Sodium Saturday

OK, I missed Food Porn Friday.  To make up for it, here’s a little information slide show about sodium from WebMD.com.

In my forever quest to lose weight, I started tracking the amount of sodium I consumed and started looking at labels when grocery shopping.  Sodium is an essential mineral.  Our bodies need it to maintain proper fluid balance, transmit nerve impulses and assist in muscle contraction and relaxation.  But, there is so much salt in our processed food!

I knew that sodium would be higher in TV dinners and soups, but I was surprised to see how high it is in tomato sauce!  And the slide show says medicines for headaches and heartburn can contain sodium.  I don’t know why it needs to be added to our pills but check your list of ingredients.

As you probably know, too much sodium raises the risk of high blood pressure and kidney disease.  And, even though I’ve been told that it’s not the cause of my balance issues, people with Meniere’s Disease have been told to lower their sodium intake as that may lower the frequency of vertigo episodes.

So, I try to find ways to reduce sodium from my diet.  I also check out different recipes for inspiration.  The Mayo Clinic has a list of low-sodium recipes.  Here’s two recipes from their website and the nutritional information for each recipe.

Happy cooking!

Crispy Potato Skins

Dietitian’s tip:
You can use any number of herbs or spices to season the potato skins. Try fresh basil, chives, dill, garlic, cayenne pepper, caraway seed, tarragon or thyme.
Serves 2


    2 medium russet potatoes
    Butter-flavored cooking spray
    1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
    1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Wash the potatoes and pierce with a fork. Place in the oven and bake until the skins are crisp, about 1 hour.

Carefully — potatoes will be very hot — cut the potatoes in half and scoop out the pulp, leaving about 1/8 inch of the potato flesh attached to the skin. Save the pulp for another use.

Spray the inside of each potato skin with butter-flavored cooking spray. Press in the rosemary and pepper. Return the skins to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Analysis

(per serving)

Serving size: 2 potato skin halves
Calories 114 Cholesterol 0 mg
Protein 2 g Sodium 12 mg
Carbohydrate 27 g Fiber 4 g
Total fat 0 g Potassium 332 mg
Saturated fat 0 g Calcium 20 mg
Monounsaturated fat 0 g

Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Dietitian’s tip:
To see if the chicken is cooked through to its center, cut into the thickest part. Any juices should run clear, and the meat should show no signs of uncooked or pink flesh. Using a food thermometer, check to make sure it registers 170 F.
Serves 4
    3 tablespoons seedless raisins
    1/2 cup chopped onion
    1/2 cup chopped celery
    1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
    1 bay leaf
    1 cup chopped and peeled apple
    2 tablespoons chopped water chestnuts
    4 large chicken breast halves, with the bones removed, each about 6 ounces
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 cup fat-free milk
    1 teaspoon curry powder
    2 tablespoons all-purpose (plain) flour
    1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges


Preheat the oven to 425 F. Lightly coat a baking dish with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, add the raisins and cover with warm water. Set aside and allow the raisins to swell.

Spray a large skillet with cooking spray. Add the onions, celery, garlic and bay leaf. Saute until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and add the apples. Cook for another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Drain the raisins and pat with paper towels to remove the excess water. Add the raisins to the apple mixture. Stir in the water chestnuts and remove from heat. Let cool.

Loosen the skin on the chicken breasts. Place the apple-raisin mixture between the skin and breast. In another skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chicken breasts and cook until browned, about 5 minutes on each side.

Transfer the chicken breasts to the prepared baking dish. Cover and bake until a meat thermometer registers 170 F, or about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven.

While the chicken is baking, heat the milk, curry powder and flour over low heat in a saucepan. Stir until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Pour the mixture over the chicken breasts. Cover and return the chicken to the oven and bake another 10 minutes.

Transfer the chicken breasts to warmed individual plates. Spoon the sauce from the baking pan over the chicken and garnish with lemon wedges.

Nutritional Analysis

(per serving)

Serving size: 1 stuffed chicken breast
Calories 371 Cholesterol 96 mg
Protein 36 g Sodium 122 mg
Carbohydrate 20 g Fiber 2 g
Total fat 16 g Potassium 505 mg
Saturated fat 4 g Calcium 91 mg
Monounsaturated fat 8 g

The ABCs of Disability – The Letter V

Oh Crap!  I’m getting another cold!    AKA “V” is for virus.

