Have you been told that you need to follow a low sodium diet, or watch your salt/sodium intake? The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that Americans consume less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day (this is equal to 1 teaspoon). Eating too much sodium puts you at risk for developing serious medical conditions, like high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. Sodium can add up quickly. Seventy-five percent of the sodium we consume comes from processed, prepackaged and restaurant foods. The rest is added during cooking or when using the salt shaker! So how can we still cook tasty meals without adding the salt? Try herbs! Here are a few pointers to get you started.
1. Make your own seasoning mix.
Example: Spice Blend Recipe (makes about ⅓ cup)
• 5 teaspoons onion powder
• 2½ teaspoons garlic powder
• 2½ teaspoons paprika
• 2½ teaspoon dry mustard
• 1½ teaspoon crushed thyme leaves
• ½ teaspoon white pepper
• ¼ teaspoon celery seed
2. In the beginning, use small amounts of herbs to see if you like them.
3. To get the most flavor, use kitchen shears or a sharp knife to cut fresh herbs.
4. If a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs, you can use 1 teaspoon of dried herbs or ¼ teaspoon of powdered herbs to get the same amount of flavor.
5. When adding fresh or dried herbs to cold recipes (dips, salads), allow the food to sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to let the flavors blend.
6. When adding fresh herbs to hot dishes, add them as close as possible to serving time to get the most flavor. To prevent a powdery taste, add dried herbs early in the cooking process.
7. To store fresh herbs, keep them in the refrigerator in a perforated plastic bag. When you are ready to use them, wash the herbs gently under cool water and pat dry with paper towel.
8. You can freeze whole or chopped fresh herbs in freezer safe bags or airtight containers.
9. If you are freezing herbs for use in soups or stews, spoon chopped herbs into an ice cube tray, cover with water, and freeze. When you are ready to use the herbs, just remove what you need from the tray and add to the pot.
10. Try the following foods with these different herbs:
Beef – basil, bay leaf, dill, parsley, rosemary, sage
Chicken – basil, oregano, parsley, sage, tarragon, thyme
Egg – dill, parsley, rosemary, tarragon
Fish – basil, bay leaf, dill, tarragon
Pork – basil, chives, rosemary, thyme
Vegetables – basil, dill, tarragon