Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Blogger Spotlight June 9th 2023 – #Writing #History Joan Hall, #Australia Carol Taylor, #Gardening Audrey Driscoll, #Reading Viv Sang, #HawthornBonsai Jaye Marie

A small selection of posts I have enjoyed this week and I hope you will head over to enjoy in full.. Sally.

Joan Hall​ writing for Story Empire, cautions writers to do their research when writing historical novels, even those set within our lifetimes such as the 60s and 70s. As she points out, too many inaccuracies can ruin a reader’s appreciation of an otherwise well written book.

Head over to read this informative and useful post: Historical Writing – Get your facts straight

Carol Taylor has just returned from an amazing trip to Australia to visit her daughter who lives there. Whilst there, Carol enjoyed a wonderful tour not just of Perth but Western Australia and in this post she shares her photographs and adventures.

Head over to enjoy the tour with Carol: Australia tour part three

Audrey Driscoll shares her challenges at this time of year at keeping the young plants in her garden safe from marauders.. including deer.

Head over to discover who is invading Audrey’s garden: Everything eats…..

Viv Sang explores why don’t people read more and whether our school curriculums could be one of the reasons the love of books is not part of many people’s lives.

Head over to share your thoughts: Why don’t people read more by Viv Sang

Jaye Marie shares the amazing process necessary for the Hawthorn bonsai to flower and the basic principles which can be applied to flowering bonsai of all species..Wonderful photographs too.

Head over to read the fascinating life cycle of this bonsai tree: Hawthorn Bonsai – Flowering


Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will head over to enjoy these posts in full… Sally



Smorgasbord Book Promotions – Meet the Authors 2023 – #SouthernCulture #Family Claire Fullerton, #Vaudeville, #Family Elizabeth Gauffreau, #History #Family Joy Neal Kidney

Welcome to the 2023 series of meet the authors. This series offers me the opportunity to not just share my personal recommendation for the author, but to also check for new books I might have missed, changes to biographies and profile photos and check links.

I also I hope will introduce you to previously unknown authors to you and their books. As the curator of a towering TBR like most of you, I hope it will also encourage you to move books waiting in line up the queue.

The first author today, Claire Fullerton writes family dramas and love stories that are enhanced by that very special Southern Charm that is almost lyrical. I can highly recommend her books.

Meet Claire Fullerton

Claire Fullerton hails from Memphis, TN. and now lives in Malibu, CA. with her husband and 3 German shepherds. She is the author of Little Tea, set in the Deep South. It is the story of the bonds of female friendship, healing the past, and outdated racial relations. Little Tea is the Goodreads, 2021, July Book of the Month, the August selection of the Pulpwood Queens Book Club, a Faulkner Society finalist in the William Wisdom international competition, 1st place winner in the Chanticleer Review’s Somerset award, a finalist in the International Book Awards, and the Independent Authors Network 1st place in Literary Fiction winner and 2nd place winner for 2020 Book of the year. Claire is the author of 12 X award winning Mourning Dove, a coming of age, Southern family saga set in 1970’s Memphis. Claire is also the author of 3X award winning, Dancing to an Irish Reel, set on the west coast of Ireland, where she once lived. Claire’s first novel is a paranormal mystery set in two time periods titled, A Portal in Time, set in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. She is a contributor to the book, A Southern Season with her novella, Through an Autumn Window, set at a Memphis funeral. Claire is represented by Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Literary

Books by Claire Fullerton

My review for Little Tea January 26th 2020

Little Tea is a simple title that belies a story that is both complex and compelling. Beautifully written, the novel moves seamlessly between the 1980s Memphis and the present, as we become fascinated by the family dynamics, and events that would change the lives of those touched by them. It is a book you will be reluctant to put down, and with some unexpected twists to the story it will keep you captivated to the end.

The story begins with three friends who arrange to meet in a lake house at Heber Springs Arkansas, a few hours outside Memphis. They are coming together in support of Ava, who is experiencing a crisis in her marriage and nomadic lifestyle. The other two women are very different, with Renny the self-sufficient and straight talking veterinarian and Celia, who the author describes as the ‘the friend in the middle, neutral ground, the interpreter’. She is also the narrator of the story as it unfolds.

Others from the past arrive at the lake house, stirring up long forgotten emotions, resulting in Celia in particular, to revisit her childhood and teenage years, despite it raising painful memories she has chosen to bury for over twenty years.

We return at pivotal moments in her story to the 1980s, and begin to see faint cracks appearing in both family relationships and key friendships, as long accepted social mores continue to fade into the past. Just because a law changes, adherence does not happen overnight, particularly when a family is multi-generational, and the young are quicker to adopt the new and more inclusive approach to the way they interact socially.

This is where we meet Little T or Thelonia, daughter of the foreman of the Wakefield cotton fields and plantation, whose family has been in service to the Wakefields for generations. Little T and Celia at age ten are best friends, and with Celia’s brother Hayward two years older often in attendance, they have the freedom to roam the plantation and surrounding countryside together.

All the strands of this compelling story come back to Little T at the centre. She is the catalyst of the events that unfold and will change the lives of the Wakefield family forever. What is acceptable at ten years old is frowned upon in adulthood, and even those who appear to have embraced the new future, hide deeply ingrained prejudices.

The book is beautifully written with a flow that is not disrupted by the time shifts within the story. The characters are wonderfully crafted and even those with more than their share of human flaws, are easy to visualise and connect to. It is a book you will be reluctant to put down, and with some unexpected twists to the story it will keep you captivated to the end.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US – and: Amazon UK – Follow Claire : Goodreads – website: Claire Fullerton – Twitter: @Cfullerton3

The next author and poet, Elizabeth Gauffreau has written a wondeful novel set in the era of the Vaudeville and also a wonderfully evocative poetry collection.

Author Logo

Meet Elizabeth Gauffreau

Elizabeth Gauffreau writes fiction and poetry with a strong connection to family and place. She holds a B.A. in English from Old Dominion University and an M.A. in English/Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire. She is currently the Assistant Dean of Curriculum & Assessment for Champlain College Online, where she is an Associate Professor. Her fiction and poetry have been published in literary magazines and several themed anthologies. Her debut novel, Telling Sonny, was published by Adelaide Books in 2018. Liz lives in Nottingham, New Hampshire with her husband.

