Low Country Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and Grits

Photo Credit – Robert Gately, Copyright 2013

A low-sodium interpretation adapted from a recipe originally tasted at the Side Wheeler Restaurant in Conway, South Carolina.

1 lb raw, peeled shrimp
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp white wine
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup stone-ground grits (not quick grits, slow-cook grits!)
1 tsp Nu-Salt
1/2 medium onion
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 cup orange bell pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup Tillamook Italian 3-Cheese Blend (only 70 mg sodium in 1/4 cup!)
1/4 cup sliced green onion
Nu-Salt and ground black pepper to taste

  1. In a medium bowl, combine shrimp and lemon juice. Sprinkle with Nu-Salt and black pepper. Set aside.
  2. In medium saucepan combine chicken broth, half and half, butter, and 1 tsp Nu-Salt. Bring to a gentle boil over high heat. Add grits and 1/4 cup white wine, reduce heat to low and simmer covered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Heat olive oil in saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, saute 2 minutes. Add bell pepper, cook additional 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep mixture warm.
  4. When the grits have 5 minutes left to cook, reheat vegetable mixture over medium heat. Add 2 tbsp white wine and shrimp. Cook, stirring and turning shrimp often. Cook until shrimp turn opaque, do not overcook.
  5. When grits are just done, mix cheese into pot, serve in wide soup bowls. Top with 1/4 shrimp mixture and sliced green onion. Add dashes of hot sauce and additional cheese to taste.

Servings: 4

Nutritional Info: Calories 359.4; Total Fat 18.5 g; Saturated Fat 10.1 g; Polyunsaturated Fat 1.3 g, Monounsaturated Fat 3.8 g; Cholesterol 216.8 mg; Sodium 325.3 mg; Potassium 1,201.2 mg; Total Carbohydrates 14.2 g; Protein 29.7 g

Seared Steaks with Red Wine-Cherry Sauce

Skirt Steak with Red Wine-Cherry Sauce

Photo Credit – Robert Gately, Copyright 2013

This recipe is adapted from Cooking Light, July 2013. We were reluctant to use filet for this as we had no idea if this was going to be too sweet. So I substituted one of my favorite cuts, the humble skirt steak. Read the preparation instructions if you plan on using a thicker cut of meat so you can include the oven step that we omitted!


  • 1 pound skirt steak
  • 1/2 tsp Nu-Salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 1 cup sweet cherries, pitted and halved
  • 1 star anise (we did not have star anise, so i crushed a couple of cloves and some fennel seeds and filled an empty tea bag with the mixture)
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter


  1. Preheat oven to 425°. (We skipped the oven step in our attempt, the skirt steaks are so thin they would have overcooked.)
  2. Heat a large cast-iron over high heat. Sprinkle steaks evenly with Nu-Salt and pepper. Add oil to the pan, swirl to coat. Add steaks; cook a few minutes. Turn steaks over, cook for a few more until desired degree of doneness. Remove steaks for the pan, keep warm. Lower heat to medium-high. (Here, instead of cooking the meat for a few more minutes after turning, the original recipe called for putting the entire pan into the preheated over and cooking the steaks for 5 minutes or so.)
  3. Return skillet to stove. Add shallots; saute 2 minutes or until just tender, stirring frequently. Add cherries and star anise (or in my case the re-purposed tea bag.) cook 1 minute. Add wine, bring to a boil, and cook 3 minutes or until slightly thickened. Discard anise (or teabag). Stir in butter. Spoon sauce over steaks.

Servings: 4

Nutritional Info: Calories 361; Total Fat 17.9 g; Saturated Fat 6.7 g; Polyunsaturated Fat 0.8 g, Monounsaturated Fat 9.2 g; Cholesterol 74.7 mg; Sodium 90.0 mg; Potassium 942.5 mg; Total Carbohydrates 9.8 g; Protein 31.2 g

Chili Dusted Shrimp & Corn Relish

Chili Dusted Shrimp and Corn Relish

Photo Credit – Robert Gately, Copyright 2013


This recipe is adapted from Cooking Light, December 2007. Their version, 569 mg of Sodium, mine has 269 mg, a reduction of 300 mg per serving!


  • 3 1/2 teaspoons sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Nu-Salt, divided
  • 1 1/2 pounds peeled and de-veined large shrimp
  • 5 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons bottled minced ginger
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen whole-kernel corn
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions


  1. Combine 2 teaspoons sugar, chili powder, chile powders, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a shallow dish. Add shrimp to spice mixture; toss well to coat.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup onion, bell pepper, garlic, and ginger to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar and corn to pan; cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in vinegar; cook 30 seconds. Transfer corn mixture to a bowl; stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 cup green onions.
  3. Wipe pan with a paper towel. Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add shrimp to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until done, turning once. Serve with corn mixture.

