Low/No Salt recipes
I follow your culinary delights with drooling fascination, and I'm hoping someone out there can help me.
Since my hospitalization last year, I am on a low or no salt diet with a max of 1500 mg of sodium/day. I should start off by saying I LOVE salt. Never been a sweets fan, but I do (or did) love salt. To further make things difficult I don't like spicy foods, so not a hot pepper type fan.
I typically have boneless skinless chicken breasts 2-3 times a week, cod or haddock twice a week, pork chop once a week, and beef once a week. I'm looking for ideas to add some flavor and interest to what has become soo boring! I should also add that I generally steam broccoli, cauliflower or green beans to accompany the meals. Once in a while I do have some penne pasta.
Any ideas or recipes would be greatly appreciated!
This recipe is from a book of grilling and barbeque recipes by the editors of Cooks Illustrated.
Mediterranean Spice Paste (makes 1/2 cup)
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tbs grated lemon zest
¼ cu packed fresh parsley leaves (flat leaf)
¼ cu ev olive oil
1 tbs fresh thyme leaves
1 tbs fresh sage leaves
1 tbs fresh rosemary leaves
½ tsp salt
Blend above in food processor and rub over chicken or pork several hours before cooking.
Fresh herbs are one way to really get a lot of flavor into your foods with out adding extra salt. If you have room in your yard, it doesn't take much work to grow a small herb garden. As a bonus you can dry or freeze herbs to use in the winter. I only grow a couple of herbs, rosemary, sage, thyme and several varieties of mint. Buying fresh herbs quickly gets expensive, or at least it does here.
For your chicken or maybe your fish, you could try adding a nice balsamic vinegar at the end of the cooking for a nice glaze. We have a couple of oil and vinegar stores here in Austin and some of the flavored balsamic vinegars are really good. As a bonus they will let you try the oil and vinegars before you buy them. Pear balsamic is nice on a salad, so is tangerine balsamic. If you are going to try using the vinegar as a glaze you want to reduce the vinegar in the pan while the protein is cooking.
You could roast your vegetables in the oven, drizzle with a nice olive oil, some fresh cracked black pepper. Don't go crazy with the oil, good olive oil tastes good, but lets face it, it's oil packed with flavor but also packed with fat. I like to saute garlic, onions, and my vegetables in a little butter (unsalted) olive oil, and I like to put a small amount of red pepper flakes in the oil/butter as it heats up, not enough to make the dish spicy but just enough to give it a little flavor. I like broccoli, green beans, cauliflower and different types of squash they all taste pretty good cooked this way. You can steam them until they are almost done and finish them in a saute pan to make the whole process a little easier.
Fresh spices are another way to really add another dimension of flavor to your food. Cumin, smoked paprika, and chili powders. I know you said that you don't like spicy foods but there are many types of chili powers that aren't spicy but they add a ton of flavor and depth to your food.
I hope this helps.
Thanks so much guys. This does help a lot. I was actually contemplating growing some herbs this year, as I already grow tomatoes and green bell peppers. I was thinking about flat leaf parsley, chives and sage, but I like your ideas about the other herbs too. I hadn't even contemplated mint, but I like the idea. Meals have become so boring that I dread even going to the stove so some nights I just end up with a bowl of cereal. I've been watching a lot of cooking shows lately hoping to find some recipes I can use, but bless the chefs, they throw that salt around pretty liberally.
Also, I've tried Mrs. Dash as a salt substitute but I'm not real impressed. I can't detect any flavor from it. Anyone know of any salt subs that actually has some flavor?
Siriracha is the savior of all bland diets.
I'm not sure if this is obvious to everyone or not, so I figured it would be worth mentioning. You mentioned that you eat a lot of boneless, skinless chicken breast. One thing that I've noticed is nearly all supermarket poultry has been injected with a salt water, chicken broth, whatever they want to call it. This even goes for the fresh chicken breast found in the meat department; not just the frozen, bagged stuff.
If you don't already do this, you may want to check the package on the chicken you usually buy. If it says anything like "injected with a solution of....", then check the sodium information on the back panel if it's available.
If this is the case with meat you're buying, then you may look into purchasing from a local farmer, meat locker, etc.
Instead of salty, store bought bread crumbs, you could try making your own. Add your favorite seasonings, bread the chicken or pork, and toss it in the oven. The only sodium you will have is what's already in the bread.
One thing a lot of people miss in their food is acid. With the decrease in salt things most likely taste significantly more bland. Next time you cook put a dash of vinegar in and you will notice a big difference. I find this punches up the flavor significantly. Any vinegar you use will work but since you are off salt I would suggest trying it and if it works for you get a collection of different styles. Just off the top of my head I keep about six in my pantry.
Aside from my "smartass" answer, I'd like to add to what Jones said about meat quality. For the past 2 years, I've switched to comsuming about 90% locally raised meat, eggs, dairy etc. Chicken and eggs are complete free range if I can get it, beef is grass fed. You can't imagine the increase in flavor from buying good ingredients!
Also, instead of steaming vegetables, roast them when you can. There is nothing better than roasted brussels spouts. Cut them in half, put on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil or butter and crack on some pepper. Roast in the oven until the outsides are turning slightly crispy. Same goes for cut up sweet potatoes, squash, cauliflower, and pretty much any other vegetable that can be cut up.
Some vegetables need to be blanched first like broccoli or green beans. I blanch them in boiling water, then transfer to a pan with oil or butter. Toasted almonds are also good with green beans.
Also, how are you actually preparing the meats? For your pork chops, make you get a good sear on them on a hot cast iron pan with a little bit of fat in the pan. Finish the chops in an oven at 350F.
Searing, sauteeing, or roasting brings out a lot of other flavors in the foods I mentioned above.
Last edited by Edcculus; 01-15-2012 at 02:04 PM.
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