Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Salt





There are some things in life that are just okay to do.

We might beat ourselves up about it in the chilly dawn as we feed our tiny, trusting babies Infacol in the hope that wind is what's making her kick her legs and screw up her face and go "MmmmmmmmmmmNNNNNNNNNN!!!!! EEERrrrwwwwwwww!!!!!! *snuffle snuffle* pause HHII - EEEEEEEEE!!!!!!" when she is supposed to be asleep.

But in fact, we should all just relax.

Like it's okay to pay your tax bill a bit late. And it's okay to feel a bit sick when you see the amount.

And it's okay to still, at 30, raise your eyes to the sky and say "Please, please" when you're at the cash machine, in the hope that the machine will give you money, rather than tell you that you've got "insufficient funds".

It's okay to occasionally let your baby fall asleep on your shoulder and then put her down for her mid-morning nap, rather than take her to some far room, close the curtains, put her down while still sort-of awake and then let her cry herself to sleep.

It's okay to not do any laundry for, like, two weeks.

It's okay to hate people more successful than you.

And it's okay to salt your food.

A lot of people really don't think that's okay, though. It's mostly people of a certain age, who grew up thinking that salting your food was the equivalent of churning through 60 a day. Too much salt is bad for your heart, you see.

But what do we mean by too much? The recommended daily allowance of salt for adults is 6g. That's a lot - (see photo above with box of Infacol for scale) - but only if you don't eat any, or much, processed food. For example, a KFC wing contains 1g of salt. One whole gram. Six of those and you're done for the entire day.

I eat barely any processed food because my husband gives me such hell for it, so that means I merrily cover my food with salt. And if you know that you don't eat much processed food either, you ought to be salting your food, conscience-free. Because salt is what makes food tasty (something KFC knows only too well).

So bear that in mind. And next time you're standing at your stove, taking a sip off something off the end of a wooden spoon and feeling baffled as to why it tastes of nothing, reach for the salt - and be brave.

Because, *shush shush*, it's okay. It really is.

23 comments:

  1. You make me smile, I do the cash machine thing! I recently bought a Le Creuset in John Lewis and had a moment where I was terrified that the payment wouldn't go through, even though I knew that it would.

    Also - salt is important! Your entire body runs using salt as an electrolyte, without it your cells, muscles and nerves would not work. People eating minimal processed food, and without high blood pressure should remember to get enough salt. The same can be said for fat, all cells have a membrane made of lipids, which come from fat. I get fed up with people demonising fat and trying to completely eradicate it from life. It's all about balance and sometimes when people are trying to reduce things they forget that they still need some.

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  2. I never did the crying to sleep thing. It freaked me out too much. Some people swear by it though.

    I'm with you on the salt, though I don't add it in my cooking (for Elliot, his little kidneys can cope with even less salt than our big ones, and he eats whatever we eat) and so I put as much as I want on the food on my plate.

    Hope all is well with you and Kitty. Oh, also fennel tea is supposed to work wonders for the, er, supply. xx

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  3. A doctor friend of mine assures me that high consumption of salt is only a problem for people with existing problems with heart disease and high blood pressure; it doesn't actually *cause* it.

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  4. I love salt and at 32 I hate being told what I can and can't eat! So.... eat salt, cuddle your babies until they sleep and be happy people! Love you EW, thanks for making me smile.

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  5. Oh Esther, I do not have children but my friends do and more than one of them swear that Osteopathy had helped their inconsolable babies - something about the spine being twisted at birth. Apparently all you need often is one or two sessions with an osteopath specializing in babies, and everything improves. Might be worth taking Kitty to see one?
    xx

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  6. and there are many many types of salt... something i learnt recently at MsMarmiteLovers supperclub when she sauted scallops on a block of salt she had heated in her oven... anyhoo... rock salt and sea salt are good... that nasty sodium that supermarkets call 'table salt' which is the same stuff you put in the dishwasher is not good... oh and don't go into a field full of cows and steal their salt-lick... also nasty... unless you're a cow...

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  7. The is no point to either rice or pasta without salt in the cooking water. None at all.

    I'd ignore the cranial osteopathy fans. It has as much evidence base as homeopathy. Babies grow out of colic. Honest.

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  8. This made me smile.. I do remember as a child tipping a huge amount of salt onto my boiled egg just before I broke the skin to let the yolk burst out - nothing beat that salty first spoonful - shockingly unhealthy. Like the cream off the milk.
    Or the day when my 6 year old, at school, was filling out an "All about me" sheet. Favourite food? She wrote KFC. Much to our absolute horror it was stuck on the wall outside her classroom. We've been once and she didn't eat what she was chose.
    When asked WHY???? had she written it, she replied..
    "I couldn't spell macaroni" .

