Healthy eating in Hawaii??? You have to work hard to search it out

My wife recently put together a winter vacation for us that had been a dream of mine for about 40 years — going to Hawaii. I’d been there, alone, in the early 1980s and loved it, vowing at the time to go back someday with someone I would want to share it with.

That’s exactly what I did with my wife in January. But there’s been a major change for me since 1981, my heart issues. And that complicated our eating while there for almost two weeks.

Fast food in Hawaii is inevitably salty and fatty. SPAM on rice anyone? It’s a popular sushi option there as is breaded fish of all kinds, tacos or all kinds and poke, which is highly salted fish. So we had to work hard to find healthy alternatives.

I had expected more fresh fish and fruit, which I remembered from my last visit. We had to search that out, most often in more expensive restaurants. We found some great meals, but had to pay $100 a couple and up for them (and we don’t drink alcohol very much so that was usually without drinks).

I’ll be blogging about our meals the next few days, come read about them. Here’s a tease, a beet salad and sashimi plate I had at Duke’s at the Marriott resort on Kauai.

Always, always read those food labels; here’s why

I wrote recently about finding some private label reduced-sodium canned olives at a local store. I used that term because that’s what was on the can.

It didn’t occur to me at the time that the Kroger reduced-sodium olives I bought would still have more salt than a Lindsay low-sodium olive I usually purchase at another store. But when I got home, I compared the labels and found there was indeed a major difference in sodium content.

Here’s the side-by-side comparison:

The Lindsay olives on the left have 40 mgs of salt in five olives while the Kroger olives on the right have 70 mgs.. And for some reason, the lower-salt olives have more calories! Always read food labels, you never know what you’ll find.

 

Shopping news: Kroger offers reduced-sodium olives

A daily lunch salad has become a mainstay of my low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar diet since my first stent was put in back in 2012 (a second followed in 2017). I’m always looking for items to add to my salad for some variety.

Black olives are a childhood favorite that I always include. But canned olives can be high in sodium, as can so many other possible additives for my salad such as artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, palm hearts and roasted peppers. Thankfully low-sodium olives are available. I’ve written about using low-sodium olives before.

The Kroger reduced-salt olives
and a low-sodium olive from Lindsay.

Only a few stores in my area normally carry them, so I was pleasantly surprised to see a reduced-sodium Kroger store brand canned olive at my local Food 4 Less.

Food 4 Less is a Kroger semi-warehouse concept store the mega-chain operates in the Chicago area.

The six-ounce Kroger cans were on special at two for $3, a good price.

Is it worth monitoring the salt in your olives, some might ask? I say emphatically yes, the salt content might not seem high in olives alone, but salt is in every packaged product and can quickly add up in a salad without you even suspecting.

Special shipping deal ending soon at Healthy Heart Market

Healthy Heart Market is a good place to seek out low- and no-salt products that you can’t find locally. The drawback is usually high shipping costs because many food items weigh a lot, especially if you stock up.

But the Market has a $10 flat-rate shipping deal available through Jan. 31 if you spend $75 or more. “No coupon required – simply select shipping method ‘Flat Rate Ship on $75+ Order’ during check out,” according to an email it sent out touting the offer.

healthy-heart-market-no-salt-dill-pickle
No-salt pickles, impossible for me to find locally.

I’ve ordered a variety of items from there over the year. My favorite would have to be the no-salt pickles because those are impossible to find in any stores near me.

Act fast if you want to take advantage of this shipping offer.

The Mediterranean Diet brings home the food gold again

You’ll likely hear about a million diet plans as 2020 begins, its national weight-loss time after all. Diet plans come and go more frequently than new car models these days.

But as with cars, it’s a buyer beware situation with diet plans.

Before you try any, do some serious research on its impact on your body and your health. As it happens, U.S. News does that every year, ranking popular diet plans.

The Mediterranean Diet has topped the list again this year. If you’re not sure what that is, click here to see what U.S. News says about it.

Basically, it means don’t eat like any ugly American. Cut out fatty meats, eat more fruits and vegetables and make olive oil your lifetime friend.

Th DASH Diet, which is basically a type of Mediterranean diet, came in second.

How did some of the big, commercial diet companies do? Weight Watchers (WW now) came in fourth, Jenny Craig came in 12th, and Nutrisystem came in 20th.

Good eating in 2020, avoid salt, fat and sugar and it all will be very simple for you.

First salad of 2020…and so it begins

The start of any year is notorious for people resolving to lose some weight. Indeed, all the major weight-loss programs already are running ads to attract new clients this time of year.

Like millions of others, I’m resolving to drop some pounds this year too. But I don’t use any commercial diet plans. Rather, I merely need to return to what I was eating after having my first angioplasty in 2012.

