Lean ground turkey, let’s review how to find the leanest variety

Ground turkey has replaced ground beef in a variety of dishes I make, from meatballs to tacos because it is, or at least can be leaner than most ground beef offerings. But I’ve warned you before that not all ground turkey is all that lean, read the nutrition label to find the leanest variety your food store offers.

Which is leaner? Do you see the different descriptions? No? Another reason to always read nutrition labels.

Which is leaner? Do you see the different descriptions? No? Another reason to always read nutrition labels.

Some brands offer lean and extra lean ground turkey. I recently found another variation of that in the Honeysuckle brand, made by food giant Cargill. It offers white meat ground turkey and breast meat ground turkey. You would think white meat would be the leanest, but the breast meat offering is leaner, 1.5 grams of fat per four ounces compared with 8 grams in the other variety.

Why? I’m guessing skin is ground along with the meat for the higher fat one, it adds flavor and moisture. When you find these two types, buy one of each package to mix in a turkey meatloaf to get some flavor and lower fat content overall.
John

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Lettuce tacos? Why not, try them

I seem to be talking about tacos a lot lately, but that’s because I’m again enjoying them after finding a way to make them low-salt and low-fat. Using lettuce as the outer skin for a taco gets a lot of attention online, but I had never tried it until lately.

My verdict — I liked it and likely will try it again. True, there is shredded lettuce in the ingredients I put in, so it’s a bit like having a lettuce sandwich, but there are enough other ingredients to balance that out and keep it tasty.

I created my lettuce taco with this variety from Costco, which advertises it's well-suited to use for wraps.

I created my lettuce taco with this variety from Costco, which advertises it’s well-suited to use for wraps.

You can see the result here, it was very tasty.

You can see the result here, it was very tasty.

I used romaine lettuce hearts, a variety Costco sells that advertises on its packaging that it’s well-suited for wraps. It really was, the leaves are crisp and hold their own when filling is added. You can see one here along with my other alternative wraps, which I’ve written about before, a low-salt soft tortilla and one I tried to shape into a hard taco shell with mixed results.

This experience will get me to try to wrap other things in the romaine heart leaves, send me ideas that you’ve tried.
John

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Food hack test: making tortillas into taco shells

Food hack was a new term to me until very recently. I wrote about 28 Brilliant Food Hacks that seemed like good ideas, including one in which you can turn a soft tortilla into a hard taco shell.

A brilliant food hack? Using a cup to turn a tortilla into a hard taco shells didn't go exactly as advertised.

A brilliant food hack? Using a cup to turn a tortilla into a hard taco shells didn’t go exactly as advertised.

But I tried that one recently and it left a bit to be desired. The problem may have been that the cup I used, you put the tortilla in a coffee cup and then put it a microwave to harden, was too small for the tortilla.

I started with these flat, low-salt tortilla shells from Trader Joe's.

I started with these flat, low-salt tortilla shells from Trader Joe’s.

...and ended up with this slightly round taco shell

…and ended up with this slightly round taco shell

You can see the result here, the tortilla curved on one side, the side in the cup, but remained largely open on the other. A second attempt in which I tried to push it deeper into the cup caused it to split in the middle.

Why not just buy taco shells? Because all I’ve seen are extremely high in salt but I have managed to find low-salt tortilla shells.

I’ll try this hack again with a deeper cup and see if that helps. It was fun to have a hard shell again, especially one that was low in salt, in which to put my low-fat ground turkey mixture.
John

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A low-salt brown gravy mix? Taste was ok, but salt is still high

I was recently at Food 4 Less looking for a low-fat, low-salt brown gravy to have with some left-over turkey we had brought home from my in-laws house on Easter. Most prepared gravies are very high in salt, even the fat-free varieties. I have found a salt-free gravy online but didn’t have time to order it in this instance.

So after comparing all the prepared gravies and finding them all too high in salt and fat, I looked at the mixes section. Gravy mixes normally are loaded with salt too but I was surprised to find a reduced salt offering in the Kroeger store brand.

Kroger's reduced sodium brown gravy had less salt than prepared gravies but the taste was just ok, it still tasted salty to me.

Kroger’s reduced sodium brown gravy had less salt than prepared gravies but the taste was just ok, it still tasted salty to me.

Kroger reduced sodium gravy nutrition info

Kroger reduced sodium gravy nutrition info

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I bought two packets and mixed the contents with water to make my turkey gravy. Each quarter cup, prepared had 210 mgs of sodium, so if you use half a cup, you’re at 410 mgs, about a fifth of my daily salt limit.That’s a significant amount for a condiment. The taste was ok, nothing to write home about.

Would I buy this again? I suppose, but not with a lot of enthusiasm.
John

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Pure and Simple lunchmeat? Not simple enough

Pure and Simple apparently is a new brand of lunchmeat from processor Land O’ Frost. I saw a coupon for it in my local paper recently and was intrigued. All lunch meats have too much salt for me, and for most people really. Some brands have tried to take out some salt, but as far as I’m concerned, their salt content is still too high.

I was hoping this new Pure and Simple line might be different. The coupon ad highlights that this line contains no antibiotics, no animal byproducts and no nitrates/nitrites. Bravo for all of that, especially the last since those have been linked to cancer.

I was hoping this new line of lunchmeats had less or no sodium. It has a lot, avoid it.

I was hoping this new line of lunchmeats had less or no sodium. It has a lot, avoid it.

