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.

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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.

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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!


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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.


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McDonald’s chicken recipe is getting simplified; Bravo!

McDoanld’s is a difficult place to get anything low-salt, low-fat or low-sugar. These days all I eat there are salads and yogurt parfaits. The parfaits have come in for criticism for being high in sugar. The salads have a lot of salt, and an impossible amount if you add any of the dressing supplied, so I usually bring my own vinegar and oil packets instead.

I’m not the only one eating there less, Millennials who grew up with Ronald are turning away in droves. The Big Mac seems to be getting the message and is moving as fast as a major company can to change some things. I applaud the changes and say do more, more quickly, now.

McDonald's planned artisan chicken sandwich, with fewer harmful ingredients.

McDonald’s planned artisan chicken sandwich, with fewer harmful ingredients.

A major recent change was announced for its chicken. “The biggest change is the removal of sodium phosphates, which it said was used to keep the chicken moist, in favor of vegetable starch. The new recipe also does not use maltodextrin, which McDonald’s said is generally used as a sugar to increase browning or as a carrier for seasoning,” reported Fox News, and other outlets, recently.

Anything to cut sodium is great for me. A McChicken sandwich at the moment has 650 mgs of sodium, about half what I can eat a day, which is why I never buy one.

McDonald’s new Artisan chicken also will be cooked in an olive oil blend instead of margarine, according to another report. That can only help as well.

“McDonald’s new grilled chicken sandwich recipe has been introduced in response to consumer demands for simple ingredients, the company said. By removing artificial ingredients consumers are not familiar with, the company is making an effort to simplify their recipes and respond to increasing demands for natural foods,” reported Olive Oil Times.

Keep it up McDonald’s keep it up.


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Pearl Tavern — A Chicago seafood must try place

I love seafood, having grown up surrounded by it in New York. I particularly love oysters, clams and other shell-fish (mussels) which thankfully I can still eat on my post-angioplasty diet. Chicago’s Pearl Tavern is a must-go place for anyone who loves the types of seafood I just described.

The setting might be upscale bar, the space used to be long-time Chicago Irish bar Coogan’s and relatively little has changed, layout-wise (we were seated in the main bar room unfortunately, not one of the quieter side rooms), but the oysters, etc. are East (and West, they have both) Coast delicious. A full meal for my wife and I recently set her back (she treated) over $150, including wine. So be prepared to pay for the great tastes.

My incredible oyster plate at Pearl Tavern.

My incredible oyster plate at Pearl Tavern.

I started with a dozen oysters, six East and six West Coast. A small chalk board on the table lists the varieties available each night. Each was fabulous, smooth and just dreamy, the way an oyster should taste. Continue reading

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Its National Salt Awareness Week – tips to shake the habit from Dietwise….

John N. Frank:

I apparently missed salt awareness week, catching up with this post.

Originally posted on Dietwise:

We all know that too much salt isn’t good for us for many reasons. Here’s a quick chart of suitable substitutes to help you chuck the habit, without losing the taste!

salt substitutes-page-001 (2)

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