I have high blood pressure, and my doctor told me to cut down on my salt intake. How can I cook without salt and still make everything taste as good?
First of all, remove the salt shaker from your dining table and your stove. Put them behind your spice shelf cabinet door (out of sight, out of mind). Now, get yourself down to your favorite supermarket and roam the aisles for about one hour. Explore all the low-salt and salt-free ingredients on the shelves.
Scan the spice section for herb and spice mixtures that are salt-free. McCormick and Mrs. Dash are a couple that come to mind. Toss a small jar of mustard seed into your basket. Later, you will place the mustard seed in a good peppermill that stays on your stove, in place of the salt shaker. Whenever you get the urge to shake some salt into a pot or pan of cooking food, grind the mustard seed instead. I like to blend white mustard seed with brown mustard seed for the best flavor enhancement. (I recommend peppermills by Peugeot.)
Back to the spice rack: Beware of general spice mixtures. Many, like lemon-pepper, chili powder and shrimp boil, contain large amounts of salt. Stock up on Italian herb seasoning and paprika instead. Celery and parsley flakes make great flavor enhancers for liquid dishes like soups and stews.
Flavored vinegars or frozen lemon juice (Minute Maid squeeze bottles are a favorite) add a splash of zing to many dishes beyond salads. One of my favorite condiments for flavor is Dijon mustard. (Yes, I know it contains salt, but the little mustard you need to spark up saucy dishes is way better than shaking straight salt into the food).
Don’t pass up the canned vegetable aisle. There, you will find a huge variety of flavored tomato products in cans. Diced tomatoes and stewed tomatoes can each play a starring role in boosting both flavor and color, in the pot and on the plate. Around the corner you will find an endless array of salsas and picante sauces. Most will contribute low-fat flavor without a high-sodium sneak attack. A little salsa goes a long way, when it comes to flavor.
I do a lot of broth cooking. If you don’t have time to make your own, canned broth can be found in the soup aisle — you will find plenty of canned broths with reduced salt or low salt. Flavor the broths with fresh garlic, fresh gingerroot or lemongrass, and cook with them like you would butter, oil or tomato sauce.
All the help you need to cook conveniently salt-free is right in your local supermarket. Start your hunt through the aisles today, and you’ll be surprised how many low-salt treasures you’ll find.