Last week, we decided to start an online conversation about the adverse reaction to restaurant meals we have had that contain too much salt. Read more about it at the post here. We’ve received numerous responses in agreement–many people feel the same way!
Natalie, a guest at Peppermint Ridge, sums up a sentiment we received via email many times over:
Yes, I totally agree.
I also have a pet hate for preservatives and stay away from all processed foods for this reason, however when eating out you never 100% sure about what is in the food you’re eating.
The discussion continued with others on Facebook, with agreement about the adverse reaction to heavy salt use at restaurants:
My partner and I talk about this all the time. We rarely eat out anymore as we really struggle with how the food makes us feel the next day/that night.
So why do restaurants and fast food outlets use so much salt? Is the training encouraging the overuse of salt?
Many of the visitors to the farm are trained chefs and cooks and they confirm my food training experiences – the courses train the student to use large amounts of salt to improve the flavour of dishes – especially curries. Professional training courses should be encouraging the use of other flavour enhancers.
Many top chefs encourage the overuse of salt as a seasoning as is indicated in an article in The Age on April 18 this year on tips for domestic cooks from the world’s best chefs. Tip 3 was ‘Use more salt’ – “in the professional kitchen, we season food aggressively. A professional knows you need to push the seasoning envelope really, really hard. You shouldn’t be afraid of salt.” I would say to that – Yes you should. Too much salt will cause major health problems and can shorten your life. Do these chefs eat their own food every day? No wonder we get home with an overload of salt and feel unwell!
I would also suggest that many recipes in cook books include too much salt in their published recipes. Try adding half what is recommended and you will not notice a flavour change!
But importantly, we are not saying “cut out all salt….”
It is important to note that salts do vary – most only contain sodium chloride (sea salt). In Australia it is important to use iodised salt – it contains iodine as well as sodium and chloride ions. Iodine can be a very low levels in Australian soils and so not found in enough of our foodstuffs. Iodine is important in maintaining the health of the thyroid gland which plays a big role in body metabolism and temperature control. Iodised salt is freely available (and cheap) in most supermarkets.
We’re trying to lead by example at Peppermint Ridge
At Peppermint Ridge Farm, we pride ourselves on serving food that is grown at the farm or locally, has the nutrition and health benefits of the added native foods and is low in salt and fat. Our native foods are natural flavour enhancers and so we do not need to add excess salt to our dishes to achieve a great flavour lift. We use a steam grill to roast our meats and vegetables which locks in the moisture, adds a crispy outside layer without using extra fats and oils and we do not use a deep fryer. Visitors comment that our food always makes them feel good and that they leave refreshed without being overloaded with salt, sugar and fat.
In response to last week’s blog post, our guest Natalie (also quoted above) let us share her compliment:
This is one of the many reasons I enjoyed my lunch at Peppermint Ridge Farm, apart from the yummy tasting food and your sustainability approaches, I trust the type of clean cooking you do!
Thank you, Natalie! 🙂
Alternative Flavour Enhancers
I hope I have inspired some discussion and thought. Here is a new recipe we have developed with no added salt. The picture shows how delicious they look.
Recipe: Native Spinach Pastries
Mix well together:
- 250g cooked Warrigal Greens- finely chopped
- 250g fresh ricotta cheese, 50g grated mozzarella cheese
- olive oil spray
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup fresh, chopped mixed herbs – lemon myrtle, mountain pepper, dill, river mint etc
Place ¼ cup mix onto strips of 2 sheets of filo pastry lightly sprayed with olive oil. Fold into overlapping triangles and place onto tray covered in baking paper, spray tops with oil and bake at 180 C for 15 minutes until golden.