Deal shopping — even at Whole Foods

I don;t regularly shop at Whole Foods. I find the prices too high for the value delivered, given that it has so few low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar products on its shelves.

There used to be two low-fat cookie brands offered that I would go specifically to Whole Foods for, but both have disappeared from its shelves, for example.

Also, I find it frustrating that different Whole Foods carry different products so that I ahve to search out the few healthy offerings it does have. An example is the Localfolks brand I’ve blogged about in the past. Localfolks low-sodium ketchup is a must-have for me but I can only find it at one Whole Foods store in a neighboring suburb, rather than the two Whole Foods that are in my town.

So I was at that neighboring Whole Foods recently to stock up on LocalFolks and I decided to scan the aisles to see what other low-salt items I coudl find, and what deals I could find in that high-priced environment. I discovered soem items were on sale — but only for Amazon Prime members. Amazon owns Wholoe Food these days and seems to be struggling to find synergies. These meber-only sales are one fo those.

I’m a Prime member and have download the special Amazon Prime/Whole Foods app. I also carry my Prime credit card since at times there are deals for using that there as well.

Deals at Whole Foods? You can save some money if you shop smart there. Here’s a recent trip of mine during whihc I saved 12% off of full prices on some low-salt products.

My quest turned up two Localfolks low-salt barbecue sauce on sale, with an extra 10% off for Prime members, and a low-salt salad dressing on sale with the extra 10% off as well. I saved $6.73 on a $54.79 bill, roughly a 12% savings.

When I shop at traditional supermarkets, I normally aim to save at last 33% off of full prices, so 12% isn’t in that league. But it’s pretty good for a Whole Foods trip, a testament to smart shopping.

Product Review: Organicville No-salt-added dressing — thumbs up!

I’m always searching for new low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar products to add some taste to my otherwise bland diet. I recently found something new at Whole Foods, a store I don’t normally frequent because of its high prices and lack of many low-salt, low-fat products.

But Organicville No Added-salt Italian dressing was not only low-salt, but on sale for Amazon Prime members the day I was shopping. Normally $4.49 a bottle, I got it for $2.49 — still a high price for a relatively small bottle (keep in mind I buy my olive oil in large bottles at Costco).

An interesting new low-salt dressing option.

The dressing has only 5 mgs of salt per two tablespoons, so even if you drench your salad in it, like I tend to do, the salt content is relatively low. Its 4 grams of fat per two tablespoons also is low. And it tastes more interesting than plain oil and vinegar. The label talks about “zest” — I think that’s the pepper you taste.

One note of caution, though. The product is not shown on the Organicville site, so it may be discontinued. Perhaps that’s why it was on sale? I hope not. I’d like to think it’s new and so not yet listed on the site. But given how many low-salt products have been cut during the Pandemic, I’m a little worried. Buy this while you can, it may not be around much longer.

Why you have to read the nutrition label — a barbecue sauce comparison

I have repeatedly harped on the importance of reading food labels so you can stay on a low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar diet. And I’ve created an entire page of low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar products that I use regularly since my heart issues began in 2012.

With summer hear and all of us grilling outside again, reading labels becomes even more important for products you might not be using in winter, like barbecue sauce.

Take a look at these pictures of two brands — Localfolks low-salt, low-sugar barbecue sauce, and a store brand, Signature Select (an Albertson’s house brand). I use nothing by Localfolks now, but happened the get the Signature Select bottle free ina recent store give-away.

A serving of the Signature select, 37 grams, has 260 mgs of sodium and 12 grams of sugar, 14 grams of carbs if you count those as well.

The Localfolks measures one serving as an ounce, which is 28.34 grams, so about a third less. Still, it has only 30 mgs of sodium and 4 grams of sugar, five grams of carbs. Even adding a third to that gets you to only 40 mgs of sodium and about five and a third of sugar.

Salt and sugar hide in all processed foods, that’s wehy most Americans eat more than they should. Read those food labels, and happy grilling!