Servings: 4

Nutritional Info: Calories 333; Total Fat 9.4 g; Saturated Fat 1.5 g; Polyunsaturated Fat 2.0 g, Monounsaturated Fat 4.8 g; Cholesterol 258.4 mg; Sodium 269.7 mg; Potassium 1,042.0 mg; Total Carbohydrates 26.5 g; Protein 37.5 g

Healthy Balsamic Vinaigrette

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp Grey Poupon Dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
2 garlic cloves, minced (optional)
1/2 ttsp NuSalt
1/4 tsp black pepper, ground
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil


1. In blender,  mix all ingredients except oil together until well combined.

2. Set blender to lowest speed and slowly add oil to mixture.

Servings: 6

Nutritional Info: Calories 181; Total Fat 9 g; Saturated Fat 1.2 g; Polyunsaturated Fat 0.8 g, Monounsaturated Fat 6.6 g; Cholesterol 0.0 mg; Sodium 66.9 mg; Total Carbohydrates 1.2 g; Protein 0.1 g

Honey-Broiled Sea Scallops

Sea scallops are large, usually about 1 and 1/2 inches in diameter, while bay scallops average about 1/2 inch in diameter.

3 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp orange blossom honey
1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 lb large sea scallops
2 tbsp sesame seeds

1. Combine lime juice, oil, honey, soy sauce, and ginger in a bowl. Add scallops and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

2. Remove scallops from marinade, reserving marinade. Thread scallops evenly on 4 skewers. Place the skewers on a shallow baking pan that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking oil.

3. Broil 4 to 6 inches from heat source for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn and baste with reserved marinade and continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes or until opaque throughout.

4. Place sesame seeds on wax paper and roll each skewer over seeds to evenly coat scallops. Serve immediately.

Servings: 4

Nutritional Info: Calories 176; Total Fat 4.4 g; Saturated Fat 0.3 g; Polyunsaturated Fat 1.3g, Monounsaturated Fat 2.1g; Cholesterol 37 mg; Sodium 193.3 mg; Total Carbohydrates 7 g; Protein 20 g

I’ve discovered that soy sauce is another one of the challenges while on a low sodium diet. The ubiquitous Kikkoman Soy Sauce has 920mg per tablespoon, while their Less Sodium Soy Sauce has 575mg!

Healthy Heart Market, an online store which boasts over 500 sodium free, low sodium, and gluten free foods carries China Town Soy Sauce. It has only 145mg of Sodium per tablespoon and was used as the basis for the nutritional calculations for this recipe.

Honey Tarragon Glazed Salmon

4 6-ounce salmon fillets, washed and skin removed
¼ cup honey
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp tarragon
1 tbsp lemon juice
pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients except the salmon in a small pot.  Whisk to mix well and warm through over medium high heat.  Cook for 3 to 4 minutes and remove from heat.  While the glaze is cooling, turn on broiler and place the salmon fillets onto a cookie sheet.  Brush the fillets with the glaze and place under the broiler. Cook the fillet roughly 4 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the fish.  Turn the fish, brush with the glaze and cook an additional 4 minutes.

Servings: 4

Nutritional Info: Calories 329.5; Total Fat 7.6g, Saturated Fat 1.2g, Polyunsaturated Fat 3.0g, Monounsaturated Fat 2.0g; Cholesterol 113.9mg; Sodium 327.8mg; Potassium 756.7mg; Total Carbohydrate 18.5g; Protein 43.8g

Tangy Coffee Barbecue Sauce

May 16th is national Barbecue Day! Here’s a quick and easy substitute for the high sodium, off-the-shelf brand name products. Cook up a batch of this in 15 minutes and then slather it on your ribs, chicken, or chops.

1 cup brewed coffee
1 cup no-salt-added ketchup
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons lower-sodium soy sauce

Combine coffee, ketchup, brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, and chili powder in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in pepper, balsamic vinegar, and soy sauce.

Servings: 10

Nutritional Info: Calories 39.5; Total Fat 0.1g, Saturated Fat 0.0g, Polyunsaturated Fat 0.0g, Monounsaturated Fat 0.0g; Cholesterol 0.0mg; Sodium 31.8mg; Potassium 36.6mg; Total Carbohydrate 10.8g; Protein 0.2g

Taco Salad (364.4mg Sodium)

IMG_7221Taco Salad in a Tostada Bowl

My wife and I have a tradition of ‘Taco Tuesday’ in our home. Generally it’s much like it sounds, tacos and a couple of side dishes. Quick to make, easy to eat, super fast cleanup. A recent discovery in the local grocery store (and available from Amazon) has allowed us to expand the repertoire by introducing the Rio Rancho Tostada Bowls. With only 5mg of sodium in each bowl, they are a great addition to our larder.

