Students will continue getting high salt diets

Congress decided this weekend it’s ok to keep American school-children addicted to high-salt foods. Lobbying by the food industry and school boards succeeded in getting a provision put in a final federal budget bill that will prevent the government from requiring less salt in school lunch menu items.

Congress wants to keep American School children addicted to salt. Shame, shame shame on them.

Congress wants to keep American School children addicted to salt. Shame, shame, shame on them.

This is obviously a major loss for America’s health. As someone who suffered from the ill-effects of too much salt in my diet for years and now struggles to find any prepared foods with low levels of salt, I am deeply saddened, although really not surprised, by this decision. Continue reading

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What happened to my elk burger, Happy Gnome?

I enjoyed an elk burger blend last year on a visit to the Twin Cities in Minnesota so was looking forward to returning to the Happy Gnome there for another this year.

But when I ordered the bison/elk blend burger this year without the accompanying cheese and bacon, I was told the bacon was in the burger itself and so could not be excluded.

My Happy Gnome seafood plate, once I removed the mountain of bread that came with it, white bread I can no longer eat.

My Happy Gnome seafood plate, once I removed the mountain of bread that came with it, white bread I can no longer eat.

I would not have gotten it last year if that was the case, so was quite perplexed. Either the recipe has been changed or the server who took my order last year did not know the bacon was in the meat and so thought as I did that it could simply be excluded. The link I had in my last post to the menu no longer works, I found, so it’s possible the menu was changed. Continue reading

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Farm-to-table restaurants don’t often equal low-salt, low-fat options

Farm-to-table restaurants, or local food restaurants, are gaining popularity across the country these days, especially among millennials looking for alternatives to the highly processed foods they grew up with.

My walleye at Heartland made without salt in the crust, hopefully.

My walleye at Heartland made without salt in the crust, hopefully.

My son, who lives in St. Paul, Minn., is a big believer in the local food movement and so while visiting him recently, we tried a place called Heartland that fits into this new school of fresh, local specialties.

But looking over its menu, I was reminded of our visit to Boltwood in our hometown of Evanston, Ill., another local food restaurant — while this movement promotes local and regional specialties, it isn’t doing any more to cut salt from menu items than are more traditional restaurants. Continue reading

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Finding low-sodium, low-fat food at Mall of America

Mall of America outside Minneapolis is truly the mother-ship of all enclosed shopping malls in the United States. Large enough to have an amusement park inside it, it dwarfs any similar structures.

Crave...most of the orders coming up were burgers.

The open kitchen at Crave…most of the orders coming up were burgers.

But finding low-sodium, low-fat lunch foods there is a daunting task, much as was finding healthy foods at Orlando’s Universal or Disney World.

We bypassed the usual fast food options and high-salt locations like Bubba Gump Shrimp to try a restaurant that billed itself as “fresh, vibrant American.”

Crave talks the talk about fresh but getting what I wanted required some rearranging of menu items, and an extra charge. I had hoped to get a salmon salad much like one I recently made at home. Continue reading

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Turning leftovers into a treat — a wonderful salmon salad

Leading up to and including Thanksgiving, we had house guests for 10 days straight, which meant a lot of cooking, and a lot of leftovers.

Oddly enough, they left Sunday and then my wife left on a business trip Monday, so I’ve had the house, and the leftovers, to myself all week. I’ve eaten a lot of turkey, as you might guess. But we also had made salmon for some pre-Thanksgiving dinners, and there was a large amount of salad already made as well.

My wonderful salmon salad.

My wonderful salmon salad.

So Monday night, I combined the salad with the left-over salmon for a great salmon salad dinner. I heated the salmon with some added Mrs. Dash salt-free teriyaki sauce for added flavor. Then I topped the salad with it and added olive oil and balsamic vinegar for a great dinner treat.

Don’t give up on your leftovers, find creative combos to get the most out of your cooking efforts.
John

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Low-fat mashed potatoes — here’s how

One traditional Thanksgiving dish I’ve largely given up since my angioplasty is mashed potatoes. The milk and butter in them carry too much fat for my low-fat diet.

This year, though, my wife challenged me to make mashed potatoes that were low-fat. And I did with results that pleased her but left me with mixed feelings about their taste.

