High blood pressure, or hypertension, is one of the biggest risk factors for serious diseases like heart disease and stroke. According to Blood Pressure UK, an estimated 16 million people in the UK have high blood pressure. Many of these individuals don't even know they have it because hypertension often doesn't come with any symptoms. A diet that's high in salt is one of the causes of high blood pressure, so it's beneficial to eat low-salt meals to reduce your risk.
If you enjoy foods that contain a lot of salt, maintaining a salt-free diet can be challenging. While taking one simple ingredient out of your meals may not seem like it will have much of an effect on your health, salt drastically raises blood pressure. Blood Pressure UK says once you're affected by hypertension, you're three times as likely to experience heart disease or stroke and twice as likely to die from these conditions compared to people without high blood pressure.
There are plenty of mouthwatering meals you can prepare that don't have any salt. Treat yourself to a nutritious salt-free dinner without sacrificing taste. Here are three to try:
1. Barley, Chicken and Mushroom Risotto
This barley, chicken and mushroom risotto is a great source of protein and vegetables. The best part is that the variety of ingredients creates a truly delicious meal that doesn't need salt to impress your taste buds.
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 large shallots, finely sliced
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 3 skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunky pieces
- 300g pearl barley
- 250ml white wine
- 400g mixed wild and chestnut mushrooms, chopped
- 1 Tbsp. thyme leaf
- 1l hot chicken stock
- 3 Tbsp. grated parmesan
- Pinch of pepper
- Snipped chives, to serve (optional)
- Parmesan shavings, to serve (optional)
The first step to preparing your meal is heating the butter and oil in a large, heavy saucepan, as this is where many of the ingredients will be cooked. Then saute the garlic and shallots, mixing in some seasoning. After 5 minutes, stir in the chicken.
Once the chicken is cooked thoroughly, add the barley and cook for 1 minute before pouring the wine in and stirring until it's dissolved completely. Pour the thyme and mushrooms over 3/4 of the chicken stock and cook for 40 minutes on low heat until the barley becomes tender. If it looks too dry, you may need to top up with the rest of the stock. Scatter some pepper and the Parmesan shavings and chives over the top if you decided to add them after removing the pan from the heat. Serve immediately.
2. Butternut Squash and Spinach Curry
Butternut squash and spinach curry is an ideal fall meal that's a great low-salt addition to any family gathering or event at your care home. Here's what you'll need:
- 1 Tbsp. rapeseed oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 butternut squash or pumpkin, about 1.5kg, peeled, deseeded and cut into large cubes
- 4 Tbsp. mild curry paste
- 100ml reduced-fat coconut milk
- 200ml low-salt vegetable stock
- 250g leaf spinach, washed and roughly chopped
- 200g low-fat natural bio yoghurt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Basmati rice, to serve
In a large heavy-based frying pan, heat the oil, adding the onions and stirring for 2 minutes, or until the onions are soft. Then add the butternut squash (or pumpkin) and curry paste and cook for 2-3 minutes before pouring in the coconut milk and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and cover the pan over low heat for 20 minutes.
In batches, mix in the spinach, stirring and adding another once the previous batch is wilted. Once all of the spinach is added, pour the yoghurt in and cook for another 10 minutes. After seasoning with black pepper, serve with basmati rice.
3. Balsamic-glazed Salmon Fillets
Salmon has a number of health benefits. It reduces your risk of heart disease with omega-3 fatty acids and also contains a lot vitamins and protein. These balsamic-glaze salmon fillets put a sweet twist on your typical salmon dish.
- 1 dessertspoon olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp. white wine
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- 85ml balsamic vinegar
- 2 dessertspoons Dijon mustard
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
- 6 (140g) salmon fillets
Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Mix olive oil and garlic in a saucepan and cook for 3 minutes over medium heat or until the garlic is soft. Combine honey, balsamic vinegar, white wine, pepper and mustard and let simmer for about 3 minutes uncovered. Once the mixture has thickened into a glaze, take the pan off the heat and add oregano.
Place uncooked salmon fillets on the prepared baking tray and brush over them with your balsamic glaze. Bake for 10-14 minutes or until the outside of the salmon flakes easily with a fork. Remove the fillets from the over and brush them with any remaining glaze. With a fish slicer, transfer the fillets to a serving plate and leave the skin behind on the tray.
At Gracewell care homes, we put a lot of time and care into preparing meals that are delicious and healthy for our residents. All of our homes include meals for people with special dietary needs or difficulty swallowing solids as well. To find a location near you, contact us today.