I need help! I love quick breads, waffles, pancakes, etc. However, after I had a heart attack, my doctor put me on a low-sodium diet. The above foods all include salt, baking powder and/or baking soda. Is there something I can substitute for those ingredients that will result in a product that still rises nicely? —A.H., Flagstaff, Arizona
Cooking with salt seems so natural that it may go unnoticed—until you are put on a low-sodium diet. Salt is a seasoning that truly "wakes up" the other flavors in foods…and when it's eliminated, the end result can seem quite bland. The good news is that, depending on the amount of sodium permitted in your diet, some of the foods you mentioned above could likely still be part of your meal plan occasionally. But first, here are a few things to consider. Salt itself does not play a part in the leavening of quick breads, waffles, pancakes, baked goods, etc. It is just there for added flavor. Decreasing or eliminating the salt is a matter of taste, but it will not affect whether or not quick breads and other baked goods rise. On the other hand, both baking powder and baking soda are leavening agents and do contain some sodium. One-half teaspoon of baking powder has approximately 200 milligrams of sodium. One-half teaspoon of baking soda has about 630 milligrams of sodium. Each plays a significant role in the leavening and texture of baked goods. It would be difficult to drastically cut back or eliminate these in a recipe and still get an acceptable product. However, some recipes may call for a little more baking soda or powder than is actually needed. In that case, they can be adjusted a bit. Here's a good general guideline to keep in mind: You'll need about 1/4 teaspoon baking soda per cup of flour called for in a recipe…and 1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder per cup of flour in a recipe. If there are acidic ingredients such as fruit juice or buttermilk, the recipe may require a bit more baking soda to neutralize the acid. The good news is that you should be able to include an occasional quick bread in your meal plan if you eliminate the salt in the recipe and make trade-offs elsewhere to keep your whole day’s diet within your sodium range.