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Salt-free Bread is a Winner

Eating good homemade bread is one of life’s pleasures. Bread baking is making a comeback, mostly because it’s gotten easier to make good, quality bread in a normal kitchen.

Most bread has only four ingredients: flour, water, yeast, and salt. That last ingredient—salt—can be a problem. Salt is linked to high blood pressure as well as to kidney and heart disease. Bread is one of the biggest contributors to the salt in our diets, especially when it comes from a grocery store and is filled with sodium-based (salty) preservatives.

Most Americans need to limit the amount of sodium they eat to 1,500 milligrams a day. Store-bought bread often has between 170–250 milligrams of salt per slice. If you have a bagel at breakfast (500 milligrams), a sandwich with two slices of bread (500mg) at lunch and a roll for dinner (200mg), you’ve eaten almost a whole day’s worth of sodium.

Why bake bread? Not only is it fun to make, but your own homemade bread can significantly lower your sodium intake.

This recipe is a family favorite. Fresh rosemary offsets the missing salt. You can substitute half whole wheat flour to add more fiber. Depending on room temperature, your dough may rise more quickly, so keep an eye on it. Using a heavy-bottom pot, or Dutch oven, is one way to create a great crust.

Salt-Free Bread with Rosemary

2½–3 cups white flour (substitute whole wheat flour as desired)
1 tablespoon sugar
2¼ teaspoons dry yeast
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1 cup warm water

Mix flour, sugar, yeast, and rosemary in large mixing bowl. Add water and mix together. Turn out onto a lightly-floured surface and knead until smooth. Put dough in a greased bowl and cover. Let rise until nearly double in size, about 30 to 45 minutes. Return dough to floured surface and gently fold it down. Shape as desired and put on parchment paper. Cover again.

Turn oven to 425 degrees and heat an empty 4-quart Dutch oven or similar heavy pot with lid. Pick up nearly doubled bread by the parchment and gently place in hot Dutch oven. Return lid and bake for 30 minutes. Remove lid and bake another 15 minutes, until a thermometer registers 200 degrees. Let thoroughly cool before slicing.

Nutritional Information (per 1-ounce slice):
Calories: 67, Protein: 2 grams, Carbohydrates: 15 grams, Sodium: 1 milligram

The information in this column is meant for people who want to keep their kidneys healthy and blood pressure down by following a low-sodium diet. In most cases, except for dialysis patients, a diet high in potassium is thought to help lower high blood pressure. These recipes are not intended for people on dialysis without the supervision of a registered dietitian.

Contributor Katy G. Wilkens is a registered dietitian and department head at Northwest Kidney Centers. A recipient of the Susan Knapp Excellence in Education Award from the National Kidney Foundation Council on Renal Nutrition, she has a Master of Science degree in nutritional sciences from the University of Washington. Contributor Renin Oliver holds a master’s degree in Adult Education and Training, and is also a registered dietitian at Northwest Kidney Centers. See more of their recipes at