Following that surgery, I dropped 25 pounds by cutting out everything I enjoyed — red meat, candy, cookies, doughnuts, cake, rich, creamy ethnic foods (think most things from Europe), high-salt ethnic foods (think anything from Asia).

Sadly, after three years of that, I began slipping back, mainly with M&Ms and cream-filled doughnuts, until, in 2017, I was forced to have a second angioplasty to open yet another blocked artery.

That second surgery really had me questioning whether changing my diet had any impact on my artery-health, since it seemed like the answer was a resounding no.

So for the past two years, I’ve been eating much more junk food than before and have gained back that 25 pounds I lost. That officially makes me a fat old man these days and I don’t like that image. So I’m starting all over again.

Here’s today’s lunch salad which I made at home. Restaurant salads are normally load with salt, fat and sugar, avoid them or strip them down to their basics if you must eat one.

I try to add as much as possible to the basic spring greens lettuce mix to give the salad some texture. Here’s a look at ingredients before I built the salad. The only thing missing in this photo is the turkey I put on. That’s leftover from our low-salt Christmas turkey.

The feta cheese is fat-free and the olives (in that black liquid) are low-salt. The beets are sold at Costco, they’re sealed and shelf-stable, not the jarred ones that are loaded with salt.

The mushrooms, tomatoes, cucumbers and even the lettuce mix were on sale at a local supermarket. Eating healthy is expensive, so always shop the sales each week to find deals.

I topped all this with olive oil (a so-called good fat) and balsamic vinegar.

Happy 2020 eating everyone!!!

A Tasty Holiday Special at Healthyheartmarket.com

Healthyheartmarket.com is a good online source for all things low- and no-salt. The one caveat is that shipping is usually expensive, especially for heavy liquid items. So I always look locally first for items I see here before buying online.

Recently though, I saw a special for an item I haven’t seen locally. The Market has an offer for $20 off cases of Francesco Rinaldi No Salt Added Pasta Sauce. That means 12 jars for $39.88

Baked mostaccoli, or do you call them ziti?
Baked mostaccoli, or do you call them ziti?

I make my own pasta sauce (and in my Italian-American family, we called it gravy). I use low-salt, imported Italian tomatoes. If you’re not accustomed to making your own, this Rinaldi brand could be a good alternative.

Trader Joe’s also sells its own brand of low-salt marinara sauce, another alternative if you have a TJs nearby. Hunt’s also has a pre-made low-salt sauce, although many main-stream supermarkets do not carry it or only carry small cans of it.

Opt for a whole wheat pasta, add gravy and you have a great crowd-pleasing meal for the holidays.

Last-minute low-salt Thanksgiving Dishes

Rushing around trying to figure out how to blend a traditional Thanksgiving meal with low-salt offerings? Check my recipe page first for a whole Thanksgiving menu.

Getting ready for holiday cooking? Check back here often for no-salt, no-sugar, no-fat recipes.

And if you want more options, this Low Sodium Thanksgiving list from Epicurious.com is just what you’re looking for. Among the options:

There’s also a slew of cranberry recipes. I don’t eat those, so didn’t pay much attention but if you love them, this is the list for you.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Thanksgiving is a time to think about turkey (burgers)

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner at your house, there’s likely a giant turkey somewhere nearby just awaiting its moment. But if you’re planning to eat out, or going to someone’s else’s home as I am this year (my son is cooking!!!), you might have an urge for turkey when you get home.

My Applegate turkey burgers with low-fat cheese on a whole-wheat bagel.

So Thanksgiving time could be the ideal time to try turkey burgers, which can be low in fat and salt and satisfy your craving without all the mess of making an entire turkey.

Turkey burgers generally are a good substitute for hamburgers as well since they are generally lower in salt and fat. One caveat, read the package label, some turkey burgers include dark meat and even skin which sends their fat content souring. Many add salt too, especially when they’re flavored somehow.

Applegate Natural & Organic Meats recently sent me some of its turkey burgers to sample. I like them. They pass the fat content (8 grams per burger) and salt content (105 mgs a burger) for a low-salt, low-fat diet. I broiled mine in the oven and was surprised to see them browning. Other turkey burgers I’ve tried usually remain a dull white color.

I think I left them in a bit long, so carefully monitor when you’re cooking them. I had two in a whole wheat bagel (the only whole wheat product in my local supermarket bakery the day I went). I added a slice of low-fat mozzarella cheese and used Localfolks low-salt, low-sugar ketchup to top them off. I also added a side of steamed asparagus.

Applegate turkey burgers are relatively low in fat and salt and have a very clean label in terms of ingredients.

It was a simple meal but delicious, sometimes simple is best, especially after elaborate Thanksgiving feasts. Thanks Applegate, I’d buy these burgers and serve them to company, especially when I do summer grilling.

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