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Reduced Sodium Wrap: Cabbage and Hummus Dressing

Updated on October 1, 2013

The Evolution of (My) Lunch

I have a double sesame (toasted sesame oil, hummus and dressing) cabbage wrap several times a week. There are multiple reasons for its frequent appearance. I can make it within five minutes. Actually, I can make two within about five minutes and stick one in the refrigerator for the next day's lunch. This item is very low in things I am avoiding (like excess sodium) and pretty high in some of the ones I'm not. Plus, it's comfort food in a way. Not a lot of inspiration in the food department these days -- heavy heart in a metaphorical sense -- but this I can make.

I didn't concoct the recipe all at once. It evolved. At one point, the sandwich wasn't a sandwich at all, but a salad: a nice vegetable (cruciferous no less) with a hummus salad dressing. A hummus salad dessing that tasted good and was low in sodium. At a later point, a wrap got wrapped around it. That was probably an attempt to put more good-for-me things in me: whole grains, fiber. It may have also been that I wished to take my cabbage with me. Sandwiches were,after all, invented for a reason.

This wrap is kind of reminiscent of a baba ganoush wrap I had out a few times over a period of years, though there's no actual eggplant in it. I am not the sort to go out by myself for food or takeout, at least not the sort that costs more than a couple bucks. But if I were to do so once or twice a year (which I did those early years in Seattle), it would be to the same place for the same wrap. (Not a tremendous need for variety in these parts.) So... guess that sandwich was part of the inspiration for wrapping up something cabbagy with something creamy and Mediterranean, and adding a flavor that could be described as roasted or toasted.

I decided that the cabbage was best when cooked briefly in a little sesame oil. But I did not discontinue the hummus salad dressing just because I added some oil. Things tend to get added to my cabbage. Things do not tend to get taken away.

Onwards. I discovered that it took mere seconds to sprinkle some flax seeds in. This actually added taste and texture as well as nutrition.

Images by the author

Cabbage Wrap Ingredient List

Everything in the wrap is vegan and comes from the Trader Joe's down the street, except for the flax seeds (which could have come from Trader Joe's if I didn't get them much cheaper at the grocery outlet).

Here are the necessary ingredients and some optional ones:

As for the sesame oil, there's a curious thing about it. Things with toasted sesame sesame oil just don't seem to need salt. Yeah, even soup with no salt whatsoever. There's something about that particular ingredient.

The highest sodium thing I routinely use is the tortilla itself: 6% of the maximum RDA -- that maximum of course being too high for a lot of the population. Is this tortilla particularly high in sodium? Nope! I looked at quite a few packages when putting together this page. The Ezekiel spouted tortillas could be considered lower (when you consider they are quite a bit larger). A lot are higher, even if they seem healthy in other ways.

More about the tortillas: These wraps are not the cheapest ones. I'm not really a whole wheat fan, though I don't dislike it. Sometimes products with oat bran in them actually taste more like plain old flour than whole wheat does. The taste alone might not justify the higher price on the Sonoma tortillas, but they're especially healthy. The nutrition information looks better to me than what I see on regular whole wheat: 5 grams of protein, 7 of fiber. (Going purely by what's healthiest, probably a lot of people would go for the Ezekiel, though.)

The salad dressing only has 3% RDA in two tablespoons. It's not touted as low sodium and it doesn't taste like it, but it is. It must just be the choice of ingredients. It does have some sesame...

I don't usually use the Every Day Seasoning in this sort of dish, but it does go well if someone desires more seasoning. (I have never had a salt shaker, but have sometimes added a grind or sprinkle of a mix that has salt. It's not an every day thing -- which may be a bit ironic given the name of this seasoning.)

Warming the Tortilla

To warm the tortilla a little, I just set it on top of the cabbage as it is cooking in the sesame oil. (I mostly do one pot meals.)

Before Wrapping

I think I had fresh cooked garlic -- actual chunks -- in the mix the time I took this picture. Garlic is another one of those things where it's partly the health benefits that justify getting it.

Lunch Food

Vascular Stuff

What's With the Low Sodium and Flax Seeds?

My blood pressure isn't super high, never having tested above pre-hypertension, but the pulse pressure (difference between systolic and diastolic) is quite a bit higher than it's supposed to be. I gather that's a caution in itself. It's something else, though -- heart rate -- that has, at points over the years, made health professionals go, "Whoa!" and suggest heart tests. It's actually pretty normal at rest, but goes up easily and stays up a long time after physical activity (not stress).

