Most people who are concerned about high blood pressure know to avoid consuming lots of sodium. But, do we know where most of the sodium in our diets comes from? Perhaps surprisingly, not much actually comes from the salt shaker. Continuing our lessons about high blood pressure, participants in Health 360 learned that 77% of the sodium in our diets comes from processed foods and restaurant foods. This means that the best way to reduce your sodium intake is to cook your own food at home, starting from unprocessed ingredients. It’s also very important to read labels and ask restaurants for nutritional information, so that you can make informed choices when cooking at home is not an option. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day if you have high blood pressure or are at risk of developing it.

Just three crispy chicken tenders from a fast food restaurant pack in over 900 mg of sodium, which accounts for 60% of your daily intake if you have or are at risk of hypertension! As an alternative, try this delicious and simple recipe for baked chicken. Thanks to Nathalie for writing and preparing this dish for Health 360! Come join us for the next healthy lunch! Contact Claire at 718-773-3551 x115 if you’d like to be part of the program.

Baked Chicken

1 whole chicken, cut into pieces

1 lemon

4-6 cloves garlic

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

black pepper, to taste

a few sprigs of thyme

1/4 c olive oil

your favorite no-salt spice blend (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 400F. Place chicken in a bowl and fill with cold water. Slice the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the water making sure that all parts of the chicken are covered. Drain and rinse with cold water. Chop or smash the garlic, sea salt, and black pepper into a fine paste and rub along with the thyme onto the chicken. Coat the seasoned chicken with olive oil. Place a sheet tray and if using additional spices, sprinkle them on top of the chicken. Bake chicken at 400F for first 10 minutes, then lower oven to 350F and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Serve with whole grain bread or pasta and a fresh salad. We ate it with a salad of swiss chard tossed with scallions, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.

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