Books by Elizabeth Gauffreau

My review for Telling Sonny

Elizabeth Gauffreau takes the brief but fateful encounter between Faby, a young and naive small town girl, and a flambouyant vaudeville performer called Slim White (Louis Kittel), and creates a wonderfully engaging family drama.

We are taken on a rail trip around the eastern states of the USA, stopping off at towns and coastal resorts with their playhouses on the established circuits within the small time Vaudeville. Through the eyes of Faby, now locked into an enforced relationship with a virtual stranger, we meet the colourful performers that live out of their suitcases. Usually in dingy digs with little money left over for food or the train fare to their next engagement. A tough life and not for the fainthearted, as Faby was to discover along with the kindness of strangers. The description of life on the circuit and the individuals we discover through Faby’s reflections, was rich in detail and clearly well researched.

Two sets of values are at odds with each other which influences Faby and Louis’s relationship, small town versus the exotic and less restricted Vaudeville lifestyle. Faby is clearly out of her depth, but as she explores the towns and cities on the circuit, in the long hours that Louis is at the theatre, she begins to grow and become more self-reliant. Unfortunately, as you become immersed in the story, you cannot help but sense things are not going to end well, but you hope against hope that there might be a happy ending for this mismatched pair.

The author has created memorable characters both on the home front and on the road, with some lovely surprises as we get to know them better, including one of my favourites; Faby’s grandmother.

This novel is beautifully written with a gentle pace but is still a page turner as the reader becomes fascinated in how the story of this ill-fated relationship is going to end. Thankfully the author provides us with secret revealing final chapters, as the story of Faby, Louis and Sonny the child they share,comes to a close. Highly recommended.

Read the reviews and buy: Amazon US – and : Amazon UK – Read more reviews and follow Elizabeth: Goodreads – Twitter: @LGauffreau

The final author today is Joy Neal Kidney who shares the incredibly emotive story of her family before and during WWII. Heartbreaking and inspiring readers cannot fail to be moved by her books.


Meet Joy Neal Kidney

Joy Neal Kidney is an Iowa author who grew up on a farm, now living in a Des Moines suburb with her husband, Guy, an Air Force Veteran of the Vietnam War and a retired Air Traffic Controller. Their son is married and they live out-of-state with a small daughter named Kate.

With God’s help, Joy is aging gratefully. Living with fibromyalgia for two dozen years has given her plenty of home-bound days to write blog posts and books. “Leora’s Early Years: Guthrie County Roots” is her third book in the “Leora Stories” series. Her research from decades ago has helped tell her grandmother’s stories.

She was presented with the 2021 Great American Storyteller Award “Honoring the woman who most beautifully tells the story of America to Americans,”by Our American Stories and WHO NewsRadio 1040.

Books by Joy Neal Kidney

My review for Leora’s Letters

This book is an intimate inclusion in one family’s life and loss during the Second World War. Clabe and Leora work tirelessly on the farm they manage to raise their children and put something by for their dream of owning their own farm. In this rural environment it is natural for young men and women to perhap have their own dreams and even before Pearl Harbour one son has signed up with the Navy. Over the course of the war five sons would enlist to serve their country.

Through the letters written by Leora to her sons, and their often censored letters in return we share life on the home front and also their challenges as they go through training and then deployment. Their only link to home is these letters and others between each other and their sisters, and it is clear that this is a close knit and loving family doing their best through a very difficult time.

One can only imagine the constant worry any parent would have with a child serving on the front line, particularly with incomplete news reports in the media, long after major battles at sea and in the air. But to have five sons in the line of fire in the Pacific and in Europe must have been unbearable.

The letters are beautiful in their simplicity and informality as they would have been between a loving family. There is also some wry humour as the boys encounter the world outside their rural upbringing and undergo their training, as well as a deep love of their parents as they send money home toward their dream of owning their own land.

From the first page we are drawn into this family and feel the hope, love and loss they suffer over the course of the war. Whilst there is sadness, there is also admiration for a brave mother and her sons who believed in doing their duty, and respect for the sacrifice this family made. War should never be glorified, but those who lay their lives on the line for their country should be, especially when young with their whole lives ahead of them.

This period for all of us is now moving from living history as the last of those who can share their stories pass away. It is so important  that major events such as major conflicts are fought by ordinary men and women and their stories deserve to be told and remembered.

The author has done a wonderful job in collating these letters that recreate so vividly this time in world histry. By doing so she honours the members of her family, including her own parents who lived, loved and lost so much.

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon USAnd: Amazon UKMore reviews: GoodreadsWebsite: Joy Neal Kidney – Facebook: Joy Neal Kidney Author – Twitter: @JoyNealKidneyInstagram: Joy Neal Kidney


Smorgasbord Music Column – William Price King Meets the Legends – ABBA – Part Two – The Hits start rolling in.

Welcome to the new series of meet the legends and William will be taking us through the incredible career of ABBA.

In  Part One – Meet the Group William Price King introduced us to the band members of ABBA and shared some of their solo tracks before forming the group.

ABBA Part Two – The hits start rolling in.

In April 1970 the two couples went on holiday together on the Island of Cyprus. They began singing as a group for fun on the beach but that turned into an unexpected live performance for the UN soldiers who were stationed on the Island. At the time Benny and Bjorn were in the process of recording their first album “Lycka” which was due to be released in the September, Agnetha and Frida added backing vocals on some of the tracks and following their improvised gig in Cyprus they put together their first stage act under the name of “Festfolket” which is the Swedish for both Party People and Engaged Couples.

The cabaret show attracted generally negative reviews, except for the performance of the Andersson and Ulvaeus hit “Hej, gamle man” (Hello, Old Man)–the first Björn and Benny recording to feature all four. They felt that the foursome was not working at the time and went off to concentrate of their individual projects.

