The LEAN Team

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Free health and nutrtition tips

Using herbs, spices and lemon instead of salt for flavour


The Basics

“Flavourings and ready-made sauces can contain large quantities of sodium”, warns nutritionist Pinal Patel.

“Any of the following ingredients or descriptions indicates a source of sodium: baking powder, baking soda, monosodium glutamate (MSG), disodium, Na, bicarbonate of soda, brine, monosodium, cured, smoked, kippered and self-raising”.


Myths and Misconceptions

  • “Food will be tasteless without salt”.  If you usually choose high salt foods or add lots of salt when cooking, or at the table, you may find that food tastes bland when you first reduce the amount of salt in your eating plan. Our taste buds take only two to three weeks to adjust to a less salty taste – you may be surprised how salty some foods taste once your taste buds have got used to less salt.


Tips and Tricks

  • Try roasting vegetables e.g. peppers, courgettes, parsnips, fennel and squash in a little oil rather than boiling them with salt.


  • Microwaving vegetables, such as carrots, courgettes, mange tout, peas, fine beans, baby sweetcorn is one way of cooking vegetables without adding salt – its also quicker than boiling and helps them keep their vitamins and minerals (boiling them can reduce their vitamin and nutrient content).


  • Use fresh herbs like basil, oregano, mint or others with pasta dishes, vegetables and meat. Fresh herbs are more expensive than dried but their flavour is far superior in the way of colour and texture - fresh herbs keep for about five days.


  • You can grow herbs in small window boxes or pots and place them on your window sill, patio or balcony ready to add to dishes you are preparing.


  • Try black pepper as seasoning instead of salt – it works well on scrambled egg and pasta.


  • Use ripe tomatoes or those in season to flavour sauces – add garlic and fresh herbs for extra taste.


  • Citrus fruit juices such as lemon and limes will add a great zesty flavour to fish, chicken and pork – use the grated rind for even more flavour and texture.


  • Oregano: pizza, tomato sauces, Greek salads, fish or lamb dishes, omelettes and vegetables


  • Sage: pork, game or tomato sauces


  • Thyme:  fish and chicken


  • Basil: tomatoes or tomato sauces and pasta dishes


  • Bay Leaves: casseroles, soups and pates