While salt does make everything taste better (even sweets), it does not make me feel that great. Neither do fried foods, sugar-bombs, and the like, but let’s not pretend like I abstain from them 100% of the time.
Salt, however, is a little different in that the flavor can be replaced rather easily when you know what to use. I’m by no means salt-free, but I try to use alternative condiments when possible to avoid the bloating, water retention and wrinkles that can accompany a high-sodium diet. Of course, high salt intake is also associated with high blood pressure and other health concerns. Don’t think my incentives are all vain!
Through much experimentation, I’ve discovered that there are plenty of ways to add flavor to your dish and possibly the salty taste you crave as well. And this is all without adding an ounce of the refined white stuff.
Try out one or a few of these options the next time you’re cooking to see which ones you like. Who knows, you might just find a new favorite.
-Salt-free seasoning: (like this one by Bragg’s or this one by Mrs. Dash) utilizes a variety of dried herbs, veggies and spices to create a powder that seasons without the sodium. Look for one with natural ingredients and minimal sugar, which is often used to compensate for the lack of salt.
-Bragg’s liquid aminos: a soy-sauce replacement that has much lower sodium content. It is a liquid protein concentrate from soybeans, contains 16 amino acids, and great in stir-fries and salads.
-Seaweed: naturally occurring sea salts give this delicious plant its salty taste. There are plenty of varieties that boast a variety of benefits like protein, fiber, and essential fatty acids. Kelp, wakame, and nori are some of my favorite varieties.
-Celery: has a naturally occurring salty flavor. Dry or dehydrate some and then grind into a powder for a quick salt replacement. Celery juice can also make a great low-sodium veg stock.
–Nutritional Yeast: though naturally containing zero sodium, the umami-rich flavor of noush mimics and amplifies salty tastes. Plus, just one serving contains 8 g of vegan protein and tons of Vitamin Bs. Add to your pasta, rice, salads, soups, popcorn, quesadillas, dips and spreads, and more.
Just for flavor:
–Toasted Sesame Seeds: There’s a reason why many savory Asian dishes, best kinds of bagels, and sushi come sprinkled with sesame seeds–they enhance salty flavors really well. The most commonly found variety of toasted sesame seeds is gomashio, which is a mixture of seeds and sea salt. Look for a salt-free kind, or get your own unhulled seeds and toast them on a heavy skillet.
-Cumin: kinda salty, kinda spicy, and super delicious. I sprinkle this stuff on everything. It’s a must for guacamole, hummus, curried chickpeas and vegetables, stews, taco fillings, roasted vegetables, and more.
-Herbs (basil, cilantro, oregano, etc.): can take a bland meal to a whole new level. Different herbs can embody different types of cuisine and combinations lend themselves well to fusion dishes.
-Mustard seeds: yes, they are what (real) mustard is made from. They are awesome as a tangy, savory addition to your meal. Toast the seeds before adding other ingredients to add a dose of fragrant umami flavor.
–Garam Masala: This mixture contains cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, black pepper, and coriander. Not only does it add fragrant, salty note to your savory dishes, it also has plenty of anti-inflammatory powers from the healing spices. Add it to your curries, breakfast scrambles, roasted vegetables, bean dips, stir fries, and more.
What’s your favorite way to add saltiness without the sodium?
Also see: A Guide to Salts and Their Uses
By Quincy: 8 Raw and Gluten Free Flour Alternatives
Photo: Happy Krissy via Flickr