womenTALK: Blog

Thursday, Jun 17th 2010

How to Season Your Food - Without Salt

authored by Sheryl Kraft

I think I shook some readers up with my recent post on salt and all its possible health implications.

So, what if you love salt - does that mean your food has to be a bland, amorphous blob of stuff? No!

I've done the research for you (and for myself, of course, since I am salt-averse, after all) and here are some suggestions.

*Add balsamic vinegar. I am now eating a low-salt version of soup, and adding balsamic vinegar really wakes up all the flavors. It almost tastes salty. Honest

*Use cheese - but sparingly. I love sprinkling my salads with cheese - but almost all are high in salt. Instead, I use a
microplane(a small grater-like tool) and the most pungent cheese I can find. It falls softly atop whatever you are grating it over, like delicate snowflakes. A little goes a very long way.

*Use a "salt substitute" to shake things up. While at Pritikin, I found one in the gift shop and brought it home. It's by Natural Fine Foods, Inc. and called, appropriately, "Shake-It Table Blend." It contains onion, garlic, tomato granules, crushed red peppers, basil, oregano, orange peel, thyme, dill, mustard seed, parsley, lemon pepper, celery, cumin and coriander - all healthy spices on their own. I brought it with me last night to a restaurant and sprinkled it on my (unsalted) fish and it was surprisingly flavorful and more than adequate.

*When you cook, think about adding these spices to these foods to bring out their flavor and eliminate the need for salt (courtesy of the NIH):
Beef: Bay leaf, marjoram, nutmeg, onion, pepper, sage, thyme
Lamb: Curry powder, garlic, rosemary, mint
Pork: Garlic, onion, sage, pepper, oregano
Veal: Bay leaf, curry powder, ginger, marjoram, oregano
Chicken: Ginger, marjoram, oregano, paprika, poultry seasoning, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme

And for veggies:
Carrots: Cinnamon, cloves, marjoram, nutmeg, rosemary,sage
Corn: Cumin, curry powder, onion, paprika, parsley
Green Beans: Dill, curry powder, lemon juice, marjoram, oregano, tarragon, thyme, green onions, pepper
Peas: Ginger, marjoram, onion, parsley, sage
Potatoes: Dill, garlic, onion, paprika, parsley, sage

Also, try Penzeys Spices which have a line of no-salt herb blends.

You may also want to read my colleague Kristen's post, "Less Salt, Longer Life?"

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Nov 07, 2015 02:Nov 2 | Janie said

Don't Pass the Salt

1) If you have a Trader Joe's, their own brand of Low-Sodium Organic Marinara Sauce has only 35 mgm sodium per 1/2 cup (name brands have 300-700). It is very tomato-y. 2) Ritz has a new cracker out called Hint of Salt that has 30 mgm sodium in 5 crackers (most brands have close to 200 in 5 crackers). 3) An ounce of Swiss cheese has 30-35 mgm; most cheese has close to 200 or even more. 4) I find it helps to have sauces on the side that I can dip every bite in---applesauce, cranberry sauce, or Heinz No-Salt Ketchup, which doesn't taste like much but at 5 mgm sodium per tablespoon it gives you volume to work with and you can add a couple of DROPS of hot sauce or a little horseradish (it is low-sodium).

Jun 18, 2015 12:Jun 12 | david goldberg said

how to make a salt free and low sodium barbecue seasoning

I would like help to make a barbecue seasoning with no salt and little potassium



Feb 23, 2014 12:Feb 12 | William Finley said

Seasoning Ratios

Hello, I am just writing to get the ratio of seasoning for each food group? I have high blood pressure and I am going on a no salt diet. I believe that pre-mixing the seasoning would make it easier for me.


Feb 24, 2014 17:Feb 5 | Sheryl said

Thanks for writing, William.

Thanks for writing, William. The ration of seasoning would vary according to the recipe, the amount of food you are eating and individual tastes, so it's difficult to give you exact amounts. I'd suggest checking various recipes or the bottle of the seasoning to get an idea.

