With Thanksgiving 2021 almost here, you’re likely scrambling to get ready like so many of us are. As a service, here are links to 10 stories that might help. The best place to find low-salt, low-fat and low-sugar holiday recipes is still our recipe page, just click here to see it.
Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving. Even in this difficult year, hopefully, you have much to be thankful for.
Amazon Fresh Stores have come to the Chicago area, with one now open in the northern suburb of Morton Grove, only a short drive from my house. So I went to check it out. I was disappointed to see none of my favorite low-salt and no-salt products on shelves.
Prices were comparable, or sometimes higher, than other mainstream supermarkets and the only sales I saw were in the produce section.
This is a high-tech store. You can shop and checkout with the Amazon app on your phone, with no need to wait on checkout lines. But the day I visited, everyone was on checkout lines, I saw no one going out through the automatic areas where you could scan your app to pay and exit.
I’d written you might have to buy a bigger bird than you wanted this year. But what I found was the opposite, larger turkeys, those over 14 pounds, were extremely difficult o find, regardless of salt content.
I started at a local Jewel, an Albertson chain in the Chicago area, where I found Butterball premium turkeys that were loaded with salt. I next tried Whole Foods, one had no turkeys whatsoever, the other had only frozen turkeys. A butcher there told me fresh turkeys would be in a few days later. But when I returned on that day, they had yet to appear.
I then swung by a local Mariano’s outlet (a Kroger chain in the Chicago area). Its website listed a low-sodium Jenny O turkey option but there were none in the store I went to.
This site, the No Salt, No Fat, No Sugar Journal hit a record number of views for a year, 66,881, with two months still remaining in 2021. Its previous annual high was 65,965 views in 2017. The site is on track to smash through 70,000 views by the end of the year.
The site also has had a record number of visitors in 2021 — 36,588 — compared to its previous annual record of 34,756 in 2020.
The site’s most popular feature is its recipe page, which has been updated with Pandemic recipes for families now eating more at home than ever before.
“The Pandemic no doubt has sent people,e looking for healthier recipes and healthier ingredients and they are increasingly finding information about that and more on our site,” says John N. Frank, founder of the site which went live in late 2013 as Frank was recovering from his first heart surgery in 2012.
The site has recorded more than 430,000 views since it began with more than 226,000 total visitors. “It’s gratifying and humbling,” says Frank, who began the site after leaving an earlier site he had founded because of differences about its direction with a former writing partner.
“I wanted our site to be about good eating, even with health restrictions, but my old partner wanted to concentrate on medical information. I’m not a doctor, I’m a home cook who wants to find ways to cut fat, salt and sugar in the foods I love to cook, so that’s what I’ve been doing these past eight years here. I’m so happy to have found an audience that wants to do the same.”
If you know someone who loves quinoa, here’s a great holiday gift suggestion for them (or for you if you love quinoa) — a new cookbook that has more than 100 recipes using quinoa.
Written by Catherine Gill, who writes the Dirty Vegan website and wrote the Dirty Vegan Cookbook, the book is aimed at vegan and plant-based diets adherents.
But quinoa also is a heart-healthy ingredient that anyone like me with heart disease should be aware of and use in their cooking.
“The fiber in quinoa can also help with cholesterol and blood sugar levels, lowering your risk of diabetes and heart disease,” notes WebMD in its discussion about quinoa.
The book includes recipes using quinoa for breakfast, snacks and appetizers, lunch and dinner, and even desserts. Quinoa-stuffed grape leaves in the appetizer section got my attention, I may try those for a holiday meal.
Each recipe comes with a tip for making it, but unfortunately, the recipes don’t list nutrition information for finished dishes.
Not many cookbooks do that, granted, but seeing that can make heart-healthy meal planning so much easier.
The book retails for $20 on Amazon. At a time when everyone is cooking more because of the Pandemic, this could be a great gift.
When you’re trying to get the salt out of your diet, you need to be constantly aware of the salt hidden in every food you buy. This was recently brought home to me when my wife asked me to pick up a can of garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas).
She planned to put them into a homemade soup that she wanted to be low-salt for me. Luckily, when I was searching for them, I came across a low-salt variety.
The low-salt chickpeas had only135 mgs of salt per serving. Regular brands had 340 mgs! Multiply that by the number of servings per can and you can see your salt intake rising before your eyes.
The Pandemic, and how supermarkets and other food sellers have reacted, has certainly made it more difficult to eat healthy. Last Thanksgiving, for example, I wasn’t able to find fresh, low-salt turkeys at Costco for the first time in years.
