Impromptu Q&A: NY Salt Ban

Lena of LMC In the World: Would love to hear your thoughts on the new bill in New York banning salt from restaurants.  Just heard about it and immediately wondered “I wonder what Nicole thinks of this” :).

Prevention RD: I’m so flattered, Lena 😉 Brooklyn democrat Felix Ortiz did propose salt being banned from food preparation within every restaurant in the state of New York and violations to be ticketed a $1,000 fine for a single violation. The bill reads, “No owner or operator of a restaurant in this state shall use salt in any form in the preparation of any food for consumption by customers of such restaurant, including food prepared to be consumed on the premises of such restaurant or off of such premises.”

Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration is considering a request for government intervention to regulate the salt content of food.  This similar bill submitted by the New York City Health Department 2 months ago, requesting a goal of reducing salt intake by 20% over the next 5 years.

After reading MSNBC’s article, I love that they addressed the real issue at hand: most of the salt (over 75%) American’s consume is found IN foods, and not put ON foods by the consumer. And simply, American’s eat far, far too much salt. The MSNBC article stated, “A recent analysis showed that for every gram of salt cut, as many as 250,000 cases of heart disease and 200,000 deaths could be prevented over a decade.” Certainly some motivation to cut the salt right there, eh?

Opposition to these bills supports the campaign “My Food, My Choice”. Consumers should take initiative in their health care and well-being, but the issue is…they don’t. And therefore, our healthcare costs are continuing to rise at obscene rates.

And for me? I actually DO oppose the bill suggesting a ban on salt. I cook with salt. Most of my recipes contain salt. Salt is a natural preservative which can brighten the colors of foods and facilitates pH balance in foods. Salt changes the texture and consistency of baked goods, and obviously adds flavor.

Chefs in New York strongly oppose this bill, and I understand why. The issue, however, remains the exorbitant amount of sodium in restaurant-prepared foods. Due to the bulk and pace at which restaurants must turn out food, many of their ingredients are likely processed and heavily preserved…cutting corners on time and prep-work wherever possible. Maybe the issue goes back to the ingredients – your food is only as good (or as healthy) as the ingredients you use to make it.

There are many ways to get food to be as flavorful and rich, and that need not constitute salt and salt-containing products. Fresh herbs, spices, and blended ingredients can be used to create a most desirable dish. Restaurants may be looking at creating their own red sauces and ingredients from scratch, such as tomato sauce which contains 360 milligrams of sodium in 1/4th cup!

Consumers are not accountable in addressing their health and diet, even when nutrition information is readily available. And restaurant menu items contain far too much salt. The happy medium: reduce the salt, help the consumer help themselves, and continue to educate, educate, educate!

Salt isn’t the problem, WE are the problem. And the excessive salt, too. 😉

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Blue Cheese-Stuffed Chicken with Buffalo Sauce adapted from Cooking Light

1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled blue cheese
1 Tbsp reduced-fat sour cream
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp 2% reduced-fat milk
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 1/2 Tbsp butter 50/50 Smart Balance Butter Blend, divided
6 Tbsp finely chopped and drained roasted red peppers
2 tsp water
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp fresh garlic, minced
1/2 tsp hot sauce

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350º F.

Combine first 4 ingreidents in a small bowl. Cut a horizontal slit through thickest portion of each chicken breast to form a pocket. Stuff cheese mixture evenly into pockets.

Place flour in a shallow dish. Combine milk and egg in a shallow dish, stirring well with a whisk. Place panko in a shallow dish. Roll chicken breast in flour, then egg mixture, and lastly in the panko to cover. Repeat for each breast.

Heat a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add one tablespoon of Smart Balance/Butter Blend; swirl until butter melts. Arrange chicken in pan; cook 4 minutes of until lightly browned. Turn chicken over; place skillet in over. Bake at 350º F for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn broiler to 450º F and broil for 4-5 minutes, until lightly browned on top.

While chicken bakes, combine remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of Smart Balance/Butter Blend, bell peppers, water, Worcestershire, and garlic in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer; cook until butter melts. Remove from heat and stir in hot sauce. Serve sauce with chicken.

Yield: 4 servings

Nutrition Information (per serving): 392 calories; 12.9 g. fat (6.7 g. saturated fat, 3.4 g. monounsaturated fat, 1 g. polyunsaturated fat); 47.4 g. protein; 18.5 g. carbohydrate; 1.1 g. fiber; 175 mg. cholesterol; 2.3 mg. iron; 421 mg. sodium; 120 mg. calcium

Result: THUMBS UP from Mr. Prevention and I! Sooo good! I wasn’t so sure about the sauce, but it was wonderful! 🙂 You know us…we love all things buffalo chicken-like! 😉

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Today’s NNM Topic: Hypertension (all too appropriate!)