Aug 01, 2011 12:Aug 12 | April said

Lemon for salt

Lemon and other fresh citrus are very good flavor enhancers, and lemon, similar to vinegar, can really help when you are missing that "salt" flavor. Also, as much as I love, love, love vinegar, it comes with it's own issues for some of (being fermented). Consider lemon and other citrus as great flavor enhancers.

Those these aren't "seasonings" per se, a salsa made with fresh kiwi, raspberries, or mango along with minced jalapeno, a dab of honey, and a sprinkling of red pepper (if you're brave) are great with fish such as salmon and halibut. If I season with lemon and garlic while cooking then top with a little of this fresh, very easy to make salsa (chunky) or sauce (smoother), I don't miss salt one bit!

Jun 22, 2010 10:Jun 10 | Donna Hull said

I'm not much of a salt user.

I'm not much of a salt user. I find that once it's limited in my diet, the food tastes great all on its own, however these are great tips for getting there.

Jun 21, 2010 14:Jun 2 | Kris Bordessa said

I like my food flavorful, and

I like my food flavorful, and while I'm not against salting when necessary (IMO!), I do try to limit it. I find adding a bit of chile sauce to many dishes spices them up without adding salt.

Jun 29, 2010 10:Jun 10 | Sheryl said

Anything that adds spice is a

Anything that adds spice is a great alternative to salt. I've never used herbs the way I'm using them now (in great quantities) and they add so much flavor that I don't even miss the salt.

Jun 20, 2010 13:Jun 1 | Stephanie - Wasabimon said

You know, I'm going to have

You know, I'm going to have to try this Shake-It Table Blend. I'm really curious about it now. Did you see Ruhlman's recent post on salt? http://ruhlman.com/2010/02/salt-research-nonconclusive.html

Jun 21, 2010 17:Jun 5 | Sheryl said

Thanks for the link to the

Thanks for the link to the salt post and articles. I'm going to take a look!

Jun 18, 2010 11:Jun 11 | sarah henry said

thanks for so many

thanks for so many alternatives to salt suggestions. as i said, i just rediscovered the grainy stuff in all its artisanal variations after decades of doing without, the trick is to use it sparingly, if your health allows.

Jun 21, 2010 17:Jun 5 | Sheryl said

Yes - moderation is key.

Yes - moderation is key. Right now I'm afraid to use any extra salt, but maybe in time my comfort level (and blood pressure) will stabilize enough for me to try. Or not...I'm slowly adjusting to the taste and bringing in new tastes to take salt's place.

Jun 18, 2010 10:Jun 10 | Nancy Monson said

These are good tips. I never

These are good tips. I never add salt when cooking or eating. I just wish I could find lower-salt prepared foods. The light frozen meals--Lean Cuisine, Weight Watchers--often have 750 mg of sodium and up. Amy's is the best I've found, with 490 or so.

Jun 21, 2010 17:Jun 5 | Sheryl said

I wasn't aware of the lower

I wasn't aware of the lower counts on the Amy's - thanks! Will check them out.

Jun 18, 2010 09:Jun 9 | Alexandra said

Lots of great suggestions! I

Lots of great suggestions! I especially liked the ideas for cooked carrots. I will check out the no-salt herb blends you mention. Thanks!

Nov 07, 2015 02:Nov 2 | Janie said

re Carrots

I like to heat up cooked carrots in brown sugar, butter, and curry powder.

Jun 18, 2010 07:Jun 7 | Susan said

Thanks for the tips, Sheryl!

Thanks for the tips, Sheryl! I love cheese, too. :) Fortunately, if you sprinkle a little cheese on your salad or whatever, you often don't need to add extra salt because it adds a nice salty/pungent taste. It's fattening, yes, but also gives you calcium, which is important for women.

Jun 21, 2010 17:Jun 5 | Sheryl said

That little sprinkle of

That little sprinkle of cheese really adds a lot of taste. That's why it's best to use the strongest, most pungent and best cheese you can. A little goes far.

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