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Healthy Living > healthy eating

How to Season Your Food - Without Salt

By Sheryl Kraft

Created: 06/17/2010
Last Updated: 03/12/2020

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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?"


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.

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.

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

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

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.

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

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.

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.

You know, I'm going to have to try this Shake-It Table Blend. I'm really curious about it now.

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

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.


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.

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



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).


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