Salt-Free Anniversary

Today is a BIG day: Marc and my 13th anniversary! (The equivalent of a junior high schooler, whose voice is starting to crack.) Thirteen years ago, Marc and I rented “Like Water for Chocolate.” (I’d already seen it twice in the theater and hoped he’d like it.) He did. We kissed. And the rest is history.

Three salts

Pink Hawaiian salt in foreground, fine sea salt (back-left), coarse grey French salt (back-right)

Today also happens to be the beginning of a five-week fast, that among other things, requires us to consume absolutely no salt. It’s for a spiritual retreat I am taking at the end of March. There is quite a bit of preparation that goes into the retreat itself, but right now I’m in salt-fast mode. Everything you can think of has salt in it. Well, maybe not everything, but you’d be surprised. For a major foodie, being salt-free for over a month is big.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been making bread so that I could get get some practice before I HAD to make it. There are a couple decent salt-free breads on the market, Ezekiel and Alvarado Street, but I found this amazing recipe from a new bread book called “Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day” by Zoë Francois and Jeff Hertzberg. I heard Zoë and Jeff on The Splendid Table a few weeks back and am absolutely hooked. They have a great blog with Q & A between them and the home bakers that have tried out their recipes. Very cool resource.

Recently, I also found a recipe for paneer (Indian cheese) and tried it out last week. It was quite a hit and came out amazingly tasty (and salt-free).

So, to stock the fridge with some vegetarian food I can grab quickly, yesterday I made bread and baked up some tofu slices marinated in a meyer lemon juice, ginger, fresh garlic and sesame oil sauce. I have some ricotta (no-salt) that I made a few days ago too.

Straying from my usual predilection for seasonal produce, I bought some yellow bell peppers so that I can roast them. Yum. They make a great condiment, packing a ton of flavor…without salt. I also plan on making my own granola (with dates and banana) and another beloved condiment for salt-free sandwiches, caramelized onions.

The first time we did this, a few years ago, I was so unprepared, I suffered through many “meals” of unsalted peanuts, yogurt and clementine oranges. Not this time.

So, for the next few weeks, some of my recipes will be conspicuously salt-free. Some not so conspicuously (like an awesome Mexican chocolate pudding I plan on making again and writing up). And some salty recipes I just haven’t gotten around to writing yet, (but won’t be eating for a while).

Maybe you need to cut back on salt, or know someone who does? Maybe, you have a relative with hypertension, who needs some new recipes? Or maybe you’ll see a tempting recipe you just have to make and throw tons of salt into. Bon appetit!

10 thoughts on “Salt-Free Anniversary”

  1. good. for. you.

    i use waaaay too much salt and i’m almost to the point where i don’t enjoy some of my favorite dishes if they’re unsalted. i should follow your lead, but i’m too weak. 🙂

  2. a. grace – Thanks. Salt sure does make things more enjoyable. There is even a fable where a daughter tells her father that she loves him more than salt. That says A LOT. Who knows, maybe if you reduce it a little here and there, you’ll end up using less and not even noticing. But believe me, I wouldn’t go 5 weeks without any salt, unless I had to. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Good idea. We couldn’t really get rid of salt here (my grandmother has hypertension but she’s also 85– just let her eat what she wants, haha). What do you think of Pan Salt (Potassium Chloride)?

  4. Happy Lucky 13!! (My grandmother always said all the good things in her life happened on the 13th –usually a Friday) good luck with the salt ban. I find that I don’t use a lot of salt in cooking but add it on later — you will just have to focus on more complex flavors — does this means no cheese (unless you make it) for 5 weeks? I am so sorry.

  5. Bri, way to go! (I’m a lurker coming out of the woodwork.) I’m assuming you mean added salt, and not sodium, right? Sodium would be hard (no egg whites, etc). I’m also curious where your retreat is. Thanks!

  6. Manggy – Yeah, by the time you’ve achieved 85 years on the planet, you should have free reign to do what suits you. I actually don’t know much about Pan Salt, but I do know it would break the rules for us to have it. No salt, and no salt substitutes for us. Good to see you.

    Jasmine – Thanks! Your grandmother sounds like a wise woman. I always use salt throughout the cooking process, so I have to really change my habits. And yes, it means no cheese other than what I can make for the duration of the fast. No Parmesan, no sharp cheddar, no Brie…it’s temporary though. Thanks for your commiseration 😉

    Hilary – Wow, I have lurkers. Thanks for de-lurking. You are correct. Natural sodium is in many things (milk, eggs, celery, beet greens, and tomatoes tend to have the most) and we aren’t concerned with the naturally occurring sodium. Just the sodium that has been specifically added to a dish or product to enhance flavor. The retreat will actually be on a mountain, not far from where I live. Quite beautiful. Thanks for your comment.

  7. Well done. I am a salt lover and can’t imagine life without my Celtic Sea Salt. At least this salt has less sodium chloride and is naturally highly mineralised. This gives it its wonderful taste.

    Good luck with your retreat. It sounds like it will be amazing.

  8. wow bri, that is some fasting you have going on. i don’t think i could do it! i wonder if you will be off of it completely after you complete your retreat!

    a most happy (belated) anniversary to you and marc! let’s raise a glass to good love, good health and good times! xo

  9. Gigi – Yep. It’s pretty intense and requires quite a bit of vigilance.
    Thanks for the anniversary wishes. Yes, good love, good health and good times! My kind of toast (salt free of course) 😉

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