Kidney Diet Tips

Spice Up Your Life Without Salt Part II

You may be curious about the difference between herbs and spices. Herbs are aromatic plants. The leaves, stems or flowers may be used as a flavoring either fresh or dried. It is less expensive to grow them in a pot on your patio or deck, but most can be purchased at the store. Spices are also plants. The bark, roots, seeds or berries may be used either fresh or dried, whole or ground.

Using herbs and spices can be a little intimidating if you are unaccustomed to doing so. Here’s a quick guide:

  1. Fennel is available in whole seeds. Use it to make your own sausage, stew, sauces.   (Link to breakfast sausage)
  2. Cumin is available whole or ground. Use it in chili, sausage, stews, eggs.
  3. Allspice is whole or ground and adds taste to fruits, relishes, braised meats.
  4. Cloves are also whole or ground and are great in marinades, baked goods, braised meats and stocks.
  5. Basil is good fresh or dried with thin sliced tomatoes, salads, pasta, eggs, fish or chicken.
  6. Cilantro is available fresh or dried and tastes great in salads, chicken, shellfish or Mexican dishes.
  7. Rosemary is good fresh or dried in lamb, veal, beef and poultry dishes.

Tap into your local chef to discover some of their favorite pairings. Some chef favorites I’ve discovered are to include fresh lemon or lime juice, fresh dill and garlic to season fish; and to combine olive oil, garlic and rosemary to season chicken, lamb or beef. During a recent conversation one chef suggested making homemade seasoning blends.


  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon (or more) cayenne powder


  • 1/2 cup dried basil
  • 1/4 cup dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup dried thyme


  • 1/2 cup chili powder
  • 1/4 cup garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1/4 cup dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1/4 cup ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme

Curry Powder 

  • 1/2 cup paprika
  • 1/4 cup ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon fennel powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Optional: ground red pepper, coriander, cloves

There are many sodium-free spice blends that are amazing (try one of the DaVita seasonings from Shop DaVita). Have a couple on hand to use in a pinch or as a salt-shaker replacement on the table. Keep in mind to read the labels and make sure the sodium has not been replaced with potassium. Another great resource for herb and spice ideas is to visit specialty spice websites such as Penzey’s, Savory Spice Shop and The Spice House.

Check out the Sauces and Seasoning recipe category on for more homemade seasoning blend recipes.

Shelley Munch, MBA, RDN, LD

Shelley Munch, MBA, RDN, LD

Shelley has been a registered dietitian for many years with over 15 years in renal (Acute, CKD 3-5, Dialysis, Transplant). She is an adjunct professor at Park University and teaches Human Nutrition and Nutrition for Health Sciences for undergraduates. She loves helping people connect what they eat with how they feel. Shelley has a husband and two daughters that keep her running.