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Using Spices and Herbs Instead of Salt

I would like to start using more spices and herbs than salt when I cook. Can you help?
Using Spices and Herbs Instead of Salt

Photo used under license from www.istockphoto.com.

Using spices and herbs adds flavor without adding extra fat, calories and sodium to your food. Spices, such as cinnamon, cloves and ginger, also can enhance the natural sweetness of fruits.

  • If you are new to using spices, start by buying small containers and be sure you have a few recipes that use them.
  • Read the ingredient list on the spice container because some spices contain salt. Garlic powder and onion powder, for example, usually do not contain added sodium, while garlic salt and onion salt do. Lemon pepper may contain salt/sodium, while plain pepper does not.
  • Store your spices in a cool, dark place away from your sink or dishwasher. The heat and moisture can promote flavor loss.
  • Mark your spice containers with the date of purchase. Usually, ground spices stay flavorful for one to two years, while whole spices (such as cloves) remain flavorful for three to four years. Do the “sniff test:” Crumble the spice and sniff. If it has little flavor, you may need to replace your spices or use more in your recipes.
  • Try new combinations of foods and spices. Add a small amount of one of the spices on the list to liven up your veggies.
    • Carrots: cinnamon, cloves, dill, rosemary
    • Green beans: dill, curry powder, oregano
    • Winter squash: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg
    • Tomatoes: basil, oregano, parsley, pepper
  • Try growing fresh herbs in pots on an indoor windowsill. Check out “Harvesting Herbs for Healthy Eating” at www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/plantsci/hortcrop/h1267.pdf. This publication includes information about how to grow, preserve and use fresh herbs.

Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

Featured in Food Wise October 2012 newsletter (PDF).

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