Salt is as important to the American diet as ketchup. That doesn't make it healthy, however, and many people find it necessary to cut back on the salt content in their diets for a wide variety of reasons. Yet in a society where sodium-laden fast food is less expensive than a healthy sandwich, it's tempting to just give up and let the salt reign. If you're in that boat, keep reading for some tips on how you can keep cooking great-tasting food that will keep the salt content of your diet low.
Use lots of herbs and spices. Stock up your pantry with a well-rounded supply of herbs and spices -- preferably good-quality ones, but you can definitely use the dollar containers in a pinch. Find a spice primer online, and learn which spices go with which ingredients for the best flavors. Then, use those herbs and spices liberally. You'll have to learn how much is too much, but remember that many cultures stray away from using salt at all, so it can be done.
Use herb mixers, like Mrs. Dash, in place of salt. Sure, some flavoring mixes have MSG or salt (though Mrs. Dash is proudly salt- and MSG-free, and very delicious), so you'll have to watch what you buy. But others are great flavor boosters without all the unnecessary additives, and the flavors combine well with just about any dish.
Choose naturally flavorful ingredients, like savory meats (pork and lamb are more flavorful, for instance, than beef and chicken), strong-tasting vegetables (such as broccoli and bell peppers), and aromatic grains (think jasmine rice). Salt is primarily a flavor enhancer, and if your food already has enough flavor, you won't need to pile on the sodium.
Let the salt be in ingredients. Use a sprinkle of cheese to top off an otherwise mild dish, or add a tiny amount of sausage to your vegetable pasta. If the salt is already in the ingredients, you won't be able to get carried away as you sprinkle salt into the vegetables during cooking, the pasta water as it boils, and the beef as it browns.
If you must use salt, use unprocessed sea salt to flavor all your foods. It's very strong, so you won't need a whole lot, and it also provides you with necessary minerals in a natural way. The worst kind of salt to use is the common table salt you can buy for cheap, so unless you absolutely can't find unprocessed sea salt at a specialty food store, you'll want to stay away from Morton's and other similar brands.
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