Natural substitutes for instant seasonings

January 08, 2020

IF you belong to a family with health conditions like hypertension, diabetes, or cardiovascular diseases, most likely you have them in your genes.

Filipinos are fond of condiments – soy and fish sauces in particular. True, any meal would not be complete without these.

Salt can be a hard habit to break, but not impossible. Instead of relying on sodium, here are the natural seasonings to flavor food, eliminating salt in your meal and lowering your blood pressure:

* Basil (fresh or dried) can be used with fish, lean meats, and in soups and sauces.

* Thyme gives an earthy taste to sauces and soups.

* Caraway seeds lend a nutty taste to breads, steamed cabbage, and noodles.

* Chives add bite to salads and vegetables.

* Rosemary works well in hearty dishes like meatloaf, potatoes, and beans.

* Cider vinegar provides tang to sauces and vegetables.

* Turmeric is great on rice with a flavor and color similar to saffron.

* Cinnamon is tasty on many fruits.

* Curry powder gives lean meats, particularly chicken, an exotic taste.

* Dill is great in sauces or tossed on just about any vegetable.

* Garlic adds another dimension of flavor to just about any savory food — be sure not to use garlic salt.

* Bay leaves work well with soups and stews.

* Lemon juice enhances the flavor of salads, vegetables, and fish.

* Paprika gives a spicy kick to roasted meats and vegetables.

* Sage can be a savory addition to stews, biscuits, and lean pork.

* Peppermint and other extracts lend extra flavor to fruit and pudding.

If you want to stick with a low-sodium diet:

* Avoid packaged and processed foods.

* Avoid pickled, cured, brined, or smoked foods.

* Do not cook with flavored pastas, rice, or cereal mixes because they’re typically loaded with sodium — add your own flavorings to plain pasta and rice instead.

Food can still be as delicious without or less salt, all you need to learn is what ingredients to add without touching the salt or any instant seasoning. A low-sodium diet will go a long way toward helping to control blood pressure levels.

Health experts and nutritionists are promoting the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet to combat high blood pressure. DASH includes foods high in fiber and protein and rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium — all of the elements needed to help reduce high blood pressure.

A healthy food is healthy per se but if you fried and drown them in grease, it defeats the purpose. Ditch the deep fryer and try these simple, healthy steps to prepare food:

* Roast meats and chicken on racks so that fat can drip off.

* Use non-stick cookware and a little cooking spray to sauté foods.

* Stew or braise meats and poultry on the stove or in your oven. Then cool the food so that you can remove any congealed fat before reheating and serving.

* Poach fish and chicken in fat-free liquids.

* Broil or grill just about any meat, poultry, or vegetable and let the fat drip off.

* Steam all kinds of foods over boiling water.