Flavor enhancement with spices rather than salt: these recipe hacks should allow you and your family to drastically reduce sodium intake while pleasing the taste buds with newer, sharper, spicier delights. Important thing—I know I’ve said this before—is to use measurements as a starting point; you may like way more or far less of what I suggest.
Take, for example, canned soup. This season I am partial to Progresso’s Lentil with Roasted Vegetables. Because it’s 99% fat free, it’s also largely flavor free, which is more than made up for by the high fiber and protein content. Each can contains 690 grams of sodium, so it’s clearly not a good idea to add more salt. Spices to the rescue! As you’re heating the contents, add 1 tsp allspice, 1 Tbsp turmeric, and 1 Tbsp coriander. You will be amazed by how much fuller and richer the soup becomes, not to mention how your metabolism will thank you for these heart-healthy spicy additions.
Parsnips and turnips are beautiful alternatives to mashed potatoes. Instead of adding salt and butter, try a palm-full of fennel and caraway seeds right into the boiling water. Not only will the spices “internally” flavor the vegetables, they sweeten cooking aromas in the kitchen, banishing that musty root veg funk.
OK then, this one is controversial only because food dye (gasp!) is involved. But if you have a salt-aholic who is under strict sodium restriction, you might try wasabi powder. Not as sharp as the wasabi paste on sushi, wasabi powder contains horseradish and mustard oil, also, alas, blue 1 and yellow 5 food dyes. Since these are the last listed ingredients and you need only a wee amount of the spice, I personally have no problem with it. Wasabi powder lends a soft, yet pungent umami “saltiness” to meats and vegetables, potatoes (hot and cold), fish, and soup.
Boil and soak beans in a mixture of caraway and fennel seeds along with a few red pepper flakes. I’ve usually got a half cup of pinto, or red, or small black beans soaking overnight in preparation for their boil and stand with the spices the next day. You can leave the beans in their spicy liquid until ready to use. Whether you’re adding the beans to soups or salads or serving with rice, the beans will have absorbed the flavors…and no salt required!
For a delightfully different and salt-free salad dressing, try mixing hummus with lemon juice and hazelnut or walnut oil. Adjust the ratios to your desired level of creaminess…again, full flavor without added salt.
Finally, here’s a quick 4-ingredient shrimp dipping sauce:
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp wasabi aioli sauce
1 tsp horseradish
1 tsp tomato paste
These are ratio guidelines…you should adjust ingredients to match your preferred flavor profile.