Grilled tuna steak, with a little extra — mango salsa and pineapple

Tuna steak is a great lean alternative to beef steaks. I regularly grill them in the summer months. Here’s a basic recipe for grilling tuna from the Food Network. Leave out the salt, of course.

And here’s how I recently went beyond the basic recipe to add even more flavor to our tuna steaks. I added some low-salt mango salsa I bought at Trader Joe’s. You can see on the TJ nutrition information page the salsa has only 35 mgs of sodium per serving, much less than most pre-made salsas. It also has no fat and only 3 grams of sugar per two tablespoons, enough to coat the tuna.

My mango, pineapple tuna on the grill, and the finished product.

To go even more tropical, I added slices of fresh pineapple. Pineapple sales has been plentiful this summer in the Chicago area. A whole pineapple is going for 88 cents, so I’m using it in more recipes than ever before.

With food prices rising because of the “Pandemic, look for every deal you can find and adjust your no-salt, no-fat, no-sugar recipes accordingly.

A walk on the plant side — vegan trends for summer 2021

Wile this blog is not a vegan blog, we do keep our eye on food trends of all sorts and wanted to pass on a summary of a story we saw recently entitled The Next Big Things: Our Top 5 Plant-Based Trends for Summer.

Among those five are vegan fish alternatives, vegan grilling options and vegan gourmet cheeses.

“While using nut-based milks and ingredients like black garlic truffle, dill Havarti and chive is unique, plant-based cheesemakers are also replicating the methods used to make dairy cheeses for more authentic textures and flavors. Including a plant-based cheese will be sure to take your picnic basket to the next level,” the article states.

On the grilling front, “Remember when corn ribs broke the internet? Buckle up for more plants hitting the grill this summer that go far beyond the veggie burger: Think plant-based products like hot dogs, Italian-style sausages and even jackfruit BBQ. From algae-based casing to hickory smoke concentrate, these vegetarian options have unique ingredients making it easy (and flavorful) to incorporate more plants into your cookout. Mixing up your classic grilling go-tos will leave meat lovers and vegetarians alike wanting more,” it notes.

The Herbivorous Butcher in Minneapolis.

And, “Get ready for a new wave of seafood substitutes that will be sure to surprise and impress! Ingredients like legumes and banana blossoms are being used to mimic the flaky texture of the real thing. This means alternative fish sticks, no-tuna sandwiches and a whole new depth of flavor in an otherwise simple fish dinner.”

We were recently in Minneapolis where my veggie-eating daughter bought fake meat at this vegan butcher, one of the first in the world, called The Herbivorous Butcher. She gave it a glowing thumbs-up.

One word of warning, many vegan creations add lots of salt to give the products flavor. If you’re on a salt-free diet, do your bestt o always check labels or get nutritional information from suppliers.

A fat-free sorbet for July 4th cookouts

No-Churn Strawberry-Lemonade Sorbet sounded like an easy, fat-free dessert that anyone could make easily at home. It has only two ingredients, strawberries and lemonade mix. How difficult could it be?

Harder than it sounds, I discovered. Here’s the recipe”

Ingredients

16 ounces (about 4 cups) frozen strawberries

3 tablespoons frozen lemonade concentrate

Directions

  1. Add the strawberries and lemonade concentrate to a food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until scoopable, about 1 hour. The sorbet will keep for up to 2 months.
My lemon-strawberry sorbet, heavy on the leomn.


The three tablespoons of frozen lemonade concentrate stopped me because my concentrate was frozen and liquid. I measured out three tablespoons of the frozen part and added some extra liquid, which proved to be too much lemon (and I love lemon flavor). So I’d recommend dialing down the amount of lemon you use to suit your taste.

I’d also probably opt for fresh strawberries next time. A pound of frozen ones cost me $3.99 but this time of year, fresh ones are often on sale for less ($2.50) and they likely will be more flavorful.

With all those tweaks in mind, this can be a tasty July 4th fat-free dessert option. It does still have sugar (the amount is difficult to determine without nutritional info in the original recipe).

