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Is Good Tasting Low-Sodium Cooking an Oxymoron? Discuss.

seriously. a very dear friend of mine is chronically ill and was told she needs to drastically limit her intake of sodium (and also iodine, which means no sea food, and a limit on eggs). she is a hardcore food lover, and has always been into cooking. but now, it is hard for her to imagine cooking anything that has flavor without adding salt. is it possible? does anyone have any recipes or tips they could share? she is a food adventurer and has no problem trying just about anything.... thanks in advance!

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  1. Try using lemon juice and things like balsamic vinegar - eg Greek friend squeezes lemon over steak to flavour, never salt. Slow cooked and caramelized dishes are tasty not necessarily salty. Freshly roasted and ground spices are so flavorful salt may not be missed. Celery has a natural salty flavour. Realigning your palette will come and you don't miss it as much as you think you will in day to day foods. It's olives, anchovies, bacon and the like that are hard!! But lemon juice is the bomb!!!

    1 Reply
    1. re: jobeth_b

      Also try other sorts of vinegars. Even white. I also like the vinegar with peppers that you shake. There are no salt - salt subs out there. Your friend should consult the doc to see if they are acceptable. Some have potassium and that is also a no-no. I also like Mrs. Dash. Be careful of hidden sodium.

      And in addition to lemon juice, try adding zest. I zest my lemons and keep it dried in a jar then reconstitute it in the food. I have also noticed that if you put in a little bit of cayenne to food, you will need less salt. I think it fools the tastebuds.

    2. In addition to the celery mentioned above, chives also have a naturally 'salty' taste. And I second the spices. Are there other restrictions beyond the sodium/iodine issue?

      2 Replies
      1. re: ultimatepotato

        well, it's a heart problem so too much saturated fat's not a good idea either...but salt is the biggest issue.

        1. re: brooklynsabra

          I've said this before and I'll say it again: salt (too much of it mostly) masks the true flavors of foods, especially vegetables. Once you strip away that salty taste, you begin to taste the real food. This happens but it takes some time. jobeth's lemon juice is a good flavor enhancer for sure, lime juice too! Fresh herbs do wonders and spices too. Mrs. Dash makes some decent shake-on seasonings and they also have a website with rated recipes. Mayo Clinic also offers some low sodium recipes as I recall. (My son was pretty sick in Dec. 07/Jan 08 and I was cooking low sodium for him and learned a lot. He IS doing better now and totally avoids adding any salt to his foods.) Hope your friend LISTENS to the doctor's advice--many of us need to ditch the processed foods and eat more fresh veggies and fruits.

      2. I am sometimes amazed how it takes something like a medical reason to reduce sodium intake to inspire people to learn the versatility of herbs and spices. Once your friend learns how to properly use herbs and spices in combination she will eventually learn that sodium (as in simple salt or other forms) is fairly easy to omit from may very good dishes. I'd suggest she first try it with chicken recipes using simple herb combinations and, if she's up to it, various curry mixes that she can create herself.

        1. Eating food without salt is itself a culinary adventure. Last summer I ate at a Spanish restaurant in Buenos Aires. They served a dish of just thinly sliced eggplant and olive oil--no salt. I thought it was bland at first. But I still remember it after all this time. It was the purest expression of eggplant I've ever had.

          My suggestion would be to start with simpler foods like fruits and vegetables. Taste everything again for the first time--pure and simple.

          1. If she's been a salt fiend up until now, it will take a while for her tastebuds to adjust...have her check with her doctor to see if it might be acceptable to wean herself off of the mountains of salt, as that will make it easier.

            But yes...herbs, spices, oils, vinegars...they all will quickly become near and dear to her hopefully-healthier heart.

            (slow cooking is another way to build up enormous flavors with little to no salt, too)