There’s no doubt that a dash of salt enhances the flavor of your food, but there’s also no doubt that too many dashes can be bad for your health. If you’re a salt fiend, I’ve got some tips to help you enhance flavor without sending your sodium through the roof
If you’re buying pre-made meals, be sure to check the ingredients to ensure your meal isn’t as salty as the Dead Sea. The FDA approved recommended daily intake of sodium for the average person is 2400mg, so keep that in mind. Pro tip: try some of our low sodium, chef-inspired meals.
When cooking at home, use salt sparingly (sea salt is best because it has tons of minerals) and try using these flavor-enhancing ingredients instead:
Garlic + Onion
Garlic and onion are like Batman and Robin. Seriously, is there anything this tasty duo can’t do?! Whether you’re using the fresh or powdered varieties, they add a rich and delicious flavor base to virtually any dish. They taste especially good together, but are also delicious on their own.
Basil + Oregano
Another super combo, basil and oregano enhance the flavor of anything tomato-based, whether you’re enjoying your tomatoes raw, or cooking them up in a sauce. They also make great additions to a homemade vinaigrette salad dressing (a better option than most store-bought dressings any day).
Vinegar or Lemon Juice
Lemon juice and vinegars, such as the balsamic or apple cider variety, add tangy goodness to food. Instead of finishing your meal preparation with a dash of salt, try a squeeze of fresh lemon! Yum.
Oh, you don’t have a smoker in your backyard? That’s a shame. Have no fear – you can add some smoky deliciousness to your food with a dash or two of smoked paprika. Pro tip: try adding some to your next bowl of popcorn, or tossing your veggies with some before roasting.
What the heck is this weird, flaky stuff? It’s a type of yeast that you can get in natural grocery stores and it’s got a lot of nutritional benefits, including protein and vitamins (especially B-complex). Vegetarians and vegans use it a lot because of these benefits, and also because it has a cheesy and salty flavor. And guess what? It’s low in fat and sodium! Sprinkle it on your popcorn or on your pasta for some major flavor enhancement.
For those of us who weren’t born with natural culinary genius, it can be difficult to figure out which spices go well together. Thankfully, several herb and spice blends are available that can add amazing flavor to your cooking without you having to think too hard about it. One such blend is Herbes de Provence, which includes basil, fennel seed, lavender, marjoram, rosemary, sage, summer savory and thyme. Try it on your meat, poultry or veggies. Curry blends are also great for adding tons of flavor with just a few dashes. Bonus: buying blends is a lot less expensive than purchasing each herb or spice on its own.
While a lot of hot sauces are full of salt and sugar, chili flakes on their own can add heat without the extra sodium. I like to keep a little dish of them by the stove for easy sprinkling during cooking. You can also add them at the table for some extra kick.
As with everything in life – eating well is all about making smart choices. Try these flavorful ingredients instead of salt, and your heart will thank you!