The Spice of Life


Carol in Illinois asks a very interesting question: “What is the best salt substitute?”

Honest answer. I don’t know. 

So I did what any self-respecting blogger would do. I did an internet search.

I learned so much!! That is the beauty of the internet. Research is just so easy. And fun. Plus I don’t have to spend hours in a library standing up looking up titles in a card-file. Does anyone besides me even know what a card-file is anymore? Does anyone even use the Dewey Decimal System these days either? I think ISBN numbers may have replaced it.

And on the internet I don’t have to lug heavy stacks of books back and forth.  Whew!!!! Just looking at that stack of books makes me tired!!

Doing research on the internet is like a magic carpet ride to places I never even knew existed. All at my fingertips while drinking a cup of tea and still in my jammies. It’s a beautiful thing. A beautiful thing I tell you!

But back to Carol’s question.

On my magic carpet ride through the world of salt no one had a definitive answer to Carol’s question. Well, except for the manufactures of a salt substitute product. They each said their salt substitute was the best. No surprise there.

Several cooking and/or health sites did mention AlsoSalt as being good since it did not leave a bitter after taste. But since I have never used a salt substitute, even this one, I have no way of judging. 

I did find some recipes you can make at home for spice blends to use in place of salt. They are probably less expensive than store bought salt substitutes. So I decided to include a few in the Featured Recipes of the Day.

Following are a few of the things I did learn on this morning’s magic carpet ride.

~Salt is both a preserver of food and a flavor enhancer.

~Salt is essential to a healthy functioning body.

~The controversy is how much salt we need to be healthy and prevent high blood pressure at the same time.

~ Salt substitutes can be dangerous to your health. Consult with your doctor or doctors before using a salt substitute. Some salt substitutes contain potassium chloride, which can cause a whole host of other medical problems and does not mix well with some medications. So ask your doctor what kind, or even if you should use a salt substitute.

~Most health professionals say the best way to reduce salt is simply to eat less of it.

Roberta’s Commentary: In today’s world, that is easier said than done.

~The FDA says about 1 teaspoon of salt a day, which is equal to 2300 milligrams, is what we should aim for.

Roberta’s Fact of the Day: Just so you can visualize 2300 milligrams – a typical Caesar Salad at a restaurant generally has OVER 1000 milligrams of salt.

~The amount of salt you should ingest is also dependent on your age and medical conditions. Less for people over age 50 and those with heart or kidney problems.

~The average American ingests about 4000 milligrams of salt a day.

~Salt is in many foods we would not think would have a lot of salt including sweets such as donuts and Danish.

~Some foods naturally contain salt: celery and other vegetables, and dairy products such as milk, meat and shellfish.

Roberta’s Commentary: I will NOT give up shrimp, lobster, or King Crab. You can’t make me! Even if the food police put me  in front of a firing squad. My dying wish would be for a meal of King Crab with a good  dry chablis.

~Some low calorie foods are high in sodium too. 

Roberta’s Commentary: I guess this means pick your poison. LoCal or high salt. With the food police you just can’t win!!! There is no pleasing them.

~Canned soups are often just salt in a can. However, soup makers have recently made real efforts to lower the salt in canned soups. Salad dressings and soy sauce are very high in salt content too, as are milk, cereal; fruit juices, processed meats, boxed food, and canned or bottled spaghetti sauces are just some of the foods that have high salt content.

Roberta’s Question of the Day: After we give up all of these are there any foods left at all for us to eat????

~The Salt Institute, a non-profit salt industry trade association, states the benefits of salt reduction folks have focused too much on the effect of lowering blood pressure and not on the ”big picture” outcome of salt levels on health and mortality. They feel the government should promote eating of more vegetables and fruits rather than focusing on another ‘magic bullet’ that may or may not work.

Following is an interesting and informative slide show of 15 hidden sources of salt. Interestingly enough this slide show is titled “Salt Shockers.” Yesterday I posted Restaurant Shockers, today Salt Shockers.

Roberta’s Commentary: More Thyme Than Dough is fast becoming the most shocking blog on the internet. Oh my!!!!!

Click the following link to see the slide show: Salt Shockers.


Decoding Salt Labels

Sodium free ~ contains less than 5 mg of salt per serving.*

Very low sodium ~ contains 35 mg or less sodium per serving.*

Low sodium ~ contains less than 140 mg of sodium per serving.*

Unsalted ~ No sodium added; however, the food itself may be naturally high in salt.

*Remember from an earlier post here at MTTD, I mentioned that the first thing you need to look for on any Nutrition Label is the “number of servings” per box or jar or package. Then multiply that number times the salt content on the label and you will know how much salt is in the whole package.

Carol, I know I did not directly answer your question. However, I hope I was able to give you and the rest of our readers some background and some basic factual information so that you can make a better and more informed decision about whether salt and/or salt substitutes are right for you.

Then just use the one you like best. Or opt for one of the recipes below. By the way. There are dozens more salt substitute recipes on the internet. Enjoy your magic carpet ride!!!

