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Reducing sodium is hardest resolution

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By now, most New Year’s resolutions have fallen to the wayside.
I make them every year. This year, after much thought and soul searching, I decided to tackle the hardest resolution of them all: I’m reducing the sodium in my diet.
As far as resolutions go, it doesn’t have the popularity of “losing 10 pounds,” “paying off debt” or “reading the Bible through.”
I’ll admit, it’s not a glamorous resolution and it’s certainly not an easy one, but, in the end, it’s best for my health and the health of my family.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, most Americans should consume less sodium, much less, in fact.
Current guidelines recommend that adults consume less than 2,300 mg of sodium in a day and some population groups should consume less than 1,500 mg.
Here’s an interesting fact; most of the sodium in the average American diet doesn’t come from the saltshaker.
The CDC reports that most of the sodium (about 77 percent) in our diets comes from processed or restaurant foods.
There you have it. It seems easy enough; eat fresh, unprocessed food and limit restaurant meals.
Nothing is that easy though.
Too many fancy holiday meals, combined with cooler rainy weather, brought on a strong hankering for my mama’s chicken and rice. Golden yellow with condensed soup and butter, canned mushrooms floating in rich creamy rice; falling off the bone, golden brown chicken. Suburban 1970s chicken and rice – the ultimate comfort food.
SparkPeople.com offers a handy little recipe calculator so I plugged in the recipe just to get an idea of the nutritional minefield that Mama’s Chicken and Rice actually is.
It’s bad, really bad.
One serving of my mother’s chicken and rice has a whopping 1,084 mg of sodium. All that sodium would destroy my resolution before the first week of January!
A little research and experimenting and voila – Low Sodium Cream Soup Mix.
There are several variations of this mix; this is my version. If you’d like a creamy soup, add 1 cup of non-fat powdered milk. If dried celery isn’t a favorite, substitute 1/2 teaspoon dried basil and 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme.  The finished soup is the equivalent to one can of condensed “cream of…” soup and one can of water.
I used my low-sodium soup mix in my mama’s chicken and rice, with a few modifications.
Fresh mushrooms replace canned varities to further reduce sodium Carrots are added for sweetness; 2 tablespoons of olive oil replace the half stick of butter or margarine. Boneless, skinless, free-range chicken completes the makeover.
Not only does this new and improved version really hit the spot for nostalgic home cooking, the sodium has been reduced to a mere 600 mg!
My resolutions are still intact and my longing for comfort food has been satiated.

– May Vokaty is the food editor of The Voice in Blythewood. She approaches cooking with a lighter approach to traditional recipes to keep people both happy and healthy. She grew up in Mississippi and worked in health care for 15 year and she has been cooking since she got an Easy Bake oven at age 6. Contact her at  MayKVokaty@gmail.com.