Holiday Baking for Renal Health

managing sodium in holiday baking

Photo by: Nomadic Lass (Flickr)

Throughout our conversations, I have sounded the theme that “All Foods Can Fit” and no time is this more important to remember than when we arrive at the traditional holiday season. BUT, as I stated last time, that applies only when you realize that portions and frequency matter when managing kidney health.

With regards to baking at home and baked goods purchased away from home, sodium and salt are to be managed carefully since by their very nature, baked goods can wreck your low sodium lifestyle. This is because baked goods require leavening ingredients to rise and this typically requires either baking powder or baking soda in addition to table salt and sometimes all three. Another commonly used leavening agent is active dry yeast which contains very little sodium but is rarely used in products other than breads so has little use in traditional holiday baking.

Sodium Free Baking Soda Substitute

Ener-G Foods Sodium Free Baking Soda Substitute

One approach to manage the amount of sodium and salt in baked goods is to use your oven and bake at home! Homemade baked goods can be prepared using sodium free baking soda and sodium free baking powder both of which can be found at Foods 4 Your Health. These products are manufactured by Ener-G Foods, where you can also purchase a variety of already prepared cookies and cakes and access multiple recipes that use these products.

Yet another idea to manage the level of sodium in baked goods, is to prepare items that are no bake, such as the traditional no bake cookie with oats and cocoa. Rice Krispie treats are also no bake and with a variety of ingredient additions to the original recipe, such as cranberries, become holiday fare.

In general, the more dense that a baked good is, the less rising that has occurred so fruit breads and pound cakes including gingerbread tend to have less salt and other leavening ingredients added in the recipe. And bar cookies that are dense with fruit or nuts and flavorings also tend to have less salt since they are expected to be somewhat flat, including favorites like traditional lemon bar cookies and magic cookie bars with chocolate, coconut and nuts. Just remember to use unsalted butter when preparing the bar cookies.

If your preference is to purchase products instead of baking, there are some lower sodium offerings in general but reading the nutrition facts panel is a must and the sodium should be below 200 mg per serving even on a celebration day. Some ideas for lower sodium offerings include pound cakes of different varieties, fruit loaves, Rice Krispie Treats, Sara Lee Strawberry Shortcake, Sara Lee Classic Dinner Rolls, Sara Lee Coconut Creme Pie,  Sara Lee Golden Fudge Cake, and the seasonal Sara Lee Iced Pumpkin Cake with 130 mg sodium. And for the bread for the leftover turkey sandwich, try any of the Arnolds Sandwich Thins which have 170 mg of sodium for the entire roll.

As always, life is to be enjoyed and food is a large part of holiday celebrations. And baked goods can continue to be enjoyed for a holiday treat.

Next up in our conversation is enjoying holiday get-togethers while being kind to your kidneys!

Author: Carla Spencer

Carla Spencer is a Registered Dietitian and founder of 2 Your Health. Her extensive career working with individuals with health challenges led her to create this site dedicated to helping people enjoy their lives while working to prevent or minimize the impact of kidney disease.

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