Roasted Garlic Lemon Broccoli, one healthy recipe out of nine ‘amazing’ ones

When I see a headline like “9 Amazing Broccoli Recipes Everyone Will Love” I have to stop and read it. AS I suspected, however, most of these ‘amazing’ recipes were high in salt, or fat, or both. I did find one, however, that would fit our low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar criteria, roasted garlic lemon broccoli.

The recipe is simple to make as well:

  • Preheat the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a bowl, toss the broccoli pieces with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, garlic, and pepper. [LEAVE OUT THE SALT, IT’S NOT NEEDED WITH GARLIC]
  • Spread the broccoli on a baking sheet and bake for at least 15 minutes until the broccoli is tender.
  • After 20 minutes, transfer roasted broccoli into a serving platter.
  • Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the preparation and serve with a tangy twist.

Summer no-salt shopping — my latest assortment of goodies

The Pandemic knocked a lot of no-salt food products off mainstream store shelves as retailers pared down their assortments to concentrate on stocking their biggest sellers. So those of us eating no-salt diets had to turn elsewhere, primarily online to places like Healthy Heart Market..

I’ve written about Healthy Heart before, noting it can get expensive to ship heavy food offerings. But sometimes there’s no alternative for a given product you want.

I’ve been buying reduced sodium pickles, for example, but really wanted salt-free ones. Healthy Heart has its own brand of no-salt pickles. Buying just two jars, though, doubled the cost when shipping was added in. So I decided to look for other items to spread out the shipping cost a bit.

My Healthy Heart Market purchase, and the bill.

I also bought some lite Greek dressing, which I’ve reviewed here in the past, some Mrs. Dash salt-free fajita mix since I can’t find that locally, a jar of no-salt tomato paste (not pictured) and some no-salt bullion.

I’m particularly interested in trying to bouillon since I rarely eat any soup these days because of the the high salt content.

My bill came to $52.36, of which $14.55 was shipping (I used a $5-off shipping deal).

Expensive, yes, but with my blood pressure rising all through the pandemic, despite my doctor adjusting my various medications, the more salt I can get out of my diet, the better.

An alternative for getting the salt out of your taco seasoning mix

I’m a big fan of all the Mrs. Dash salt-free products and have written before about the Mrs. Dash salt-free taco seasoning packets I buy. These are the best way to get salt out of your tacos, along with buying no-salt, or low-salt tortillas and using lean ground turkey or extra-lean ground beef to eliminate fat as well.

But Mrs. Dash products ahve become much harder to find during the pandemic as major food stores cut down on their variety of products to concentrate filling their shelves with their biggest sellers. So if you can’t find Mrs. Dash locally, what can you do? Buying online is a more expensive alternative. But you also can search for store brand offerings that are lower in salt.

Always check salt content, even for a product labeled reduced sodium.

I found this Signature Select store brand (sold by Jewel in the Chicago area, an Albertson’s supermarket). The package says it has 30% less salt than comparable products. The nutritional panel lists 250 mgs of sodium for two teaspoons, noting there are six servings in the packet, which means a total of 1,500 mgs of sodium in one package (a day’s supply of sodium, basically).

That is a ton more than Mrs. Dash but it is lower than some mainstream brands. Old El Paso, for example, lists 300 mgs times six servings or 1,800 mgs. A third off that would be 1,200 mgs, so the Signature Select 30% less doesn’t hold up here.

McCormick Taco seasoning has 380 mgs of salt times six servings so 2,280 mgs. A third off that would be 1,520, so maybe that was the brand used to make that 30% off comparison.

The bottom line here — there is a lot of hidden salt in taco seasoning. Use salt-free whenever you can, but if you must pick an alternative, read the nutrition labels and look for ones labeled reduced sodium.

Another answer for rising food prices — check the dollar stores

Food prices have been going up during the pandemic and continued to do so even as Covid is becoming less of a threat to those of us who have been vaccinated. So how do you cope, especially on a limited budget?

Where do you buy your produce?

Dollar stores are one alternative, and a recent study says dollar store produce is no lower in quality than traditional grocery produce.

“Researchers from this study found no distinct differences between the supermarket and dollar store produce quality, although the dollar stores offered slightly less variety. The only major difference was in the price of the produce, as fruits and vegetables purchased from a dollar store were 84 percent less expensive, on average,” reports CookingLight.com

The study looked at dollar stores and traditional supermarkets in Las Vegas. The farther west you go, the more likely dollar stores are to sell fresh produce. Those in the Chicago area I frequent do not, but I have seen pineapples for $1 in California dollar stores, for example.

So where you live will likely influence how helpful this tip is for your shopping. Also, keep in mind the dollar stores that do carry produce generally do not have organic products, so if you prefer those you still need to pay up.

A Memorial Day Grilling Treat: Stuffed Turkey Burgers

Memorial Day cookouts should be a little more special this year as families become fully vaccinated and so gather again. You can grill and eat relatively low-salt, low-fat and low-sugar, just check some of the recipes on my recipe page. Or try this new recipe I found recently for stuffed turkey burgers.

This burger is basically healthier take on the Minnesota classic jucy Lucy, which is two burger patties squished together around a center of cheese.

For the turkey burger, the creator (she has a video you can watch) suggests lean ground turkey and part-skim mozzarella. I go farther and get either fat-free mozzarella or reduced fat mozzarella which has even less fat than the skim kind.

Your turkey meatloaf ready to cook
Two of my ground turkey recipes, meatloaf and meatballs.

You stuff your turkey burgers with mozzarella and roasted red pepper, seal them, and then grill like you would any other burger. The full recipe is here, just click.

Lean ground turkey is a great substitute for ground beef. I use it in meatballs, tacos and even meatloaf, as well as for burgers.