Here is a breakdown of last Tuesday’s feast.

1/2 lb lean ground beef
1/2 pkg Los Chileros Taco & Burrito Mix
1/2 cup water
4 tbls Pico di Gallo
1/2 head romaine lettuce, sliced very thin
1 tomato, diced
1 small can sliced black olives, well rinsed
1 green onion, sliced into rounds
2 tbls sour cream
2 Rio Rancho Tostada Bowls
2 tbls Taco Mix Shredded Cheese

Make 1/2 of the recipe on the back of theTaco & Burrito Mix package. Substitute the onion with the Pico di Gallo.
Warm Tostada Bowls in a 350 degree oven for 2 minutes. Layer the bottom with lettuce, tomato, and black olives.

Place beef mixture over veggies and top with sour cream, green onion, and sprinkle with cheese.


Servings: 2

Nutritional Info: Calories 583.7; Total Fat 38.8g, Saturated Fat 13.2g, Polyunsaturated Fat 1.2g, Monounsaturated Fat 12.8g; Cholesterol96.8mg; Sodium 364.4mg; Potassium 728.0mg; Total Carbohydrate 31.1g; Protein 27.1g

How it all started.

Humble Beginnings 

In November of 2008, my doctor, in conjunction with an Ear Nose and Throat specialist (otolaryngologist), an audiologist, and an MRI, diagnosed me with Ménière’s disease. Ménière’s disease is a condition of the inner ear which affects hearing, balance and essentially makes you seasick while motionless.

Ménière’s disease is usually diagnosed by the elimination of several other conditions that could cause the symptoms that plague me. Periodic episodes of rotary vertigo or dizziness, progressive and unilateral (in one ear) hearing loss, and unilateral tinnitus can be caused by things as simple as noise damage to the inner ear or by something more complex like cysts on the cochlea. But if the symptoms occur in conjunction with one another, a probable diagnosis is Ménière’s.

There really is no treatment aside from the radical removal of the inner ear. But that procedure is normally reserved for severe sufferers who also are plagued by ‘drop attacks’, a sudden, severe attack of dizziness or vertigo that causes the sufferer, if not seated, to fall. Thankfully, in the four years since my initial diagnosis, I have not progressed anywhere near a level of that severity.

Most patients are advised to adopt a low-sodium diet, typically one to two grams (1000-2000mg) at first, but diets as low as 400mg are not uncommon. I initially tailored my diet by aiming in the 1000 through 1500 milligram per day range since I was advised that this could be beneficial. But have since modified that to something more like 800 through 1200 milligrams per day. This treatment is really aimed at prevention, and I have noticed that it appears to be an effective treatment for me, and in the long run it can’t be anything other than beneficial from a heart health standpoint.

The Challenge

Some of the challenges involved in transitioning to a low-sodium diet are obvious to all. Fast foods, pre-packaged foods, and most snack foods are all richly laden with not only calories and fats, but with sodium as well. That Whopper® with Cheese at Burger King? A whopping 1450 milligrams of sodium, is more than my daily requirement and that is not including the large fries, they are an additional 990 milligrams.

How about a nice piece of pizza? Let’s use the ubiquitous Pizza Hut as an example. A serving of their 14-inch pepperoni pan pizza is 850 milligrams of sodium. That’s almost reasonable, right? Not for me! Their serving is 1 slice of pie. Who can eat only one slice of pepperoni pizza? Even a pizza as wooden as Pizza Hut demands at least two slices, and that alone puts me far over the top at 1700 milligrams. I can’t even consider having breakfast or lunch if I want that single slice of pizza for dinner.

Of course, sometimes you have little choice in where and what you eat. Trying to get a nutritious, low-sodium meal in an airport can be very difficult to say the least. Grabbing a quick meal on a road trip is fraught with danger at almost every turn. But, keeping that in mind I can plan on ordering the least dangerous menu offering and try to make it up to my poor ears the next day. Using the previously mentioned Burger King menu I can order a WHOPPER JR.® Sandwich (no cheese) and a small order of fries with no salt and come away with only a 940 milligram intake. That doesn’t leave much of my daily allotment, but a simple salad with a piece of grilled chicken and an oil and vinegar dressing for dinner will keep me under.

The Solutions 

My day to day solutions for a low-sodium diet include menu planning, weekly shopping excursions to the local fruit and vegetable market, as well as the grocery store, and portion control. These things have allowed me to get a firm grip on my sodium intake and manage it on a day to day and meal to meal basis.

The process of sodium management as a ‘cure’ for Ménière’s is preventative in nature and it was hard to tell if I’d been having an effect when you consider that I only had 1-2 incidents a year. However, except for an emotionally stressful week in the summer of 2011, I’ve been vertigo free for a couple of years. So I’m convinced that generally this is the cure for me.