Hypertension and high blood pressure are associated with stroke (3rd leading cause of death in the US), cardiovascular disease, and renal disease. A healthy blood pressure is 140/90 mm HG or lower (according to the ADA’s Manual of Clinical Dietetics), however some sources state “normal blood pressure” is less than 120/80 mg Hg.

A high-fiber diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy is recommended. Reducing saturated and trans fats have been shown to help reduce blood pressure. Sodium (salt) is also limited to 1,500 milligrams a day for persons with hypertension or at risk for hypertension. Risk factors for high blood pressure include: age, race (African American), family history, obesity, physical inactivity, smoking, excessive sodium intake, low potassium intake, low vitamin D intake, excessive alcohol intake, and stress.

Up Tomorrow: Garden updates! But I’ll tell you this….lots is growing! Indoors AND out! 😀

Question: What do YOU think about this salt ban? Is it realistic to “ban” all salt used in restaurant food preparation and cooking? Do you feel it is the obligation and right of the US government to impose nutritional standards among US citizens? Weigh in!

Salt lover (in moderation…),

Share With Your Friends!

45 Comments

  1. March 16, 2010 / 5:58 am

    I have been LOVING stuffed chicken breasts lately and this looks awesome! blue cheese ?!?! helloooo so good! i love stinky cheese 😉 yes I totally agree that most salt is found in foods already not to mention the excess people put on, I really try to pay attention to my sodium intake and see the foods i love and pay attention to how much salt is in them…i NEVER salt my food though!

  2. March 16, 2010 / 6:40 am

    Thanks Nicole 🙂 I think their hearts are in the right place with the ban but it doesn’t seem practical – a bit extreme. However, I’m sure it’s much easier to just put a ban in place than actually try and set thresholds of some sort. I agree that the argument that consumers should be able to make their own choice is a bit idealistic. I know I’m never going to take the time to figure out which menu items have lower salt content, or even pick the low-sodium options if those are identified. I have no answers but plenty of thoughts on what won’t work ;). Have a great Tuesday!

  3. March 16, 2010 / 7:08 am

    Wow, I had no idea that there was a bill for a salt ban. You learn something new everyday 🙂
    I do not agree with it. I do think people should be educated on what they are consuming and I also think chefs should be educated on making some dishes more healthy. I think maybe one way to help the public with being more educated with what they consume is to put the nutritional information on the menus. I know I like to be informed on what I am putting into my body!

  4. March 16, 2010 / 7:54 am

    Hey girl!! WOW i had no idea about that! haha i CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT SALT! do you think that affects my energy levels? The docs told me to take salt tablets but i hope that isnt affecting me negatively.

    thanks so much for your comment, encouragement from you means SO much because you are so wise!

  5. March 16, 2010 / 8:35 am

    I don’t think a salt ban is necessary! Why don’t they start by posting the milligrams of sodium on the menu items first.

  6. March 16, 2010 / 8:44 am

    I don’t ever add salt to my food because I realize how much salt is in prepared stuff. I agree that it is a useful part of cooking and recipes, but that it could be reduced. I love the idea of restaurants and food companies having to reduce salt but think eliminating it is excessive. And so so true that uneducated consumers are the problem. If more people cared about their health, there would be a lot more companies doing things to make their products more desirable to the public.

  7. March 16, 2010 / 8:48 am

    I really don’t think that bill is realistic. Reducing the amount of salt people eat is a great idea but banning it from any use in restaurants would put a lot of smaller, locally owned businesses out of business and hike up the price of all restaurant food.

    I think the government should worry about the bigger issues on the table right now before getting nit-picky about salt content. The last thing America needs right now is for another entire industry to go through an overhaul.

  8. March 16, 2010 / 8:51 am

    I don’t like the idea of a salt ban AT ALL. It is mostly the processed/preserved foods that we should be concerned about. When I go to a nice restaurant I hope they use salt because the food wouldn’t taste very good otherwise 😉

  9. March 16, 2010 / 9:07 am

    I’m against the salt ban in restaurants, but I do think that sodium should be restricted in processed foods that are used in the restaurants.
    If a restaurant is serving real unprocessed foods then don’t ban a chef from adding salt to a fresh chicken breast, for example. But do restrict the amount of sodium in a processed chicken breast served at a restaurant that uses such ingredients.

  10. March 16, 2010 / 9:10 am

    I completely agree with your position. We eat too much salt, but the solution isn’t for the government to just go and ban it. Consumers need to be informed and educated so that we can all make the best decisions for our health and can learn how to enjoy everything – including salt – in moderation.

  11. March 16, 2010 / 9:14 am

    Even I think banning is going to far and I’ve been trying to cut down my use of salt. Making sure they don’t abuse it would be fine but tough to do. Just add salt as one of the things they have to put on the menu.

