Salt is something that most of us use on a daily basis. It’s one of the basics of cooking and without it, most food will end up tasting like cardboard, if not done right. In a previous article, I wrote about why not all salt is equal and why it’s not all bad, in fact it can be quite beneficial.
However, there are certain reasons why some would choose to cut down or completely eliminate their sodium intake. This can be due to medical reasons or for aesthetic ones (salt can cause water retention).
I’m going to show you a few ways that you can add flavor to your meals, without having to use salt.
Use Herbs and Spices
This is probably the best and most effective way to add flavor to just about any meal. Whether it’s a drink or a solid food. A little (or a lot) of herbs and spices can go a long way to improving the edibility of your food. Herbs like oregano, rosemary, thyme and parsley go incredibly well with most meat dishes and can be used as a rub pre-cooking or added on top after cooking.
Spices such as cayenne, paprika and all-spice are a great way to add some heat and some sharp flavors in to your meals.
Add Some Citrus
Citrus juices like lemon, orange and grapefruit can be used in a variety of ways to boost the flavor (and nutritional content) of your foods. Lemon juice, in particular, can be used to marinate dry and tough meats such as chicken breasts. The acids in the juice help to breakdown the fibers of the protein, resulting in a more tender and juicy meat.
You can also add the juices and/or the zest of these fruits to add a zing to your meals and is a great replacement for those calorie dense salad dressings. Lemon juice is also known to help detox the body and give a little boost to your metabolism.
Use Infused Oils
My supermarket sells a wide variety of infused oils that add a great deal of flavor to ordinary cooking oil. One of my favorites is a wok oil that they sell which is basically normal canola oil, infused with a little bit of sesame, ginger and garlic. This makes for an incredibly delicious cooking oil to use when creating Asian inspired meals. By just cooking your meals in these infused oils, you add a ton of flavor as the ingredients absorb all this flavor during the cooking process. It also makes for an amazing and healthy salad dressing. There are a whole bunch of different varieties, such as basil-infused olive oils. garlic oils and chili-oils.
You can make your own oils by just adding your favorite items to your olive oils. Try adding fresh herbs and/or spices such as red chili peppers in to a bottle and fill the rest up with your favorite type of oil. Let this rest for about a week and you will have a delicious infused oil great for cooking or as a dressing.
Marinate with Vinegar
I’ve found that the closest replacement for salt when marinating meats is vinegar. It has almost the same tenderizing effect that salt does but without the extra sodium. Vinegar also adds a very distinct acidic flavor to your meals and helps to keep your protein juicy. Add vinegar to your marinade and let the meat rest for at least an hour and up to 24 hours. Make sure that the longer you are planning to marinade, the less vinegar you should use as it can end up being too sour and can breakdown the meat too much. You don’t want sour mush.