By Jessica Goldman Foung, aka Sodium Girl
It’s holiday time and that means it’s time to celebrate! It also means it’s to time brush up on low-sodium party etiquette. Specifically, how to properly handle the small bites (aka appetizers) meant to keep you fueled and full throughout those long festive evenings.
Although these tiny treats seem rather innocent, many of them contain high-sodium ingredients—some more obvious than others. But before you pass on the tray pass, simply use the information below to know which popular appetizers fit within your dietary limits and which do not. You’ll also find tips on how to make low-sodium swaps when playing host or hostess. That way you can nibble wisely.
Pigs In Blankets
Cute, snuggly, and filled with high-sodium ingredients, be aware that just five of these tiny dogs wrapped in crescent rolls can equal over 1,500mg of sodium (which is the same as the lower recommended daily sodium intake).
Lower-Sodium Solution: In place of the mini hot dogs (around 400mg sodium per five hot dogs depending on brand), use mini carrots or sweet potatoes cut into thick, hot dog-like shapes. In place of the pastry (over 1,000mg per 5 crescent rolls depending on brand), use thick peels of zucchini. Then add salt-free spices and even a little honey, give it a quick bake in the oven, and enjoy a healthier and impressive take on the classic. Find the recipe here.*
Prosciutto Wrapped Dates
Most of the sodium in this little treat comes from cured prosciutto (about 600mg per 1 ounce depending on brand) and the goat cheese (over 100mg per 1 ounce depending on brand).
Lower-Sodium Solution: Simply swap the prosciutto for raw and thinly sliced pork (also known as shabu shabu pork) or even your own homemade salt-free bacon! Then stuff the dates with lower-sodium ricotta, wrap them up, and bake until the pork is cooked through and crispy.
Caviar and Smoked Salmon
Whether it is a brunch or a happy hour, caviar and smoked salmon often show up on the buffet. But as people go back for seconds, thirds, and fourths, these delicacies can quickly add up to a lot sodium—caviar containing over 200mg per tablespoon and lox containing over 550mg sodium per 1 oz depending on the brand.
Lower-Sodium Solution: For a less salty (and a less costly!) version of caviar, make faux couscous caviar or even balsamic soaked blackberry caviar. And instead of store-bought, cured smoked salmon, make your own smoked fish spread with the help of a pot, some hickory chips, and Greek yogurt.
Just two tablespoons of store-bought spinach dip can equal over 200mg of sodium. And that’s not even counting the chips or crackers that come on the side.
Lower-Sodium Solution: With some Greek yogurt, salt-free spices, and some green vegetables (spinach, broccoli, or even leeks!) you can make your own version with much less sodium and way more flavor.
Anything With Breadcrumbs
Seasoned breadcrumbs are one of the sneakiest sodium contributors in recipes, big and small. Although panko and unseasoned versions can be lower in sodium, other products may contain over 1,500mg of sodium in just one cup!
Low-Sodium Solution: Either use panko to coat those crispy peppers or patties or get creative and use finely chopped broccoli florets, cornmeal, or even crumbled salt-free tortilla chips to get the same crunchy coating without the sodium.
For more holiday tips from Sodium Girl, check out her new video on buying the perfect gift for someone on a special diet:
*These recipes have not been analyzed by the National Kidney Foundation. Please make sure to talk to your healthcare practitioner or renal dietitian to ensure these recipes meet your dietary needs. You should always talk to your health care provider about your meal plans, and if you have specific questions or concerns, please contact your doctor.