CASH · Healthy Eating · Parenting · Salt

What can the out of home sector do to reduce salt in children’s meals?

With the recent report from Action on Salt highlighting the amount of salt in children’s meals action is required from the out of home sector. Here are some top tips to help the sector reduce salt.

1) Identify which of your meals have added salt and look at alternative ways to add flavour – herbs, spices, onion, garlic

2) Avoid salting vegetables, rice and pasta. Mix the sauce into the pasta, the true Italian way, and the pasta will have fuller flavour. 

3) Check your chefs are following the recipe and not adding more salt than the recipe states. Make sure your chefs are well hydrated too because they will probably add more salt if they aren’t.

4) Ask, do you need to add bread to a meal which already is starchy. Bread is not bad but it needs salt in production so it could be increasing the salt content of your meals unnecessarily.

5) Reduce the amount of processed meat on your menu. Processed meat has been shown to increase risk of some cancers so if we care about future consumers we need to think about their health. Processed meat is high in salt so switching to other meats will reduce the salt content. The cost of meat can be an issue but cheaper cuts like chicken thighs or stewing beef could be tried or ask for expert advice on alternatives.

6) Increase the vegetarian options. Vegetarians have often only been given one option but Quorn, tofu, beans and lentils are a great alternative to meat and often lower in salt. Children often have these on their school menus so they are familiar to them; it is all about what you do with these ingredients and how you market them.

7) Consider your portion sizes. If the portions of fruit and veg are large enough then the portions of high salt foods can be smaller without customers feeling short changed. Plus you can market it as having a portion of your 5 a day.

8) Employ someone to help you with your menu. You can do lots yourself but sometimes it is worth getting some help. A Registered Nutritionist can help you. I may be able to help so drop me a line if you want advice. Otherwise go to Sense Nutrition for a list of suitably qualified professionals.   

Health promotion · Healthy Eating · Salt

Should we go nuts this Christmas?

A systematic review of the evidence found in 20 studies (29 publications) by researchers at Imperial College London published today in BioMed Central revealed statistically significant reductions in risk of diseases such as cancer, stroke, coronary heart disease and diabetes in people who ate more than 20g a day of nuts.

Whilst there could be a number of factors associated with this reduction in risk, it puts nuts in a positive light. So, don’t assume that nuts are magic pills when your diet is otherwise very unbalanced diet and you do very little physical activity.

If you are going to be eating more nuts this Christmas though, make sure they are not salted ones or you could increase your risk of hypertension in the process! Nuts covered in chocolate fall into the sweets category so also not a recommended regular snack.

For the full study, click here

CASH · Chef · Health promotion · Healthy Eating · Salt

Too much salt

Have you ever gone out for a meal or had a takeaway and then not been able to get a good night’s sleep because you keep waking up thirsty? As we try and cut down on the amount of salt we are putting in our food at home, many restaurants are still keeping the salt in their food.

This week is Salt Awareness Week. CASH have just published new research which found:

Five of the top saltiest main meals [portion size stated where known]:

1. JD Wetherspoons’ [10oz gammon with eggs, chips, peas, tomato & flat mushroom] = 8.9g salt per portion
2. Jamie’s Italian [game meatball] = 8.1g salt per 570g portion
3. Carluccio’s [spaghetti alle vongole in bianco] = 8.0g
4. Gordon Ramsay’s The Savoy Grill’s [steamed mussels cider cream sauce and fries] = 7.3g salt per 510g portion
5. Wagamama’s Yaki Udon = 7.0g salt per 620g portion

Check out this page for more details of the report

 

Is this really what we want to be doing to our bodies when we go out for food. Some of those dishes probably cost a fair amount too. Perhaps we, the consumer, should start to put pressure on our top chefs and big chains to change from the old fashioned we use sea salt rather than table/rock salt message to using their skills and knowledge of herbs and spices and other ingredients to improve flavour. I have been up for the challenge of reducing salt without cutting flavour, are they?