Readers also keep writring me to tell me low-salt products I’ve written about in the past are no longer aavilable at Trader Joes, so I’ve created the hastag #ShameonTraderJoes.
Here’s a list of items I was able to buy pre-pandemic which are no longer available on store shelves in my area:
Trader’s Joe’s salt-free shrimp sauce.
Trader Joe’s salt-free marinara sauce
Mrs. Dash salt-free teriyaki sauce
Salt-free fresh turkeys at Costco
Low-fat frozen yogurt at Costco (chocolate was dropped pre-Pandemic, but vanilla is gone now too, replaced by ice cream)
Low-salt canned olives at several retailers (others still have them)
Trader Joes salt-free wheat bread (this disappeared before the pandemic, but its worth mentioning for #ShameonTraderJoes)
Stores are stocking the highest volumes products they sell now, and dropping others to simplify thier supply chain problems. And tjhose of us wanting to eat healthy are suffering as a result.
eI’ve turned to more stocking up when I do find items that can be stored. I’ve also done more shopping online at Amazon and Healthy Heart Market, despite the higher prices and shipping costs involved. I’m willing to pay those prices now, I want to survive this Pandemic and that means not letting the virus, or salt kill me.
Shortages, and talk of soon-to-happen shortages, have become a regular feature of the Covid Pandemic over the past two years. Already, stories are emerging about turkey shortages for Thanksgiving.
Doing some research, I found some of those stories overblown. The shortages are likely to be for fresh, smaller turkeys, those under 16 pounds. Of course, fresh turkeys also are low-sodium turkeys. They haven’t been injected with high-salt solutions like many frozen ones. I wrote about salt differences in turkeys back in 2014, read details by clicking here.
So, if like me, you’re planning to buy a fresh turkey, shop earlier than usual and freeze it until Thanksgiving. And think about buying a larger turkey than you otherwise might to get a better selection. I did that last year after a long quest for a fresh turkey, grabbing a 19-pound bird at a local Whole Foods for our small Thanksgiving gathering in the first year of the Pandemic.
You can easily freeze leftovers for a variety of future uses like your own homemade low-sodium soup or turkey fajitas which I made after last Thanksgiving.
Good hunting, and an early Happy Thanksgiving to you!
Walden Farms recently announced a rebranding of its salad dressings to feature more natural ingredients.
Walden touts the dressings by saying they are “proudly free from artificial flavors and dyes, made with real vegetables, fruit fibers and ingredients. Offering a full line of specialty condiments and food enhancers with zero calories, zero net carbs, zero sugar and zero fat, Walden Farms uniquely provides consumers with unmatched attributes vs. other brands in the marketplace.”
While I applaud the no fat, no sugar message, I also would like to see some salt-free varieties offered. In e-mailing with a Walden representative, I requested a sample of the lowest salt dressing in the line, the Ranch dressing.
It’s always fun to speak with someone who is passionate about food. Online nutritionist Healthy Emmie certainly fits in that category. We recently spoke about her expectations for American eating habits post-pandemic, as well as about her philosophy of healthy eating.
“This pandemic is changing everything, it’s making people look twice at taking health into their own hands, ” says Emmie, who began her healthy eating quest at age 19.
Now 26, Emmie, a vegan, offers a program called the Slim on Starch Weight Loss Program. She developed her eating philosophy as she helped her parents become healthier. Seeing it work on them, she now promotes it to the world.
She believes in whole-food, plant-based eating and includes starchy items like potatoes and white rice — which some nutritionists shun — in her diet.
Her theory — eating only greens (as I did after my first heart surgery) will leave you hungry and likely send you back to unhealthy eating habits. Including healthy starches can fill you up and keep you plant-based.
“Starch is to satiety as water is to thirst,” she says.
You can download her sample one-day eating plan from her website by clicking here. Scroll to the bottom of the page to get it.
Plant-based, whole-food eating for her doesn’t include all the imitation meat products coming to market in recent days. I agree, so many of those are high in salt and fat, they really are no better for you than real meat.
I’ve written in the past that I’m not ready to go completely plant-based (my daughter has, she’s leading the family on that front). But I see world eating habits moving in that direction, especially among Millennials and Gen Zers.
As the Pandemic has progressed, Emmie has seen two types of people — those who used the pandemic early on to get a better grip on their health; and those who binged, gained pandemic pounds, and now need to address being heavier than they want or should be. Her business doubled during the Pandemic, says Emmie, who in based in Boston.
“No matter what has happened during the Pandemic, it’s never too late to get started with a healthy diet, start today,” she advises.