Hej, gamle man” (Hello Old Man), was the ABBA’s first hit. Composed by Björn Ulvaeus & Benny Andersson, the song is about a soldier in the Salvation Army. The track peaked at #5 on the sales chart and #1 on Svensktopopen*, staying there for 15 weeks.  *Sweden’s record chart.

During 1971 the group began working together more on each other’s recordings and then Agnetha, Benny and Bjorn toured together whilst Frida toured on her own. However, eventually the recording sessions with the four of them brought them closer to forming a more permanent performing group.

After the 1970 release of “Lycka,” two more singles credited to ‘Björn & Benny’ were released in Sweden, “Det kan ingen doktor hjälpa” (No Doctor Can Help with That) and “Tänk om jorden vore ung” (Imagine If the Earth Were Young), with more prominent vocals by Fältskog and Lyngstad–and moderate chart success.

Stig Anderson, founder and owner of Polar Music, saw a huge future for Benny and Bjorn and persuaded them to write a song for one of the countries prominent music festivals Melodifestivalen. It took a couple of attempts before their song “Säg det med en sång” (Say It with a Song) performed by Lena Anderson achieved third place and became a hit in Sweden.

“She’s My Kind of Girl” was written for the Swedish movie “Inga II: The Seduction of Inga,” by Björn Ulvaeus & Benny Andersson and was originally released in March, 1970 as the first Björn and Benny single. Two years later it was released in Japan, hitting #1 and selling half a million copies.ABBA 

“People Need Love” was recorded in March, 1972 on the group’s first album “Ring Ring.” This single was set out to promote the “Björn & Benny” duo. The women were simply “guest stars” on the new “Björn & Benny” single. “People Need Love” made the Top 20 of the combined Swedish singles and albums chart, and reached No. 3 on the popular Swedish radio chart show, “Tio i topp” (The Top Ten). Interestingly, it was the foursome’s first charting record in the U.S., where it peaked at No. 114 on the Cashbox singles chart and No. 117 on Record World singles chart.

In 1973, Stig Anderson, tired of unwieldy names, started to refer to the group privately and publicly as ABBA. At first, this was a play on words, as Abba is also the name of a well-known fish-canning company in Sweden, and itself an acronym. However, since the fish-canners were unknown outside Sweden, Anderson came to believe the name would work in international markets. A competition to find a suitable name for the group was held in a Gothenburg newspaper and it was officially announced in the summer that the group were to be known as “ABBA.” The group negotiated with the canners for the rights to the name. “ABBA” is an acronym formed from the first letters of each group member’s first name: Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid. During a promotional photo, Benny flipped his “B” horizontally for fun, and from 1976 onwards the first ‘B’ in the logo version of the name was “mirror-image” reversed on the band’s promotional material and ᗅᗺᗷᗅ became the group’s registered trademark.

Their official logo, distinct with the backward ‘B’, was designed by Rune Söderqvist, who designed most of ABBA’s record sleeves. The logo first appeared on the French compilation album, Golden Double Album, released in May 1976, and would henceforth be used for all official releases.

But the idea for the official logo was made by the German photographer Wolfgang “Bubi” Heilemann (de) on a “Dancing Queen” photo shoot for the teenage magazine “Bravo.” On the photo, the ABBA members held a giant initial letter of his/her name. After the pictures were made, Heilemann found out that one of the men held his letter backwards, which resulted in this style, “ᗅᗺᗷᗅ”. They discussed it and the members of ABBA liked it. ABBA 

“Nina, Pretty Ballerina” was recorded in 1973. It was issued on 7″ vinyl record in Austria and France to promote the band’s debut album “Ring Ring,” and later in the Philippines. It reached #8 on the singles chart in Austria. The song was also the theme song of “Sirius” talk-show hostess Lynn Samuels who only played “Nina, Ballerina,” as she called it, on Fridays, to reward herself for working all week, when she was on “Sirius Radio” in New York. ABBFridalicious

“Ring Ring,” recorded in 1973, gave ABBA their first big break in several European countries. The song was written by Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and their manager Stig Anderson with the original title being “Ring Ring (Bara Du Slog En Signal)” “Ring Ring (If Only You Called)”. This song was initially written for the 1973 “Eurovision Song Contest.” Afterwards, the song was retitled “Ring Ring.” To make it more accessible to a universal audience, Anderson asked American songwriter Neil Sedaka, together with his songwriting partner, Phil Cody, to pen the lyrics for an English version. The Swedish version reached #1 in the Swedish charts. ABBA

“Waterloo” is the first single from ABBA’s second album “Waterloo.” This was also the first single to be credited to the group performing under the name ABBA. On the 6th of April, 1974 the song was the winning entry for Sweden in the 1974 “Eurovision Song Contest.” This victory began ABBA’s path to worldwide fame. The single became a No.1 hit in several countries and reached the U.S. Top 10. “Waterloo” went on to sell nearly six million copies, making it one of the best-selling singles of all time.  ABBA

Additional sources: Wikipedia ABBA

ABBA’s Music: Amazon USAnd: Amazon UK

Next week the second half of the 1970s and more of ABBA’s iconic hits.

William Price King is an American jazz singer, crooner, and composer.

His interest in music began at an early age when he studied piano and clarinet in high school. At Morehouse College in Atlanta where he grew up, he sang in the Glee Club and studied classical music. After graduation he went off to the Yale School of Music where he earned a Masters degree. From there he journeyed to New York where he created a jazz trio ‘Au Naturel’ which performed in some of the hottest venues in Manhattan including gigs on Broadway and the famous ‘Rainbow Room.’ These gigs opened doors for performances in Montreal and a European tour.

While touring Europe he met a lovely French lady, Jeanne Maïstre, who, a year later became his wife. King left the group ‘Au Naturel’ and settled in the south of France where he started a new life on the French Riviera, opening his own music school – the “Price King Ecole Internationale de Chant.” He has had the pleasure over the years of seeing many of his students excel as singers on a professional level, and some going on to become national celebrities. He continues to coach young singers today, in his spare time.

