When it comes to flavoring your meals, you most likely add a crack of pepper and a sprinkling of salt to your dishes for added flavor. While salt is an important mineral that helps keep your body properly functioning, it’s also lurking in just about everything from your cereal to your sports drinks to your desserts. Chances are that your salt intake really adds up in a day, and you may not even know it, so adding that dash of salt to your dish isn’t always the best choice. That doesn’t mean your foods has to be bland, though. Here are seven substitutes you can use instead of salt to have amazing, flavorful meals every time.
This spice boasts a unique, fragrant flavor. When used in sweet or savory foods, it adds kick of something unexpected. This spice is widely used in Indian and Asian cooking because of its big, bold flavors, explains The Huffington Post. Cardamom’s uniquely warm and spicy flavor can add some flare to your dishes in ways that ordinary table salt just can’t. Its also excellent in pastries — instead of adding that pinch of salt to your favorite desserts, add a bit of cardamom instead.
2. Citrus fruits
Adding some lemon or lime to your soups and salads instead of salt can immediately bump up freshness and flavor. The Produce for Better Health Foundation suggests squeezing fresh lemon juice and adding lemon zest to meals for a pop of citrusy flavor. You can also use lime, orange, or even grapefruit. Try replacing 1 teaspoon of salt in your recipe with ¼ teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of zest, and ½ teaspoon of juice — you’ll cut down on your salt intake greatly while still getting a dish that tastes delicious.
3. Cayenne and chili pepper
Chili and cayenne bring heat to a dish, but in a different way than hot sauce. If you’re into the spiciness of Mexican and Indian cuisines, try using cayenne mixed with a bit of cumin or chili powder. The British Heart Foundation says chile peppers can be bought as dried flakes, powders, or in the form of sauces. But keep an eye on any purchased sauces, because they very often contain added sodium.
4. Salt-free seasoning blends
If you really love salt and you need a whole host of other herbs and spices in order to forget it’s not there, then you can try buying or making your own salt-free seasoning blend. WebMD shared a simple recipe you can make at home. If you don’t want to mess around with buying so many jars, then peruse what’s available in your grocery store.
5. Balsamic vinegar
If you’re looking for a low-sodium way to add flavor to your grilled vegetables or meat marinades, then balsamic vinegar is an excellent option. This tangy vinegar is different than other types because of its full, rich, and slightly sweet flavor. It pairs excellently with salads and cooked vegetable dishes. Greatist even suggests bumping up the flavor of your favorite proteins by making a marinade with fruit-infused balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic powder, mustard powder, and pomegranate juice. You’ll get flavorful piece of fish or steak with this tasty mixture, and you won’t even miss the salt.
6. Red or white wine
Wine isn’t just for drinking — cooking with red or white wine can add a depth of flavor to your proteins without any extra salt. Better Homes and Gardens suggests adding the wine to a large saucepan while you’re cooking your chicken or fish, then reducing it to concentrate the flavor. Chicken and red wine partner excellently, and cooking fish in wine, garlic, and shallots is another great move.
Known for its prevalence in Italian fare, basil is an excellent herb that has both peppery and sweet flavor notes. Gourmet Garden explains basil is best added to a dish when it’s almost finished cooking, so that the freshness of the basil (along with its bright green color) is preserved. Basil goes great with lemons, tomatoes, and garlic. Italian dishes call for it in pastas, pizzas, sauces, and dressings. Try adding some fresh basil to your dishes instead of salt for an aromatic and fresh flavor.