Low Sodium Savory Beef Stew & Bread Machine White Bread

With the need for our family to switch to low sodium friendly foods lately, we’ve been doing A LOT more cooking from scratch. There’s been so many recipes that we’ve tried and just haven’t had time to share, but today’s beef stew and the bread we made in the bread machine deserved a nod.

Lucas got the results of his kidney biopsy yesterday, and we’re happy to share that the damage to his kidneys is not permanent. It’s called Minimal Change disease, and it means that the blood vessels in his kidneys have little gaps between them suddenly, like a gate that’s ajar. Those gaps between his blood vessels have been allowing protein to spill out. This lead to his fluid retention problems, sudden high cholesterol, and Nephrotic syndrome that was diagnosed in the hospital. The treatment is a high dose of steroids over the next month, which should shut the gates and close the gap between the blood vessels in his kidneys so that they don’t leak protein anymore. This will make his swelling go away, and the damage will be repaired. For now he just needs to keep his feet up and stay on the blood pressure medication and cholesterol medication until he’s back to normal. It’s the best news ever, and the best Valentine’s Day present a girl could ever ask for. Hooray!

So we’re still keeping our sodium in check around here, and will most likely continue, which means more recipes to discover and explore on our low sodium journey. One site that I’ve snagged a few recipes from the past week or so has been from LowSodiumCooking.com, which is where I found the two free recipes we tried out today, including Savory Beef Stew and Amish White Bread made in the bread machine.

Savory Beef Stew – 111 mg sodium/serving
Upon first inspecting this recipe, I was a little puzzled by some of the seasonings used. Ginger? Cumin? Instant coffee? Brown sugar? They sounded a little strange for a beef stew broth, but I admit when I followed the recipe and mixed up all of the spices in the low sodium organic beef broth & diced tomatoes, it smelled strangely familiar and very beef-stew-like, if that makes any sense.  We didn’t have allspice so I just omitted it. I also adjusted the amount of low sodium beef broth by increasing it to 2 cups instead of just 1, since I like a slightly soupier beef stew. On the quest to find low sodium beef broth (and chicken broth, for other recipes) we found that even cans in the soup aisle marked low sodium were just too high in sodium. A quick trip to the organic aisle of our grocery store uncovered Imagine brand of organic low sodium beef broth, which was amazing at only 140 mg of sodium per cup. We also used red potatoes, because we really enjoy those over the traditional large brown baking potatoes. The recipe calls for slow cooking the beef stew all day, and it smelled so good. This pot of beef stew serves 6.

Thoughts
This stew was good. The broth was slightly sweet, which didn’t bother Lucas at all, but was something I wasn’t expecting. Not that it was a bad thing, but I wasn’t really prepared for sweet when eating a beef stew. I’m guessing that it’s due to the 2 Tbsp of brown sugar as called for in the recipe, and perhaps next time I’d reduce that to 1 Tbsp or omit it completely. There was nothing wrong with the broth and I still enjoyed the stew, but be prepared for it to have a bit of a sweet tang to it. Still delicious. I was also unsure of the diced tomato chunks in the stew during prep; I’m not a big tomato person. However, they were so tender and blended so well into everything when the stew was finished that I didn’t even notice them.

Amish White Bread – 3 mg sodium/slice
My mom makes an excellent beef stew. I love when she makes a huge pot of it. Normally when she makes beef stew for a family meal, there’s baked bread to go with it, all warm and fresh from the bread machine.  While Lucas and I typically eat wheat bread, we really enjoy the simple, basic white bread recipe from the bread maker. I was a bit skeptical of the recipe just because it seemed too good to be true to find bread with 3mg of sodium per slice, but curiosity got the better of me and we gave it a try to pair the stew with a traditional comfort fave. The one thing to note with this recipe is the instruction to let it knead and rise twice in the machine. So you place all of the ingredients into the machine like normal and let it go, but then after the rise cycle when it starts to do the second round of kneading, turn the machine off and start the entire cycle over again from the beginning… then let it finish completely. According to the recipe instructions, this helps make the bread a little lighter and less dense than typical bread machine loafs. One loaf can be cut into 12 slices of bread.

Thoughts
The bread turned out well and wasn’t too dense. My setting was on light, because normally our bread loaves turn out a bit too try if I go much darker, but I think in the case of this bread, a medium would be ok. It was light and very soft. The flavor was good, but different than traditional breads with sodium. I was wishing for a slightly salty flavor, but of course that would’ve defeated the purpose. Instead, it was a nice soft, plain bread. I asked Lucas to describe the flavor because it is slightly different than normal breads, but we couldn’t quite put our finger on it. The best we can explain is that it’s just plainer and a bit more “yeasty” without the dash of salt, but a little unsalted butter spread on one side made the entire slice melt in my mouth deliciously. The bread seems like it would lend itself really well to a sweet bread, probably because with the absence of salt the sweetness of cinnamon or raisins mixed in would make you forget all about salt.

Our verdict? The meal was low sodium and not too high in calories, either, not to mention filling and delicious… overall a good choice. We’ll definitely be adding it to our repertoire of low sodium favorites for the future, perhaps with a little less brown sugar in the stew broth next time, and maybe a slightly darker setting on the bread machine. I definitely felt satisfied when I was finished, just like I do when I walk away from my mom’s traditional beef stew and bread meal. :)