Blog– IMPROVISATION William Price King on Tumblr – Buy William’s music: William Price King iTunes – FacebookWilliam Price King – Twitter@wpkofficial
Regular Venue – Cave Wilson


As always William would love to receive your feedback… thanks Sally.


Smorgasbord Funnies 2023 – Hosts Sally Cronin and Debby Gies – Dating Older Women and Broadway Medley

Firstly, some funnies foraged from the web from Debby Gies – D.G. Writes is where you will find an archive full of wonderful posts across several subjects including writing tips, social issues and book reviews.

My thanks to Debby  for expert foraging…

D. G. Kaye – Buy: Amazon US And: Amazon UK Blog: D.G. WritesGoodreads: D.G. Kaye on Goodreads – Twitter: @pokercubster

Debby’s latest post in her series Spiritual Awareness. Signs, Synchronicity, and Energy

Now something from Sally’s Joke book archives….

Sometimes when you walk into a bar for a quiet drink you get more than you bargained for!

Wishful thinking.

So a guy walks into a bar one day and he can’t believe his eyes. There, in the corner, there’s this one-foot-tall man, in a little tuxedo, playing a tiny grand piano.

So the guy asks the bartender, “Where’d he come from?”

And the bartender’s, like, “There’s a genie in the men’s room who grants wishes.”

So the guy runs into the men’s room and, sure enough, there’s this genie. And the genie’s, like, “Your wish is my command.” So the guy’s, like, “O.K., I wish for world peace.” And there’s this big cloud of smoke—and then the room fills up with geese.

So the guy walks out of the men’s room and he’s, like, “Hey, bartender, I think your genie might be hard of hearing.”

And the bartender’s, like, “No kidding. You think I wished for a twelve-inch pianist?”

Broadway Medley.

This guy walks into a bar and asks the bartender if he can show him something unbelievable, he gets a free beer? The bartender says alright. So the man puts a hamster and two frogs on the bar and all of a sudden the two frogs jump up and start into a Broadway medley.

Well, a man at the end of the bar said, “That’s amazing; I’ll give you $1,000 for the frogs.” The man agreed the guy took off.

The bartender said to him, “You could have gotten more for the frogs.”

The man said, “Frogs are easy to come by, the hamster’s a ventriloquist.”


 We hope you are leaving with a smile on your face… thanks Sally and Debby.



Smorgasbord Posts from my Archives – Previous Reviews from 2022 – #Shortstories #Fame – Backstories by Simon Van Der Velde

During this series I will be sharing my reviews for books I posted during 2022 

Good books deserve to be showcased on a regular basis and I hope that it might entice you to either move the books up your groaning TBR’s or add the books to its burden!

Here is my review from April 2022 for a short story collection by Simon Van Der Velde – Backstories published by Smoke & Mirrors Press.

About the collection

Can you find the famous person hidden in every story? And once found, can you understand them?

‘Ingenious idea, brilliantly executed‘ – Daily Mirror

Backstories – ‘the stand-out most original book of the year’ – is a collection of stories each told from the point of view of one of my personal heroes, (or villains) back when they were just another Jew or black, or queer – back when they were nobody. Bullied, assaulted or psychologically abused, their road to redemption was never easy, and for some there would be no redemption, only a descent into evil.

These are the stories of people you know. The settings are mostly 60’s and 70’s UK and USA, the driving themes are inclusion and social justice – but the real key to these stories is that I withhold the protagonists’ identities. This means that your job is to find them – leading to that Eureka moment when you realise who’s mind you’ve been inhabiting for the last twenty minutes.

I should also add that this is a book that operates on two levels. Yes, there’s the game of identifying the mystery activist or actor, singer or murderer, but there is then the more serious business of trying to understand them. This in turn leads to the challenge of overlaying what you now know about these famous people onto what you thought you knew – not to mention the inherent challenge to your moral compass.

These are people you know, but not as you know them. Peel back the mask and see.

This book is dedicated to the victims of violent crime, the struggle against discrimination in all its forms and making the world a better place for our children. That is why 30% of all profits will be shared between Stop Hate UK, The North East Autism Society and Friends of the Earth. Simon Van der Velde January, 2021

My review for the collection

What a fascinating concept. We are bombarded by the details of those in the media who are the focus of the headlines. Most of the time we see what is in front of us, be it a glamorous celebrity, superstar athlete, award winning musician or even an infamous serial killer. Sometimes if a tell all biography is available we might be party to their past lives and motivations, but most of the time we never see passed the hype.

In this collection of short stories we are invited to speculate on the past lives of many of those known for their fame or infamy.  There are subtle clues inserted, with perhaps a reference to a song lyric, or a mention of a name associated with the subject of the story.

All the stories have an edge to them as they explore the reasons for a fall from grace or a rise to fame, most rooted in childhood or teenage experiences at the hands of others.They are in some cases disturbing and it is easy to accept that these could indeed be a catalyst for what comes later.

This is a brilliantly written and compelling short story collection that I can highly recommend.

Head over to read the reviews and buy the collection: Amazon UKAnd: Amazon US

Also by Simon Van Der Velde

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon UKAnd: Amazon US – Goodreads: Simon Van Der Velde Twitter: @SimonVdVwriter 

About Simon Van Der Velde

Simon Van der Velde has worked variously as a barman, laborer, teacher, caterer and lawyer, as well as traveling throughout Europe and South America collecting characters for his award-winning stories. Since completing a creative writing M.A. (with distinction) in 2010, Simon’s work has won and been shortlisted for numerous awards including; The Yeovil Literary Prize, (twice), The Wasafiri New Writing Prize, The Luke Bitmead Bursary, The Frome Prize, and The Harry Bowling Prize – establishing him as one of the UK’s foremost short-story writers.

Simon now lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, with his wife, labradoodle and two tyrannical children.


Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books.

Smorgasbord Health Column 2023 – The Body our Greatest Asset – The Circulatory System – High Blood Pressure, Sodium and the Salt debate by Sally Cronin

I have featured this series over the last ten years on a regular basis for new readers who might have joined the blog. Our bodies are are greatest asset. It has a long road ahead of if from birth, through the teen years, work life, parenthood, middle age and then into our 70s and beyond.

