Salt is a very popular condiment in our daily diet, as it helps us flavor foods very easily. However, its excessive use, both in the food industry and in our own homes, can cause very delicate diseases such as hypertension, kidney problems or osteoporosis, among others. For this reason, the WHO advises consuming a maximum of 2 g of salt per day, equivalent to a little less than ½ tsp, an amount that most of the population far exceeds.
But does following a low-sodium diet force us to eat tasteless and dull foods? Well no, since in the culinary world there have always been different alternatives to flavor food without salt. For this reason, at RecetaGratis we want to share with you how to season foods without salt and everything on this topic: tricks to cook without salt, the right dressings for each food plus some recommendations to eat without salt (or at least reduce it).
How to cook without salt
Cooking without salt may seem like a very difficult task to achieve, but it is not like that. On the contrary, it is more about re-educating our palate, which is used to excess sodium in food, largely due to its strong presence in the food industry.
In fact, many foods contain their own natural salts. For example, vegetables and, especially, animal proteins. In this sense, highlighting the authentic flavors of food is a fundamental mission in the recovery of a healthier diet. Therefore, below we will give you a few tricks to flavor foods without salt:
- Use aromatic oils. They are used to flavor salads, fish and steamed vegetables. You will be surprised by the wide variety of flavors that exist, for example: chilli oil, oregano, saffron, thyme, rosemary and basil. Of course, although they are healthy, do not consume them excessively.
- Make vegetable-based sauces. If you prepare your own sauces at home you can skip the salt, since these foods contain natural salts. Although if you want to enhance the flavor, it will be enough to season them with spices and aromatic herbs. Homemade sauces are used to spice up red or white meat stews, as well as to accompany grilled meats, in this way you do not need to add salt to those dishes.
- Use grated cheese low in salt and fat. According to some culinary experts, cheese provides us with a fifth flavor, which they call umami or komumi, which enriches recipes. For example, if you prepare a pasta with vegetable sauce, to give it more grace you can add cheese.
- Add seeds to salads. For example, flax seeds, sunflower, chia, sesame, poppy, pumpkin, etc. Thus, salads will have another level!
- Use high-done methods for meats. Among these techniques we can mention: sealing in a pan or griddle, barbecue cooking and oven cooking. They all serve to any type of meat, be it red or white. Its mission is to intensify or concentrate the flavor of the food, so you can spice and season without adding salt.
- Grill or grill vegetables. Thus they acquire a very tasty sweet and smoky flavor. If you like this idea, before baking the vegetables, spray them with a little oil, just enough to prevent them from drying out. Also, sprinkle them with aromatic foods (garlic, oregano, thyme, etc.).
- Saute the vegetables. Just add a drizzle of olive oil to fry in a pan, and then add the finely chopped vegetables. Additionally, you can brown some onions or garlic before adding them. At the end, you season everything to taste, but without salt. Remember that you can cook these foods without salt using aromatic spices that we have already mentioned.
- Season meats and vegetables with spices or dressings. Yes Add these natural flavor enhancers or enhancers to your meals, you not only get a more authentic flavor, but also a healthier dish. Of course, use the right ingredients, that is, those that combine best with a certain food.
- Use acidic ingredients. These ingredients help enhance and balance the flavor of foods without salt. For this reason, if you add a few drops of lemon, vinegar or zest of some citrus fruit to your meals, you will give them a very tasty touch. In the case of vinegars, red wine has a very strong flavor, so it cannot be used in all cases, on the other hand, rice vinegar has a more neutral flavor, therefore, it is more versatile, perfect for almost any meal!
- Marinate the meats. This technique is used mainly to improve the texture of the meat (it is more tender and juicy), although it also serves to enhance its flavor without using salt. The standard marinade formula consists of three parts oil to one part acid, plus seasonings (depending on the type of meat). If you want to know more about this topic, we recommend you review the article how to marinate meat for roasting.
- Cook meat and fish with wine. The wines are used to season this type of food, as well as to marinate them. If you want to season red meat, use 1 jet of red wine, on the other hand, if it is fish, use 1 jet of white wine. You can leave the meat / fish marinating or use the wine during cooking.
