Taco Nano, a different sort of taco place

Charity auctions are a favorite activity of mine. In fact our theater company, the 2nd Act Players, is planning our first-ever charity auction this September. Check our website for more details as we get closer to the Sept. 10 date. But getting back to food, I recently won a gift card to Taco Nano, which bills itself as a fresh Mexican-style place in the Chicago northern suburb of Northfield.TacoNanoLogo

Going there for dinner on a Friday night, my wife and I were surprised by the crowds. It’s obviously a popular place but is it healthy? As a small place, it isn’t required to post nutrition information on its offerings and doesn’t. So eating there was a shot-in-the-dark nutrition-wise. Continue reading

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Hospital food is inhospitable to healthy eating

As I write this today I unfortunately find myself in a hospital. A routine surgery I had last week has produced a massive infection in my ear (where the surgery wad done). The infection got so bad, I came to the emergency room at roughly 5 a.m. and am now being kept overnight here in Evanston Hospital.

My Evanston Hospital lunch, stripped of all salty dressings and sauces.

My Evanston Hospital lunch, stripped of all salty dressings and sauces.

After spending about four hours getting some excruciating treatments done in the ER, I was moved to a room and hoped to be able to eat since I’ve been up since 4 a.m. I quickly learned words mean something different here, unfortunately. I spoke to the only nurse who has visited me for the last five hours and she said she ordered me food. Continue reading

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Salt is everywhere, learn where it’s hiding

Helping you get the salt out of your diet is a major reason this blog exists. Americans eat at least twice as much salt daily as they should. And if you eat a lot of processed or restaurant foods, your salt totals are likely even higher. So remember where salt is hiding in your daily diet.

Salt can lead to stomach cancer, one more reason to get it out of your diet.

Too much salt will be in processed ad restaurant foods for years to come.

The Huffington Post last month had a good checklist of things to avoid because they’re loaded with salt.

The main culprits — soups, bread, cheese, cold cuts, prepared chicken and breakfast foods. I haven’t eaten much soup in recent years because all prepared soups and restaurant soups are high in sodium too high for my post-angioplasty diet. even so-called low-sodium broths can have high levels of sodium. Continue reading

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Grilled artichokes — where have you been all my life?

Artichokes were always a  treat when I was a kid growing up in my Italian-American corner of Brooklyn. But I never imagined WASPs and others eating them. Today, though, they seem to be everywhere, on one restaurant menu after another.

My grilled artichoke, along with corn, cucumber salad and tomato salad.

My grilled artichoke, along with corn, cucumber salad and tomato salad.

I’ve enjoyed grilled artichokes at several places but never tried making them that way myself until this past July 4th. What took me so long? I loved, loved loved them, thanks t this recipe I found at AllRecipes.com Continue reading

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Tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions…gotta love it

July 4th was a cookout day for us, as it was for many, many Americans. In addition to grilling salmon and extra-lean beef burgers, we made a variety of cold salads that I thought I’d blog about so you can enjoy them too. The first involved tomatoes, cucumbers and red onions along with cheese. Here’s a link to the the original recipe my wife found.

A fun salad for July 4th, or any meal where you want fresh ingredients.

A fun salad for July 4th, or any meal where you want fresh ingredients.

I write often here about my love of tomatoes, so how could I not love this salad? We did make one major modification however to cut the fat in it. Continue reading

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No salt, no sugar, 4th of July recipes

Happy July 4th everyone, time to heat up the grills and celebrate. And don’t be discouraged that traditional July 4th food is filled with salt, fat and sugar, the devil’s triangle of food additives in our country. I’ve written about how someone trying to avoid them can starve on July 4th at someone else’s house.

In another sheet of aluminum foil, place your four pieces of salmon and separate with aluminum foil. Then rub in marinades for each.

Grilling salmon is a luscious experience. Click the links here to see two grilled salmon recipes form Costco.

So take charge of your diet and look to our recipe page for a variety of dishes you can make today, like:

You don’t have to fast on the 4th when you’re trying to eat healthy. We have recipes for you. Enjoy the day!

John

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Bread and salt — here’s how to break that troubling link

Bread has largely been out of my diet since I began efforts to reduce my daily intake of sodium. Most breads, whether packaged or made fresh at local bakeries, are loaded with salt. I’ve worked hard to find a salt-free whole wheat bread and other varieties like a brown rice bread.

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.

So I was intrigued to see a Bon Appetit e-mail with the subject line We Asked a Nutritionist: Which Bagged Bread Is Healthiest? Clicking through to the story, I found that headlined How to Find the Healthiest Bagged Bread at the Supermarket.

It’s an informative piece, separating out bread myth from reality and rating various types of bread. I’d hoped it would look at brands of bread too, but no luck on that front. It did take on two of the three food demons — salt and sugar.

“Aim for bread with less than 150 mg of sodium per slice of bread,” Carrie Motschwiller, a registered dietitian and wellness manager in New York City, says in the piece. I’d go further and try to cut out all salt in bread or simply skip the bread. Continue reading

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Stunning tomato recipes — maybe not stunning but worth checking

As a former online news editor, I’m always amused at the subject lines publications use in their emails to increase their open rates. I recently got one from Cooking Light, for example, that had the subject line “Stunning Tomato Recipes.”

MY cherry tomatoes on a baking sheet, ready for roasting

Given my love of tomatoes how could I not open an emailed with the subject line Stunning Tomato Recipes?

How could I not open that, given my professed love of tomatoes? Needless to say, I didn’t really find the recipes stunning. And several likely have more fat, salt or sugar than I want to eat, but there were some I may try and recommend to others to check out.

The tomato and cucumber salad looks tasty and I was intrigued by what “sweet peach dressing” was. Clicking through to that recipe, I founds it included sugar, which I would leave out. The peach should be sweet and vinegar fools our taste buds into tasting sweet, so the sugar is not needed. I’d also leave off the salt in the recipe for the salad itself. Continue reading

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Know your chicken — here’s a great guide

As red meat has become demonized because of high fat content in recent years, people are turning more and more to chicken, and specifically lower-fat white meat chicken. I’ve been eating more chicken since my 2012 angioplasty on orders from my nutritionists, leading me to continually search for ways to bring some taste to white-meat chicken.chickgravy

When you go shopping for chicken, remember all chicken is not the same and a lot of the things you think you know about what makes for healthy chicken may be plain wrong. Cooking Light recently put out a great overview of the chicken world, The Definitive Guide to Healthy Chicken, which I recommend you read.

It goes after the myths about chickens, which far too many people believe. Continue reading

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Zucchini lovers rejoice — here’s 10 recipe options

Zucchini is one of my favorite vegetables to grill. Normally I just spray on some olive oil and some Italian spices and leave it at that, eating it as a side dish for such main courses as swordfish, tilapia, salmon and Fourth of July cookout favorites.

Zucchini on the gas grill, basted with olive oil and Italian spices.

Zucchini on the gas grill, basted with olive oil and Italian spices.

So I was excited to see a recent New York Times Cooking headline: Our 10 Most Popular Zucchini Recipes. I expected there would be some in there that are not low-salt, low-fat or low-sugar and I was right. Continue reading

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