But when I searched out salt content for the new line, I was disappointed. Two ounces of Land O Frost Pure and Simple – Honey Roasted Turkey Breast has 380 mgs of sodium, according to myfitnesspal.com. that compares to 360 mgs in 51 grams, about 1.7 ounces, of the same company’s Simply Delicious line of lunchmeats, so it’s really no improvement. It is less than its Premium line which has 510 mgs of sodium in 50 grams of its turkey.

Two ounces of turkey is not a meal for anyone really. I’d need at least six or eight in a sandwich, which would be a day’s worth of sodium for me. So I’ll continue to avoid cold cuts to maintian my low sodium diet.
John

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Vegetables don’t have to be dull; here are 25 alternatives

Eating more vegetables has been a way of life for me the past two and half years since my 2012 angioplasty. Indeed, the first nutritionist I saw wanted me to become a vegetarian. I didn’t go that extreme but I am eating a lot more vegetables and so have been looking for more interesting ways to make the same broccoli, asparagus and green beans. I have some recipes on my recipe page that bring fun twists to these.

But recently I got a posting from thekitchn.com headlined 25 Simple Green Sidedishes that I thought would be worth exploring. It breaks down recipes by grilled, steamed, sauteed and raw so you can match your favorite cooking technique with your favorite veggie and find something new here.

Grilled cabbage with a lime dressing, leave out the salt.

Grilled cabbage with a lime dressing, leave out the salt.

Most of the recipes I scanned include salt. I would simply leave that out. If you’re watching sugar, beware of the ones calling for sugar as well. Some have cheese too, so if you’re watching fat, find fat-free cheese alternatives.

I tended to be most interested in the grilled/roasted category. A garlic broccoli appealed to me as did grilled cabbage wedges. Some recipes included bacon, again leave that out if you’re worried about fat, or a vegetarian like my first nutritionist!

John

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Meal planning is a must; here’s a handy how-to guide

Anyone on a restricted diet, either by choice or necessity as I am since my angioplasty in 2012, has to learn meal planning skills. So much food you buy prepared, either at a supermarket or a restaurant, is simply not acceptable because of its high levels of fat, salt and sugar, so eating on the spur of the moment is out.

Meal planning has always been part of my routine. I normally scan supermarket ads on Wednesdays, decide what I will buy that’s on sale, and then create meals around what’s available to minimize my food costs. So I feel my planning skills are pretty good. But a recent post I received from MyFitnessPal gave me some new worthwhile tips as well.

If you’re not normally a planner, or even if you are, there are tips here that can help you do a better job of planning meals and buying what you need to minimize waste by using ingredients for more than one meal. The illustration here is a good start, clcik through to the article for more details.

Recipe planning tips from MyFitnessPal.com

Recipe planning tips from MyFitnessPal.com

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What is a food hack? And how can you benefit?

Have you heard the term food hack? It was a new one for me when I saw a recent piece headlined 28 Brilliant Food Hacks. So I did some research.

Apparently the term has been around for about a year and basically means doing creative things with your cooking. Fair enough, the article I mentioned above has some things I’d never do, but some that sound tasty and fun.

Here's an easy way to turn soft tortillas into hard taco shells.

Here’s an easy way to turn soft tortillas into hard taco shells.

A tasty idea, grill fish on a bed of lemon slices.

A tasty idea, grill fish on a bed of lemon slices.

I’ve written about low-salt tortillas I found at Whole Foods. One of the hacks shows how to turn these into hard taco shells using only some cups and a microwave. I plan to try this next time I make my low-fat, low-salt tacos. Continue reading

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Lentil-crusted salmon: wild for me, maybe perfect for you?

I regularly receive e-mailed recipes from Blue Apron, a home delivery food site, and find an interesting mix of ideas. I wrote recently about matzoh-crusted chicken, which sounded like a good low-salt alternative to traditional breading for chicken.

Lentil-crusted salmon from Blue Apron.

Lentil-crusted salmon from Blue Apron.

Another Blue Apron recipe that caught my eye was one for lentil-crusted salmon. Honestly, I may not try to make this one because it’s an Indian dish and the spiciness of much Indian cuisine I’ve tried is too much for my stomach. But I’m posting it for those of you who enjoy Indian food and want to try making it at home. Continue reading

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Matzoh-coated chicken: a low-salt recipe from Blue Apron

Most recipes include salt, so I often modify them to remove it. But I was happily surprised to come across a recipe for chicken that uses salt-free matzoh as a coating instead of high-salt breadcrumbs. Salt is in the recipe, but I would simply leave it out. The recipe comes from Blue Apron, which is a food home-delivery service.

Matzoh Chicken from Blue Apron; hold the salt...and maybe the sugar.

Matzoh Chicken from Blue Apron; hold the salt…and maybe the sugar.

Click through to this Blue Apron recipe page to see not only how to make this, but great photos showing you a step-by-step guide. I’ve written about matzoh pizza I made, and served guests. It’s a great low-salt alternative to traditional pizza. Getting back to the new chicken recipe, however.

The basic ingredient list is:
2 Chicken Cutlets
½ Cup Matzoh Meal
1 Fennel Bulb
1 Golden Beet
1 Red Onion
1 Navel Orange
1 Bunch Parsley
2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Sugar
¼ Cup Dijon Mustard

The orange, fennel, onions and beets go into a side salad for the chicken. There’s mention of a pickling liquid that does include salt, I’d try to leave it out and see how it tastes. I eat fennel regularly, it doesn’t need salt to bring out its natural flavor.

I plan to try this and report back on how it goes. Another note, there is sugar in this, if you’re watching your sugar, consider reducing or eliminating it.

John

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