- Use vinaigrettes. As we already mentioned, acidic ingredients in general enhance the flavor of foods without modifying it (but in an adequate proportion, of course). Vinaigrettes are used to add flavor to salads without salt, but depending on the type of salad you should choose one vinaigrette or another. For example, salads with fish or shellfish are better with a vinaigrette based on a dry vinegar such as sherry, mixed with pieces of fruit, in this way a counterpoint between dry and sweet is achieved. Do you want recipes for vinaigrettes or salad dressings without salt ?, then we suggest you consult this article of 20 vinaigrettes and sauces for salads.
- Caramelize the onion. Onions are caramelized with their own natural sugars and are used to flavor a large number of foods, for example: salads, meats, sauces, purees, stews, etc. Its taste is highly appreciated, especially in type food gourmet (hamburgers, meats, cakes, etc.). If you are interested in this option, the recipe is very easy, so we invite you to consult: caramelized onion without sugar with white wine.
- Combine ingredients. If you boil vegetables without salt and they seem tasteless, give them a masterful twist by combining them with other ingredients: eggs, seafood, legumes, etc. You’ll see how they gain flavor!
- Make a sauce. This type of preparation puts an incredible twist on the food, giving it personality. Even something as simple as sautéing garlic in olive oil will already make a big difference in flavor. There is a great variety of stir-fries that you can use for your dishes, if it is a variety, don’t worry.
- If you boil some food, add seasonings or dressings to the water. Of course, choose it according to the type of food, as we discussed earlier. Also, if you feel like it, you can additionally add a drizzle of oil, either olive, canola or soy.
Advice: lemon mixed with herbs is more aromatic.
How to substitute salt according to the food
If it is a question of changing the salt for another seasoning, you must bear in mind that it cannot be random, since each food or preparation has seasonings that combine better than others. Also, if you want a tastier food, the ideal would be to mix several tricks at the same time, for example, the way of cooking and the precise ingredients to season foods without salt. For this reason, below we will tell you how to season foods without salt by choosing the suitable seasonings according to the type of food:
- Red meat: lemon juice, bay leaf, basil, nutmeg, oregano, cloves, cinnamon, mustard, onion, thyme, sage, cumin, tomato sauce, parsley, garlic, bell peppers (red, yellow or green bell peppers), leek , pepper (black and red), among others.
- Game meats: garlic, parsley, rosemary, lemon juice, thyme and pepper. If it is game birds, savory works very well.
- mutton: mint, garlic, oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage, onion and parsley.
- Pig: marjoram, sage, thyme, orange juice and rosemary.
- Chicken: garlic, lemon juice, bay leaves, rosemary, cumin, basil, paprika, thyme and curry. It is interesting to mention that seasonings made from spices and butter work very well for birds in general. With this paste you can cover the piece of meat to let it rest for a few minutes before cooking.
- Fish: red onion, garlic, parsley, rosemary, thyme, paprika (sweet paprika), dill, fennel, nutmeg, lemon juice, pepper and rosemary. For fatty fish (like salmon), sage and dill are the best choice. On the other hand, if it is fish stews, use green pepper.
- Eggs: garlic, parsley, rosemary, thyme, lemon juice, tarragon, pepper and oregano. If you’re trying to keep egg whites stable, substitute cream of tartar or lemon (or another acidic ingredient) for the salt.
- Seafood: rosemary, thyme, garlic, oregano, parsley, paprika, pepper, lemon.
- Salads: oregano, basil (for red pesto and sauce), thyme, dill, tarragon, fennel, marjoram, white pepper, chervil, lemon juice (or other citrus fruits), mustard, parsley and savory (especially in tomato and leafy greens salads ). Remember, everything will also depend on the vegetables you use, for example, in the caprese salad, basil is used for the tomato.
- VegetablesThere are many vegetables that are compatible with pepper, rosemary, oregano, basil, savory, nutmeg, mustard powder or curry. But, the ideal is to choose the specific seasoning for each food. For example, potatoes are great: onion, parsley, rosemary, savory, paprika and pepper.
- Vegetables: chili, onion, leek, marjoram, paprika (sweet paprika), nutmeg, fennel, coriander, sage, thyme, pepper, bay leaf.
- Cereals and pasta: during cooking, you can add garlic, oil, bay leaf and a little cayenne or saffron to the water. Once cooked, then add the spices you prefer (fresh or dried basil, oregano, curry, cumin, turmeric …). Another very tasty alternative is to prepare a sauce with many vegetables, which you can add to the rice water or use it to fry the rice before boiling it.
- Sauces: basil, oregano, dill, fennel, onion, chili pepper, paprika, peppers, carrots, olives, curry, mustard, unsalted butter, …