Eating too much sodium is harmful to our heart health, raising the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attacks. Even with all the reminders of this fact, we still are eating too much sodium every day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that reducing our intake of sodium to recommended levels (1500-2300 mg per day) would potentially save 40,000 lives and $7 billion in health care costs each year. That’s a pretty good reason to cut back.
But putting down the saltshaker is hard. What will our food taste like without it? This is where herbs and spices come in. They add tons of delicious flavors without adding salt (or sugar or fat, too!). Check out these great ideas for adding spices to your meals.
Fresh herbs can be more expensive, but are pretty easy to grow yourself, either in a garden or a pot. The best thing about growing them in a pot is that you can bring them indoors over the winter and have a fresh supply all year long.
Dried herbs and spices won’t go bad quickly and are great items to keep in your Better Pantry. Find a little wiggle room in your budget to start building up your spice rack one at a time. You’ll eventually have a nice variety to choose from when cooking. You can also buy herb and spice blends, like Italian Blend or Grilling Blend, which gives you more variety for your money right away. Just be sure that you’re buying salt-free blends to keep the sodium low.
My favorite flavors are:
- Basil- I use this in just about anything savory. Basil and Parsley are pretty “generic” flavors that work well in many dishes. Fresh basil is awesome for making pesto from scratch. It’s very easy to grow yourself.
- Dill- Dried dill is one of my favorite popcorn toppings. Fresh dill smells so good and is a perfect match with salmon.
- Cumin- This smoky spice adds flavor, but not heat, to chili, Mexican recipes or beef dishes.
What herbs and spices do you use the most?
I love using dried herbs and spices, especially since the won’t go bad quickly. My cooking has been mostly based around salt my entire life and since marrying my husband and moving away from my family I want to try something new. I like the idea of using basil for savory dishes. I have tried that a couple times and it has been delicious, though, I don’t like the lingering leaf afterward. How do you get the basil flavor without leaving the giant basil leaf in the dish when eating? Will the dish taste the same if I remove the leaves just before serving the dish?
It’s great that you have been able to find new ways to add flavor to your family’s food without relying on salt, Lillian. Basil is one of my favorite fresh herbs, too. Have you tried chopping it very thin? If that doesn’t work, you could do as you suggested – cook your dish using the whole leaves and then remove right before serving (like a bay leaf).