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Healthy alternatives to salt | A guide to spices and their complementary dishes

27 July, 2018
Health alternatives to salt

Salt, spice, and everything nice

Salt is delicious. We know this, because we use it in copious amounts to the point we’re eating almost twice our recommended daily intake of sodium.

It’s not entirely our fault either. Processed foods, whether they’re cereals, breads, canned or packeted, use large quantities of salt to preserve or ‘enhance’ flavour.

Which, if we’re being honest, is the savoury version of putting more butter into the cake mix: it’s the cheaters way to make food taste better.

Truly dazzling your family, friends and co-workers with flavour takes a little bit of knowledge and a lot of experimentation with a range of spices and herbs. Here’s what you can find to take your food to the next level:

Paprika – plain, sweet, smoked and hot

Dry and grind certain peppers together and it’ll leave you with paprika, a bright-red spice that has a strong presence in any recipe its added to.

Usually seen dusted on the top of eggs or pastas, paprika is sorely missed as a simple garnish or flourish. Paprika, when used properly, can transform meats from ‘meh’ to ‘marvellous’ and veggies from ‘eh’ to ‘enrapturing’.

When and how to use paprika: Paprika and olive oil love each other. For salads and cheeses, drizzle olive oil and very lightly dust them with paprika (sweet or plain).

When cooking red meats, you’ll want to lightly coat with olive oil, spread evenly, and then sprinkle on generous amounts of paprika (smoked or hot). Again, spread it evenly, making sure to get it into cracks.

To truly complement the flavour, after the meat is cooked, crack some fresh pepper over it.

Chinese five spice

Unlike the Colonel’s special mix, Chinese five spice is no secret. Made up of cloves, star anise, fennel, cinnamon and Szechwan peppercorns, Chinese five spice is a mix that can brings out the best in your Asian cuisine.

Don’t be intimidated by the smell and presence of Chinese five spice. It can seem overwhelming at first, but it shines when used in the right quantities.

When and how to use Chinese five spice:  Anything and everything Asian! Chinese five spice is best during mixing or marinating processes, rather than as a coating. You’ll want to mix it in with veggies after you’ve added your sesame seed oil and oyster sauce, or as an ingredient in your marinade.

Turmeric

For an easy way to bring an earthy, home-style flavour to your dishes, use turmeric. This spice is where you get that depth of flavour from your curries. Be warned – turmeric stains everything it touches, including benchtops and hands. We’d recommend wearing something you don’t mind getting a little yellow.

When and how to use turmeric: Curries, curries, and anything you want to taste like curry. You can use it as a rub for meats, letting is combine with the juice as it cooks, or as a key ingredient in a curry sauce.

Turmeric also goes well with eggs, or as a complementary flavour in some drinks.

Sumac

Hailing from the Mediterranean and the Middle East, Sumac is a red berry that’s been crush and ground into a course powder. It has a tart and sour edge to it, giving zaatar and fattoush their defining characteristics.

Where and how to use sumac: A perfect rub for lamb and fish dishes, as well as fruity marinades. It’s also a fantastic garnish or add for your dips, like hummus, baba ghanoush, or tzatziki.

All information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be relied upon as medical advice and does not supersede or replace a consultation with a suitably qualified medical practitioner. CBHS endeavours to provide independent and complete information, and content may include information regarding services, products and procedures not covered by CBHS Health Cover policies. For full terms, click here.
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