My low-fat mashed potatoes after whipping them with a hand mixer. Start by skinning and cutting potatoes into chucks to boil. When soft put them ina  bowl and add fat-free milk and Smart Balance to reach the desired creaminess.

My low-fat mashed potatoes after whipping them with a hand mixer. Start by skinning and cutting potatoes into chucks to boil. When soft, put them in a bowl and add fat-free milk and Smart Balance to reach the desired creaminess.

I started by using fat-free milk instead of regular or even 1%. Note that a cup of fat-free milk has 135 mgs of sodium for some reason that escapes me, so even there you have salt to deal with. I doubt I used a cup on five pounds of potatoes though. I don’t measure it in, just keep adding to get to the creaminess I want for the potatoes.

Instead of butter, I used Smart Balance which one nutritionist recommended to me. I actually used a variety called Smart Balance Light which has less sodium, only 80 mgs a tablespoon and 5 grams of fat. I used about four tablespoons, so there was still 20 grams of fat in the five pounds of potatoes. Continue reading

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Happy low-salt, low-fat Thanksgiving!

If you’re like me, you’ve been cooking since the pre-dawn hours today. Hopefully you’ve tried some of my low-salt, low-fat recipes and you saw my warning about checking the sodium content of your turkey before buying one.

So all that’s left is to finish the cooking and enjoy. Thanksgiving is perhaps my favorite holiday of the year because it transcends all religions, or lack of religions, and celebrates the American family coming together to give thanks for each other.

Time to eat all those turkeys! Happy Thanksgiving!

Time to eat all those turkeys! Happy Thanksgiving!

We will be doing that in a very special way at our house this year, my son is with us from Minneapolis, my wife’s brother is coming over and she has relatives and friends here all the way from Holland to share our special feast.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
John

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Low-sodium Thanksgiving stuffing: here’s how to make it

Any bread stuffing you come up with for Thanksgiving will be loaded with the salt that was in the bread. Which is why I was thrilled last year to find sodium-free whole wheat bread at Trader Joe’s. I’ve looked many other places since but have not found a similar product.

Salt-free bread stuffing

Salt-free bread stuffing

I used the bread in a stuffing recipe that also includes celery, apples and onions. This year, I’m adding some chestnuts too because I enjoy them and want to see what they bring to the party.
John

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Low-Salt Thanskgiving side dishes

So you bought your low-sodium fresh turkey, now what do you pair with it for your low-sodium, low-fat Thanksgiving feast?

Check out the possibilities for low-salt, low-fat side dishes on The No Salt, No Fat, No Sugar recipe page.

Put the trimmed broccoli in the steamer basket, cover and set the timer to the recommended cooking time.

Put the trimmed broccoli in the steamer basket, cover and set the timer to the recommended cooking time.

I’m planning to make broccoli in my large steamer, a must-have appliance for any kitchen trying to cook healthy. Also on the menu will be asparagus, steamed and then topped with low-sodium panko breadcrumbs and some fat-free cheese.

After that, I’ll be tackling a low-salt stuffing, read more about that here Wednesday.
John

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How to find a low-sodium Thanksgiving turkey

White-meat turkey is one of the only meats allowed on most low-fat diets. So a traditional Thanksgiving turkey should be no problem right? Think again, I’m afraid. As I’ve written before, any self-basting turkey is loaded with salt, upwards of 300 mgs in four ounces.

If you’re likely to eat much more than four ounces, there goes your salt count for the day. So scout out a fresh or organic turkey with no added salt. I found a great deal on a fresh turkey at Costco today, $1.09 a pound, considerably cheaper than the $2,49 a pound I saw at other retailers carrying fresh birds.

Costco has a great price of $1.09 a pound for fresh, low-sodium Butterball turkeys.

Costco has a great price of $1.09 a pound for fresh, low-sodium Butterball turkeys.

My Butterball fresh has only 70 mgs of sodium per four ounces, what’s naturally in the turkey itself. Always read the nutrition label before buying, I saw some Butterball fresh turkeys at local retailer Jewel that had more salt, I couldn’t tell what the difference was other than the salt content, the labeling looked identical. Continue reading

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