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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lots of people will be touching lots of food this July 4th. So it;s a good time to review how to keep all the food you make and serve that day safe for people to eat, notes the Partnership for Food Safety Education. It’s created this flyer on using thermometers for grilling. It also has some general food handling tips, such as:
Not just the grill master, but everyone at the gathering should wash their hands with soap and water before and after handling food.
Always use a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature of grilled meat and poultry. Print the temperature chart (below) for your refrigerator.
Keep your cooler filled with ice, so picnic perishable foods stay chilled to 40 °F.
Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry or seafood. Be sure to have plenty of clean utensils and platters on hand.
Happy grilling and a happy 4th to all our readers!!!
I try never to give medical advice on this blog because that advice changes so quickly and so frequently. I always have my doubts about any medical advice about which foods are healthy and which are not, or which are so-called superfoods and which are not.
I was reminded of why I’m a doubter by a recent story knocking down the idea that moderate drinking it ok, health-wise.
Holidays are always difficult when you’re trying to minimize your salt, sugar and bad fat intake. Easter — traditionally a ham or lamb day — is no exception. We’ve posted about trying seafood instead, something we plan. But what about the side dishes? The Food Network recently ran this piece on 20 Healthy Easter Side Dishes which, of course, got my attention.
But how healthy are they, really? The first, Provencal Potato Gratin, isn’t if you’re worried about sugar level since it starts with potatoes and also includes cheese, which is salty and fatty.