Pass the Herbs

In honor of National Senior Fitness Day, May 25, I am going to share how herbs can make you more fit.  It’s  easy – and tasty too!

Have You Heard “Salt is Bad?”

It’s a myth! Salt is required for basic health.    The part of salt (sodium chloride) we need is the mineral sodium.    It helps our bodies function in major four ways.    First, it plays a critical role in maintaining both blood volume and blood pressure.    Right up there in importance is the fact that sodium helps transmit nerve impulses.  Next, muscle fibers can not expand and contract without proper blood levels of sodium, and don’t forget the heart is a muscle.    And lastly sodium has a critical role in the bodys’ metabolism or use of protein and carbohydrates.    Basically, sodium is essential for life.    But you can get too much of a good thing!

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Make that “Too Much Salt is Bad”

The average adult human – between 130 and 230 pounds, needs about 1 teaspoon of salt a day. The National Institutes of Health currently recommends that healthy folks keep their intake below 2300 milligrams per day, which is equal to about one teaspoon.  The average American consumes over a tablespoon of salt per day, and many seniors are told to reduce their salt intake.

So, while some is good, too much is not so good.  But sadly our bodies are genetically programmed to demand salt.  And there is no “off” switch to the demand, or even craving.   No mechanism for telling us when we have enough salt. It comes down to conscious choice.   Your conscious mind must be informed enough to link symptoms like bloating, water retention, weight gain, and poor protein utilization to excess salt in the body.  Can you do that?  I can’t. Thus we all can easily over-consume salt.

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To lower salt consumption, you could throw away your salt shaker, deprive yourself of something enjoyable, and spend the rest of your days counting sodium milligrams.    But let’s look at solutions that will work in the real world.   Keep the salt shaker around!  Keep salt in it!   Just add some herbs.  Create some tasty herb salts.

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Herb Salts

Herb salts and salt blends are not foreign to most spice racks. You may already have “Mrs. Dash” or “Spike,” perhaps some garlic salt or onion salt, and even some lemon pepper blend. How easy is that?!

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Make Your Own Herb Salts

So, the next step is to make some herb salts of our own. It’s amazing how these easy-to-make herb salts transform simple breakfast eggs, dinner green beans, or even late night popcorn into a tasty treat.

Variety is the spice of life!  Or, as Uncle Smokey says, “If it is one thing I never get tired of, it’s variety!”

To make herb salt, you need: salt, herbs, a mortar and pestle, and salt shakers with large holes, or just a cute “salt cellar.” Here in the arid Southwest – almost any dish will do as a salt cellar.

To create a pleasing herbal salt blend, consider some of your favorite foods.    Pizza.    Steak.    Shrimp.    Ranch potato chips. Salsa.  Etc.  This gives us a starting point.

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Make These Herb Salt Blends

To concoct herbal salts, start with the salt in the mortar. When you add and grind the herbs, some of the herbal oils coat the salt crystals, imparting extra flavor. Make small batches because herbs lose their flavor within a few months of being crushed.

Blend roughly two parts salt with four to six parts herbs.

Abbreviations: Tablespoons are big T, teaspoons are little t.

salt-herbs-savor-southwest“Pizza” Salt

2 T salt,
1 T oregano,
1 t garlic powder,
1 t onion powder,
1 t basil.

“Ranch Dressing” Blend

2 T salt,
1 T garlic powder,
1 T onion powder,
1 t dill,
1 t marjoram,
1/4 t ground coriander.

salt-herbs-savor-southwestSalsa Blend

2 T salt,
1 T garlic powder,
1 T onion powder,
1 T chili flakes (or more),
1 t coriander seed.

Southwest Spicy Salt

4 T salt,
1 T ground black pepper,
1 T garlic powder,
1 T onion powder,
1 T chili powder,
1 t dried lemon zest,
1 t mustard seed,
1 t allspice,
1 t coriander seed,
1 t marjoram,
1 t oregano.

salt-herbs-savor-southwestChicken Blend

3 T salt,
2 T rosemary,
1 T thyme,
1 T marjoram.

Fish & Seafood Blend   

2 T salt,
2 T dill weed,
2 T paprika,
1 T garlic powder,
1 t dried lemon zest

Enjoy!

We have a small rack of these blends that we leave on the dining table.    Then you get to decide at the table how you want your eggs for the morning.    Spicy?    Pizza-y?    Ranch-style?    When you pass the herbs with the salt you get more flavor and less salt, helping your body to better health.    A win-win situation!

What do you think?!

Please leave your comments and ideas in the comment section (way way down) below.

Speaking of Salt

soule-kino-southwestFather Kino learned how the Native people once walked to the Sea of Cortez on salt collecting trips.  He then learned that Baja California was not an island as was previously thought.

More in this out-of-print, award winning Southwestern book – Father Kino’s Herbs: Growing and Using Them Today   The review says:

“Award-winning garden writer Dr. Jacqueline A. Soule has pulled together a fascinating book on the life of Father Eusebio Francisco Kino and some of the plants that he brought to Southern Arizona and northwestern Sonora, and area called the Pimeria Alta.”

A steal at only $20!  This link is to our book sales site. The profits from the sale go to the local Horticulture Therapy non-profit Tierra del Sol Institute.  We hope you will help support this great Southwest non-profit!

Legal Notes

Copyright © Article copyright Savor the Southwest // Jacqueline A. Soule. All rights reserved. You must ask permission to republish an entire blog post or article. Okay to use a short excerpt but you must give proper credit.    You must include a link back to the original post on our site. No stealing photos.

Disclaimer: The authors of this blog have researched the edibility of the materials we discuss, however, humans vary in their ability to tolerate different foods, drinks, and herbs. Individuals consuming flowers, plants, animals or derivatives mentioned in this blog do so entirely at their own risk. The authors on this site cannot be held responsible for any adverse reaction. In case of doubt please consult your medical practitioner.

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