4 Low-sodium ways to flavor your foods

Though sodium is a naturally occuring mineral in living foods, consuming too much can double your risk of stroke, according to research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2011. Avoiding processed foods is your best bet for keeping your sodium intake in check, but opting for flavor boosters other than the salt shaker is another way to limit sodium while still enjoying delicious vegan meals. Here are four low-sodium ways to flavor your foods.
Though sodium is a naturally occuring mineral in living foods, consuming too much can double your risk of stroke, according to research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2011. Avoiding processed foods is your best bet for keeping your sodium intake in check, but opting for flavor boosters other than the salt shaker is another way to limit sodium while still enjoying delicious vegan meals. Here are four low-sodium ways to flavor your foods.

1. Zest it up

Citrus zest can add fresh high-power flavor to both sweet and savory vegan recipes. Use a microplane grater or a citrus zester to add lemon zest to your veggie sautes or berry crumbles. Whisk lime zest into your sauces and dressings. Grate orange zest into your fruit salads.

2. Get fresh with herbs

If you aren’t growing your own herbs, put them on your weekly shopping list. Instead of shaking on salt, add finely chopped fresh herbs. Parsley, cilantro, and basil are popular grabs, but visit your local farmers market for lemon thyme, chocolate mint, or tarragon to give your vegan recipes a flavorful change.

3. Spice is nice

Though a few grinds of freshly cracked pepper can add zing to your meals, don’t overlook other salt-free flavor boosters in the spice aisle. Saffron, curry, 5-spice powder, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and cloves are just a few of the many spices that can turn your ordinary vegan meals into extraordinary must-eat faves. Spices also give you an opportunity to try new vegan recipes that use them.

4. Take advantage of aromatics

Onions and garlic are culinary go-tos for adding flavor and aroma to meals, but fresh ginger, fennel bulb, dried mushrooms or wild mushrooms, and sun-dried tomatoes will also give your vegan dishes a delicious depth of flavor.

How much sodium is too much?

According to the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans, we should be aiming for less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. Start reading food labels — you might be surprised how much sodium is in the packaged foods you buy every week. If you are used to heavily salting your meals or eating processed foods, weaning yourself from sodium may take some time to readjust your taste expectations. But the pay off is learning to appreciate the way foods, especially fresh foods, really taste as well as improve your diet and reduce your risk of heart disease.

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