Ditch the Salt Shaker, Cook with Herbs & Spices


A study published online in the New England Journal of Medicine found cutting back on salt as little as half a teaspoon a day could prevent 92,000 deaths and nearly 100,00 heart attacks in the US every year. As a nation addicted to processed and prepared food, it is not surprising that salt consumption has risen by 50 percent since the 1970’s. Coincidentally, the rate of obesity, heart attacks, high blood pressure, strokes and kidney disease has also risen.

A certain amount of sodium is essential for good health. Sodium helps carry nutrients into the cells, distributes water throughout the body, maintains healthy blood pressure levels and stimulates the adrenal glands. It also plays a role in nerve communication and muscle contraction, including the heart muscle. Hydrochloric acid, a fluid needed for proper digestion, also depends on the availability of sodium for production.

Our kidneys help regulate the amount of sodium in our bodies. When levels are low, the kidneys conserve sodium. When levels are high, excess sodium is excreted through the urine. If our kidneys can't get rid of enough of the excess, it begins to accumulate in our blood. And that can cause problems because sodium attracts and holds water. More sodium increases blood volume, which in turn makes our heart work harder to move the blood through our body.

Read more about the importance of decreasing dietary sodium

The average US diet has three main sources of sodium: processed and prepared foods; sodium-containing condiments; and natural sources of sodium found in vegetables, meat and dairy products. The American Heart Association recommends that you choose and prepare foods with little or no added salt to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. We should aim to eat less than 1,500 mg of added salt a day, the equivalent to about ¾ of a teaspoon. The average American consumes a whopping 3, 463 mg of sodium a day!

Sodium isn't just found in salt. If you want to reduce the sodium in your diet, consider putting down the salt shaker and limit the amount of processed and fast foods you consume.

Salt is an acquired taste. Most foods in their natural state contain some amount of sodium. Unfortunately, we have forgotten how delicious natural whole foods taste because of our obsession with salt or condiments containing salt. Nature has provided us with a gamut of tastes from sweet, found in fruits, to salty, found in vegetables like celery or kelp. A wonderful way to enhance flavor without adding salt is to use natural herbs and spices. Herbs and spices can transform a simple dish into a sensuous eating experience of lively and refreshing flavors sure to excite your taste buds.

Below is a guide to some common herbs and spices and suggested uses to help you create flavorful meals without any added salt.

