Low-Sodium Za’atar Seasoning (Middle Eastern blend)

I had seen a recipe for spiced pistachios with za’atar seasoning just before we got nine inches of snow. I couldn’t stop thinking about those nuts and I had plenty of time to make them. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any za’atar. I decided to come up with my own seasoning and make it a low-sodium za’atar substitute while I was at it.


Not familiar with za’atar? It’s a Middle Eastern spice blend traditionally made with sumac, thyme, and sesame seeds. I first learned about it a couple of decades ago when I did an international pen pal food exchange. I was living near Baltimore at the time, so I got za’atar and my Lebanese friend received Old Bay.

So, it’s snowing, I don’t have za’atar, and I certainly don’t have sumac in the spice rack. Sumac has a tangy, lemony flavor so I thought lemon pepper would work. I didn’t have that either. I finally settled on good ol’ lemon zest. I always have lemons.

I thought my blend needed some zing so I added cayenne pepper. This is not a traditional ingredient, so feel free to leave it out.

After you make the Spiced Pistachios with Thyme, Sesame, and Lemon, use the remaining low-sodium za’atar to brighten egg dishes, to season chicken, to sprinkle on popcorn, and to perk up potatoes or rice.

Low-Sodium Za’atar Seasoning
Middle Eastern spice blend with no added salt
Author: Shelby Kinnaird (Diabetic Foodie)
Serves: ¼ cup
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 3 tablespoons dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon dried marjoram
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  1. Lightly toast sesame seeds in a small, dry nonstick skillet over medium heat. Watch them carefully so they don’t burn. Remove from heat and cool.
  2. Place sesame seeds, thyme, marjoram, cayenne, and lemon zest into a spice/coffee grinder. Process until finely ground.
  3. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Want a more authentic Za’atar seasoning? Use 1 tablespoon ground sumac instead of the lemon zest.

No lemons in the house? Substitute lemon pepper.

Not into spicy foods? Skip the cayenne. It isn’t traditional anyway!

Nutrition Information
Serving size: 2 teaspoons Calories: 6 Fat: 0g Saturated fat: 0g Carbohydrates: 1g Sugar: 0g Sodium: 0mg Fiber: 0g Protein: 0g Cholesterol: 0mg

The post Low-Sodium Za’atar Seasoning (Middle Eastern blend) appeared first on Diabetic Foodie.


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