At every stage of our life healthy nutrition is essential to help the body develop and remain as disease free as possible. I appreciate that many of you may have read this series before, but I hope it will be a reminder of how amazing our bodies are, and simply eating the right foods, exercising moderately and not doing anything too reckless…will go a long way to enjoying later life to the full.

In this series I have been looking at the circulatory system and in the last post I shared the foods that can help keep your circulatory system healthy through your lifetime.

I advocate a food rich in nutrients found in fresh produce and avoiding the ultra processed foods that fill our shelves today. That doesn’t mean cutting them out completely as many are very tasty. However, they do come with a price and that is in the amount of additives they contain.

High blood pressure is common, it used to be the privilege of middle age and beyond and pills have been dispensed by doctors to combat the problem with instructions to cut out salt from the diet. This health problem is now impacting the younger generation and one of the reasons for this is the access to industrially manufactured and fast foods today.

High blood pressure and salt in our diet

Sodium is an essential macro-mineral that, along with potassium, helps to regulate the body’s fluid balance. It is an electrolyte (cation), which is an atom that holds a positive electrical charge, that performs essential tasks within each cell.

Unlike other minerals, sodium, or sodium chloride (table salt), has a very recognisable and almost addictive taste. It is very widely used in all industrially manufactured foods and it is very easy to consume unhealthy amounts without even knowing it.

One of the main medical conditions associated with excessive sodium intake is very high blood pressure, and heart disease, so keeping a check on our intake is vitally important.

Sodium deficiency is extremely rare today, and in fact it is estimated that we are consuming at least 5 times the amount of sodium that we should be.

What are the current recommendations for sodium?

The current recommendation is under 2,400 mg of sodium per day, which is approximately one level teaspoon or 6 grams of table salt.

However as you will read later in the post… that recommendation for table salt needs some revision as it is not the salt you add to your fresh ingredients that is the problem, unless it is excessive, but the hidden salt in the foods we buy ready prepared off  the shelves of the supermarket.

If I give you some comparisons for processed foods versus fresh foods you will see how quickly you can take in far more sodium than your body needs.

  • Half a can of baked beans contains 504 mg of sodium – fresh contains 5 mg of sodium
  • Half a can of mushrooms contains 400 mg of sodium – fresh contains 1 mg of sodium
  • Half a can of tomatoes with spices is 600 mg of sodium – home-made contains 4 mg of sodium.
  • 3 oz of salty bacon contains 1,197 mg of sodium – fresh pork chop 54 mg of sodium
  • A chicken frozen dinner contains 2,500 mg of sodium – freshly prepared 50 mg of sodium.
  • Packet of dry minestrone soup contains 6,400 mg – freshly prepared 100 mg.
  • Some other foods that we might eat on a regular basis have equally horrifying amounts of sodium including:
  • Baked ham 3 oz = 840 mg
  • French salad dressing 2 tablespoons = 438 mg
  • Half jar of pasta sauce =1080 mg
  • Half can of chicken noodle soup = 1160 mg.

We now have labels on food and for the most part, although they seem to be written in stupidly small print (mainly because there are so many ingredients they have not got room on the jar) we can find out how much of a certain additive there is in any processed foods that we buy.

N.B – Sodium in unexpectedly high levels can be found in products we take for granted are beneficial… such as effervescent painkillers. Marketed as fast acting pain relief the maximum recommended dose of 8 tablets also contain 1400mg – 1900mg of sodium to make them fizzy. This is equivalent to 3.5 grams to 4.8 grams of salt. Not only are they not recommended for patients on low sodium diets due to high blood pressure, research has identified that inflammatory auto immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis are likely to be activated by high sodium levels.

Another surprising product that one would assume is healthy… unbreaded frozen prawns of all descriptions have 1600mg or equivalent to 4 grams of salt in a 6oz portion. This is because they use sodium tripolyphosphate as a preservative to prevent them losing water and going soggy when defrosted. Fresh prawns only have 202mg of sodium.

There are “sodium reduced” products on the market but be careful about the substitutes that have been use to produce this supposedly “safe” product. One of the most popular taste additives is MSG (monosodium glutamate) and that can sometimes be slipped in without you recognising it.

We rarely use ultra processed foods and have always used sea salt for cooking and for adding to food or Himalayan rock salt. I do keep an eye on that level and have a measured teaspoon of salt in an egg cup to add to my cooked meal. Usually there is some left at the end of the day.

Now for the reasons to include natural salt in your diet!

One of the first things a doctor will generally do, despite the fact that many of us have white coat syndrome which raises our blood pressure, is to measure it. As with the prescription of statins and the treatment of cholesterol ongoing research is identifying that the consumption of natural salt is not the culprit but the amount of sodium we are consuming daily from industrially produced foods.

And as always, I do not advise you to stop taking prescribed medication for high blood pressure without consulting your doctor.

There are a number of lifestyle causes for high blood pressure including being obese and lack of exercise. It is actually quite easy to blame the amount of salt in your diet and in the early days of my nutritional therapy work, I would see clients who had been following their doctor’s advice about reducing salt in their diets, but still had high blood pressure. It was only when they lost the additional weight, upped their exercise to a 30 minute walk each day and included specific potassium and nitrate rich foods in their diet that the blood pressure dropped to healthy levels.

I have been a nutritional therapist for 25 years, and one of the essential elements of my work has been to remain informed of new research as it becomes available. This has sometimes turned previously held beliefs on their head, and a number of experts and research studies do make us reassess our position on salt in the diet.

As humans we evolved using natural salt in our diets and it is only since the introduction of pre-packaged foods in the last 100 years that we have been ingesting various forms of sodium which had led to a far higher amount of it in our diets than our bodies require.

Top scientist says all you’ve been told about salt is WRONG: It won’t give you a heart attack – while having too little will make you fat and ruin your sex life

For more than 40 years, we’ve been told eating too much salt is killing us. Doctors say it’s as bad for our health as smoking or not exercising, and government guidelines limit us to just under a teaspoon a day.

