Salt is highly addictive, not only because we love the taste but because our bodies need it for survival. Among many necessary bodily functions, salt helps regulate muscle contractions and body fluid levels. However, because it’s in most processed foods and used as a flavor enhancer in cooking, most people consume at least double the amount of salt they need.
How do you avoid salt when it’s on almost every dining table in the country? First, make more of your meals at home to control the amount of salt you use. Next, experiment and get creative with various spices. Your taste buds will need time to adjust to the change, but you’ll be able to appreciate the subtle flavors of foods you once covered with salt over time.
For Baked and Roasted Meats
Salt alternative: No-salt seasoning, garlic powder, smoked paprika, rosemary, thyme, lemon
How to: Coat meat lightly with olive oil and rub seasoning on or under skin before cooking. To keep skinless chicken breasts from drying out and enhance their flavor, cover them with lemon slices before baking.
For Roasted Vegetables
Salt alternative: Curry powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper, garlic powder, cinnamon, cloves
How to: Toss vegetables with olive oil, spread on a metal roasting pan, and sprinkle with spice before roasting. Cinnamon and cloves pair well with sweet squashes such as butternut or acorn.
For Steamed Vegetables
Salt alternative: Flavored olive oils, freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice, sesame oil, dill, black pepper, no-salt seasoning
How to: Cook vegetables in a steamer basket over a pot of boiling water. Drain cooking water and toss with oil or a mixture of oil and citrus. Sprinkle with black pepper, dill, no-salt seasoning, or any other seasonings you enjoy. If using sesame oil, use sparingly (it pairs well with rice vinegar).
Salt alternative: Black pepper, dill, no-salt seasoning, flavored olive oils, various vinegars, nut and seed butters, tahini, avocado, freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
How to: Choose a base of fresh squeezed juice or vinegar. Choose a fat, such as a nut or seed butter, tahini, avocado or olive oil. Enhance with spices such as black pepper, dill, or no-salt seasoning. Depending on how thick and creamy the desired dressing, whisk base, fat and seasonings in a small bowl or shake ingredients in a jar or mix in a blender.
- For bitter greens such as kale or arugula, cut the bitterness by using a sweet vinegar in your dressing or complementing the greens with fruit such as berries or mango.
- For delicate flavored vegetables such as baby lettuce and tomatoes, go light on the dressing and use citrus as the base.
- For hardy, crunchy vegetables such shredded cabbage, carrots or Brussels sprouts, go creamy by using a nut or seed butters, tahini, or avocado as the fat.