It’s true that a little bit of salt can bring out a world of flavor in a meal, but this popular mineral also has its risks when added to meals, including school lunches.
Giving kids healthy options is important to fuel their body for learning, but when too much salt is added to a meal, it has several negative effects, such increasing blood pressure, which can lead to stroke, heart disease and more.
Since the USDA announced guidelines for salt reduction in school meals, school foodservice directors may be wondering how they can comply. Fortunately, there are ways to easily reduce the sodium in school lunches without losing any of the flavors that kids love.
Add Some Spice
Far too often, people think salt is necessary for rich, flavorful food; this is simply not true. Many of the alternatives to salt introduce new and exciting flavors to the palate, from the taste of fresh-picked basil to the exotic tastes of cilantro or cumin. One simple option could be to cook with flavorful ingredients like onion, citrus zest, lemon juice or garlic. These ingredients will add layers to meals that make salt unnecessary.
Another option is to season without salt. Popular salt-free seasonings, like Mrs. Dash, have been around for decades. Although these could be a great option, a more economical way to season food is to create your own spice blends that can be housed in larger, more practical containers for ease of use.
Salt-Free Blend Ideas
Once you open up the proverbial spice cabinet, there is a world of opportunity for flavor mixing. Taco Tuesday can be spiced up with a blend including cumin, chili powder, garlic powder and paprika. Italian dishes can benefit from a mix of green herbs like basil, oregano, marjoram, rosemary and thyme. Asian meals call for a blend of exotic spices like fennel, anise and cinnamon. It’s even possible to create a healthier, salt-free ranch dressing with parsley, dill and garlic and onion powders, shaken and mixed into Greek yogurt.
Reducing Sodium In Real Life
Cincinnati Public Schools District has the daily challenge of feeding over 2,000 high school students in one hour. But the bigger challenge is providing tasty food that fits the USDA guidelines. Enter the Flavor Station: At the end of its burger toppings bar sit shakers with spice blends that students can use to season their food without adding salt. Think Cajun, Southwest and Italian seasonings that add a boost of flavor without the sodium.
The Convenience of Shakers
For a quick and easy way to add flavorful, salt-free spices to school lunches, it is beneficial to invest in some handy accessories, like Cambro’s condiment shakers. These shakers have a variety of color-coded lids and can be personalized on the outside with the wording of your choice. Place the shakers out during lunch so kids can season their meals to their liking without adding salt.
Armed with these shakers, schools can make real progress in the effort to reduce sodium in school lunches.
Contact your local Cambro representative to learn about equipment solutions that help keep you in compliance with USDA guidelines.
Find more inspiration here from Rochester City School District, whose flavor stations are making a splash in their schools.