We’re told not to cook with it and not to sprinkle it on our meals. The white stuff is not just addictive, goes the message — it’s deadly. Too much of it causes high blood pressure, which in turn damages our hearts. We must learn to live — joylessly, flavourlessly but healthily — without it.

Well, I’m here to tell you that all of that is wrong. As a leading cardiovascular research scientist — based at Saint Luke’s Mid-America Heart Institute, Missouri — I’ve contributed extensively to health policy and medical literature.

I am associate editor of the British Medical Journal’s Open Heart, published in partnership with the British Cardiovascular Society, and I sit on the editorial advisory board of several other medical journals.

In my work, I’ve examined data from more than 500 medical papers and studies about salt. And this is what I’ve learned: there was never any sound scientific evidence to support this low salt idea. What’s more, as I explain in my new book, eating too little of it can cause insulin resistance, increased fat storage and may even increase the risk of diabetes — not to mention decreasing our sex drive.

Current daily guidelines limit you to 2.4g of sodium, which translates to 6g of salt (or sodium chloride) or slightly less than a teaspoonful.

If you have high blood pressure, or belong to a group considered to be at greater risk of developing it — such as being over 60 or Afro-Caribbean — doctors even advise you to cut your intake to two-thirds of a teaspoon of salt per day.

Yet salt is an essential nutrient that our bodies depend on to live. And those limits go against all our natural instincts. When people are allowed as much salt as they fancy, they tend to settle at about a teaspoon-and-a-half a day. This is true all over the world, across all cultures, climates and social backgrounds.

Read the rest of the article: Salt is not the problem

The Mineral Deficiency That’s Making You Gain Weight by Dr James DiNicolantonio

“Salted foodstuffs make people slim, whereas sweet ones make them fat.” —Pliny (A.D. 23 to A.D. 79), an ancient Roman author and philosopher

We’ve been told for decades to hold the salt at the dinner table for the sake of our hearts and blood pressure. The anti-salt campaign has blurred the picture about what salt actually does for us—besides making everything taste better. Salt is an essential mineral that has many vital functions in the body, which I go into more in my new book, The Salt Fix. Since we lose salt every day through sweat and urine, we need to consume some salt in order to live.

What happens when we aren’t getting the salt we need?

When our bodies become depleted in salt, the brain seems to react by sensitizing the reward system—and not just the reward system for salt, but the same reward system that drives us to other pleasurable activities. The purpose of that sensitization is that when we eat salt it induces a greater reward than usual, leading to an increase intake of salt. This primitive “reptilian” response in the brain is over 100 million years old and it has carried over from our ancient ancestors. Its goal is to keep us alive by preventing or quickly fixing a salt deficit in the body. In other words, the brain controls our salt fix.

In our modern world, though, this reward system, intended to save our lives after salt deficit, could be inadvertently leading to weight gain, and even obesity.

Read the rest of this post on the subject of salt in our diet: Is salt deficiency making us fat

The Salt Fix by Dr James DiNicolantonio, was published by Piatkus Books in 2017 and is now in Kindle.

Dr. James DiNicolantonio, PharmD, is the author of The Salt Fix, and a cardiovascular research scientist and doctor of pharmacy at Saint Luke’s Mid-America Heart Institute in Kansas City, Missouri. A well-respected and internationally known scientist and expert on health and nutrition, he has contributed extensively to health policy and medical literature. He serves as the associate editor of British Medical Journal’s Open Heart, a journal published in partnership with the British Cardiovascular Society. He is also on the editorial advisory board of several other medical journals, including Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases and International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology (IJCPT). For more information on Dr. DiNicolantonio, please visit The Salt Fix

One of the reviews for the book from a physician.

DoctorSH 5.0 out of 5 stars No longer in fear of salt!

I just finished the book, The Salt Fix by James DiNicolantonio. Well worth the read.
As a prevention and wellness family physician who prides himself in looking deeper at cause and effect in healthcare, I must admit that I had my blinders on when it came to salt. I too believed that salt was to be watched closely and tried to remain at the lowest recommended usage. Well, no longer! The author James DiNicolantonio makes a great case as to why limiting your salt to the national guidelines may be BAD for your health.
In my practice, I have different views than mainstream medicine in many areas of health and wellness. Why? Well, I have arrived at the point in my career when I am not afraid to ask the “experts”- “WHY?”.

Why is fat bad?  Why is cholesterol bad? Do cholesterol lowering drugs really save lives?

I like to dive deeply into cause and effect. But it appears like I did not look closely enough at how the human body uses salt. I was still advising people to watch their salt intake as I thought that the dietary recommendations were set in stone with irrefutable evidence.
Well……. Let me add one more question for the “experts”.
Why is consuming more than 2 grams of salt a day bad?

After reading The Salt Fix, I am disappointed in myself but that changes today. The author James DiNicolantonio very simply makes the case that the war on salt is as misguided as I believe the war on cholesterol and fat has been. He points out how salt is a vital nutrient that our body needs to stay in balance, just like fat and cholesterol. He clearly and simply shows how our body responds to different levels of salt intake.

He brings together many other aspects of my practice, writing about how it is not salt, but that other white processed powder, SUGAR, that is really the issue in most people with metabolic health issues. He points out how sugar can cause insulin resistance leading to Obesity, High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, Heart Disease, etc, etc. He then shows how too LITTLE salt also leads to insulin resistance, Obesity, High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, Heart Disease, etc, etc. See the twist?

Besides learning about the many beneficial aspects of salt, this book should make you a more skeptical thinker when it comes to national dietary guidelines. You should ask yourself, “Is there real proof that these guidelines are good for my health AND were these guidelines based on real medical studies or are they a dietary or political/industry power play?

If you are overweight, have High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, Thyroid Disease, or Kidney Disease, BUY THIS BOOK and READ IT. If you like salt but are afraid to use it, BUY THIS BOOK and READ IT. Then have a conversation with your physician(s). If they just restate the National Dietary Salt guidelines without understanding the true data, lend them this book, or buy them one so they can refer to it and help more patients.