I've had trouble running most of my life, so I learned to lower myself into a semi-squat when I had to do a brief sprint; bringing my upper body down lower to the ground would give me a little more air and make me feel less like my chest was going to explode. Years down the line, a doctor (questioning me after looking at my vitals) said, "Yeah, there's a good chance that's cardiovascular." She wanted heart tests --EKG? stress test? I had previously had some kind of a heart test, and whatever it was was normal at rest. I told her I had had a test; she said ok, right now, that day, she would only insist on a test for hyperthyroidism. She had observed more than one thing that was suggestive, she told me. The thyroid test was very cheap, she told me. So I had one (once again). And it was normal (once again).

I haven't followed up. I have tried to be health conscious. Still, there was a point, more recently, where I was getting a little out of breath just projecting my voice in front of school children -- not the gasping/ can't-get-air/ going-to-explode feeling that is so specific to the jog or sprint, but mildly out of breath. I got more diligent about things. And I am actually not getting out of breath as badly now. The thing that seems to make a real difference on a daily basis is CoQ10. I can tell the difference, doing certain activities, in how much air there is at my disposal.

What I eat and don't eat may not make an obvious difference from day to day, but I am usually good about what goes in and what doesn't. One thing is trying to keep sodium at about 50 - 75% of the RDA. I also do tend to use various healthy add-ins.

One thing I don't pay attention to: total fat. The types of fat, yeah: buy some olive oil (and olive oil chips), do free range Omega 3 eggs, pay some attention to the ingredient list in things like peanut butter, use coconut or flaxseed milk a lot of the time in coffee or oatmeal. But the total amount of fat: not really. So many of those dietary guidelines are geared toward weight maintenance, and I've always been skinny.

Lunch, in Context

This is how the wrap fits into a day's nutrition:

It's Sunday and I've been in and out. I made oatmeal at the start of the day (starting with plain oats, not the flavored oats in the little packets). I fried a free range egg and some greens (chard) when I got in the first time. Then I walked to the library, arriving shortly before it opened at 1:00. After I got home for the second time, I made a cabbage wrap like you see here, though no chips this time. (One might ask: what was lunch and what was a snack? Or was it brunch and lunner?)

Later today I will probably make a lentil soup (flavored with sesame oil, but no salt). I will likely put some brussel sprouts and a little cheese into the microwave. And I will have something sweet, maybe a chocolate oat bar.

My diet is not devoid of salty things, and the little cheese I eat is not low sodium. But it's still a low sodium diet overall.

Possible Accompaniments - And More Food for Thought, Nutritionally Speaking

If I am working away from home, I often take, in addition to some sort of pocket or wrap, either sweet potato chips or a Granny Smith apple. I often have several hard candies and/or vitamin C drops with me, too.

At home, I tend to unch olive oil potato chips. There's all of 5% of the max sodium in an ounce of them -- that's more than in the sweet potato chips, but actually a tad less than what's in that tortilla. I eat more than an ounce of them, but even so...

Salt is added to so many things for functional reasons or to mask other flavors. The potato and lentil snack spirals Trade Joe's sells have, ounce per ounce, about three times the sodium as their olive oil potato chips. I guess they're neutralizing the taste of the lentils? Making them more bland and potato-like? No, better that I do my lentils in their whole, unadulterated form.

... But not in the form of commercial soups. The amount of sodium in most commercial soups and tomato products -- wow! Potato chips are relatively innocuous, even when consumed in only semi-moderation. Ounce for ounce, my potato chips are about the same as bread. I confess to consuming chips in greater quantity than bread products. (But I do eat cooked oats pretty much daily and cooked barley often.)

The sweet potato chips? The ones I have say 2% on sodium.

Variations

This recipe can be done with regular hummus. That does add a little protein (though I prefer the creamier texture of the dressing). The wrap could also be made with baba ganoush. I realize some versions would have more sodium than one might want.

Here's a recipe for a low sodium version. I can not imagine making it myself. I don't have the wherewithall or the oven. And eggplant is on my list of caution foods right now for unrelated reasons -- though it has been for many years if not my favorite food pretty close.

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