Strange to put the two things together, but yes, Americans could go with less sodium and more herbs in their diets. Nearly 400,000 deaths a year are attributed to high blood pressure, possibly due to Americans consuming more than double the recommended daily amount of sodium according to the Tolerable Upper Intake Level as set by the US Health Department. Before we get too far, let me clarify something: real salt such as sea salt, Himalayan salt and the like, are good for you, containing important minerals that help you achieve electrolyte balance. Where salt gets bad is when you are eating way too much of it and refined versions such as iodized salt found in, well almost everything. Real sea salt and iodine are actually quite important for thyroid health and hormonal production, and often you will see disorders of the thyroid in people who eat little to no salt.

 

This is a difficult topic for me because I was educated in a classic French kitchen where the solution to most things is to add salt or in a fine dining restaurant, the way to perfect and finish a dish is with a pinch of big flake sel de mer. I noticed the old chefs who spent a lifetime smoking were the ones who wanted even more salt and what I realized is that it boils down to palate fatigue. The same concept rings true in the modern American diet. Eating more and more refined foods with exponential amounts of sodium weakens the palate, add in smoking and it’s a recipe for taste buds that are always going to be wanting more.

 

People who switch to a clean eating diet without refined foods experience foods which were once normal as now far too salty. Your tastebuds essentially get a chance to regenerate and you find that you want less salt as well. If you are considering cutting back on sodium, here are some of our best kitchen tips:

 

  1. Make it yourself- Condiments, salad dressings, etc. are usually packed with sodium. Try making your own clean version at home or research brands thoroughly and read labels to help you make the best choice.
  2. Add some acid- When cooking and your dish just tastes flat, it’s usually because there isn’t enough acid, not salt. Try fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, or vinegar to wake your dish up a bit. Bonus, lemon and vinegar like apple cider are also great for you.
  3. Sea Veggies- Sea vegetables like kelp and dulse are nutrient dense wonders. Try crushed sprinkles of sea veggies on your food, they can add that salty umami flavor you so desire. Kelp and seaweeds are one of the only natural ways to get iodine, an essential nutrient your body cannot make itself. As a matter of fact, salt manufacturers started adding iodine in the form of potassium iodine to salt in the 1920’s to offset the occurrence of goiter, an iodine deficiency which affects the thyroid.

 

5 Culinary Herbs You Don’t Know About- Yet…

I’ve been lucky enough to cook in some amazing farm to table kitchens and help tend to their gardens. There are so many good herbs and flowers that are easy to grow, add a complexity to food and are amazingly good for you that are overlooked. Here are a few of my favorites, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say they may become some of your favorites as well:

    1. Borage- It’s technically a flower, but you can cook with the leaves as well. You can grow borage nearly anywhere, making it a versatile plant. The delicate blue-purple flowers add instant appeal and texture to food presentation with a subtle, but delicious flavor. Chop young borage leaves into a fresh salad or add the older leaves into soups, stews and sauces. Borage oil itself has been used in the treatment of skin conditions, chest congestion and even rheumatoid arthritis, an age old remedy for an array of ailments.
    2. Summer Savory- A rare known herb in the states, most Europeans can’t cook through a summer without it. Summer Savory is similar to it’s cousin, the more hardy winter savory, but it’s delicate and bright in flavor. It reminds some people of thyme, but has more depth in my humble opinion. I instantly want to add it to a marinade of anything that is going to be grilled or chop it finely as an uplifting garnish to something like pasta. Medicinally, summer savory can be used to soothe coughs and sore throats, relieve stomach gas and cramps, and even help relieve thirst in diabetics.
    3. Aloe Vera- Ok I’m stretching it here again, aloes are their own species and not really an herb. I always have a fresh aloe plant nearby at home. In well-drained soil, aloe is almost impossible to kill, just keep it safe from frost in cold weather. I’m sure you know that aloe is great for skin irritations and burns, but did you know it’s very soothing to the gut? I simply slice off the skin from the leaves and you are left with the pulp. Toss that in a blender with ice, coconut water, l-glutamine, fresh mint, your favorite yogurt and you have an instant tummy soother. You can also blend the pulp in to kids smoothies or juice to help them out with gastric issues like constipation, diarrhea, and gas.
    4. Fennel- By now you may have tried braving a fennel bulb seeing it on sale at the market or saw a cool recipe for it, but it’s tender green tips make an excellent herb. Fennel also grows like a weed in most places, so it is easy to care for in your garden. The green delicate tips of the plant resemble dill in shape, but impart a grassy bright version of the anise flavor fennel is so famous for. Try adding it to freshly chopped salads, vinaigrettes and even in baking and dessert. Fennel pollen is delicious as well, making a healthy and sophisticated garnish to delicate desserts, chocolates and even savory dishes. I love cooking a whole fresh water fish in the summer stuffed with long fennel stalks and slicing the bulb for the roasting pan to caramelize and serve with the fish.
    5. Lemongrass- Lemongrass may not be a scarcely known herb, but it is definitely under-utilized. It is very simple to grow and forms a thick grassy bush with long thin blades. It actually makes a beautiful landscaping plant and is hard to kill. Lemongrass oil has amazing health properties, especially topically for injured and sore tendons and ligaments. This herb isn’t just something you should taste occasionally in your favorite Thai dish. Try infusing into alcohol, adding it to marinades or to the base of your broth or soup for a whole new uplifting flavor.

By Lauren Cox


These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.