Thanksgiving low-salt, low-fat food shopping — last-minute tips

Thanksgiving is almost here, if you’re still shopping for your home-cooked menu  ingredients, I wish you all the luck in the world. Here are some quick tips for a happy low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar Thanksgiving meal.

Beware turkeys like this one that are self-basting. They're loaded with salt.

Beware turkeys like this one that are self-basting. They’re loaded with salt.

  • Buy a fresh turkey. At this point, you won’t have time to defrost a frozen one anyway and who needs all the salt in those frozen, self-basting ones. Check the nutrition label, please, please, please, for sodium. A fresh turkey will have 70 mgs of sodium a serving, frozen and ones with basting liquids in them can have five times that much!!!! Costco had fresh turkey for 99 cents a pound this year, 10 cents a pound cheaper than last. Other stores in my area had fresh turkey for anywhere from $2,48 to $3.99 a pound.
  • Buy low-sodium or no-sodium chicken stock to inject into your turkey. Again, read the nutrition label before buying any so-called low-sodium stock. The lowest sodium brand I’ve found is called Pacific organic low-sodium free range chicken stock. It has only 70 mgs a serving too, while other so-called low- and even no-sodium varieties have 140 mgs or more.
  • If you must mash potatoes, try sweet or red potatoes and use skim milk and a low-fat butter alternative. Guests can always add real butter and salt at the table if they like. The potato varieties will mean less of a sugar load in your system eventually as well.
  • Use salt-free whole wheat bread for any bread stuffing. I buy a Trader Joe’s store brand variety, but there also is a salt-free Ezekiel whole wheat bread you can buy.

Continue reading

Posted in recipes, smart shopping | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Low-salt thanksgiving sides — modify these recipes

Former Biggest Loser trainer Jillian Michaels often posts recipes, some I like, some I modify to make them lower in salt and fat. Here are two she posted recently for Thanksgiving that I would tweak a  bit to cut the salt and fat in them even further.

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

My take on broccoli for Thanksgiving — steam it

The first is for sweet potatoes. I have never particularly liked these, but they are a traditional Thanksgiving dish, so if you like them, try this recipe. Just leave out the salt, which is here at 118 mgs a serving (and who eats just one serving?).

I’d also leave out the butter, perhaps substituting a lower-fat butter alternative, and go easy on the syrup to cut the sugar, which is not listed in the nutrition info.

Continue reading

Posted in recipes | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A low-salt, low-fat Thanksgiving dinner — start your planning today

Thanksgiving is only a few days away, time to start planning how you’ll make it a low-salt, low-fat day but still enjoy traditional items like turkey and even mashed potatoes.

Time to eat all those turkeys! Happy Thanksgiving!

Time to eat all those turkeys! Buy a fresh one to cut salt that comes in self-basting, frozen ones. Happy Thanksgiving!

It takes a little smart shopping and a lot of recipe tweaking, but you can do it and I can show you how.

Check some of my past posts on low-salt side dishes, how to find a low-salt turkey, how to make low-salt stuffing and other tips to cut the salt. Continue reading

Posted in no-salt, recipes, smart shopping | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kroger buying Roundy’s — how the big food boys play

This blog normally writes about food, not food retailers, but I can;t resist saying something about the news today that Kroger, the country’s largest supermarket chain, is buying Roundy’s, a Midwest operator that’s become known for its new store concept, Mariano’s, which is taking the Chicago area by storm.

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 — will it and other Kroger store brand products start showing up in Mariano’s now?

Mariano’s is one of the new wave of supermarkets — it has more produce, more prepared foods and a smaller center store footprint, in industry parlance. That’s because people are buying less and less processed, prepackaged foods, no longer trusting big brands to give them healthy products in such formats.

Rather than try to copy the Mariano’s concept, Kroger is simply buying it. That’s what big companies do. The question now will be can Kroger continue to grow Mariano’s, perhaps taking it national, or will it kill it as big companies often do when they buy up smaller, more innovative brands.  Continue reading

Posted in smart shopping | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Sugar is in the health crosshairs again

I’ve written about how sugar is being demonized as the real cause of heart disease and other health problems. I’ve also said sugar has been the most difficult on the evil triad of foodstuffs — fat, salt and sugar — for me to give up. I’m down to about 100 grams a day, with much of that coming from bananas (16 grams each, I eat two a day, so 32 grams of sugar there to start).