  12. March 16, 2010 / 9:31 am

    I am also against the salt ban – a little bit of salt in a recipe goes a long way to enhance the whole dish! However, I do agree that we need to lower our sodium intake, which can easily be achieved by limiting our consumption of processed foods and learning to cook our own meals will definitely help in controlling our salt intake as well. So, I think, instead of suggesting a salt ban, it would be more reasonable and doable to restrict the amount of sodium that goes into processed foods!

  13. March 16, 2010 / 9:38 am

    Last time I went to the doctors in about October 2009, they told me that the blood pressure guidelines is changing to 110/70? Is this true. I have an awesome BP of 96/60 so I am really not too concerned and that is without tracking my salt levels [or thinking of them]…
    I think people can sprinkle salt on their food if they feel inclined!

  14. March 16, 2010 / 9:48 am

    Great post! I couldn’t agree with you more 😉

  15. March 16, 2010 / 9:53 am

    Sounds awesome! I have been thinking about some ways to health-ify bufflao chicken and this will definitely be used for inspiration 🙂

  16. March 16, 2010 / 9:56 am

    I agree. I would oppose the bill because I cook with minimal salt. It brings out flavor. A better option would be for the menu to detail the salt content in the dish. Let the consumer choose.

    Great recipe. I love blue cheese in and on anything.

  17. March 16, 2010 / 10:05 am

    “The happy medium: reduce the salt, help the consumer help themselves, and continue to educate, educate, educate!” Yes, yes, yes. These kind of radical bills are giving the “health movement” such a bad rap! If I were a chef and couldn’t use sale, I would probably turn in my toque. As you mentioned, it’s really the processed foods that are really the problem, and you can get people used to less salt, but, like sugar, you have to ease them down slowly. Cutting it out will make them rebel, or, God forbid, the chefs start using MSG! Then we’d be worse off than when we started.

  18. March 16, 2010 / 10:06 am

    I don’t think it is realistic at all. I agree with you..I think we need to continue to educate. Let the consumers be more aware of the sodium in dishes..maybe have them make the choice on what they want to order.
    I do think it is helpful if we are cutting back on processed foods, which are generally higher in sodium, cause we eat way too much in our diets as it it.

    Recipe looks delish!

  19. March 16, 2010 / 10:17 am

    The part of me that loves freedom and my rights actually finds the idea of a ban really annoying, but I won’t go into it. All I’ll say is: While we’re at it, let’s ban restaurants from using cream, full-fat milk, butter, sugar, white flour, and just about anything else that might–if eaten to excess–cause a health issue. In fact, let’s just make owning a restaurant illegal since they obviously promote obestity.

  20. March 16, 2010 / 10:20 am

    isn’t iodine found in salt? I think it’s one of the only sources we get it from, and it’s important!!

  21. March 16, 2010 / 10:24 am

    As a runner with low blood pressure, I practically live on salt. I couldn’t imagine living in NYC! I’d never have the energy to move

  22. March 16, 2010 / 11:00 am

    This ban is a stupid idea.

    If you want people to reduce their salt content, require the big chains to include it along with the other nutrition info that they’re already required to disclose on the menu here in NYC. Then it’s up to the consumer.

    And leave my little local bistros alone!

  23. March 16, 2010 / 11:25 am

    Wowza. That does seem a bit extreme. A salt fine, oh gosh. I think that calories/fat content/nutrition facts should be available though.

  24. March 16, 2010 / 11:26 am

    Wow…a salt ban?! What’s next – sugar? (eeek!)

    I completely agree with what you said – WE are the problem. And really, I’ve found often times if you take away one thing, it will be replaced with something else that might not be any better for you. I’ve never been a “salt” person (like sprinkling it on top of my food), but I do love to cook with it!

  25. March 16, 2010 / 12:37 pm

    I wanted to try that chicken recipe from Cooking Light. It looked so good. I am glad for the great review.

  26. March 16, 2010 / 12:38 pm

    Glad I made you jealous with the Portillos!! I agree, like everything, salt is good in moderation. Since I mostly cook my own food, I am not too worried about it – but think its going WAY overboard for a whole state to declare a ban on salt – rediculous!

  27. March 16, 2010 / 1:09 pm

    It’s just an impossible situation to regulate. Who is going to really check anyway? I use salt when I need to while cooking, but make every attempt to flavor using other spices.

    I think it’s so sad that we as human beings can’t regulate ourselves. Even when dining out you can make choices that are going to be lower in sodium and calories by choosing better entrees and restaurants that use fresh ingredients in abundance rather than relying on heavily processed foods as bases for their recipes.