Americans aren’t managing their diabetes very well, new study finds

Roughly 10% of Americans ahve diabetes and how they’re managing that condition is deteriorating, according to a new study. While this blog is about healthy eating and doesn’t pretend to give medical advice, this topic is important enough to discuss. Sugar is one of the three evils Americans eat too much of and too much sugar is the issue for diabetics.

The new study, from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found thatover the last decade, people with diabetes in the U.S. have become significantly less successful at controlling their blood sugar,” reports Medical News Today.

“These are concerning findings. There has been a real decline in glycemic control from a decade ago, and overall, only a small proportion of people with diabetes are simultaneously meeting the key goals of glycemic control, blood pressure control, and control of high cholesterol,” said study senior author, Dr. Elizabeth Selvin, of the Bloomberg School’s Department of Epidemiology.

If you;ve developed diabetes later in life, remember it’s not jst sugar you need to watch your consumption of, it’s also breadstuffs, potatoes, any food that converts to sugar in your bloodstream. American eat way too much bread, not to mention French Fries, both fo which contribute to this problem.

A Jamaican take on tilapia — Jamaican-Style Lime-Poached Fish

Tilapia has become a fish you can easily buy in most supermarkets these days, I’ve included several rcipes for it already on my recipe page, such as Greek Roasted Tilapia and Tilapia with Chilis. But I’m always looking for more recipes, so was intrigued by this one for Jamaican-style lime-poached fish. The recipe suggests several types of white fish work in it, including tilapia.

Here are the ingredients, I’d leave out the salt, there’s plenty of flavor here without it.

Ingredients:
½ bunch fresh Italian parsley
4 cloves garlic
2 small, fresh jalapeños
2 cups no-salt-added vegetable stock (or broth), divided
¼ cup lime juice (plus additional for serving, optional)
1 cup diced yellow onion
½ teaspoon pepper, divided
3 oz sliced green onions, divided
2 (6 oz) white fish fillets (such as haddock, snapper or tilapia, about 12 oz.)
¼ teaspoon kosher salt

The instructions:

  • Chop parsley (1/2 cup) and garlic finely. Dice 1 jalapeño and slice remaining jalapeño thinly, removing seeds and membranes, if desired.
  • Combine 1 cup stock, lime juice, yellow onions, garlic, diced jalapeños, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and one-half each green onions and parsley. Place fish in shallow dish (wash hands) and pour mixture over fish. Marinate 30 minutes.
  • Remove fish from marinade (wash hands). Pour marinade and remaining 1 cup stock into large sauté pan and bring to a boil on high, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 5 minutes.
  • Carefully nestle fish into mixture; cover and simmer (do not boil) 8-10 minutes until fish is opaque and flakes easily. Remove fish and sprinkle with salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Top with jalapeño slices and remaining half green onions and parsley.
  • Serve fish with poaching liquid, accompanied by rice and additional lime juice, if desired. Always check fish for bones and cook to an internal temperature of 145°F.

If you try it, let me know how it turns out.

Can your cookouts be healthy? Yes, if you plan ahead and shop wisely

When I was a much younger man, I would routinely have a start-of-summer cookout at my house with a menu that included Italian sausage and peppers, ribs, chicken legs, fatty hamburgers, hot dogs — in other words all the things I can’t eat now that I’m dealing with heart issues. So I stopped having those cookouts, not wanting to serve people foods I can’t eat and assuming they would not be happy with what I could eat.

But that was then, this is now, some nine years after my first stent went in and I changed my eating habits.

I haven’t had a large cookout party in some time, especially not last year when we were all isolating, but I have developed healthy cookout menus for us.

A recent article I saw, Nutrition: Making summer barbecues healthier from the Duluth News Tribune, can help you make your cookouts healthier as well.

The article covers the basics — grill lean proteins like fish and chicken, use whole wheat breadstuffs when you must have a bun, grill fruits. It even touches on how high in salt most condiments are and suggests finding substitutes for those as well.

A good place to start grilling healthier is my recipe page. The Memorial Day special meals (under special occasion meals) all deal with grilling, for example. And check my smart shopping page for tips on low- and no-salt condiments.

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.

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