By Dane Feldman
Photo courtesy of Dubravko Soric.
If you have been following along with Dish + Drink for the past 21 months, you’ll notice that nearly every single recipe omits one rather important ingredient: salt. I do that largely out of habit, which stems from the fact that my immediate family members have weaned themselves off of heavy salt intake. The reason behind them doing so is because of the laundry list of problems sodium intake can cause.
I’m not going to sit here and preach about how great foods taste without salt. The truth is that I love salt and would probably choose chips nine times out of 10 over chocolate or sweets. But eating less salt does eventually come naturally because our taste buds will adjust. So, when I say that we can cook without salt and still have it taste good, keep in mind that as a kid I would sneak tiny handfuls of salt when my mother wasn’t looking. If I can cook without salt, you can too.
The secret weapon to having your taste buds adjust is to try to dine out/take out meals less often than you do right now. If that’s not something you’re willing to do, then you need to be asking for “no added salt” when you order dishes. Most wait staff and chefs will know what this means, but it’s encouraged that you say “whatever is already in the dish is okay, but please ask the chefs not to add extra for taste at the end.”
By doing this, you will likely eliminate a huge portion of the sodium you are currently getting, which will help your taste buds to adjust to lesser amounts. This way, when you cook at home with less salt—or no salt at all, like I do—you’ll find that your dishes aren’t really missing anything.
As for some of the ingredients I use for flavor most often to replace table salt in my meals, fresh lemon juice, garlic, and sauteed onions almost always do the trick for me. When that fails, I add black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, or a tiny bit of olive oil. With that fact divulged, you will likely now notice how often those six ingredients come up in Dish + Drink recipes. They’re there for a reason and so far no one in my immediate family has high blood pressure.
For more information on sodium, check out this Mayo Clinic article.