Roberta’s Commentary: I may not have succeeded in answering your specific question, and the answers I found on my magic carpet ride only serve to raise a whole set of new questions. And though in some ways I have left us as confused as ever, I sincerely believe we are now confused on a higher level and about more important things.

Featured Recipes of the Day:    Salt Substitute Recipes

As I took my magic carpet ride today I found several recipes using spices and herbs that you can sprinkle on food and use as a salt substitute. I have never made these or tried them. But I have to admit they all look good and sound intriguing, especially the Lemon Herb Seasoning. 

I am definitely going to make one or two of these and try them.

I am trying to cut back a bit on salt myself these days for several reasons. I have not taken extreme measures. I have just cut back a wee bit. And only for about the last four or five weeks. Not enough to really notice a difference. Except for one place. When I eat out now I notice how really salty restaurant food is.

#First up is a recipe from Reader’s Digest via the website 1001 Recipes2Send

Savory Salt Substitute

1 tbsp. black pepper

1 tbsp. celery seeds

1 tbsp. onion powder

2 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1 1/2 tsp. powdered orange peel

1 1/2 tsp. arrowroot

1 1/2 tsp. sugar or sugar substitute

3/4 tsp. sour salt (powdered citric acid)

1/2 tsp. white pepper

1/2 tsp. dill weed

1/2 tsp. dried thyme, crumbled

1/4 tsp. plus a pinch of powdered lemon peel

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Place all the ingredients in a small electric coffee grinder, spice grinder or blender. Grind for 10 seconds or until the mixture is fine.

Insert a funnel in the top of a glass salt shaker, pour the mixture into it and tap the funnel lightly to fill the shaker. Cover the rest of the mixture tightly and store it in a cool, dark, dry place.

Makes about ½  cup. 

Nutrition per teaspoon: 6 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, 1 g complex carbohydrates, 1 mg natural sodium.


#This second recipe comes from cdKitchen

 Lemon Herb Seasoning

4 1/2 tablespoons Dried Basil
3 3/4 tablespoons Dried Oregano
1 1/2 tablespoon Finely Ground Black Pepper
1 1/2 tablespoon Dried Onion Flakes
1 1/2 tablespoon Whole Celery Seed
1 1/4 tablespoon Dried Powdered Basil
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/2 teaspoon Grated Lemon Rind

Place all of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Toss gently, with a spoon, until well blended just before using. Store, in an airtight container, in a cool, dry, dark place for up to 6 months. Use on fish, poultry, and salads.

Makes ¾ cup.


#Next up from A Taste of Home

Salt Substitute Recipe

“Myrta Sweet of Wildwood, Florida keeps this nicely flavored blend in a salt shaker on the back of her stove. “I use a teaspoon of it in almost everything I cook, from meat loaf to stew,” Myrta comments. It’s perfect for people on restricted diets as well as those who are simply cutting back on salt.”

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon each dried parsley flakes, basil, marjoram and thyme

1 teaspoon rubbed sage

1 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon ground mace

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. Use to season pork, chicken or fish. Store in an airtight container.


#And from

Garden Blend Salt Substitute Recipe

3 tablespoons each dried parsley, basil, thyme, marjoram

2 tablespoons each dried rosemary, chives, paprika

½ teaspoon garlic powder

Mix the ingredients together. Pulverize in blender or use as is.
Store in a jar in a cool, dark place. Makes about 1 cup.


#And last, for those of you who like things a bit spicier and on the hot side there is this recipe from Associated Content – Lifestyle.

Spicy Salt Substitute

6 teaspoons onion powder
3 tablespoons paprika
3 tablespoons poultry seasoning
2 teaspoons ground oregano
2 teaspoons white pepper
2 tablespoons mustard powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder

Combine these ingredients in spice shaker, and store it in a cool dry location. Use it to enhance the flavor of foods in place of regular table salt.

Bon Appetit!!!

Quote of the Day: Vegetables are a must on a diet.  I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.  ~ Jim Davis, Cartoonist Garfield

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3 comments to The Spice of Life

  • Carol Sternberg

    Yipes, brain overload. I think I’ll stick to reading labels, using less, using sea salt and cooking fresh.Pass the fries (not)

    • Roberta

      Yipes, indeed, Carol. And I agree with you. The more I looked into this the more confused I became. So I am back to my old refrain. Moderation. Moderation. Moderation. And enjoy your food, don’t obsess over it.

  • Judy Arnett

    I’ve been cooking with no salt for over 25 years. My hubby has high blood pressure and salt wasn’t helping. I’ve found that the only two things that really need salt are Pie Crust and Bread. Pie crust will melt in the pie plate without salt. Bread doesn’t rise well without salt. Use of herbs makes up for the salt. I’ve also discovered if it says “Low Calore” look out because they have increased the salt to “improve the flavor.” Mrs. Dash products are great as a replacement for salt. I always order No Salt french fries when I go out. It automatically guarantees that I get fresh hot cooked fries, not those left under the heat lights.