What makes you chose the foods you do? According to consumer research, taste is the deciding factor when it comes to selecting one food over another. Nutrition is important too. Eating a healthy diet is one of the best ways of achieving and maintaining good health. Fortunately there’s no need to sacrifice good taste when it comes to preparing healthy meals. Here’s how you can enjoy the taste of eating right.
Eating Right with Less Salt
Salt is the common name for sodium chloride. According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, everyone should aim to limit their intake of salt to 2,300 mg or the equivalent of 1 tsp per day. Adults over the age of 51 years, African Americans of all ages, and those with diabetes, high blood pressure or chronic kidney disease should further restrict their intake to 1,500 mg daily. Yet, salt is so often used as means of enhancing the flavor of our food. With some creativity and time in the kitchen, you can learn to prepare flavorful meals without having to rely on the salt shaker.
Make Fresh Foods the Focus in your Kitchen
Fresh foods such as vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, poultry, dairy and whole-grains are naturally low in sodium. They also tend to be the most nutritious, containing plenty of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Rather than picking up a box of chicken nuggets, which tend to be chock full of sodium-rich preservatives and flavorings, reach for a package of fresh chicken tenders and use one of the salt-free seasoning blends described below to add flavor. You can further reduce the sodium content of your meals by limiting the amount of added salt used during cooking. While a recipe may call for salted boiling water, it isn’t required and can be omitted. See this as an opportunity to eliminate close to 1 tsp of salt.
Caution with Canned Goods
Canned vegetables can serve as a convenient and budget-friendly alternative to fresh varieties, especially when it comes to enjoying out-of-season produce year-round. Look for labels stating “no added salt”, or “low-sodium”. You can further reduce the sodium content of canned vegetables, beans, and legumes by rinsing them under cold water for a few minutes before heating or adding to recipes.
Become a Leery of Labels
Foods otherwise considered healthy such as whole-grain bread and crackers, processed cereals, and canned soups often contain significant amounts of salt. Get used to label reading and looking for the value listed next to sodium. Aim to select low sodium foods, or those with 140 mg or less per serving. Compare brands and learn which varieties meet this criterion.
Experiment with New Flavors
Herbs, spices, lemon juice, and vinegars can be used to enhance the flavor of foods without adding salt. Unsure of how to use them? Prepare a batch of the following salt-free seasoning blends for use in your next recipe. They’re great for flavoring chicken, burgers, fish, vegetables, omelets, stir-frys, casseroles, and homemade pizzas.
Mixed Herb Blend: Mix together ¼ cup dried parsley flakes, 2 tablespoons dried tarragon, and 1 tablespoon each of dried oregano, dill weed and celery flakes.
Italian Blend: Mix together 2 tablespoons each of dried basil and dried marjoram, 1 tablespoon each of garlic powder and dried oregano, and 2 teaspoons each of thyme, crushed dried rosemary and crushed red pepper.
Mexican Blend: Mix together ¼ cup chili powder, 1 tablespoon each of ground cumin and onion powder, 1 teaspoon each of dried oregano, garlic powder and ground red pepper and ½ teaspoon cinnamon.
Allow Time for Your Taste Buds to Change
At first you may notice a difference in the taste of your foods when reducing your sodium intake. Allow your taste buds a few days to get used to less salt. Over time you’ll find that you’ve acquired a taste for low-sodium foods.