Romans used it as a paycheque for some. The word salary is even derived from the word Sal, Salarium = Salt Money-fancy that!
Salt is mined in a lot of places. Here in Canada one of the largest mines in the world is located in Ontario. Globally, you can find salt mines in Poland, Germany, England, Morocco, Italy, Ireland, Pakistan and the USA.
This LINK shows traditional and newer mining sites. Check it out. Here’s a great shot of an amazing salt Mosque from the Wiki link:
Before I get into the pros and cons of salt it’s a good idea for you to know about the types of salt that are available to you.
Himalayan Pink Salt – mined in the Khewra Salt Mine in Pakistan, 300kms from the HImalayas.
Sea Salt – produced from the evaporation of sea water.
Watch a video on how to make your own sea salt here: MAKE YOUR OWN SEA SALT
Kosher Salt – mined underground or from the sea and compressed to make larger granules
Celtic Salt – harvested from the sea of NW France and also known as grey salt there are no additives and its colour comes from clays found in the salt fields
Table Salt – mined above or below ground, processed and stripped of it’s beneficial minerals, talc and silica additives to name a few. Find a listing of all the chemical agents here.
Weeding out the enemy
Have you heard of the term Full or High Spectrum Salt? This term refers to salts that have been refined but NOT stripped of their valuable mineral content which makes salt extremely important.
The beneficial magical ingredients in GOOD salt are:
- Iron – oxygen moving helper
- Iodine – healthy thyroid & body temp regulator
- Sodium – regulates blood PH & stomach
- Manganese – bone development, metabolizing
Salt is also a natural electrolyte that helps to retain water in our bodies. Water retention is hugely important as it stimulates the thirst function and keeps our blood pressure stable.
Salt prevents muscle cramps and stimulates the adrenal glands. The latter leading us to better sleep patterns.
Salt creates hydrochloric acid in the body which helps us to digest food in the stomach. If you are sodium deficient, you can suffer from muscle cramps, nausea, dizziness and could even place yourself in a coma.
Why can’t some people eat salt?
People with high blood pressure cannot or shouldn’t consume salt. Why you ask? Well, the kidneys regulate sodium in the body, if they are over burdened with this process the body will nearly self destruct which leads to hardened arteries, heart attack or stroke.
It is uber important to know if you have blood pressure issues and if so – ditch the table salt immediately. Ditch it anyway.
Foods to avoid – BAD SALT
Processed foods high in sodium from table salt. This is the worst type of food you can put into your body. Not only is it made in a factory with old ingredients that are irradiated and dead, these meals are bad for our environment due to the type of production used to create them – I know I couldn’t sleep at night knowing my poor taste in food was damaging our fragile eco-system.
The avoid list:
- Potato Chips
- Pre-made microwave meals / kids pre-made luncheon meals
- Fast Food – Fries/Burgers/Chicken mysteries
- Packed Pizzas/Pastas/Pizza Pops etc…
- Raisin Bran
- Pre-made sauces Asian/Italian
- Meat jerky, pre-cut/sliced meats of any kind
- Conventional mix or pre-made pancakes / waffles / muffins
- Traditional ketchup, pickles
- Cheese slices, cottage cheese
- Several types of pre-made veggie burgers (check the lable)
- Several types of breads/buns/bagles that are pre-made
- Clamato/tomato/vegetable juices – juice your own!!
- Canned mushrooms, soups, veggies packed in salt
- Pre-made salad dressings – make your own!!
- “Just add water” dishes like rice/paella/pastas/noodles
- Boxed desserts like cakes/pudding
I think the general lesson here is – learn to cook. I mean REALLY cook. For the love of all things healthy.
As with all things we consume, salt should be of the simplest and purest form as well as used in a somewhat civilized manner. When you’re looking to cook with salt ensure that you’re only using it as a “finisher” in dishes and not as part of an over-salted recipe.
If you will note in all of my recipes I rarely use salt for anything but “to taste”, or to use directly before consuming.
If you feel like a hero taking good salt off the table – you’re wrong. Check your kitchen, scrap the garbage and start eating good salt now. You owe your body and the bodies of the people who are in your care.
Sriracha Sea Salt Recipe
3 tbsp dried hot chilis
5 tbsp Himalayan Salt
1.5 tbsp Lemon zest
2 tbsp Dried diced garlic
Combine all ingredients and place into grinder.
If you do not have a grinder, place in a salt pig/vessel and sprinkle on salads, soups, pastas and meats.