I've found two brands of low-sodium,low-sugar ketchup, Westbrae and LocalFolks Foods.

I’ve found two brands of low-sodium,low-sugar ketchup, Westbrae and LocalFolks Foods.

The anti-sugar movement got a big push forward this week with new Food and Drug Administration recommendations that we should eat no more than 50 grams of sugar a day. The recommendation, the first time the agency has put a cap on sugar consumption, got massive media play, including this New York Times piece.

Sugar, like salt and fat, is in most every processed food. Items “like low-fat yogurt, granola and wholegrain breads, as well as in ketchup, pasta sauce, canned fruit and prepared soups, salad dressings and marinades,” reports the Times. Continue reading

Posted in binge eating, no-sugar, smart shopping | Tagged | Leave a comment

Mayo Clinic offers ‘heart healthy’ recipes

The Mayo Clinic has a so-called heart healthy recipe page that can give you some new cooking ideas.

Clean eating crock pot chicken

Clean eating crock pot chicken is a favorite heart healthy recipe of mine.

I say so-called, because I question some of the ingredients in some of these recipes, wondering about things like baking powder which has salt in it, for example. I was surprised to see any baked goods on the heart healthy list since baked cooks always seem to be a problem for my blood pressure and my weight. Continue reading

Posted in no-salt, recipes | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Evanston’s Celtic Knot surprised me with a nice salmon salad

The Celtic Knot is along-time fixture in my Chicago suburb of Evanston but I have not gone there in the three years since my angioplasty because the place advertises that it specializes in pub grub — exactly the kinds of foods I can no longer eat because they tend to be high in salt and fat.

My Celtic Knot salmon salad.

My Celtic Knot salmon salad.

So I wasn’t sure what I would eat there when I went to a recent event held in a private room at the downtown Evanston restaurant. I brought along my own oil and vinegar packets just in case those simple salad condiments weren’t available.

Continue reading

Posted in eating out, no-salt, seafood | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Another knock on processed meats, this one from WHO

Processed meats, such as hot dogs and cold cuts, are full of sodium and other things that have led me and many others to avoid them in recent years. I’m always amused by Subway calling its sandwiches healthy when they’re filled with high-sodium processed meats, for example.

Nathan's hot dogs and waffle fries, wondrous stuff.

Nathan’s hot dogs and waffle fries, wondrous stuff.

Another knock on processed meats came from the World Health Organization (WHO) recently. It pointed to a link between an increased likelihood of cancer and the consumption of processed meats. The report also threw in red meat as a possible cancer causer. Continue reading

Posted in angioplasty, binge eating, blood pressure, eating out, ingredients | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Primo in Gurnee (IL.) — a primo lunch spot

Italian restaurants always worry me these days, not because I don;t love Italian food, but because my post-angioplasty diet means I shouldn’t eat regular pasta, or any sauces that are high in sodium. So when a friend suggested meeting for lunch at Primo in Gurnee, Il., not far from the Great America amusement park, I was apprehensive.

Octopus and potatos at Primo's. Bravo!

Octopus and potatos at Primo’s. Bravo!

My fears were misplaced, however. First we were told the minestrone soup for the day was low-sodium, I cannot remember when I’ve been told that in a restaurant before. I did not try it, but did yet the octopus appetizer, along with a half-dozen oysters, for a seafood lunch. Continue reading

Posted in eating out, seafood | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Rice bread — a nice low-salt alternative if you’re craving toast

I posted recently about trying rice toast on a recent visit with my son and daughter-in-law in Minnesota’s Twin Cities. I had the toast at  a farm-to-table place called the Co-Op Creamery.

My rice bread find from Minneapolis. A nice low-salt alternative to high-sodium white breads.

My rice bread find from Minneapolis. A nice low-salt alternative to high-sodium white breads.

Not sure what the nutritional profile was for rice bread, I sought it out later in my visit while we were shopping at the Seward Co-op my son belongs to and shops at.

Sure enough, I found some in the bread section and was pleasantly surprised to see it is a low-salt alternative to traditional wheat breads. Continue reading

Posted in angioplasty, ingredients, no-salt, smart shopping | Tagged , , | Leave a comment