6 simple salt swaps you may not have tried

As part of the new nationwide push to reduce salt, some food companies have pledged to lower the sodium in their products. But we can also do a few things on our own to cut back. You've probably used seasonings instead of salt to add flavor to your meals, but check out these 6 creative swaps you may not have tried yet.

I got these tasty tips from Robin Miller, author of Robin Rescues Dinner: 52 Weeks of Quick-Fix Meals

Sauce Swap: Instead of prepared sauces, make your own. In a blender, combine roasted red peppers (home-made!), balsamic vinegar, fresh garlic, fresh parsley or basil, olive oil, and ground black pepper. Puree until smooth. Add water until you reach the desired consistency. The same sauce can be made with rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes. Thick sauces can be used over chicken, fish, pork, steak, and vegetables. Thinner sauces can be used in pasta and rice dishes.

Better Broth: Make home-made broths with the liquid from rehydrated wild mushrooms such as porcini and shiitake. Soak 1 ounce of dried mushrooms in 1 cup of very hot water for at least 20 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve to remove any debris, and use the broth and mushrooms in your favorite dishes that call for chicken or beef stock.

Go Nuts: Before roasting, create "crusts" for chicken, fish and pork by coating them with finely chopped, unsalted nuts, like almonds, walnuts and peanuts. As the food cooks, the nuts become golden brown and add incredible texture and flavor to the dish.

Vinegar In, Salt Out: Use intensely-flavored, aged vinegars in place of salt in sauces, dressings, marinades, and "drizzles" for steamed and roasted meat, poultry, fish, and vegetables. Aged balsamic vinegar is an excellent choice. When simmered over medium heat, you can reduce it down to a syrupy consistency - the perfect topping for chicken, fish, pork, steak, and vegetables.

Secure Some Cedar:
Roast chicken, beef, pork, fish, and vegetables on a cedar plank - the plank adds a delicious and delicate smoky-sweetness to the food.

Peel Out: Just before serving, add the grated peel of lemons and/or limes to pasta, rice, fish, and vegetable dishes. The subtle tartness eliminates the need for salt.

I love these tips - some of them I had never heard before and can't wait to try! Remember, having too much sodium is strongly linked to developing high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends we have less than 1500 mg of sodium a day.

Also see:
Saltiest meals in the U.S.
Hidden sodium in foods you wouldn't think to check
3 small ways to cook healthier

[Photo Credit: stock.xchng]