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Salt Awareness Week - Alkaline Alternatives To Table Salt

It is Salt Awareness Week this week so we thought that we would put something together for you to show you how easy it is to use healthier salts and flavour enhancers in your cooking. It really is so important to focus on how much salt you are taking on - too much salt in the body means that your body must increase it's fluid content and thus blood pressure is forced to rise leading to all sorts of further problems. Salt has got such a bad name for itself of late but for all the wrong reasons really. We need salt in our lives as much as we need water, without it we would not be able to survive. Our very cell structure is controlled by salt – the entry and exit of nutrients from the cells and even our nervous responses could not happen without salt. But salt is now in almost everything we eat in the Western world. Our bodies can obtain sufficient amounts of salt from the fruits and vegetables that we eat – technically we do not need any more than that. But think about what you ate yesterday and salt will have been added to almost all of it – your salad dressing, your breakfast cereal, the cheese you ate, and these are some of the more healthy things on the menu for many of you. You all know the salt situation with fizzy drinks and fast food. It is all a question of habit though. When I learnt to cook, I remember watching the chefs and being quite stunned at how much salt they were pouring into everything. This was at a top restaurant too so we are not talking fast food here. The more I then ate the food though, the more immune I got to the added salt content and what it would do to the flavour of the food. Next thing I know, I am adding in large handfuls of the white table stuff to my dishes too and I am hooked. It was not until my discovery of alkaline that I began to look at salt and what it was doing to me. Unlike all of the other fad diets I had tried, the alkaline way asks you to approach every ingredient you consume and think what it is doing to your body – it's not a case of ‘this will make you thin, so pile it with salt so that it does not taste so bad and just grin and bear it’. I realised that there were so many alternatives out there that I could use and that unlike standard table salt, each of them was actually going to help my body. Here are some of my favourite ways to get all the flavour notes that standard salt brings but in a much healthier way.  Himalayan Pink Salt - Himalayan Pink salt is hand-mined from ancient pollution free marine deposits making it some of the purestsalt available and containing a vast spectrum of minerals and trace elements and consequently many associated health benefits from balancing blood sugar levels to promoting good digestion. Umeboshi Puree – Umeboshi is a searingly tart puree made from pickled plums is quite startling on the tongue if you eat it on its own, but add it to your sushi, dressings or hot dishes and it will transform the flavour. It is highly alkalizing and will stimulate digestion and help with the elimination of toxins. Great for hangovers too! Tamari – Tamari is a gluten free version of soy sauce with a slightly deeper malty flavour. Naturally fermented it is really good for our digestion and a fantastic flavour enhancer. Vegetable Stock – We like to use reduced salt vegetable Bouillon stock in our soups, stews and casseroles. Although it does contain sea salt, an additional salty flavour is present as a result of the reduction of the vegetables used to make the stock. Lemon – One of the prized most alkaline of ingredients, try adding a splash of lemon juice to achieve that tart flavour. So often you can ditch the salt and will find that lemon is an adequate substitute. Hatch Miso – A new favourite of ours, Hatcho is a very rich Japanese miso. It is really dark in colour and being a fermented food it is incredibly good for the bacteria in our stomachs. A bit like Umeboshi, it has a tart flavour to it but add it to your dressings and Asian dishes and it will provide a deep and intense flavour and you wont need to add any salt at all. Maldon Sea Salt – As long as it is unprocessed. Maldon sea salt is much better for us than the standard table salt. It is heated a little so we would suggest Himalayan salt over Maldon. Finally a few things to think about: If you have taken on too much salt, you will most likely feel thirsty. Don't then quench your thirst with anything aside from water or an herbal iced tea. Fizzy drinks and juices are laden with salt so you will only be adding to the problem and causing many more problems in turn. Ditch the table salt completely – it does not contain the vital trace elements found in other salts because it is taken to such a high temperature in production. Salt is salt though and as with anything, too much of it is not good for us – even if it is from the Himalayas. Don't go overboard just because it is a healthier version. Making home made food is the only way to monitor how much salt you are ingesting, so if it is not home made look at the label and make your decision.

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