One of the biggest bummers for me when it came to adjusting my diet, was cutting back on my salt intake. Some tricks, such as leaving salt for a last garnish in dishes, worked out great. Others, however, like finding good-tasting sodium-free soups and foods, left my taste-buds going “ick”. So what’s a flavor-loving gal to do?
Luckily there are tons of options available to get more oomph in your food, without adding any salt. Especially when it comes to soups (which are some of the biggest sodium-stuffed culprits as well as some of the worst taste offenders when it comes to salt-free offerings), any of these can not only add flavor, but extra nutrients. Now that the weather’s turned frosty, try experimenting with these tasty and healthy add-ons.
Garlic – I love garlic, so this heads the list. Always go with fresh. For a stronger punch, chop maybe half a clove and let it simmer in your soup. For a more mellow, complex flavor, roast it first. Roasting is super-easy: drizzle olive oil over a bulb, wrap in tin foil and bake in an oven or toaster oven. I’m impatient, so I usually do 400 degrees in the toaster oven until I can smell the garlic wafting all over my kitchen. For those who’d like more straightforward guidelines, Simply Recipes lays it all out for you. Once you see how easy and tasty it is to roast your own fresh garlic, you’ll never look at the stuff in the jar again. Add it to salt-free tomato sauce for pasta or mash with olive oil and make your own garlic bread. The possibilities are endless.
Onion – Another solid bet. I prefer them caramelized, but you can add them raw for a sharper taste. Plop on sandwiches, simmer in soups and broths, slow cook with meats…this is another ingredient that goes a long way. And don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of onions: green scallions have a more mild, grassy flavor while red onion has a sharper bite to it.
Cumin – Cumin is a good way to add a smoky flavor without adding a ton of heat. I prefer adding pinches of ground cumin into tomato-based dishes, but it could add a whole new spin on dinner when combined with lemon on fish or chicken.
Turmeric – I don’t really have a simple way of describing the flavor of turmeric. It’s not smoky or hot or savory, and in small amounts you might not even notice it, but it’s a worth a try to add some subtle complexity to your soups. It’s touted as a great natural anti-inflammatory as well.
Of course there are so many more spices and herbs out there, many of which are sitting right in your supermarket waiting for you to pick them up and play. Pick one herb or spice you may be curious about and spend a week adding a tiny bit to your normal meals. See if you like (or even notice) a difference when you eat. If you’re feeling more adventurous, look up a new recipe online that really showcases your chosen ingredient.
What’s your go-to alternative for salt?