A Spicy Substitute for Salt

Diabetes, Diabetes Type 1, Diabetes Type 2, Featured Article, Healthy Cooking Tips, Healthy Meal Ideas, Healthy Recipes and Nutrition, Special Diets
on March 14, 2013

Cutting back on sodium is not only good for your blood pressure—using spices to substitute for salt in foods is good for your kidneys, too. An estimated 26 million Americans with chronic kidney disease (CKD) are at risk for kidney failure, for which the only treatments are a kidney transplant or dialysis. To stay healthy, people on dialysis have to control their levels of potassium, phosphorus, salt and saturated fats by limiting their intake of certain foods.

RELATED: Chronic Kidney Disease on the Rise

In recognition of National Kidney Month this March, Chef Aaron McCargo, Jr., host of Food Network show “Big Daddy’s House,” is debuting new kidney-friendly recipes and signature “flavor of bold” cuisine. In partnership with Fresenius Medical Care North America (FMCNA), Chef McCargo calls attention to how diets featuring fresh, flavorful ingredients can be healthy for patients on dialysis, as well as tasty, affordable, easy to prepare, and great for the whole family.

And as McCargo’s delicious meals demonstrate, dialysis patients don’t have to settle for food that’s boring or bland. Here are his picks for the top spices to substitute for salt in recipes. 

1. Chili powder tastes great in chili or taco meat flavoring. Also try adding it to rubs. (Most brands are salt-free; check the label to make sure.)

2. Smoked paprika adds a deep, brown color to breadcrumb casserole toppings, barbecue rubs or to seasoning blends for sautéing or searing proteins like lean beef, pork or poultry, or fish. It also adds a great smoky flavor to marinades.

3. Lemon zest adds a lively taste to breadcrumbs, breaded chicken tenders and fish sticks or to renal-friendly vegetables like eggplant or string beans. Also great in dressings and marinades, or mixed with dry spices and used as a rub for broiled or baked seafood.

4. Dried oregano enhances the flavor of scampi sauces and combines well with lemon zest. Gives steamed vegetables or tossed salads a fresh, earthy taste and aroma. Or add it to fajita seasonings, along with chili powder, cumin, cayenne and lemon zest.

5. Italian seasoning, a blend of thyme, oregano and basil, is great for finishing off sauces such as stroganoff or gravies. Works well on baked, grilled or sautéed proteins with lemon zest and a little oil. Or add it to lemon zest, juice, and olive oil to make dressings or marinade. (Most brands are salt-free; check the label to make sure.)

Try these kidney-friendly recipes by Chef Aaron McCargo Jr.: