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Healthier substitute for V8?

I'm a long-time V8 fan, but am trying to cut down on sodium. Their low-sodium version tastes bland to me, does anyone know of an alternative that's both healthy and tasty?

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  1. Have you tried adding salt to the low-sodium version? :)

    I believe the usual tricks for dealing with blandness in low sodium diets are:
    - let you tastes adapt
    - make things more acidic (e.g. lemon juice)
    - make them sweeter
    - make them hotter (e.g. hot sauce)


    2 Replies
    1. re: paulj

      I'm guessing you meant that tongue-in-cheek but that is really what I do. I find that adding just a little salt to the low sodium version makes it much more palatable and still much lower in sodium than the regular stuff.

      1. re: smarsh

        have you calculated it to know for sure?

    2. There is no alternative to V8, IMO, unless you juice your own.

      I add lemon or lime juice and hot sauce to mine and it perks it up pretty well.

      I suppose you could try adding something like Braggs liquid aminos.

      1 Reply
      1. re: C. Hamster

        i love bragg's and use it in almost every dish, but be aware that whilst adding sodium, it will significantly alter the taste of the juice... much like a soy sauce would.

        another *trick* would be to drink a glass of water first... comparatively the juice will taste much saltier.

      2. I am also on a low sodium diet, but I must be the exception rather than the rule since I actually prefer the low sodium V8 to the regular. I also like drinking it non-chilled -- the flavors seem to be more developed that way.

        5 Replies
        1. re: mshpook

          You're not alone...I too prefer the low sodium V8 to the regular.

          Other ideas are to add worcestershire sauce or MSG.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                Hmmm... I always add some NaCl when things seem flat.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  duh...i'm such a dork. Thank you for reminding me that msg has salt.

            1. Maybe worcestershire sauce? It's a high sodium product but a tiny bit goes a long way so you'd still come out ahead.

              Tabasco, lemon juice.

              I love V-8 and also switched to the low sodium version. Believe it or not, after a while it might taste good to you again as you adapt to lower sodium intake overall. In the meantime...good luck!

              1 Reply
              1. re: fern

                I agree that one can adapt to low sodium overall - used to think it was bland, now the real thing tastes way too salty.

              2. eat celery for a week, then matzoh will taste salty. With little experience in this area i would guess that low sodium (not all of them are) salt substitutes would be the way to go.

                Adding some heat (cayenne pepper or a low sodium hot sauce) might make it more enjoyable, but wouldn't bring out the flavors. I actually add heat in order to cut back on the salty bitterness of it.

                In the age of value meals and 1500 calorie burgers I'm amazed to see someone worried about the health risks of V-8. kudos.

                1. After giving up coffee in the morning, I too switched to V8 juice, and I too was concerned with the sodium content. Tried the low sodium and was really bummed. Here is what I do, Season the reduced sodium V8 like you are making a bloody mary. Add prepared horse radish, ground pepper, pepper flakes, lemon juice,a dash of lite soy,and onion powder. Mix and do short shooters in the morning. Wakes me up fine.

                  1. There are some other brands that are typically sold in places like Whole Foods that I find much more flavorful, and they are low in sodium. I've seen single-serving size bottles in the refrig case if you want to try...I think the brand is something like "Luvli" and they have 3 different varieties. I also buy the no-salt added (might be Knudsen brand) in the glass bottle (32 oz?) that they stock in the juice aisle.
                    The low sodium V-8 uses potassium chloride (salt sub) which has a weird taste to me. I also like adding fresh ground pepper, lemon, and horseradish to mine!

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: BeeZee

                      Potassium chloride? Hmmmmm. I wonder why. All they need to do is cut back on the unnecessarily high % of sodium in their regular offering.

                      I'm going to add some wasabi to mine if I can remember to do so.

                      1. re: BeeZee

                        Oh darn, I didn't realize there was salt substitute in there. Hmmm, I don't have a Whole Foods very nearby but maybe Trader Joe's will have something.

                        1. re: fern

                          Apparently you can order them directly from the source!

                          1. re: fern

                            Trader Joe's does have a V8 imitation, and it is very similar to the original and costs substantially less. But it has a slightly different, maybe sweeter edge to it (more beet juice?) and for me it just didn't do it.

                            I sometimes stock up on that Mr. T's bloody mary mix, bold spicy flavor (I know I'm butchering the name -- fool!) when it is on sale at the super for $4 per half gallon. It is a surprisingly good substitute, but I'm not going to look at the sodium or other info or I'd probably never drink it again. The low-sodium V8 tastes bland to me, and their spicy version has an off-taste. By the way, I feel vindicated in some of my choices with the recent studies that diet soda can be just as fattening and have worse side effects than the regular.

                        2. Buy a juicer and make your own fresh juice salt free. Yum! Juicers are easy to use and turn the sale veggie of the week into your juice of the week or get creative and make your own V-8, V-12 or even V to the power of (x + 1). It's your bod, put in it what you want, not what comes in the can.

                          11 Replies
                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                            That sounds prohibitively expensive, like trying to build a car from parts. 32 ounces of vegetable juice costs me about $2.50. Tomatoes are at least $3/lb, last I checked.

                            1. re: small h

                              Priorities, man priorities. Turn V-8 production into a hobby, even a sport w/ competitions. We have 4 kids in college, and for us a $20 bottle of wine is "prohibitively expensive". On the other hand, life is cruel and short. We get the wine ans savor every sip w/o regret. Carpe every diem!

