Ditch the Saltshaker: Cook With Herbs & Spices
Flavorful dishes with no added salt
A recent study published online in the
A certain amount of sodium is essential for good health. Sodium helps carry nutrients into the cells, distributes water throughout the body, maintains healthy blood pressure levels and stimulates the adrenal glands. It also plays a role in nerve communication and muscle contraction, including that of the heart muscle. Hydrochloric acid, a fluid needed for proper digestion, also depends on the availability of sodium for production.
Our kidneys help regulate the amount of sodium in our bodies. When levels are low, the kidneys conserve sodium. When levels are high, excess sodium is excreted through the urine. If our kidneys can't get rid of enough of the excess, it begins to accumulate in our blood. And that can cause problems because sodium attracts and holds water. More sodium increases blood volume, which in turn makes our heart work harder to move the blood through our body.
The average American diet has three main sources of sodium:
processed and prepared foods; sodium-containing condiments; and natural sources of sodium found in vegetables, meat and dairy products.
Sodium isn't just found in salt. If you want to reduce the sodium in your diet, consider putting down the saltshaker and limiting the amount of processed and fast foods you consume.
Salt is an acquired taste. Most foods in their natural state contain some amount of sodium. Unfortunately, we've forgotten how delicious natural whole foods taste because of our obsession with salt or condiments containing salt. Nature has provided us with a gamut of tastes from sweet, found in fruits, to salty, found in vegetables like celery or kelp. A wonderful way to enhance flavor without adding salt is to use natural herbs and spices. Herbs and spices can transform a simple dish into a sensuous eating experience of lively and refreshing flavors sure to excite your taste buds.
GUIDE TO COMMON HERBS AND SPICES
Using the following, you can create flavorful meals without any added salt:
Sweet basil is bright and pungent in taste. The leaves are green, round and pointed. Use in pesto, salads, sauces, meats, fish and soups. Basil pairs well with carrots, eggplant, potatoes, squash, spinach and tomatoes.
Also known as
This spice tastes like ginger, with a hint of pine. Cardamon is used prominently in curry powder, but also enhances the flavor of pumpkin, squash, potatoes and pastries. Cardamom is often combined with cumin and coriander seeds.
With its hot, peppery flavor, cayenne is used frequently in Cajun, Creole, Spanish, Mexican, Szechuan, Thai and East Indian recipes.
One of the oldest spices known, cinnamon is derived from the inner bark of evergreen trees native to
Coriander leaf or seed:
Fresh coriander leaves, also known as cilantro, bear a strong resemblance to Italian flat-leaf parsley, but with a stronger, distinct scent. The seeds, when dried, have a fragrant flavor reminiscent of both citrus peel and sage. Coriader combines nicely with beets, onions, potatoes and lentils. Add it to salads, salsas, soups, stews, curries and rice dishes.
This powerful peppery flavoring has slight citrus overtones. Cumin is an integral spice in the cuisines of
Dill leaves are wispy and fern-like and have a soft, sweet taste. Both dill leaves and seeds are used to flavor food. This spice combines well with fruits, vegetables, fish, egg and poultry. Dill should be added to the end of cooking time, since heat can destroy its delicate flavor.
This spice has a mild licorice taste and works well in salads, soups, fish and vegetable dishes. It also complements rice, potatoes, tomato, egg and apple dishes.
Fragrant, pungent and hot, ginger can be used fresh, dried or in powder form. It works well in curries, stews and stir fries; complements poultry.
A member of the mint family, marjoram is similar to oregano but less pungent. Use it for salads, fish, vegetables, meat, poultry and egg dishes.
With more than 25 varieties, mint tastes range from cool to sweet to slightly menthol. Use mint fresh in salads, with marinated vegetables, legumes or tomato-based soups or stews. It's also good in dips, dressings, yogurt or lamb dishes.
This spice is the seed of an apricot-like fruit native to
Also from the mint family, similar to marjoram but stronger with an earthy, aromatic flavor, oregano is used in many Mediterranean dishes. It is excellent in tomato-based sauces and stews and complements, chicken, fish and meat dishes.
The most common types are curly or Italian flat leaf. Parsley has a mild, aromatic flavor and works well in soups, salads, sauces and casseroles. Use it with any vegetable, potato or grain dish.
Pine-like and aromatic, rosemary has a distinct flavor. Used fresh or dried, it adds zest to marinades, vegetables, chicken and fish dishes. Rosemary complements roast meats, especially lamb and chicken.
Grayish, silver-green sage leaves have an earthy taste that's both sweet and bitter. Sage makes a good flavoring for stuffing, and is good with vegetables, cheese and meat dishes, especially pork, game and liver.
This sweet, aromatic herb has a slightly peppery flavor reminiscent of fennel, anise and licorice. Use tarragon in soups, salads fish, chicken and egg dishes, as well as raw or cooked tomato dishes. It complements, peas, potatoes, broccoli, carrot and asparagus.
These tiny leaves have a minty, tea-like flavor. Thyme is used to make bouquet garni with parsley and bay. Add thyme to stocks, marinades, soups and casseroles, fish, vegetable and game dishes.
- Tumeric Promising Ally Against Alzheimers & Other Diseases
- Ditch the Saltshaker: Cook With Herbs & Spices
- Prostate Supplements of Dubious Value
- Is Gluten-Free Diet Next 'It' Diet for Health
- This Spring Make Time for Pantry Makeover
- Medical Screening Tests You Should or Shouldn't Consider
- Coffee in Moderation May Offer Health Benefits
(c) 2010 Naturally Savvy