You Are What You Eat: How to get the salt out of sausage

By Katy G. Wilkens, MS, RD

Trying to follow a low-sodium and kidney-healthy diet can be difficult when foods you love are high in salt, and it can be even harder around the holidays, when your favorite salty foods are everywhere.

Sausage is one of those high-sodium foods that just doesn’t have many good alternatives. You can buy regular ground pork and mix it half and half with ground sausage to dilute the salt a bit. But even then, a small patty can have 400 to 800 milligrams of sodium.

If you have to have a salty meat at breakfast, bacon is actually lower in salt than sausage, but that’s just because it weighs so much less. Ounce for ounce, both are equally salty. Most low-salt bacons still have about 200mg per two slices, or about a tenth of your 2,000mg daily limit.

A great solution to lower your sodium and still enjoy sausage is to you make your own. Don’t worry, you don’t have to buy sausage casings to make this great treat, which you can use at the holidays in your family’s favorite sausage stuffing, or serve as patties on Christmas or New Years.

Sweet Maple Low-Salt Sausage
1 1/2 lb ground pork or beef (you can substitute 3-4 ounces ground turkey if desired)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon dried sage or 2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped fine, and sautéed lightly
1/4 teaspoon mace
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons maple sugar or maple syrup
1 teaspoon water

Italian Sausage Variation
Instead of the spices listed above, use:
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (or less for less spiciness)
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Refrigerate for at least four hours, or overnight. Cook or freeze the next day.

Form into about 12 patties, cook in a large skillet over medium high heat until well browned, about 10 minutes.

Nutrition Information (per 1/4 cup patty)
Calories: 152
Sodium: 43mg
Carbohydrates: 1g
Potassium: 183mg
Protein: 13g
Phosphorus: 129mg

Katy G. Wilkens is a registered dietitian and department head at Northwest Kidney Centers. She has a Master of Science degree in nutritional sciences from the University of Washington.

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