Salmonella rears its ugly head in Illinois

Salmonella cases, likely from undercooked ground beef, are popping up in Illinois. It may be surfacing in other states as well.

That’s because the source of the bad beef has yet to be discovered.

A lean burger, along with peppers and asparagus. I love rare burgers but will be cooking mine a little more until the source of this recent salmonella outbreak is found.

“So far, the Illinois Department of Public Health has reported 26 confirmed Salmonella cases linked to tainted beef. The state said that the specific source of the bad beef has not been found but that all the illnesses were reported across Illinois starting on April 25 and continuing through May 18,” reports the Evanston Patch.

“Some cases in other states are also under investigation by the CDC and state health departments, but Illinois has reported the largest outbreak of cases,” the Patch reports.

So if you’re grilling burgers this summer, be sure to cook the beef to an internal temperature of 160 degrees. That should kill any salmonella before it gets into your gut to do unpleasant things to you.

Sultan Kebab — a great find after a long day

It’s never fun being on a delayed flight, and it’s no fun waiting for someone on such a flight either.

So on a recent Friday night, my son and I were both tired and hungry when his flight finally made it to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport where I had been waiting to pick him up.

We’d planned to cook dinner once we got to our house, but were both hungry by the time he landed, so we went searching for food near O’Hare and found Sultan Kebab & Shawerma. It was a great find.

As we ordered (at almost 9 p.m.), the man behind the counter offered us free lentil soup he’d made. He wanted our reaction to it. It was delicious.

Continue reading “Sultan Kebab — a great find after a long day”

Craving sugar (I am)? Try these fruits

Of salt, fat and sugar, sugar is the hardest for me to get out of my diet. I live for candy, cake, etc, all of which are bad for me trying to stay on a heart-healthy diet. So what can I do? How about trying some fruit?

This piece from lists eight fruits that can help satisfy your sugar craving.

Try getting your sugar from fruit instead of candy and cake.

Usually these “healthy” lists include lots of things I don’t eat but this list has six fruits, out of eight, that I actually like.

Fresh figs are a favorite for me but I have to limit my intake to avoid stomach issues from them. Dried figs are available year-round, but the sugar is concentrated, so beware if you’re on a sugar-restricted diet. A doctor told me the same thing about avoiding grapes when I received nutrition advice for my diabetic mother.

I don’t think of apples as sugary but they made the list too as did pears.

Good luck trying these, always check with your do

A.I. for menu planning? Not just yet, says Bon Appetit magazine

Artificial intelligence is all the rage these days, with people speculating it will put us all out of work and worse in the not-too-distant future. But like most things tech, the hype right now seems a bit ahead of the reality, at least when it comes to meal planning, says Bon Appetit magazine in a piece headlined, Please Don’t Ask ChatGPT for Diet Advice.

Can chatgpt give you salmon four ways? I think not. Stick with my recipe page for now.
Can Chatgpt give you salmon five ways in one page? I think not, so stick with my recipe page for now.

“With few boundaries around what you can ask the app, users can quickly find themselves flooded with dangerous and completely unvetted dietary advice and potential nutritional misinformation,” notes the article’s author. “When I asked two experts to review and rate a handful of bot-created meal plans for common diets, they noted a couple of major red flags—and none of the plans passed with flying colors… They both agreed: AI-generated dietary information could easily promote disordered eating behaviors.”

The issue is that the A.I. chatgpt is telling you what it thinks you want to hear. In other words, it lies without really knowing what that means. That is the true danger of A.I., in my opinion. Its the ultimate echo chamber right now.

So, do your own meal planning, at least for the next few years. You can start on my recipe page which has lots of low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar meal options.

Food inflation is easing; smart shopping can help even more

These Covid shopping lines are gone, and food prices are coming down as a result.

Food prices are easing, albeit from a high rate of inflation last year, according to the recent report on the Consumer Price Index for food at home.

You can bring your costs down even more by always pre-planning shopping trips and taking advantage of sales.

This week, for example, I saved 55% of my purchase price during my weekly shopping trip to a local Jewel by using digital coupons and stocking up on sale items.

“On a year-over-year basis, the CPI for food at home is up 7.1%, which is elevated over the norm but down from the 11.3% rate in the opening month of 2023. Within the grocery sector, shoppers encountered lower prices across several categories: Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that four of the six major grocery store indexes posted decreases in April,” reports Progressive Grocer, an industry trade magazine.

