Club House for Chefs

Usingherbsandspicesinsteadofsalt

Using herbs and spices instead of salt

August 15 2014

With obesity rates soaring across the globe, there is a real drive to encourage healthy eating and promote an interest in taking care over what you choose to consume on a daily basis. One way in particular to help in this is to watch the amount of salt that you put into food as you're cooking it or on top of it when you're eating at the table.

However, while salt might help to bring out the flavour, it's very easy to consume more than the recommended daily intake (roughly 1,500 mg). Excessive amounts can lead to headaches and high blood pressure, which can lead to serious conditions such as stroke or heart attack.

Nevertheless, there is a different way to enhance the taste of dishes you are cooking and that is to substitute salt with herbs and spices instead. Here are some specific ingredients you can start to add to your arsenal instead of reaching for the white stuff. 

Vegetables

For those of us that don't really like vegetables but know we should be eating them, giving them adequate seasoning is essential. Instead of boiling them in water with salt, how about roasting vegetables with a dash of oil as an alternative? Rosemary and thyme work well here, as does black pepper. 

Or, have you considered microwaving them instead? This way can be quicker and also ensures the minerals and vitamins - the very reason you eat vegetables! - aren't lost through the cooking process. 

Italian food

For anything that originally hails from the boot-shaped country, look towards oregano and basil to create a taste sensation in your mouth. Whether it's pizza or pasta, both of these are crying out to be used. 

In fact, both spices work well with anything tomato-based and considering how much food this could potentially contain, you might want to stock up on these two in particular. 

Meat

When cooking meat dishes, it's really important to season them well to bring out all the flavour possible. While it can seem difficult to leave the salt shaker behind, there are some great herbs that can be used to complement the meat and impress any of your fellow diners. There's almost too many so here is just a selection of the ones you can choose from:

For chicken, tarragon, marjoram and parsley are effective. When it comes to lamb, you can coat it with cumin seeds and a bit of oil, while rosemary is a tried-and-tested favourite - but for a reason, in that it tastes delicious. 

If you're cooking beef, then don't forget about a bay leaf, chives, cumin, marjoram and rosemary, which can all help to add that extra special factor to your food. 

For curries, cilantro is a certain, along with garam masala and a whole host of other Indian-specific spices. Turn up the heat instead of the salt!

General seasoning

HeartBright, a charity that strives to promote healthy eating, suggests the following combination of ingredients to put into a salt shaker to enhance the overall flavour of dishes when you're at the table.

Combine two tablespoons of black pepper with one tablespoon of cayenne pepper, paprika, onion powder and garlic powder. Add one ground bay leaf and you're ready to spice up your home-cooked dishes in a way that your body will thank you for. 

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Make sure you add herbs towards the end of your cooking, otherwise they could lose their flavour if they're in the pan for too long. 

As a warning, you may find your food initially tastes a little bland when you stop using salt as a seasoning ingredient. However, give your tastebuds a few weeks to adapt and before you know it, you'll wonder why you ever felt the need to add salt to everything that made its way onto your plate. 

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