Let me be the first and quite possibly the only person to wish you a merry “More Herbs, Less Salt Day.” This admittedly obscure holiday, celebrated by a sprinkling of sodium-shirkers around the country every August 29th, deserves much more fanfare from foodies and families everywhere. Why? Because overdoing it on salt can have negative consequences; too much salt can contribute to high blood pressure which, in turn, can raise the chances of heart disease or a stroke later in life. But, don’t halt all the salt, just most of it. Some iodized salt is necessary to help the body make thyroid hormone and replenish sodium levels lost daily through sweat. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,400 milligrams of sodium intake daily, the equivalent of about one teaspoon. And, folks already diagnosed with high blood pressure should consume no more than 1,500 milligrams (about ¾ teaspoon). That sounds like quite a bit until you find out just how much salt your favorite processed foods contain. Just 15 medium-sized pretzel twists contain 1715 mg of sodium, a one-cup portion of many ready-to-serve cereals have about 250 mg, and ketchup has 168 mg per tablespoon. Even processed foods marketed as “healthier” are loaded with sodium. For example, one cup of vegetable juice cocktail has 479 mg, packaged lean deli meats and cheeses have 300mg and more, and a serving of olives has 1500mg. I could go on and on. Whoever created “More Herbs, Less Salt Day” is advocating one of the ways doctors suggest lowering sodium intake. By substituting herbs and other spices in place of salt, you can improve your health and well-being without sacrificing taste. In fact, once you get used to not having so much salt in your diet, you’ll really begin to appreciate all the variety and nuances that herbs bring to your menu. Litehouse Foods has a product line of freeze-dried herbs that are exceptional in both taste and convenience.
Litehouse Herb Pyramid
I love having this year-round, instantly-fresh herb garden waiting right in my pantry. No more worries about what fresh herbs are in season or tossing out spoiled herbs at the end of the week. When added to a recipe, Instantly Fresh Herbs rehydrate from the liquid ingredients or moisture extracted from produce – it’s amazing! While there are 15 different varieties of Instantly Fresh Herbs available, here are six that I can’t live without: Instantly Fresh Basil: Make basil your best friend, if you love to make Italian food. It’s a staple in pestos and to pair with fresh cheeses; I also like to use it in lieu of salt in soups and salads. Just imagine a plate of fresh-sliced tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with basil. Now that’s amore! Instantly Fresh Oregano: Oregano is another herb associated with Italy but also popular in Greek cuisine. In fact, the Greek name for oregano means “joy of the mountain.” Your taste buds will climb to new heights if you sprinkle this robust herb in an omelet or on your favorite poultry and seafood dishes. Instantly Fresh Cilantro: Cilantro, sometimes known as coriander, is the pungent, distinctive herb found in so many south-of-the-border dishes. Try swapping the salt rice with cilantro; or sprinkle it into salsas and soups or on top of fish tacos. It’s also adds a little kick to a vegetarian sauté of peppers, onions, corn and tomatoes. I’ve also found the spice to be a delicious addition to compound butter.
Instantly Fresh Parsley: Without a doubt, parsley is the ready-to-go workhorse of my spice rack. The mild undertones of this ubiquitous herb seem to amplify the flavors of a recipe’s main ingredients, almost in the same way salt does. Soups, vegetables and breads come alive with a tasty pop of color thanks to a little sprinkling of this useful herb. Try using parsley, garlic and butter for a simple sauce on grilled meats.
Litehouse Parsley on Kabobs
Instantly Fresh Jalapeños: While not actually an herb, this spicy little chili pepper adds just the right amount of mild to moderate heat to your favorite Mexican, Thai or Latin recipes. You may be familiar with green jalapeños, but the red peppers freeze-dried by Litehouse Foods are riper and sweeter. Perfect for salsas, scrambles, soups and so much more. I think these red Jalapenos are the perfect complement to guacamole.
Litehouse Cilantro Jalapenos Guacamole
Instantly Fresh Chives: Chives are my go-to herb for garnishing. It’s always best to use chives at the end of a recipe; heat can diminish the delicate onion flavor. Use chives instead of salt in your baked potato and also toss them into dips and sauces, atop quesadillas or anywhere you want a snippet of mild yet memorable flavor.