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Jan 14, 2008 04:34 PM

no salt cooking (sigh)

here's a problem to be solved . . .
no salt diet for a diabetic who just had a heart operation...low fat, no salt, and an eye toward glycemic index
I know the Mrs Dash's and other flavor subs, but how about suggestions on things that work without salt because that is how they are naturally.
I just spent the past week cooking in this way for someone, and it wasn't easy. So much of what I do involves salt...or soy sauce or miso or anchovies etc etc etc

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  1. Forget the salt for a while. Think spices and herbs. Fresh, dried, either or. Olive oil or canola oil instead of butter. It can be done. Steamed veggies not fried. You'd be surprised how tasty organic meats and produce are once your palate becomes accustomed to the natural goodness of pure foods. Do some research and read, read, read.

    In the '50's my father was diagnosed with the highest blood pressure known to man and mother quickly went into recovery mode. We adjusted and are healthier for it. You will be too.

    1. I know this is a tough on that I work on constantly. High Blood Pressure....etc. I have found a lot is just getting used to the taste without salt. I still have found that steak and roast beef is one thing where salt is a must, but I eat them on rare occasions. Chicken on the other hand can be cooked in so many ways without salt. Rosemary enhances the flavor and is readily available. I use Mrs. Dash religiously, but I have purchased some of the other blends online and they can be very good also. BBQ rubs are good and can be bought without salt added. Mesquite is a favorite. Pork ribs, chicken, lamb all can be cooked using blends without salt. Good luck and experiment, it's a new mindset.

      1 Reply
      1. re: othervoice

        Absolutely right - red meat "on rare occasions".... if at all, as the doctor told mother!
        (Better not at all if truth be told. For now anyway.)

      2. I find that working with more acids really makes up for the lack of salt. Adding something acidic where you feel may need salt is great. I think it just sort of tricks your palate; where you want salt, you'll find a nice acidity. Adding heat like from chiles can make bland food a lot better. It's really just overbearing your palate with a lot of different types of flavors that you won't miss the saltiness.

        6 Replies
        1. re: digkv

          I think the acid suggestion is a good one. Just a touch of lemon juice or vinegar does a lot to brighten flavors and help to heighten contrast.

          1. re: jlafler

            Lemon and Lime if you can get away with it in the dish. Won't work for all, but fish, chicken, and pork it does wonders.

            My dad had the same problem, he loved anything pickled, and so that left vinegar I wrong?

            1. re: chef chicklet

              Chef, you can pickle vegetables without salt...just use vinegar. I made pickled carrots and cauliflower a few weeks ago with no salt.

              1. re: chef chicklet

                I'm not exactly sure what you're asking, but with pickling, the culprit is the salt. As far as I know, there's no health reason to avoid vinegar. Well, I guess if you have a problem with yeast, live vinegar would be a no-no.

                1. re: jlafler

                  I believe vinegar thins the blood ... at least that's what my mother used to tell me?? So I guess in some cases that would be a good thing ...

                  1. re: foiegras

                    In Oriental medicine, vinegar invigorates the blood, being used when there is stagnation of blood such as in trauma, menstrual disorders, etc. However, just with everything, too much vinegar can disrupt the balance causing other problems.

          2. it's challenging, but not impossible. some of my favorite tricks...

            - season with nutritional yeast. it has an excellent pungent umami flavor, less than 5 mg of sodium per 2-tablespoon serving. an ideal substitute for grated parmesan, perfect for topping pasta, popcorn, steamed veggies, etc.
            - soak sun-dried tomatoes or dried mushrooms in boiling water, and reserve the soaking liquid to use as a cooking liquid and a flavorful base for sauces instead of high-sodium broths, soy sauce, etc.
            - high-quality vinegars - balsamic, sherry, champagne, herb-infused - and citrus juices pack a flavorful punch without salt.
            - use ingredients/seasonings more commonly found in ethnic cuisines - tamarind paste is one of my favorites for indian & north african preparations, it has a complex sweet & sour flavor that's perfect for curries; za'atar, ras-al-hanout, harissa, shichimi togarashi, tandoori spices, garam masala, ginger & lemongrass also come to mind.
            - when all else fails, sometimes a healthy does of chiles, liquid smoke or good old pepper & garlic will do the trick.
            - never underestimate the power of fresh herbs.
            - nothing beats agave syrup as a low-glycemic, chemical-free sugar replacement.

            good luck!

            2 Replies
            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              Yep, vinegar is your friend when you cannot have salt...lemon juice too! Fresh herbs and good spices also help.

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                What exactly is liquid smoke? I was planning on looking for it as I have many recipes that call for it but I don't know what it is. thanks for your help.

              2. Try kelp granules. They are low in sodium and give a "salty" taste to food while adding umami. They're also a good source of minerals.