Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Best Ways to Cut Back on Salt

I realize that the sexiest thing to talk about around the holidays is not how to reduce salt intake. However, I can't count the number of people that I've seen admitted to the hospital around the holidays due to "dietary indiscretions," namely eating too much salt. Before you chock this up as the worst holiday blog post ever, please read on! 

I have had several interview requests lately on how to limit salt in the diet without sacrificing flavor. The latest was with BottomLine Health (click the link to read the full article).

Photo credit: BottomLine Health

People always seem surprised when I explain that if you limit ultra-processed foods in your diet and replace them with whole or minimally-processed foods, you can use herbs, acid, and a little salt to make dishes at least as flavorful--and often more flavorful--than the high sodium foods you may be used to. Most salt in the average American diet comes from processed and prepared foods--not the salt you add at the table. Therefore, if your diet is made up mainly of fresh, whole foods, you can add a little salt during cooking and still consume far less than if you ate processed or prepared foods!

For maximum flavor, eat a varied diet rich in plant foods (like whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds) in every color of the rainbow, and utilize flavor-boosting cooking techniques like roasting, searing, caramelizing, reducing, dehydrating, and grilling. Fill your spice cabinet with interesting seasonings from around the world. Experiment with them and find your "go to" flavor boosters to add to homemade dishes. 

If you don't want to drop a paycheck buying spices, choose a region of the world whose flavors appeal to you and get only those flavors to begin with. In our home, Latin flavors often win out, so we always have dried garlic, chilies, cumin, coriander, and smoky paprika. To add fresh flavors that pair with these, keep limes, cilantro, and scallions handy. 

Coming soon...the Worlds of Flavor Chart of spices and herbs from around the world. Stay tuned! 

Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy holiday season ~ Michelle