Spice Up Your Diet

Giving up salt does not mean giving up flavor. Learn to season your food with herbs and spices. Be creative and experiment for a new and exciting flavor.

What kinds of spices and herbs should I use instead of salt to add flavor?

Try the following spices with the foods listed.

  • Allspice - Use with beef, fish, beets, cabbage, carrots, peas, fruit.
  • Basil - Use with beef, pork, most vegetables.
  • Bay Leaf - Use with beef, pork, most vegetables.
  • Caraway - Use with beef, pork, green beans, cauliflower, cabbage, beets, asparagus, and in dips and marinades.
  • Cardamom - Use with fruit and in baked goods.
  • Curry - Use with beef, chicken, pork, fish, green beans, carrots and in marinades.
  • Dill - Use with beef, chicken, green beans, cabbage, carrots, peas and in dips.
  • Ginger - Use with beef, chicken, pork, green beans, cauliflower and eggplant.
  • Marjoram - Use with beef, chicken, pork, green beans, cauliflower and eggplant.
  • Rosemary - Use with chicken, pork, cauliflower, peas and in marinades.
  • Thyme - Use with beef, chicken, pork, fish, green beans, beets and carrots.
  • Sage - Use with chicken, pork, eggplant and in dressing.
  • Tarragon - Use with fish, asparagus, beets, cabbage, cauliflower and in marinades.

How should these spices and herbs be used?

Here are tips for cooking with herbs and spices:

  • Purchase spices and herbs in small amounts. When they sit on the shelf for years they lose their flavor
  • Use no more than 1/4 teaspoon of dried spice (3/4 of fresh) per pound of meat.
  • Add ground spices to food about 15 minutes before the end of the cooking period.
  • Add whole spices to food at least one hour before the end of the cooking period.
  • Combine herbs with oil or butter, let set for 30 minutes to bring out their flavor, then brush on foods while they cook, or brush meat with oil and sprinkle on herbs one hour before cooking.
  • Crush dried herbs before adding to foods.

Can I use salt substitutes?

Caution! If you are on a potassium-restricted diet, be very cautious about using salt substitutes because most of them contain some form of potassium. Check with your doctor or dietitian before using any salt substitute.

Here are some seasoning recipes:

When using the following seasoning recipes, make sure to blend well. Place in a shaker. Experiment and create your own seasoning containing those spices that you like.

American Favorite Blend
5 tsp. onion powder
(not onion salt)
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1/2 tsp. celery seeds
Yield: about 1/4 cup
(Health Education Association Inc. Glenside, PA)

Spicy Seasoning
3 Tbsp. celery seed
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 Tbsp. crushed oregano
1 Tbsp. crushed thyme
1-1/2 tsp. ground bay leaf
1-1-2 tsp. black pepper
1/1-2 tsp. ground cloves
Yield: about 1/2 cup
(Nutrition: The Art of Good Eating, Seattle, WA)

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© 2014 National Kidney Foundation. All rights reserved. This material does not constitute medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment recommendations.