                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                Hah! Well, made-from-scratch V8 is not one of my priorities. And how come you're buying $20 bottles of wine instead of stomping your own grapes?

                                1. re: small h

                                  Grapes don't grow in Maine! I do make blueberry, red currant, dandelion and carrot wine, however. (I don't, by the way, own a juicer. I cut the salt in V-8 w/ vodka!)
                                  Happy Valentine's Day!

                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                    Oh, I want to have my breakfast at your house. How does vodka go with peanut butter toast? :)

                                    I used to have a juicer and gave it away. The truth is that while I agree it can be a wonderful appliance to have, I just don't have room for it in the kitchen. As it is I have to have overflow cabinets in the basement for kitchen things I can't part with (and do use on occasion) but can't fit upstairs. My limited counter space is as full as I can stand.
                                    I'd love to find a V-8 type drink that I felt good about drinking and that didn't break the bank. I drink it almost every morning.
                                    Time for some label reading...

                                    BobB, I'm glad you asked this question!

                                    1. re: fern

                                      I dip, dip, dip the toast. Your kitchen sounds like mine. It just dawned on me last week when we had a pea soup cook-off at work. I brought mine in in a cast iron Dutch oven. All the others had crock pots. I have never owned a crock pot! How un-American.
                                      In answer, to the post, at our local health food store, there is a V-8 type organic juice drink, but I'm not sure of the name or brand. Others?

                                    2. re: Passadumkeg

                                      Yep. my grandfather had bottles of what he called "Saft" in the basement, made from pears, apples,plums, gooseberrys,wild raspberries.Our town had a communal press where the residents could press their fruits and pay by the kilo. Then my uncle would make a sugar run for the family so everyone could start up their stills.My favorite was the bottles where he would grow a pear in the bottle and then fill it with his pear brandy.

                                      1. re: currymouth

                                        That's funny! Saft is the German word for juice.

                                2. re: small h

                                  Actually, homemade tomato or V-8 juice isn't expensive. You have to cook it to make it properly so it's a great way to use up extra salad tomatoes from your summer garden - the ones that are too watery for sauce - and you can use canned tomatoes in the winter. I buy the institutional size tomatoes packed in juice. For V-8, add chopped onions, celery, and whatever other veggies you like. After it's cooked for a little while, the tomatoes have given up all their juices, and the veggies have softened, run it through a food mill. I think the last large can of tomatoes I bought at Costco was only $3 and I ended up with about 3 quarts of homemade V-8.

                                  1. re: small h

                                    juice winter vegetables (beet, cabbage, kale, carrots, etc) in winter and summer vegetables in summer. Fresh juice is probably healthier, but yeah, I don't think you can compete on price.

                                    1. re: small h

                                      If you're going to make your own V-8 why not just make no-bread gazpacho and use that for snack or whenever you're having V-8? I put peeled tomatoes, cucumbers, green pepper, and onion through the Cuisinart and add to a big can of low-sodium tomato juice then use olive oil, vinegar, garlic, cumin, and hot red pepper (plus salt if you can have it) to get the taste I want. Keep it in the refrigerator for up to ten days. It's more substantial than V-8---you need a spoon.

                                  2. Add a dash of lemon juice to the low-sodium version. Or maybe even a dash of tabasco?

                                    1. Thanks for the suggestions, all. I'm sure that making my own juice would be much healthier, but I'm trying to keep this simple, as close as possible to just reaching into the fridge for a drink. It's not my waker-upper, by the way, that's really good brewed tea. I drink V8 with lunch.

                                      I tried adding a dash each of tabasco and worcestershire, but it didn't add enough flavor to really make a difference, I'm afraid I'd need to add so much that the sodium level would be right back up there. Besides, I'm a chilihead and my heat tolerance is so high that I'd need to add a teaspoon or more of tabasco per glass to really feel it. My mainstay hot sauce is Melinda's XXX, but the flavor of that is too different from the juice.

                                      We have both TJ's and Whole Foods in the area, I guess I'll just have to do some experimenting.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: BobB

                                        Go for it and as Passadumkeg eluded to: There is always vodka.

                                        1. re: BobB

                                          Reduce it slowly. Start w/ 3/4 regular, 1/4 low sodium. Drink it over time and get used to it. Then reduce more. Keep it up until you're happy w/ low sodium. I'd probably do low sodium but rim the glass like a margarita. Not a lot of salt but it's front and center so you taste it.

                                          1. Ok, what about tossing some peppers right into the bottle and leaving them there like you find in bottles of vinegar that is used on greens? Would the peppers stay fresh long enough for you to get through the bottle?

                                            1. Not all "sodium" is created equal. Some have bigger, more rounded flavors, and the body metabolizes different sodium differently. I'm not saying that one is healthier for you if you need to be watching your sodium intake, but that less of one kind will go further than, say, regular table salt. Try a good brand of sea salt - they generally have many different "salts" and additional minerals, which add flavor as well. There's sodium chloride, magnesium chloride, potassium chloride, etc...
                                              And yes, drinking it warm will make it seem like the flavors a more developed, as the cold mutes flavors. But having it at room temperature may have you tasting the need for more salt even more. So definitely try some acid. Specifically for V8, I would do a dash of red wine vinegar.