The book is available in several formats: Amazon US – And Amazon UK: Amazon UK

And another more recent look at salt in the diet and how far too much sodium is obtained from industrialised foods rather than from natural sources from Chris Kresser

“Salt has been the subject of controversy in recent years, and has increasingly been blamed for a number of poor health outcomes, such as high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. (1) Salt is ubiquitous in our modern diet, with Americans consuming an average of 10 grams of salt per day. Of this amount, about 75% is derived from processed food; only about 20% is naturally occurring or from discretionary salt use, such as that added in cooking or at the table (the rest comes from sources such as water treatment and medications). (2, 3) Most of what we read and hear about salt these days is telling us that salt consumption needs to be reduced, and it has even been referred to as “the single most harmful substance in the food supply”.

This is a two part post – Part One: The History of Salt

About Chris Kresser

Chris Kresser, M.S., L.Ac., is the creator of the ADAPT Practitioner and Health Coach Training Programs. He is one of the most respected clinicians and educators in the fields of Functional Medicine and ancestral health and has trained over 1,300 health professionals around the world in his unique approach.

A reminder again that this is not a recommendation that you stop taking medication and suddenly start eating high levels of salt. But, as always I do recommend that you stay away from industrially produced foods and add salt to your food to taste when it has been prepared.

Next time the potassium rich foods that you should be including in your diet to help naturally maintain a potassium balance in the body.

 ©sally cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2023

A little bit about me nutritionally. .

About Sally Cronin

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-four years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain.

Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 21 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines, radio programmes and posts here on Smorgasbord.

You can buy my books from: Amazon US – and: Amazon UK – Follow me :Goodreads – Twitter: @sgc58 – Facebook: Sally Cronin – LinkedIn: Sally Cronin


Thanks reading and I hope you will join me again next week…Sally.


Smorgasbord Book Promotions – New Book on the Shelves – #Memoir #Greece Unpacking for Greece: Travel in a Land of Fortresses, Fables, Ferries and Feta by Sally Jane Smith

Delighted to share the news of the recent release of the memoir Unpacking for Greece: Travel in a Land of Fortresses, Fables, Ferries and Feta by Sally Jane Smith.

About the book

When Sally sets out for Europe with her mother’s 1978 travel diary in her pocket, she is searching for the wanderlust she lost in a devastating overseas road accident.

As she ventures into the heart of the Mediterranean – wandering volatile landscapes, exploring historical sites, pairing books with places and savouring the tastes of Greece – she finds it is possible for a clumsy, out-of-shape woman on a budget to experience a life-changing journey.

In a story told with warmth, humour and a fascination with Greece’s natural and cultural heritage, Sally connects with her past, overcomes her fears and falls in love with life again, one olive at a time.

One of the early reviews for the book

Unpacking For Greece took me on a journey of body, mind and spirit. Much more than a memoir of physical travel, Sally also navigates through themes of trauma and loss, on a voyage to rediscover her wanderlust. Though there are some deeper and poignant moments, this memoir is ultimately uplifting and inspiring. Filled with healing, hope, wit and self-effacing humor. You feel such a connection to Sally which grows stronger with every page.

Each site you visit together, her evocative and delicate descriptions make you feel as through you are experiencing them through your own senses. Even places I had previously visited, I found myself learning something new about their rich history or exploring them from an alternative angle.

There is a beautiful sensitivity in Sally’s writing, which makes this memoir truly special. Not only in her moving self-reflections, but also the concious ways she respects the culture, history and people she encounters. This memoir made me question my own humility at times. And also, as I enter mid-life myself, it provided the affirmation that life can always be considered extrordinary if it is defined by your passions. 

Read the reviews and buy the book: Universal LinkAmazon AUAmazon US – And: Amazon UK

Sally Jane Smith has also contributed to the following anthology.

Buy the books: Amazon AUAmazon USAmazon UK – Follow Sally Jane: Goodreads –  Website – Facebook: Journeys In Pages – Twitter: @JourneysInPages

About Sally Jane Smith

Sally Jane Smith has lived on five continents and visited thirty-three countries, but she gives credit to Greece for turning her into a writer. She has worked in museums, universities, a language institute, a residence for people with disabilities, an art gallery, a primary school and a wildlife park. She also co-hosts two book clubs and assists the organisers of a biennial book-themed convention. She is currently based in Australia.

Sally completed a Varuna residency in 2018 and has published travel articles in Gulf News and TripFiction, and craft pieces in Women’s Ink! and Brevity Blog. Sally’s story of her great-great-grandmother’s extraordinary life appears in the anthology Itchy Feet: Tales of Travel and Adventure. Her exploration of travel and grief is included in the Newcastle Short Story Award Anthology 2022.

Excerpts from the Packing for Greece series have been awarded First Place Non-Fiction in the Port Writers Open Literary Competition and shortlisted in the National Writing Competition organised by the Society of Women Writers NSW.


Thanks very much for dropping in today and it would be great if you could share the news of Sally Jane’s new release… thanks Sally



Smorgasbord Food Column – Carol Taylor’s Green Kitchen Rewind – Homemade Bread, Plastic Alternatives, Grated Cheese

As Carol takes time this year to complete her two cook books I thought it was time to share her labour, time and environmental saving series of posts from 2021. Excellent tips on creating healthy, cook from scratch dishes for sustainable ingredients. I will hand you over to Carol.

Those of you who know me well know how passionate I am about cooking from scratch using fresh ingredients, the environment and ensuring that the food I make for my family is clean and as chemical free as it can possible be.

I am also of an age where I need to keep myself as healthy as I can by eating a varied diet which will also keep me at a healthy weight as long as I continue to exercise which in my case is walking daily…

This series will cover sustainability, news on food production…changes for the better and maybe a villain or three…haha, a recipe or two including some plant- based recipes, hints and tips on making my household a little greener…aka recycling and composting.

