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Heart Disease Health Center

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5 Flavor-Rich Ways to Cut Sodium

By Kara Mayer Robinson
WebMD Feature

Cutting back on salt? Your food can still be tasty.

There are many ways to create flavorful food without using salt. Use these tips to make your food anything but bland.

1. Learn to love herbs and spices.

“Don’t shy away from spices,” says nutritionist Katie Cavuto, MS, RD. “A dash of cumin or a pinch of curry powder creates a lot of flavor without added salt.”

Seasoning your food with herbs and spices may be the best way to create flavorful foods when you’re cutting down on sodium. (Check the package to make sure there’s no added salt.)

Try different blends for new flavor combinations. Experiment as you go. Or use these tried-and-true winners:

  • Parsley isn’t just pretty -- it adds a peppery, earthy flavor to brown or wild rice, soups, pasta, and eggs.
  • Add fresh basil to cooked pasta, a panini, a turkey sandwich, or a veggie wrap.
  • Season beef with bay leaf, marjoram, nutmeg, pepper, sage, or thyme.
  • Spice up your chicken with paprika, rosemary, sage, tarragon, or thyme.
  • Toss a grain salad with dried fruits and nuts and a pinch of fresh mint.
  • Pair cilantro with spicy foods, roasted chicken, or quinoa.
  • Season salmon with fresh dill.
  • Season eggs with basil, dill, and parsley.
  • Roast vegetables with basil, parsley, and savory.
  • Season barbecued meats with cumin, garlic, hot pepper, and oregano.
  • Toss a mixture of marjoram and sage onto your poultry before cooking.
  • Make tomato sauce using basil, a bay leaf, marjoram, oregano, and parsley.

2. Make garlic, onions, and peppers your “go-to” ingredients.

Strong-tasting ingredients like garlic, onions, ginger, and hot peppers boost the flavor quotient of your entrée or side dish.

“Sauteing lean meats or veggies in olive oil and garlic gives them a nice flavor without added salt,” says nutritionist Maryann Jacobsen, MS, RD.

Then toss in other ingredients (like whole grains or beans), for a simple, flavorful dish. Or add your sautéed meat or vegetable to pasta, sauce, or eggs.

Make pesto by combining leftover herbs with olive oil, garlic, lemon or lime, and toasted nuts, then mixing them together with a food processor. Smother it on top of meats, or spread it on sandwiches. It also makes a great veggie dip or pasta sauce.

Boost flavor and heat by adding hot peppers to chili, salsa, and tacos. Try jalapeno peppers or another variety.

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