Reduced sodium cold cuts: Avoid them too

Whether you call them cold cuts or luncheon meat, those things you buy in the deli case or from packages in grocery stores, or get in sandwich shops like Subway, all are loaded with sodium. Eating them is strictly a no-no on a low-sodium diet.

I dearly miss cold cuts. As a child, I ate bologna sandwiches daily. On Saturday’s we would have ham, salami, roast beef and bologna sandwiches as a lunch treat. And getting a hero sandwich from the local Italian deli that included salami, ham and a host of other cold cuts was truly amazing.

Subway has pledged to cut the sodium in the cold cuts it uses and I recently noticed some Sara Lee reduced sodium offerings in my local Jewel supermarket. I quickly checked them out, hoping perhaps I could again have some sliced turkey or ham. But when I checked the nutrition panels I was sadly disappointed. Continue reading “Reduced sodium cold cuts: Avoid them too”

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Houlihan’s: how I found a healthy option at this old standby

Casual dining places like Ruby Tuesday’s, Houlihan’s, Applebee’s, TGIFriday, Chili’s, etc. all have a way of blending together in my mind. And they also all spell foods I can’t eat on a low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar diet (Ruby Tuesday’s salad bar is a wonderful exception). So my wife and I walked into a Houlihan’s in Naperville, a Far west Chicago suburb, for lunch with some trepidation recently. I thought perhaps I could order a stripped-down salad and use my own oil and vinegar as dressing.

But not only was I surprised by the pleasant new decor, I also was able to get a meal to my low-salt specifications with only some modifying of a menu item.

I ordered a five-ounce piece of salmon that normally is cooked basted in a butter sauce; I ordered it without the butter. And instead of mashed potatoes as a side, I asked for two vegetable portions (the meal normally comes with one veggie and the potatoes) and received asparagus and green beans. I asked both be made without butter or salt and that’s how they came out.

The asparagus were grilled as was the salmon and both had a wonderful charcoally flavor to them as a result. A small cup of tartar sauce was served on the side, a bit odd for salmon which doesn’t need something like sauce to taste delicious. I think chefs can’t bear to send out a dish without at least one sauce.

MY wonderful lunch at Houlihan's,
My wonderful lunch at Houlihan’s, salmon without butter or salt, asparagus and beans, also plain. And, for some unknown reason, tartar sauce which I didn’t eat.

For an appetizer, my wife and I ordered edamame without salt. It’s listed as salted on the menu but getting it plain was no problem, which was nice. Continue reading “Houlihan’s: how I found a healthy option at this old standby”

Healthy Takeout Food: I’d think again

Any article that talks about healthy restaurant food gets my attention, so I was drawn to this piece headlined: “Healthy Takeout Cheat Sheet.” Unfortunately the recommendations left me sadly disappointed.

I've come up with a relatively low-salt, low-fat pizza, but any takeout will have both too much salt and too much fat in the cheese, even without adding meats.
I’ve come up with a relatively low-salt, low-fat pizza, but any takeout will have both too much salt and too much fat in the cheese, even without adding meats.

Basics like don’t get meat on pizza to save on fat are fine if you’re in your 20s or 30s and not all that concerned about fat or salt intake. But for anyone watching fat and salt, pizza is basically off the table, literally. I’ve come up with my own homemade version that cuts fat but is still borderline high in sodium. It’s light years better than any takeout pizza, however. Continue reading “Healthy Takeout Food: I’d think again”

Diet soda and eating more: more sad news

I once used diet soda as a substitute for all the sweet, creamy treats I couldn’t have. These days, I’ve cut down on diet soda along with everything else as I redo my eating and drinking habits since having an angioplasty done 18 months ago. But twice a week, I still allow myself a diet beverage.

So I was sad to read this Reuters article about a new study saying people who drink diet beverages tend to consume more calories. Sad, but not really surprised, since I think people regularly assume if they have diet products, they can eat more than they otherwise would and still be ok.

My Super Big Gulp days are over when it comes to diet soda, but I miss it.
My Super Big Gulp days are over when it comes to diet soda, but I miss it.

“People who were overweight or obese generally consumed the same amount of calories a day no matter what they drank, but those who chose diet drinks got more of those calories from food,” the article notes.
Continue reading “Diet soda and eating more: more sad news”

Nutrition labels could be changing

Do you read the nutrition labels on everything you buy? I can’t imagine not doing that and still being able to stay on a low-salt, low-fat, low-added-sugar diet. I read and compare labels on every packaged food I buy and they often tell me of hidden salt or fat I didn’t know was in something like everyday bread, for example.

Now there’s talk the Food and Drug Administration may be revising the standard nutrition labels. An Associated Press story on the topic notes:

Do you read nutrition labels? They may be changing.
Do you read nutrition labels? They may be changing.

“Nutrition advocates are hoping the agency adds a line for sugars and syrups that are not naturally occurring in foods and drinks and are added when they are processed or prepared. Right now, some sugars are listed separately among the ingredients and some are not. Continue reading “Nutrition labels could be changing”

Low-fat cake with sugar-free frosting: a taste test

Cakes and chocolate frosting are two things I miss dearly since switching to my low-fat, low-salt, low-added-sugar diet. As a parent of grown children, I sometimes wonder if my offspring realize just how difficult the eating change in my life has been for me. As adults themselves, they have their own lives to live, of course, and looking back I wonder how aware I was of my father’s health problems.

So that said, it was a wonderful surprise to receive a Christmas present from my daughter that shows she is aware of what I’m going through. She sent me a low-fat cake mix along with some sugar-free low-fat frosting mix.

low-salt, low-fat frosting mix
The low-salt, low-fat frosting mix my daughter sent me.
Continue reading “Low-fat cake with sugar-free frosting: a taste test”

Simple salads of carrots, cabbage and celery root

Salads always are part of my meals these days because I can’t pick from much else and still maintain a low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar eating routine. So I’m always looking for new takes on salad.

Salads of celery root, carrots and cabbage, they look very tasty,
Salads of celery root, carrots and cabbage, they look very tasty,

I came across these in the Boston Globe recently and love the simplicity of them. The recipe states: Continue reading “Simple salads of carrots, cabbage and celery root”

Fat-free, sugar-free foods: checks the labels before buying

I am an advocate of finding tasty fat-free and sugar-free treats to replace ones you have to give up when you’re on a low-fat, low-sugar, low-salt diet as I am. But you have to check all ingredients on such offerings, not just the levels of the things you’re trying to reduce.

That was brought home in a recent article I saw from the Cleveland Clinic. “The High Cost of ‘Free’ Foods. The truth about fat-free and sugar-free products,” has some warnings about fat-free and other free-from foods.

“Think twice before reaching for that fat-free cookie or sugar-free ice cream bar as an afternoon snack.

“In most cases, you’re better off having the real thing in moderate portions, says Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD, wellness manager at Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute.

“The issue, Kirkpatrick says, is that choosing heavily processed foods over natural foods often means taking in too many additives and refined ingredients with questionable nutritional value,” the article states.

When I write about say, fat-free or low-fat cookies I‘ve found, I also include sugar levels so you know whether sugar has been upped to compensate for the lower fat. Unfortunately we have to be constantly reading labels and evaluating what we eat, nothing seems without perils at the moment. I only hope science progresses past this frightening time in our food lives and finds out it’s ok to eat fun foods again some time soon.
John

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