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Made with Love Not Sodium - Part 1

August 9, 2011 by Joanna Drake, Registered Dietitian

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I come from a long line of people who love food. At my family gatherings, delicious food often holds centre stage. Many of my childhood memories are associated with the smell of particular foods - memories of my Grandma are forever bound up with the smell of fresh cinnamon buns coming out of the oven.

While my kids are still young, I want to engrave on their brains the smell of something delicious and happy coming out of the kitchen. My banana bread is potentially my only ticket to maternal culinary genius. I always feel like June Cleaver from the 1950's TV show ‘Leave It to Beaver' when I take it out of the oven.Unlike June Cleaver, today's consumers know much more about the health effects of too much sodium. Looking to reduce my family's sodium intake, I added up the sodium in my banana bread recipe. I wasn't pleased with the total. How could I possibly be the 2011's June Cleaver when giving my children 170mg of sodium per slice of banana bread? Could I change my recipe to make it lower in sodium, but still delicious?

Two ingredients were significantly contributing to the sodium content: margarine and baking soda. I wondered what would happen if I used unsalted instead of regular margarine (which has 16 mg sodium per ¼ cup instead of 640 mg) and baking powder instead of baking soda (which has 309 mg sodium per teaspoon instead of 1,284 mg).

I made two loaves at the same time: my original recipe, and the new sodium-reduced recipe. The differences were not what I expected. The sodium-reduced version rose only slightly less than the original. The original was slightly more moist (according to my husband), but the new one was still very moist. The only obvious difference was color. The original was dark brown in color, while the new one was a light golden yellow. Both looked good, just different. The final test: do my kids like the new one? Resoundingly…. YES!

My new recipe has 63 mg of sodium per slice. Take that, June Cleaver!

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Comments (1)

CindyD.

Posted on Wednesday November 30, 2011 a 8:29pm

Perhaps you might explain how you justify using margarine in something that you are aiming to improve with respect to its nutritional value? Margarines are products primarily produced with the cheapest and least nutritious of oils (canola, corn etc), often hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated and to which dyes and strong flavours must be added to disguise its naturally grey and unappetizing colour so that it more closely resembles butter? Thank-you

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