Pack a Punch with Flavor (and skip the salt)

SUMMERTIME! Swimming, outdoor picnics, sundresses and sandals, and lazy evenings on the porch with friends. Your summer equation may also include a combo of sunburns, sausages/cured meats and salty condiments, alcohol and sticky, hot weather: all of which can contribute to fluid retention and that swollen look (and feel) of the skin.
The combo of excess sodium and hot weather is a double whammy, making now the time to learn how to…drum roll please….pack a PUNCH! with no-salt flavor techniques.
Moderating salt intake is something I think about a lot, as it effects me greatly. When I get used to cooking for 50-75 people at a time, salting appropriately at home or for small groups can be a challenge to moderate. I often feel tired, puffy and more likely to get a muscle cramp when I’ve overdone it and consumed too much salt. Maybe you know what I mean, or maybe you’ll start to notice the trend now after reading this!
In either case, don’t sweat it, I’m here to share some tricks with you:)
Here are a few ways get the boost of salt, without getting salty over lost flavor.
You don’t need to add salt to get the sodium, which your body needs in small amounts to regulate fluids and operate a healthy heart. You naturally find it in various fruits and vegetables, which means that you can try to skip (or significantly lower) the recommended salt in a recipe.
1. Start by cutting the salt in recipes by half (even my recipes).
2. Skip the salt shaker on the table, so you don’t encourage anyone to go overboard.
3. Find some favorites: my favorite fresh ingredient with natural sodium? Sea beans!These vegetables (shown above) are crunchy and briny eaten raw. They are fed by salt water near the ocean. Top a dish with them, skip the salt, and get the bonus of extra vitamin A + C.
I’m all about flavor brightening – it’s what I add to boost the natural flavors of the food just before serving. Instead of adding salt, which does indeed boost flavor, try adding 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (or more to taste). These famously healthful ingredients naturally brighten the flavors present in a dish, and don’t provide any significant sodium change. And if you add just a wee bit, you won’t even taste a lemony or vinegary flavor. Try it in chilled soups, dressings, vegetable dishes or marinades in place of salt in summer (or any season)
Fresh basil, garlic, oregano, mint, sage, lemon balm…all these things chopped in and added to finish a dish helps build flavor without adding even a lick of salt. Lean on aromatic flavorings like these to bring out the best of summer: fresh, simple and better for your body overall.
Fresh produce + flavor brightener + aromatics = SUMMER MAGIC
Swell less, enjoy summer more:)
Chef Abby
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