Everyone pokes fun at the "old folks" who talk about their "conditions" and "ailments" and their pills.
But it's okay because sometimes it makes serious stuff easier to handle if you can joke about it, as long as you actually take the serious stuff seriously.
So recently, when we invited our cousins to stay over for the weekend and I asked if there were any new dietary restrictions, they said "no salt." We joked about our conditions and ailments and pills. And understood that we weren't talking about our grandparents or even our parents, but about ourselves.
We had become them.
When did that happen?
Don't laugh youngsters. If you're lucky, this will happen to you too. It's one of the costs of growing older.
On the other hand, from a food point of view? Not lucky. No salt is a real UGH.
Salt is the salt of the earth. It's what makes so many foods taste so good.
Food without salt is, well, not as tasty. Let's just admit it and move on.
And, moving on, if you have to cook without salt, you have to and that's that. So you have to come up with ways to make the food taste good without it.
Among the salt-free dishes I prepared over the weekend were blueberry muffins.
What did I do to make sure they didn't taste like a box of Cheerios? (I don't mean the Cheerios, I mean the box.)
I added extra vanilla to my standard recipe. A good brand of pure vanilla extract, not imitation vanilla.
I could also have added 2 teaspoons of grated fresh orange or lemon peel but I knew this particular company would not have enjoyed that.
I could have included 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts -- both of these nuts pack plenty of flavor, but I don't keep those nuts in my house because of allergies.
The tip here is to add powerful, flavorful ingredients that perk up the dish so you won't miss the salt.
- 5 tablespoons butter
- 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh orange or lemon peel, optional
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1/3 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, optional
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease 8 muffin tins. Melt the butter and set it aside to cool. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl. Place the buttermilk, egg, melted butter, vanilla extract and orange peel (if used) in a second bowl and whisk to blend the ingredients thoroughly. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and mix just until combined. Fold in the blueberries and optional nuts. Fill muffin tins evenly with the batter. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the muffins cool for 15 minutes. Remove the muffins and serve warm or let cool to room temperature.