Summer cookbooks to help you stay low-salt, low-fat and low-sugar

One of 17 cookbooks available from the American Heart Association.

With summer just around the corner, I’m cleaning out my in-bin of several cookbooks sent to me over the past year that can help you eat healthier.

The first is The Clean & Simple Diabetes Cookbook by Jackie Newgent, which is backed by the American Diabetes Association. As the name implies, it uses simple, whole ingredients to crate a full menu of dishes that avoid or minimize sugar.

Secondly, check out the American Heart Association cookbook page for 17 cookbooks aimed to provide heart-healthy recipes. I thin the AHA often doesn’t go far enough in eliminating salt, fat and sugar from many of the produces and recipes it endorses, but these recipes are a good starting point, modify them further to eliminate more of the evil big three as you cook. I reviewed one of these books, Cooking in Color, just click here to read what I said about it.

A taco primer: tacos can be low-salt, low-fat, if you watch the ingredients you use

Taco Tuesday has become a regular thing, especially during the pandemic, when members of various online food groups were all posting pictures of their latest taco creations. But like most ethnic foods, tacos also can be quite unhealthy for you — high in salt (in the shells) and fat (in the meats used).

But you can control all that in tacos you make at home. This piece, Are Tacos Healthy? Ingredients, Calories, and Serving Sizes, provides a great overview of tacos and the ingredients you should be using. Unfortunately, it doesn’t include salt content for some of the options it provides, but it does warn against high salt, high-fat shells.

I’ve written about how you should seek out low-salt and no-salt corn soft tortillas for your tacos. I’ve also highlighted using Mrs. Dash salt-free taco spice mix, a fixture in my kitchen.

I normally make tacos with ground turkey to get a lean protein option. Recently, though, I used shrimp for a change pf pace. The shrimp I bought were precooked, so they jsut needed some warm in a frying pan with Mrs Dash taco spices mixed with water. I had first made some peppers and onions in the same pan to flavor it, eventually cooking everything together.

We did splurge that night with some hard taco shells I found which were low in salt. They remain relatively high in fat (7 grams each), so most of the time, I’d opt for the soft ones instead.

The ‘Cookbook of Healthy Living & No Regrets’ — handy for those cutting sugar

Jayne J. Jones went through a harrowing health crisis before being diagnosed with diabetes. It prompted her to change how she eats and to create the Cookbook of Healthy Living & No Regrets and to dub herself the No Sugar Baker.

If you can’t eat sugar but crave baked goods of all sorts, this book will interest you. The baking section is extensive. Actually, you could say two sections are devoted to baking — one for brunch baking and another just to baked goods.

As someone who doesn’t bake, I was most interested in the sections entitles Salads, Sides & Soups and Family Dinner Time Treats.

Those sections are a reminder of how difficult it is to cut, salt, fat and sugar from recipes you love and still have something you love. The recipes in those sections cut the sugar, but include butter, bacon, pork rinds and other ingredients that are high in salt and fat (specifically bad fat).

So if you need to cut sugar, this could be a cooking guide for you (I’m actually sending my copy to a friend who was recently diagnosed with diabetes and is scrambling to change how he eats). If you want to cut sugar, fat and salt, check my recipe page as a start, and also look at some of the other recipe sites I have here.

Sugar — good or bad? A debate actually exists

After I had my first angioplasty, I consulted with three nutritionists about what I could eat going foreword. Their recommendations differed a great deal, but all seemed to agree I should cut salt, fat and sugar out of my diet.

Of those, I have found sugar the hardest to give up. There’s no question that when I do give it up, I lose large amounts of weight. But I also become severely depressed and listless.

One of my favorite sugar carriers.

So I’d love someone to come along and say it’s ok to eat as much candy, cake and other sugary treats as I want. That’s not happening just now, but there is some debate going on about sugar, as this piece I found on stack.com outlines.

The piece is aimed at athletes and summarizes a study  published in the Journal of Progressive Cardiovascular Disease on the topic. Sadly though the link given for the article is a dead-end.

“Lack of physical activity, more so than sugar, is a greater threat to our health. Given that so many people are overfat and underfit, a diet low in sugars and starches is likely a good idea for them. But for sports-active, fit people—who are at lower risk for heart disease, diabetes, and obesity—sugar and carbs are not toxic but rather a helpful way to enhance athletic performance. The one-size diet does not fit all,” the piece states.

I doubt that at my age I could ever be active enough to balance out all the sugar I’d like to consume, so I’ll just keep trying to limit it.

A quick primer on low-sodium, reduced-sodium, et. al.

This blog is all about eating less sodium (and less fat and sugar). Cutting back on salt helped lower my blood pressure over the years and can do the same for you. We write about low-salt foods and recipes so much, we assume everyone knows how much salt they should be eating every day. But of course that’s not true, so here’s a quick primer we found recently on tylerpaper.com.

“The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams a day of sodium and moving toward an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults. On average, Americans eat more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium each day,” writes Claudann Jones Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

Looks promising, lots of protein too.
Read every label for salt content!

The author talks about where to find salt content on food labels and also includes this handy primer of all the terms food processors use about salt, most designed to make you think the products have less sodium than they actually do:

• Sodium-free – Less than 5 milligrams of sodium per serving and contains no sodium chloride

• Very low sodium – 35 milligrams or less per serving

• Low sodium – 140 milligrams or less per serving

• Reduced (or less) sodium – At least 25 percent less sodium per serving than the usual sodium level

• Light (for sodium-reduced products) – If the food is “low calorie” and “low fat” and sodium is reduced by at least 50 percent per serving

• Light in sodium – If sodium is reduced by at least 50 percent per serving

She also reminds readers to think about how many servings of a given product they would normally eat. The label lists salt for one serving but who really eats only one serving of anything?

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