Sweet and Simple

April 11, 2024 at 11:00 a.m.
This sweet and savory spring salad really hits the spot.
This sweet and savory spring salad really hits the spot.

...by Katy G. Wilkens

Your parents may have taught you to set the dinner table with a salt shaker, but now we know the American diet of processed food contains so much salt it threatens our health. Luckily, there are lots of other choices to add sparkle to your meals. For instance, try a little sweetness.

Honey, sugar, molasses, sweet fruits, maple syrup or simple syrups can build big, bold flavor so you don’t need, and don’t miss, that extra salt in our diets that is killing one in seven Americans!

Sweet is an inborn taste all humans have from birth, but the taste for salt is learned. Newborn babies are indifferent to salty flavor; they have to be taught to like it. By age 2, most toddlers choose higher salt food. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Adding sweet fresh fruits to your dishes will pump up the flavor without salt. Try a tablespoon of sugar added to a homemade tomato sauce to bring the ripe, sweet flavor to the forefront. Add strawberries to a salad, or drizzle honey over homemade granola. You can brush maple syrup on chicken during the last five minutes of cooking for a sweet, smoky flavor you will love. You don’t need a lot of sweetening, just a taste.

Remember, the goal is less than 2,000 milligrams of salt a day. Try infusing your honey, or sugar, with other fruity sweet flavors, or even hot pepper to add more depth and complexity to your cooking.

Honey Lemon Dressing
¼ cup honey
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ teaspoon dried basil
Crushed pepper
Whisk together all ingredients in small bowl until well blended. Yield: ½ cup.

Nutritional Information
Serving Size: 2 Tbs. Calories: 96; Carbohydrates: 18 g; Protein: 0 g; Fat: 3 g; Sodium: 1 mg
Sweet Spring Salad
A winning recipe by Ron Weightman from Northwest Kidney Centers’ 2008 recipe contest

1 small head Bibb or Butterhead lettuce, torn

6-8 strawberries, sliced 

1 sectioned orange or mandarin orange

1/2 small purple onion, sliced and separated into rings

1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded

Fresh basil, shredded

Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl or put on individual plates and serve dressing on the side. 

Nutritional information

Per serving; makes 4 servings

Use less dressing to lower the calorie and fat content.
Calories: 250; Carbohydrates: 10 g; Protein: 5 g; Fat: 20 g; Sodium: 65 mg

[Katy G. Wilkens recently retired as registered dietitian and department head at Northwest Kidney Centers. The National Kidney Foundation Council on Renal Nutrition has honored her with its highest awards for excellence in education and for significant contributions in renal nutrition. She has also been awarded the Medal of Excellence in kidney nutrition from the American Association of Kidney Patients.]
Eating Well, Living Well classes
Studies show that working with a registered dietitian can delay kidney failure and postpone dialysis for longer than two years. FREE nutrition classes taught by Katy’s former team of registered dietitians are available at convenient times and locations around Puget Sound.

Eating Well, Living Well classes teach people how to eat healthier to slow the progress of kidney disease and postpone dialysis. Learn more at www.nwkidney.org/classes.

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