I’ve started writing this early on Sunday morning so hopefully this post will make sense when I’m done.  Sorry for any mistakes you’ll find.  I’ll probably post this on Tuesday.  Well, that’s my plan.  My sleep has been screwed up for the past month since my last cold.  I’ve been going to sleep later and later and now it’s normal for me to fall asleep anywhere between 4 and 6 in the morning.  A few times it’s even been 8 or 9 in the morning. I’ve tried to get back to my normal time of around midnight, but no such luck yet.

I naturally wake up around 8 or 9 am.  So now, my night’s sleep is only a few hours.   I’ve tried napping in the day, not napping till I go to bed, napping in the evening…all for naught.   And, add some hot flashes to the mix, just for good measure.  Which can only mean one thing.  I’ve been stressing my body so much due to inconsistent and irregular sleep that I’ve now caught a cold.

I hate having colds now.  Before chronic illness entered my life, I would get a cold and take whatever medication seemed best.  The cold was usually gone in a week or so, sometimes less.  I rarely had to take time off from work.  Just one of life’s minor inconveniences as the colds never developed into anything further.

As for the flu, I got that even less.

But, the irony of it all, it was a flu virus that started me with my new life with chronic illness.

Thankfully, I still don’t get the flu that often.  But, I also get a flu shot each year.  What I do get each winter is, on average, 4 colds.  But, they’re different for me now.  My body loves tormenting me, making sure I understand what’s coming.  I’ll start off with a scratchy or sore throat.  Maybe get that achy feeling.  This lasts a few days.  Then the symptoms go away and I start to feel better.

As you can see, my colds are big, big teases.  Colds are also labelled  acute illnesses.  There is nothing cute about them.

About a week afterwards, I get the cold, full force.  And it doesn’t go away within the week like they used to.  No, mine now stick around for a couple of weeks.  So, at the very least, January,February and March I have a cold, am getting a cold or getting over a cold.  And at some point in the fall I usually have one.

Our bodies are already stressed, tired and depending on your illness, your immune system could already be compromised.  Getting a seasonal virus just amps the stress levels.   It could also lead to more complications and illnesses.  For example, colds add more stress to an already stressed body in diabetics affecting their blood sugar levels.  If a person has heart disease, and if there is complications such as a lung infection, the heart has to work harder because the person is not getting as much oxygen as efficiently as before the virus.

Here’s the link to the WebMD article “Colds and Chronic Medical Conditions” where I got the two previous examples.   The second page of the article has different tips on preventing colds if you have a chronic medical condition.

By the by, my favourite tip?  Regular exercise.  Because that’s what many of us with chronic illness can do on a regular basis.  (OK, snarky part is over.)

I also found an article from 2000 in the Journal of American Medicine Association (JAMA) called Impact of Respiratory Virus Infections on Persons With Chronic Underlying Conditions.  It confirms what we already know.  If you have a chronic illness, you are more likely to have complications.  And not surprisingly,  your level of income is also a deciding factor.  Here’s the results and the first paragraph of conclusions from the article:

Results Ninety-three percent of patients older than 5 years had a chronic underlying condition; a chronic pulmonary condition was most common. Patients with chronic pulmonary disease from low-income populations were hospitalized at a rate of 398.6 per 10,000, almost 8 times higher than the rate for patients from middle-income groups (52.2 per 10,000; P<.001). Of the 403 patients (44.4% of adults and 32.3% of children) who submitted convalescent serum specimens for antibody testing, respiratory tract virus infections were detected in 181 (44.9%). Influenza, parainfluenza, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections accounted for 75% of all virus infections.

Conclusions Our study suggests that respiratory virus infections commonly trigger serious acute respiratory conditions that result in hospitalization of patients with chronic underlying conditions, highlighting the need for development of effective vaccines for these viruses, especially for parainfluenza and RSV.

So, take care of yourselves, folks.  If you do find yourself with a virus, you know the drill.  Get some rest, plenty of fluids and the appropriate medication.  However, please be careful and know what’s in your over-the-counter medication.  You don’t want to do something like take a couple of  extra-strength Tylenol and then sip on a Neo Citron which also has the equivalent of one extra-strength Tylenol.

And remember, it’s already the middle of winter.  We’re half way through cold and flu season.

Then we can start to celebrate allergy season.