Garden, Plant, Cook!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

August 29th - More Herbs, Less Salt Day!

Dear Folks,

One of those ubiquitous national holidays which are sometimes hilarious (National Gorilla Suit Day! January 31st),  And, no one will worry about "National Chocolate Day" - chocolate is an herb, but many are wonderful reminders of special things or like today's post - think healthier reminders.

The challenge for many folks over the last 60 years (post WWII) is the replacing of the herbs and spices from the kitchen garden with manufactured meals where they added a whole-lot-of-salt to enhance the flavor.  And salt does a great job of lifting the flavor out of basic foods:  meats, vegetables and starchy foods like rice, pasta and potatoes.

We have taken a good thing (salt) and turned it into a bad thing (poor health in the general population).

Enter Herbs and Spices.

In honor of More Herbs, Less Salt Day I would like to suggest you do a challenge taste test with friends and family.   Baked or boiled potatoes, 3 ways.

1)  Plain
2)  Sprinkled with the tiniest squeeze of lemon juice and sprinkled with finely chopped rosemary, thyme, or marjoram, you can use dried.
3)  Tossed with just a hint of olive oil or melted butter or a combination of the two fats and a sprinkle of salt.

Taste test in that order.  The salt sample needs to be last because it would flavor the other samples if done first.   Use apple slices to 'clean the pallet' between samples.

The robust flavors of these kinds of herbs "lift" the flavor of starchy foods giving you the maximum flavor of the potato.

Do you know why celery and celery seed are used in many savory dishes?  Because both contain sodium, and the flavor enhances the food taste giving it the 'flavor of being salted'.

Here are some herbs and spices that contain natural sodium along with high to trace minerals and vitamins.

1 teaspoon of each contain the noted amount of sodium, plus.

Parsley fresh 1 mg - high in vitamins and minerals
Celery seed    3 mg - high in minerals
Celery fresh - 2 mg - vitamins and minerals
Fennel seed - 2 mg - high in minerals
Coriander seed - 1 mg - high in minerals
Cumin seed - 4 mg - high in minerals

Sodium in types of salt:
Fine Sea Salt (with anti-caking agent)  1 teaspoon = 2,360 mg
Kosher Coarse salt 1 teaspoon = 1,920 mg
Pink Himalayan small grain would be approximately the same as Kosher but with added minerals if unprocessed.

A low sodium diet recommends no more than 1 teaspoon equivalent of the sea salt, or as low as 1,400 mg per day.

So the real way to reduce salt without reducing flavor is to FIRST season with herbs and spices.  THEN taste.  You will find you need to add far less salt or no salt to enjoy the real flavor of the food you cook.

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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