When I was approximately 9 or 10 years old, my father came home with a dread diagnosis: high blood pressure. Suddenly, things changed drastically around our kitchen. Salt disappeared, and Mrs. Dash moved in. Low-sodium cookbooks moved into heavy rotation. And I whined. Oh, did I ever whine. I’ve been a salt lover since I was small, and this family ban on salt seemed draconian to me. “But I don’t have high blood pressure,” I remember howling. “Why can’t I eat the salt?”
Though we know a lot about the link between salt intake and high blood pressure, researchers are also learning more and more about the link between a high-sodium diet and obesity. Is it possible to lose weight just by cutting back on salt? Well, probably not, but there’s evidence that keeping salt intake lower may make it easier to take off the pounds.
Though salt is an amazing flavor agent and often the key ingredient that ties a dish together, we live in a world where it’s awfully easy to go overboard on sodium. Processed foods, in particular, are loaded with hidden and not-so-hidden sodium because salt really does make everything, including food that’s not really good for you, taste better.
But on August 29 each year, we celebrate National More Herbs Less Salt Day, a day to consider what alternative flavors you can add to a recipe or dish to make it more enticing without using quite so much salt. Here are some recipe ideas to consider using that day, or any day when you’re looking to keep sodium levels low and flavor high!
There’s only a half-teaspoon of salt for an entire pound of liguine in the Linguine with Chicken, Garlic & Green Herbs recipe posted by Janée of Revel & Feast. She describes the recipe like this:
Garlic and pasta go together like peanut butter and jelly, hamburgers and french fries, and me and cocktails. As far as I'm concerned, there's no such thing as too much garlic when it comes to saucing my pasta. In this recipe, tons of fresh garlic punch up the flavor of morsels of tender chicken bathed in a lemony sauce with your choice of fresh green herbs.
SusanV of Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen uses a variety of flavors to punch up her Tomato Soup with Roasted Garlic and Seasonal Herbs:
I’m fortunate to have a few herbs that grow in my garden all year long, and though rosemary, oregano, and parsley may not be the traditional combination used in tomato soup, they add a hint of spring to the soup, while roasted garlic adds a delicious mellow taste that doesn’t overwhelm the other herbs. Feel free to use whatever fresh herbs you have available, or use a teaspoon or two of dried herbs, such as basil and oregano.
Seamaiden of The Book of Yum was lucky enough to have her husband whip up a batch of Seven Herb Risotto--a gluten-free recipe with an herbacious kick. She reports the recipe used up all the herbs in their refrigerator, and she was able to use the leftovers to make risotto cakes the next day.
The Kitchn offers a few more ideas for ways to keep your cooking lower in sodium.
How do you use herbs to help out your dishes? Share your tricks for keeping salt content down, but flavor up, in the comments below.
Photo Credit: Photo by Shawn Allen, shared under an Attribution 2.0 Generic Creative Commons License.
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