Pasta, swordfish, eggplant — if you like all those, try this

Pasta is always a favorite for me, although these days I eat only multigrain pasta because of my heart issues. I normally make my own tomato sauce to avoid high-salt processed alternatives. But occasionally, I’ll try something without a traditional tomato sauce, like this fun-sounding dish, Sicilian Swordfish Pasta With Eggplant and Tomatoes.

Rigatoni with swordfish, eggplant and tomatoes.
Rigatoni with swordfish, eggplant and tomatoes.

Swordfish is a relatively healthy fish when it comes to the type of fat it contains, but eating large amounts of it could cause other problems since it’s a fish that can contain high levels of mercury (sorry, every food seems to have its ups and downs healthwise doesn’t it).

The recipe is fairly simple to make.

Step 1: Fry the Eggplant
Step 2: Infuse Oil With Garlic
Step 3: Add Swordfish and Cook
Step 4: Add Tomatoes, Wine, and Herbs
Step 5: Add Eggplant, Then Finish

For all the details, simply click here to go to the site where I found this recipe.

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Restaurant review: Five & Dime had bar food, but a surprise or two

Rooftop bars and restaurants are having their moment in Chicago these days, with people willing to pay up for expensive drinks that come with views of the city skyline.

My Chicago suburb has its own entry in the rooftop derby, albeit not one that looks at the skyline of Chicago. Five and Dime is mostly outdoor dining above two other restaurant below it. My brother-in-law wanted to go there for his recent birthday dinner.

Looking at the menu on-line, something I do whenever I go out to eat so I can search ahead for any low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar offerings, the only thing I saw that might possibly be ok for me was a salmon grilled with charred lemon, farro & quinoa, tomato, basil, olive oil for $23.75.

My poke at Five and Dime
My poke at Five and Dime

Grilled salmon tends to be my go-to at most upscale restaurants and I usually ask for it without whatever sauce or butter mixture they try to put on it.

But it gets tiring to have salmon every time I eat out, so I decided to try something else, a poke bowl with Ahi tuna sashimi over steamed rice, sesame seaweed salad, vegetables, spicy Kewpie aioli, tobiko & a big tempura shrimp for $16.75.

Poke bowls are another culinary hotspot these days, but I’ve read they can be unhealthy, primarily because many are loaded with white rice which I’ve been told by nutritionists not to eat. Sushi rice, often used in poke bowls, also contains more sugar, another reason to avoid it.

But the thought of some fresh ahi tuna applied to me, so I tried the Poke at Five and Dime. I was pleasantly surprised, first because there was not a massive amount of rice in it.

The tuna was fresh and tasty, I had the aioli brought on the side and didn’t eat it after tasting how spicy, and likely salty, it was. The seaweed was tasty, although I worry if there was salt on it. The pieces of cucumber were fresh and unadorned which was fine with me.

Did it fill me up? No, not really, but it was good. The birthday boy, meanwhile, got a big slab of ribs while my wife went with barbecued brisket. Neither healthy but they smelled and looked so good.

My wife’s brisket and fries.

Summer grilling: chicken breast, corn and asparagus

I’ve been blogging this week about easy summer grilling meals that also are low in salt, fat and sugar. Today’s pick is chicken breast topped with a low-salt, low-sugar barbecue sauce like the LocalFolks variety I buy.

Chicken breast is easy to overcook, especially if you worry about killing any harmful germs or bacteria it might carry. But overcooked chicken can be dry and rubbery. I finally found a guide that says cook a breast three minutes per side and use a meat thermometer to be sure it’s properly done inside. Continue reading “Summer grilling: chicken breast, corn and asparagus”

Summer grilling: Filet, asparagus and zucchini make a great, quick meal

Red meat is something I eat very sparingly since my two stents done in 2012 and 2017. When I do have it, I opt for the leanest possible meat.

When thinking about having a steak, I opt for a filet mignon, waiting for them to go on sale at local stores and then stocking up for the summer. I normally eat only four- or five-ounce sizes.

Grilling these is fairly simply, a guide I found online says 10-12 minutes for medium-rare, turning once. I like mine extremely rare, so usually go four minutes per side before checking it. That’s on a gas grill with burners at medium heat. I season with a salt-free pepper mixture we buy at our local spice store.

At the same time I’m doing the steak, I’ll put on trays of asparagus and cut-up zucchini, each with olive-oil sprayed on and an Italian spice mixture liberally applied. Cooking time depends on how thinly you sliced your zucchini, I usually check at 3 minutes and turn them if they’ve begun to brown. Same for the asparagus which tend to take a minute or too longer. Check the links  here for more specifics about cooking time for each.

Enjoy!

 

Lettuce recalls are everywhere this summer, take care

After my first stent was put in back in 2012, the hospital nutritionist I consulted with basically told me the only thing I could eat for lunch was lettuce.

This is what a Costco food court Caesar salad looks like when you unwrap it, a giant cup of fat-filled Caesar dressing and a mound of high-salt, high-fat grated cheese
Salads like this Costco one have been off my menu this summer because of recall after recall.

So lunch salads have pretty much become my daily routine. But not this summer. Lettuce recalls have been popping up at both places to eat out like McDonald’s and food retailers like Trader Joe’s and Kroger.  Continue reading “Lettuce recalls are everywhere this summer, take care”

A vacation breakfast challenge — avoid the pastry

Vacation eating is always fraught with tension for anyone concerned about their salt, saturated fat and sugar intake. It becomes even more of a challenge in a country like Italy with all its wonderful gastronomic creations.

I’ve been vacationing in southern Italy and trying to stick to simple seafood dishes for dinner, but breakfast presents its own challenges. Continue reading “A vacation breakfast challenge — avoid the pastry”

Vacation eating — joy or fear?

I’m trying to walk a middle ground, which has meant ordering seafood as often as possible and minimizing my pasta, pastry and gelato intake.

Maintaining a heart-healthy diet takes a lot of inner discipline given that we’re surrounded by so many food options that are high in salt, saturated fat and sugar. The task becomes even more daunting when you’re on vacation, especially in a foreign country with even more foods you love.

I’ve been vacationing in Italy, my ancestral homeland, with a large group of cousins. That means meals here have been wonderful family affairs with so many food options its difficult to count them all. But most involve salt and sugar. What to do, fear everything I eat or put diet concerns aside for the duration of the trip?

Pasta portions are smaller in Italy, thankfully.

I’m trying to walk a middle ground, which has meant ordering seafood as often as possible and minimizing my pasta, pastry and gelato intake. Southern Italy is a wonderful place to eat seafoods. I had a piece of amberjack in a light tomato sauce last night, for example, something I rarely see on US menus.

I’ve also had oysters and clams, albeit with pasta. Pasta portion sizes are smaller here than in the US, which is a good thing since we tend to fill plates to overflowing at home.

Gelato, of course, is the hardest goodie to pass up, especially when everyone else keeps pushing for it. And with that, I don’t do small portions well.

Grilled vegetables are on every menu in Italy, a wonderful, simply side dish .

I’m assuming I’ll gain weight on this trip, we’ll see how much when I’m back in the States and have a scale again. Then it will also be back to strictly watching the salt, fat and sugar,