10 Tasty Alternatives to Your Favorite Salty Foods
Temptation #4: Mixed Nuts
Nuts are a healthy snack, adding smart fats, fiber, protein, and other protective plant compounds to your diet. And nuts naturally have next to zero amounts of sodium. But companies tend to salt nuts that are packaged for snacking with at least 110 milligrams of sodium for each ounce.
Luckily, there are “lightly salted” and “unsalted” nuts available in stores. The lightly salted options contain about 55 milligrams of sodium and the unsalted nuts add zero.
You can always make your own mixed nuts or trail mix by adding nuts such as walnuts and almonds that usually come unsalted and in bulk.
Temptation #5: Fast Food or Restaurant Spicy Chicken Tenders
Just one order (three pieces) of spicy chicken tenders from a fast-food chain or restaurant can add more than 2,100 milligrams of sodium.
Most people usually enjoy those tenders with some side dishes that pile on even more sodium. Even if you opt for a side salad, the dressing can add 300-500 milligrams.
By making your own spicy chicken fingers at home, you not only control the amount and type of cooking fat used, but you can also cut way back on the salt added in the breading.
Use spicy seasoning blends that do not include salt to flavor your breading. If you do add salt, keep it to a minimum (1/2 teaspoon salt for 2 or more servings of chicken fingers). Each quarter teaspoon of salt adds 590 milligrams of sodium.
Temptation #6: Tortilla Chips
Crunchy tortilla chips are the main ingredient in nachos and come in handy for dips or taco salads and as a side to sandwiches.
Most tortilla chips are dusted with salt, totaling at least 250 milligrams of sodium per 2-ounce serving.
You can make oven-baked tortilla chips at home. Here's how:
Heat your oven to 375 degrees. Coat a nonstick jelly roll pan with canola cooking spray. Cut corn tortillas into wedges (8 wedges from one tortilla). Brush the tortilla wedges lightly with canola oil. Sprinkle a controlled amount of seasoned salt (1/4 teaspoon adds 450 milligrams sodium) over the top. Bake until crispy -- checking them after 15 minutes.
Temptation #7: Bottled Salad Dressing
Bottled salad dressings are convenient and come in many flavors. The sodium content per serving (2 tablespoons) can range from 120 milligrams to 400 milligrams depending on the flavor and brand of the dressing.
Find lower-sodium options for the salad dressing flavors you like to have in your refrigerator. One of my favorite “Lite Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette” dressings, for example, is one of the lowest in sodium with 125 milligrams per serving.
If there is a particular creamy dressing you like that is higher in sodium, you can dilute it a bit by adding 2 tablespoons of fat-free half-and-half (or low-fat milk) to 2 to 3 tablespoons of dressing. The fat-free half-and-half contains about 12 milligrams of sodium per tablespoon.
You can also make your salad dressings from scratch. That lets you decide how much sodium is added. That includes the salt you add and salt-containing ingredients such as soy sauce or Parmesan cheese.