Less Salt, More Flavor: How to Pair Foods and Spices

By Dani Renouf, RD

As a dietitian, the favorite part of my work is informing clients that they CAN have the foods they love, rather than focusing on what they need to restrict. This type of positive messaging is something I strive to do with each client visit I have. As the bulk of the nutrition education I offer involves strategies to lower sodium, I have started exploring ways in which to help clients enhance the flavor of their food without using salt or other sodium-containing sauces and dressings.

1. Pairing Foods for Flavor. A great book that I came to know a few years ago, called The Flavor Bible, provides a great overview of what herbs and spices best accompany certain foods. For example, vegetables like carrots and cucumber are enhanced by dill, fish lends itself well to the acidic flavors of lemon, lime, and vinegar, and black beans are brought to new flavor heights with smoked paprika, garlic, or Italian herbs.

2. Shaking It Up. Often, many of my clients are in a rush when preparing meals because they work or have families to look after. Instead of reaching for the salt shaker, I recommend that they prepare a batch of mixed dried seasonings which they can keep in a glass Parmesan shaker purchased from the Dollar Store.

Recipe for Italian Salt-Free Spice Blend:

2 Tbsp dried basil
2Tbsp dried oregano
2 Tbsp dried parsley
1 Tbsp garlic powder

3. Keep It Fresh. Using freshly-chopped green onion, ginger, garlic, shallots and other aromatic ingredients in salad dressings, marinades, and stews can lift flavors of basic foods to new heights. Using small amounts is all you need, and the rest can be frozen for future use.

Even if cooking skills are at the basic level, salt-free seasonings can be an easy and healthy way to expand the flavor palate at home and bring excitement to every-day dishes. At the same time, reducing salt intake in the diet can have significant outcomes on overall health and well being. It’s really a win-win situation!

5 thoughts on “Less Salt, More Flavor: How to Pair Foods and Spices

  1. I find that fresh basil, thyme, rosemary, and oregano plus freshly ground black pepper enhances the flavor of eggs. Also recently I have found the herbal combinations of Mrs. Dash which has no salt to be quite flavourful and convenient on meats and fish.

    If you have concerns about Mrs. Dash (no salt)

    1. Unfortunately there is no good choice as salt, sea salt, onion salt, garlic salt, etc. all contain sodium. It is best to choose garlic, pepper, herbs, spices, vinegar, lemon juice to flavour your food. There are herb shakers or seasoning you can buy without salt. If a recipe calls for salt you can try using half the amount or cook without it.
      Thanks for the question!

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