Pretzels. Creamy mac and cheese with layers of gooey cheddar mingled with breadcrumbs. Everything bagels loaded with cream cheese, briny capers, lox, and tomato. And the list goes on.
If you’re anything like us, the whole salt thing has you pretty excited and tantalizes your taste buds while elevating your food to next-level appealing. But let’s be real, loading up on salt at every meal is about as healthy as making breakfast, lunch, and dinner consist of pepperoni pizza with a side of fries, fried chicken, and a double whiskey coke no ice. Follow these smart tips to cut back on your sodium intake without even trying.
1. Swap salt for vinegar
When crafting a savory sauce or quick vinaigrette, reduce (or, heck, eliminate) salt by replacing it with vinegar. Try more neutral options like distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar for pickling veggies or in salad dressings, and you’ll help improve a dish’s nutritional profile without compromising on that whole taste thing.
2. Spritz it with citrus
Since many packaged goods and recipes rely on added salt to boost flavor, it’s often easy to forget there are many easy ways to improve a meal’s flavor. Sometimes, salvation is as simple as a squeeze of lemon, lime, or orange. Add juice to marinades, vinaigrettes, and even soups to enhance taste without loading up on unnecessary shakes of salt.
3. Rinse your beans
Canned beans are a serious boon to healthy eating. They make cooking faster, simpler, and gently coax you to whip up a chickpea ratatouille on nights when 1-800-Pizza beckons. But by practicing the simple hack of washing your canned beans, which often contain added salt, you can wash away extra sodium and set yourself up for a healthier meal.
4. Rely more on spices and aromatics
Sure, it’s easy to turn to ye-old-favorite salt to season up a dish. But instead of flipping over the shaker, get creative with a dizzying array of flavor-enhancing spices that can enliven any type of meal. From cumin and coriander to oregano and tarragon, experiment with new spices and old stand-bys to create a more interesting meal sans salt. When it comes to sauteing veggies or protein, try throwing garlic, onion and shallots in the skillet and cooking until lightly browned in order to infuse a meal with added flavor without the help of Mr. Sea, Kosher or Himalayan.
5. Load up on produce
It’s not rocket science here, folks. By loading up on nutrient-dense fruits and veggies, which contain almost no sodium, you’re relying on whole foods-based sources of nutrition and crowding out processed foods, which are often sodium bombs. When it comes to frozen and dried produce, scan nutrition labels to avoid added salt (and other gunk to boot).