Herb/Spice
Description Use In
Basil
Sweet basil is bright and pungent in taste. Leaves are green in color, round and pointed.
Pesto, salads, sauces, meats, fish and soups. Pairs well with carrots, eggplant, potatoes, squash, spinach and tomatoes.
Bay
Also known as Sweet Bay or Sweet Laurel, aromatic bay leaves are often used dried for maximum flavor.
Use in soups, sauces or pickling solutions. Add to marinade solutions for meat or fish.
Cardamom
Tastes like ginger, with a hint of pine.
Used prominently in curry powder, but also enhances the flavor of pumpkin, squash, potatoes and pastries. Cardamom is often combined with cumin and coriander seeds.
Cayenne
Hot, peppery flavor.
Used frequently in Cajun, Creole, Spanish, Mexican, Szechuan, Thai and East Indian Recipes.
Cinnamon
One of the oldest spices known, cinnamon is derived from the inner bark of evergreen trees native to Sri Lanka, southwest India and Asia. Sweet and aromatic, cinnamon is available whole or as a ground-up powder.
Versatile spice that complements a wide variety of foods and other spices. Works well with poultry, in curries and with fruit, particularly apples and pears. Add to casseroles or eggplant, squash and carrot dishes.
Coriander leaf or seed (Cilantro)
Fresh coriander leaves, also known as cilantro, bears a strong resemblance to Italian flat-leaf parsley, but with a stronger, distinct scent. The seeds, when dried, have a fragrant flavor reminiscent of both citrus peel and sage.
Combines nicely with beets, onions, potatoes and lentils. Add to salads, salsas, soups, stews, curries and rice dishes.
Cumin
Powerful peppery flavoring with slight citrus overtones. Integral spice in the cuisines of Mexico, India and the Middle East.
Complements chicken, lamb, beans, lentils, vegetables and rice dishes. Excellent in carrot or cabbage dishes.
Dill
Dill’s green leaves are wispy and fern-like and have a soft, sweet taste. Both the leaves and the seeds are used to flavor food.
Combines well with fruits, vegetables, fish, egg and poultry. Should be added to the end of cooking time, since heat can destroy its delicate flavor. 
Fennel
Mild licorice taste.
Salads, soups, fish and vegetable dishes. Also complements rice, potatoes, tomato, egg and apple dishes.
Ginger
Fragrant, pungent and hot. Can be used fresh, dried or in powder form.
Curries, stews and stir fries. Complements poultry.
Marjoram
Member of the mint family. Similar to oregano but less pungent. Used in savory dishes.
Salads, fish, vegetables, meat, poultry and egg dishes.
Mint
With more than 25 varieties, tastes range from cool, sweet and slightly menthol.
Use fresh in salads, marinated vegetables, legumes or tomato based soups or stews. Also good in dips, dressings, yogurt or lamb dishes.
Nutmeg
Seed of an apricot-like fruit native to Indonesia, with a cinnamon and peppery taste.
Can be used in either sweet or savory dishes, including pasta sauces, cheese dishes, cake or milk (or milk alternative) puddings.
Oregano
Also from the mint family, similar to marjoram but stronger with an earthy, aromatic flavor.
Used in many Mediterranean dishes. Excellent in tomato based sauces and stews. Complements, chicken, fish and meat dishes.
Parsley
Most common types are curly or Italian flat leaf. Mildly fresh aromatic flavor.
Soups, salads, sauces and casseroles. Use with any vegetable, potato or grain dish.
Rosemary
Pine-like, distinct flavor used either fresh or dried.
Marinades, vegetables, chicken and fish dishes. Complements roast meats, especially lamb and chicken.
Sage
Grayish, silver green leaves in color with and earthy aromatic taste that is both sweet and bitter.
As a flavoring for stuffing, good with vegetables, cheese and meat dishes, especially pork, game and liver.
Tarragon
Sweet aromatic herb with a slighter peppery flavor reminiscent of fennel, anise and licorice.
Soups, salads fish, chicken and egg dishes, Also good with raw or cooked tomato dishes. Complements, peas, potatoes, broccoli, carrot and asparagus.
Thyme
Tiny leaves with a minty, tea-like flavor.
Used to make bouquet garni with parsley and bay. Add to stocks, marinades, sups and casseroles. Good with fish, vegetable and game dishes.

Read more about scary ingredients in conventional spices

 

Image: Marco Fedele


By Joanne Capano| September 10, 2014
Categories:  Eat
Keywords:  Healthy Kitchen

About the Author

Joanne Capano

Joanne Capano

Joanne is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. Her interest in nutrition and holistic health was ignited as a result of her desire to instil positive eating and lifestyle choices in her family. As a mother of three active school-aged children, Joanne knows firsthand the challenges busy families face in choosing and preparing healthy meals. Her special interests are in promoting healthy traditional diets at home and helping families meet the changing nutritional needs of their growing children.

Joanne also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and a post graduate certificate diploma in Public Relations. She has worked in nonprofit and corporate PR for the past 15 years. Joanne believes the key to healthy living lies in natural nutrition and has taken a keen interest in wanting to raise public awareness of the benefits of natural living. In addition to her freelance public relations writing and event planning services, Joanne has a nutrition consulting practice offering one-on-one consulting, group workshops and menu planning for families.

Add A Comment

Comment

Allowed HTML: <b>, <i>, <u>

Comments


What's Fresh

FacebookTwitterGplusPinterestYoutubeRss




 

RSS

In the Spotlight

  • Made Good

    MadeGood Granola Snacks come in 5 delicious flavors. They are free from nuts and 8 common allergens, are organic, non-GMO, and have a hidden serving of vegetables.


  • Lily of the Desert

    The Original Super Juice. Aloe vera health benefits have been known for 5,000 years. Whether taken internally or applied topically, it has incredible benefits for digestion & soothes the skin.


  • San-J

    Making premium Tamari and quality Asian cooking sauces since 1804. Now gluten free and non-GMO verified, there is something right for every meal.





Copyright © Agility Inc. 2017
    
Popup Image