I will make mistakes of course … there is so much we could do just not all at once, some changes depend on our own lifestyles as above all… we want a happy household not one which is fanatical about going green at the expense of being frankly… miserable …what works for one does not work for another we have to find our own happy medium based on our circumstances and budgets.

It isn’t easy …in theory we know what we should do …ditch the plastic…grow our own vegetables…install solar panels…there is so much…we could empty all our cupboards, our fridges and freezers, throw out all the plastic, the bottles of household cleaners, shampoos etc etc …Start from scratch…

The reality is it wouldn’t work …our recycling bins could fill a skip all on its own, veggies take time to grow and imagine all that shopping you would have to do to replace everything.

THEREFORE I have looked at what I can do gradually…every small change is a bonus.

Many of us were confined to our homes and immediate neighbourhoods for nearly two years in some places…

The upside is that it we became a nation of cooks again we are baking bread, cooking from scratch, hearing how the environment is changing for the better… so many good things have came out of this maybe it is what was needed to make us focus on change…A reset…

I now bake bread every other day…Sandwich Loaf…a Nigella Recipe…


• 500 gm Bread Flour
• 2 tsp sea salt
• 2 tsp caster sugar
• 7gms instant yeast
• 125ml milk
• 150 ml of cold water
• 100 ml of boiling water
• 3 tbsp butter melted

Let’s Bake!

Put the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a bowl and whisk to combine then add liquids and butter and draw the mix together cover and leave for 10 mins…I now use a shower cap which is brilliant as plastic wrap never stuck to the bowl and the cap stays put…Leave for 10 minutes then knead for 10 seconds(yes) and leave for 10 mins and repeat this 3 times…

On the last one shape and put in a bowl cover and leave to prove for about an hour…Knead and shape and put in a 2lb loaf tin for the final prove of about 1 hour sprinkle a little flour on the top of the loaf…

Once proved put into a preheated oven on 180/200 and bake for 45 minutes…remove from the oven if you like a softer crust I cover the loaf once I removed it from the oven with a clean t/towel for about 5/10 mins just to soften the crust slightly.

I followed this recipe to a T and it came out perfectly it slices very well for sandwiches and makes lovely toast or just bread and butter…

It is the first time I have followed Nigella’s recipe and it is one of my top 5 bread recipes now…The whole family loved it!

N.BNow I am confident making this bread yesterday I swapped 100gms of the flour for a stoneground whole wheat flour it was perfect. Next time I will use 150gm the reason I am doing this gradually is that it is such a nice recipe that by doing gradually I can see if I need to make changes to the liquid so far no… maybe today I will need a little more liquid we shall see.

I have also learnt about how different flours affect the texture and rise of my bread…I have had some disasters I have learnt how salt can halt the rising of the bread if it comes into contact with the yeast, now I am using the shower cap to cover the dough it means plastic wrap has been taken off the shopping list… I no longer use it.

When I looked at what I really used it for …I didn’t want to buy it anymore …The cost to the environment is stunning…

My First change: This is an easy one…

  • Today, consumers around the world have plastic wrap brands at their disposal made of PVDC, PVC, and polyethylene.
  • Plastic infiltrates the environment
  • Thin, flimsy, plastic-like bags are difficult to recycle; without specialized equipment they clog machines. And even when plastic wrap is recycled, it’s costlier than using virgin materials.
  • When it ends up in landfills or incinerators, both PVC and PVDC can release a highly toxic chemical called Dioxin, says the World Health Organization.

Did you know?

Americans buy enough plastic wrap to shrink wrap Texas?

Yes, I use a shower cap but it can be reused over and over it in no way reflects the amount of cussing and plastic wrap I use trying to get it attached to the dang bowl…


My bread making is now stress free… plastic wrap begone…Two birds with one stone!

But I hear you how can I keep my sandwiches fresh…

Everything you need to know is here…Here’s one I prepared earlier…smile x

Latest Recycling News September 2019 – Carol Cooks 2

Clean food and chemical free is another passion which means all my recipes will portray that…

“There are too many people who count calories and not enough counting chemicals”

I truly believe this and now we are spending more time at home …can we not take 5 and start looking at the foods we eat and use so we know what they really contain? Any highly processed food will contain preservatives and chemicals…That’s a given..

All these chemicals do affect our health…I am not saying don’t ever buy processed foods I buy some things maybe products I can’t replicate at home but there is much I can and frankly most of it is so easy I ask myself why have I not done this before…

I do not spend every waking minute in my kitchen…its too hot for one thing but I do spend time researching recipes and the content of some foods and whether or not I can replicate them at home…For me time well spent…

If you have any favourite food and would like me to do the research on whether or not it will be easy to replicate in your kitchen please let me know.

Did you know?

  • It’s a given that processed foods can save you a little time. But what you gain in convenience, you lose in money, environmental impact and maybe even health.
  • That’s because processed foods require more labour to convert them from their natural state to something that fits in a box, bag or tub.
  • You’re also paying for the chemicals added to the processed food to keep them fresh.
  • You’re paying for the packaging, too, which is totally worthless once you get it home. Indeed, $1 out of every $11 you spend at the grocery store you spend on packaging you throw away.

I will give you a simple example…Shredded Cheese.

Pre-shredded cheese always comes in a plastic bag or tub along with chemicals to prevent mould growth and even the dust from wood pulp…yes, that is correct it is added to prevent the cheese from clumping.

Why not grate your own cheese instead?

It will be fresher, cheaper and you can minimize packaging if you buy a chunk of cheese from your deli counter rather than in the dairy aisle.

To me so many of these changes are minute…Take minutes to do and tick all the boxes pun not intended…lol

Are you ready to join me in making your kitchen a little greener, are you ready to cook from scratch more often and to count chemicals instead of calories?
Love Carol xx

©Carol Taylor 2021

About Carol Taylor

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology Amazon US

Connect to Carol – Blog: Carol Cooks 2 – Twitter: @CarolCooksTwo – Facebook: Carol Taylor

Thanks for dropping by today and I know Carol would love your feedback.. thanks Sally.