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  9. I think I'm falling a little in love with you. This is the sort of blog I needed to read when my now 7 month old was newborn, rather than those sanctimonious "you must do...." ones.
    You are right, it is okay ... and it will be okay and you'll be okay too.

    I love your posts.

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  10. Do you have a copy of Jeffrey Steingarten's 'The Man Who Ate Everything'? Very interesting essay on salt in there. Will lend you mine if not. Give me a buzz next time you're 'trosing. J

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  11. James is right- that is an excellent essay! Thanks for brightening my day with this piece- you write such great sense about so much... Hoping Kitty begins to relax soon too...

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  12. I'm loving your blog, I'm following!

    Would love you to enter my amazing GIVEAWAY- to win a pasta making course and meal with wine for two:

    http://thoroughlymodernmilly5.blogspot.com/2011/02/best-gievaway-yet-ida-restaurant-pasta.html

    xx

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  13. Thanks Milly... but what with a tiny baby pasta-making courses and dinners out are kind of a thing of the past xxxx

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  14. I know processed foods and snacks are bad....but i just love eating salt and vinegar crisps and especially love the loose salt that collects in the corner of the bag! It's a food guilty pleasure!

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  15. I don't often add salt - not for saintly health reasons but just because I forget...

    But I still make sure I act all offended when my boyfriend adds it to the meal I've just cooked, in a 'is there something wrong with my cooking???' kind of way!!

    Might review my salting now....and save my wounded look for when the HP bottle comes out.

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  16. Absolutely agree (Maldon sea salt on jacket spuds - with olive oil - yum). Salt is integral to making food tasty and is far too much maligned. I don't imagine that homemade food, when salt is added to taste, contains nearly as much as processed/ready-made food anyway.
    PS I have a liking for Heinz salad cream. Is that bad?! It's just that it goes with everything ...

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  17. Anyone who doesn't use a good pinch (handful) of salt, cannot be trusted. Salt is essential, especially if you're a shitty cook. Salt AND ketchup. But that still seems like a really small amount. That said, I do bathe it in almost every day.. IT MAKES YOU THIN!! STOP JUDGING ME!

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  18. I always cuddled and rocked my daughter to sleep. She is 3 and a half now. Doing the same with my baby boy. If kids are quite ill I have them in our bed. It hasn't affected daughter's ability to learn independently falling asleep. When they're older it comes. She regularly takes herself off to bed in the afternoon now if she needs a sleep.

    You instinctively know what's right for your baby and your family unit. Go with your gut because there is too much conflicting parenting advice that will make you crazy.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/babies-left-to-cry-can-suffer-brain-damage-warns-parenting-guru-1950702.html

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  19. what a true words! I totally agree with you on almost everything what you said apart of salt...

    I just so don't like the taste of that, that when I eat KFC (it happens when you have children and husband and you are busy) I can eat only one piece of chicken, but then I need something fizzy and very sweet to drink to forget that salt, so I am afraid I differ here, I don't use salt at all because it doesn't taste nice, all food salted taste the same to me, only when there is no salt I can taste the real food...

    sorry for that long paragraph about me, I am really glad I have found your blog, reading it makes me smile and think :)

    xx

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  20. I fed and or cuddled all (4) of my babies to sleep, just do what feels right for you - it's too easy to get caught up in advice from books and well meaning rellies (and weirdy strangers in t'internet - oh!) but you know - enjoy it, the baby bit whizzes by too bloody fast (biggest boy about to start secondary school here).

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  21. You are hilarious. I salt everything I ever cook (including salad...) and haven't died yet. I heard somewhere that salt gives an 'illusion of flavour' - which is lucky... ;)

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  22. Ha! I was having a rant about salt this morning, and a friend asked me if I'd read your post on the subject. I hadn't (I had never heard of your blog) but now I have and you ROCK. Totally agree with you - people have a fear of salt, and it's stopping them from making food that actually tastes nice. So instead they buy the (salted) pre-packaged stuff. We have some (good) friends who are great cooks but NEVER use salt, or have salt on the table and it makes me WEEP because their food is so very NEARLY delicious, just not quite. I help out with cookery sessions at my children's school and we were making hummous. I suggested it needed salt and you'd have thought I just suggested everybody try a little of this nice crack cocaine. The fact is that hummous NEEDS salt because tahini is really quite bitter and the salt is an effective counter-balance. That's why the stuff you buy (which we'd used in a previous session) already contains salt. So, the message to kids is just buy it, because it tastes nice. Don't bother to make your own. GAAAAAHHHHHHH!

    I'm very sorry about that, I've been needing to get it off my chest.

    I hope your baby is sleeping better!

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