  28. March 16, 2010 / 1:12 pm

    i’m against this salt ban, i think it’s ridiculous. the changes need to come in other areas of the food industry, and from educating people about nutrition so they are able to make wise choices for themselves!

  29. March 16, 2010 / 2:08 pm

    I totally, totally agree with you about the salt ban! Thank you for standing up for small, carefully-placed amounts of salt in recipes – here’s to more home-preparation of dishes and ingredients so we can reduce the amout of sodium consumed in prepared foods!

  30. March 16, 2010 / 2:10 pm

    I am not sure how I feel about the salt issue. I think as long as you cook with it in a reasonable amount then it is fine. I tend to under-salt my food and allow people to salt it when it is served. But that’s just me…

  31. March 16, 2010 / 2:19 pm

    I don’t agree with banning salt in restaurants. Consumers should be more aware of what they eat and make better choices. That being said not everyone cares the way many, like us do. Limiting salt in prepared foods would be nice though cause I like the convenience of canned tomatoes

  32. March 16, 2010 / 3:41 pm

    I agree 100 percent with your take on the salt bill. People CHOOSE to eat at restaurants. No one is forcing salt down your throat. If you don’t want salt, eat at a specialty restaurant or cook your own food! Also restaurant eating is a treat for Stephen and I. I want to food to taste as the chef intended it to!

  33. March 16, 2010 / 3:46 pm

    I think the bill is extreme, but it brings lots of attention to an important issue. I think the amount of sodium in restaurant food (as well as processed foods we buy at the store) is insane. And I don’t think it needs to be as high as it is. If most restaurants slashed the sodium in their dishes in half, it would still be high!

  34. March 16, 2010 / 4:11 pm

    I’ve always been a little confused about salt when it comes to me, personally. I have low blood pressure and often feel dizzy when I stand up. It’s not as bad as it used to be, but when I was skinnier and ran everyday, it was really bad. My doctor told me to eat more salt. So I do, but definitely don’t go overboard. I think the key is balance. A little’s ok, but eating so much that my fingers feel swollen is not ok.

    Your blue cheese stuffed chicken looks awesome!! What a yummy looking dish, love those cooking light recipes!! 🙂

  35. March 16, 2010 / 4:32 pm

    I looove that buffalo chicken recipe!! Oh my, that may be the best thing I’ve seen all week!
    I oppose the salt ban as well. Just as I feel the sugar tax is a bad idea, I think people need to be more accountable for their personal choices. No, I don’t want restaurants to use tons of salt, but salt in general isn’t the problem. You’re so right.
    Have a great day!!

  36. March 16, 2010 / 5:30 pm

    I loved reading your thoughts on the salt bill…you’re absolutely right, WE are the problem not the salt. 🙂

    I am also a fan of anything Buffalo-wing! This is a brilliant way of turning Buffalo wings into a healthy, delicious meal!

  37. March 16, 2010 / 7:53 pm

    I live in NY and I think this is a bit extreme…it is one thing to show the calorie count on foods and letting US make our own decisions but banning salt is a little TOO much for my “taste”

  38. March 16, 2010 / 9:44 pm

    This is SO interesting. As someone who has grown up around cooking and is venturing into the culinary world, just a pinch of salt is so important to bring out flavors in any food. Getting rid of it would destroy the integrity of every dish! I understand what they are trying to do, but this ban seems extremist. I think extremism is always the wrong way to go, there is always a common ground 🙂

  39. March 16, 2010 / 11:18 pm

    No salt? Why live??? I can’t imagine cooking without a pinch of it. I never add it after I cook but it really is just needed in so many recipes to balance flavour and brighten.
    Another well thought out post, Nicole with lots of solid points.

  40. March 17, 2010 / 5:48 am

    This is such a heated topic for me, and I am always flipping my opinion. I will continue to agree with the government’s “awareness” of the problem, and the fact that they are taking some action to fix it, but this bill is taking it WAY TOO FAR. How can chef’s not use any salt??? That’s absurd. I wouldn’t want to eat that food, ever. I think it would make much more sense to LIMIT the salt used in recipes, and that’s doable. HAs the government ever taken a food science class?? Salt is a MUST in most recipes, as it plays an integral part. This is just so ridiculous, and if I were a chef I would MOVE out of New York!

  41. March 17, 2010 / 7:07 am

    I think the ban is silly and that it could really block a chef’s true vision of what he wants his dish to be. The focus should be on getting Americans to take control of their own health instead of relying on the government to do it for them.

  42. March 17, 2010 / 2:45 pm

    There’s no way they can get rid of salt – it elevates everything! I think they should put nutritional info online though, then it’s available for those who want to see it, but not in the way for those that would rather not.

    Love this stuffed chicken! We are always looking for new ways to prepare it and I know my hubby would love it!

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