Say Cheese: Indian Recipe Provides Low-Sodium Alternative

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By Katy Wilkens and Sarah Martin

When you follow a low-sodium diet, cheese can pack a salty punch. In fact, it’s one of the top 10 foods contributing salt to the American diet, and salt is a big problem for people who want healthy hearts and kidneys. There are great low-sodium choices, you just have to know where to look.

Almost all cheeses, with the exception of Swiss, mozzarella, and fresh cheeses like farmer’s cheese or Mexican queso fresco, have a lot of salt. Some aged cheeses like cheddar have as much as 200 mg per ounce. Processed cheeses, like American singles, can have as much as 600 mg per ounce. That’s a hefty hit against the daily 1,500 mg to 2,000 mg recommended for all Americans.

To help cut salt, we have been playing around with a soft cheese from India called paneer. Most brands are very low in sodium. The Nanak brand from Canada has only 5 mg of sodium per ounce. That is really low!

You can buy paneer in international grocery stores, Costco carries the Nanak brand, or you can make it following this simple recipe below. You can also substitute extra firm tofu in both of these recipes.

Homemade Paneer

1/2 gallon whole milk

2-3 teaspoons citric acid (available online or at upscale grocery stores and health food stores)

Heat milk in a pot over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it begins to boil. Reduce heat and add citric acid 1 teaspoon at a time, stirring until the curds and whey separate. Remove from heat and allow to cool 5-10 minutes. Pour milk into a strainer lined with cheesecloth. Allow the whey to drain, and then press curds firmly to remove additional liquid. Press curds into a block and chill for two to three hours before cutting into cubes.

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