“The CPI for dairy and related products fell the most (-0.7%) last month, while the index for fruits and vegetables went down by 0.5%, the price of meat, poultry, fish and eggs slipped 0.3% and nonalcoholic beverage prices saw a slight 0.1% downturn. The CPI for cereals and bakery and for “other” food at home both increased 0.2% in April,” PG reports.

So take heart, the worst of inflation is over. Be a smart shopper and drive it down even more.

Illinois is a Keto diet state, apparently

Get ready to eat more fat in your diet, at least if you’re coming to Illinois (or live here already like I do).

A new survey by FitnessVolt analyzed Google Keyword Planner data to determine which diets interest Illinoisans the most. You can see the results here.

The Keto diet, which is a high-fat, low-carb combination, was searched for more in a given month than its closest competitors, the Mediterranean Diet, which is more fruits and veggie-oriented.

The DASH diet came in third. Given that its a version of Mediterranean Diet, or very close to it, combing those two search terms would have surpassed the Keto numbers.

(Full disclosure, I had gone off my heart-healthy diet and was eating a McDonald’s double burger when I wrote this story!)

The most Googled diets in Illinois
DietMonthly average searches for the diet
Keto diet28,103
Mediterranean diet20,416
DASH diet5,170
Paleo diet4,518
Alkaline diet3,542


Add olive oil to foods facing a troubled year with higher prices

Eggs became a previous commodity earlier this year as did turkey thanks to bird flu sweeping through American flocks. Now a drought in Spain promised higher olive oil prices.

Olive oil we brought back from Italy in 2017.

“The recent October to February olive harvest produced a yield 50% less than the usual output, tightening global supply and pushing prices upward,” reports CNBC.

“The exceedingly poor weather conditions meant that … Spain produced an olive oil crop of around 630,000 metric tonnes, down from the usual 1.4 to 1.5 million metric tonnes harvest,” Mintec’s oilseeds and vegetable oils analyst Kyle Holland told CNBC recently.

“It appears the ongoing drought in Europe, most importantly in the largest olive oil-producing region of Spain, has caused a global supply shortage of olive oil,” David Valmorbida, president of the Australian Olive Oil Association, told CNBC.

Olive oil is touted by nutritionists as having “healthy” fat that we can eat. Olive oil and vinegar are my regular salad dressing, being much healthier than any high-fat, high-salt prepared dressings.

So if you see olive oil on sale, grab it. And buy in bulk to get better per-ounce pricing

Can you eat healthy in food halls? Maybe but it takes some searching

Food halls are all the rage these days, especially in urban areas with lots of old buildings to recycle. Circumstances forced me on the road for three weeks recently, so I was able to visit food halls in New York, Minneapolis and Chicago.

Did I find anything healthy to eat? Aside from some salad places and a tasty beet salad in Chicago, generally no. But I did find some great pizza in New York and Minneapolis.

So if you find yourself in a food hall, check all the stalls before buying yourself a meal. Try to minimize how unhealthy you eat that day.

These food halls are generally in repurposed older buildings, feature local outlets rather than national chains (McDonald’s need not apply), sport a variety of ethnic offerings like Mexican, Asian and Indian dishes, and throw in some traditional American unhealthy options like giant burgers and barbecue.

Continue reading “Can you eat healthy in food halls? Maybe but it takes some searching”

5 tips to make sandwiches healthier, a guest post

Sandwiches can be really sneaky. Often, they seem like they have all the potential for making a healthy lunch.

Afterall, they’re mostly always some combo of veggies and meat, right? And they have the added benefit of being highly portable. 

But sandwiches sometimes are secret saboteurs of a healthy diet.  

Here are five reasons sandwiches aren’t always the healthiest and what you can do about it.

Continue reading “5 tips to make sandwiches healthier, a guest post”

Best place for brunch? My favorite cities top a new list

Did you know April is national brunch month? Me either, who comes up with these things?

A great egg-white omelette should be part of any first-rate brunch offering.

I recently received a press release, from of all places, rating the best brunch cities in the country. No surprise that the top three — New York, San Francisco and Chicago — are three of my favorite U.S. cities, maybe my three most favorite.

I don’t go to brunches much anymore because to me the best are all-you-can eat and that’s not very heart healthy. Casinos in the Chicago-area where I live once had massive buffets, but those closed during Covid and have not come back. Not exactly brunches, but in my mind they tend to blend together.

The survey lists 200 cities and includes fun little subgroups like Most Brunch Vendors per Square Mile (Miami wins) and Most Brunch Clubs (New York). You can click through to get details on various cities too.

I write about some pretty serious food issues here, so it’s nice to take a break once and a while and write about fun things like brunch. Enjoy your next weekend brunch but try to eat healthy in the process.

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