Section: Make DASH Work for You

Flavors: Add Flavor, Not Salt

Ingredients and cooking methods that lend big flavors to food can please the palate without the need for heavy salting.  You can transform an everyday meal from ordinary to extraordinary through savvy seasoning with herbs, spices, citrus, vinegars, or salt-free seasoning blends.  Before reaching for the salt shaker, try one of these fresh ideas.

Salt-free Seasoning Tips

Citrus can tickle your taste buds

  • Grate citrus zest (the outer colorful layer of the rind) for true citrus flavor
  • Squeeze in some juice from a lemon, lime or orange to brighten a dish

Fresh herbs add lively flavors

  • Get bright, fresh flavor from basil, oregano, parsley, marjoram, tarragon, thyme and chives
  • Add heartiness to cooked dishes with rosemary, thyme, and sage
  • Use bay leaf in soup to add subtle depth of flavor

Dry herbs lend deep, complex flavor to dishes

  • Try parsley, oregano, thyme, basil, rubbed sage, and rosemary   
  • Saffron contributes earthy flavor and a warm yellow color

Spices and seeds, whole or ground, add pungent aroma and full-bodied flavor

  • Try coriander, cumin, mustard seed, fennel, anise, cardamom, caraway, sesame seeds and poppy seeds
  • Cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and allspice add a sweet aromatic quality

Vinegar in salad dressing, sauces, and soup can lift the flavor from dull to delicious

  • Try red wine vinegar, cider vinegar, sherry vinegar, balsamic vinegar, tarragon vinegar, rice vinegar and white wine vinegar

Use Aromatic Ingredients

Aromatic ingredients lend a large amount of flavor and aroma.  You will notice these key ingredients in many soup, stew, sauce and casserole recipes.  Be sure to include them in your recipes too.

  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Celery
  • Carrot
  • Parsnip
  • Leeks
  • Ginger
  • Galangal
  • Lemongrass
  • Shallots
  • Green onion

 Cooking Tips That Enhance Flavor

  • Roast meats and vegetables until “caramelized,” or browned.  This cooking technique brings out the sweet and deep flavors inherent in the food

  • Toss in a bay leaf and a clove of garlic when cooking dry beans and grains

  • Toast nuts in a moderate oven until lightly browned and aromatic (careful, they burn easily)

  • Grill meats, vegetables and fruit until caramelized to add a hint of sweet smokiness

  • Caramelize onions and other aromatic vegetables as a first step before adding the liquid in soup and stew recipes

  • Reduce (cook down) broths and sauces to concentrate flavors

    Note: Lower fat foods tend to need less salt than fatty or fried foods.

Keep it Interesting

  • Balance dishes with 5 tastes- sweet, sour, salty, bitter, savory
  • Use a variety of vibrant colors as we eat first with our eyes
  • Use a contrast of textures like soft, chewy, crispy and crunchy
  • Try vinegars or citrus juice for flavorful tang to brighten dishes
  • Experiment and let your imagination tell you what foods would be enhanced by a particular aroma, flavor, or color