Costco Food Court Salads: you can make them healthier

After my usual Thursday night Costco shopping run, I normally have only a frozen fat-free yogurt and a Costco food court salad — with some major alterations to what otherwise could be a very unhealthy salad choice.

Costco is one of my favorite places to shop, as I’ve written here. But since my angioplasty, I’ve been severely disappointed at the unhealthiness of its food court offerings. I can no longer eat the hot dogs I once did, too much fat and salt. Same for the giant slices of Costco pizza. And even the Costco turkey sandwich, which you might think was healthier, is loaded with fat and salt, far too much for me.

So after my usual Thursday night Costco shopping run, I normally have only a frozen fat-free yogurt and a Costco food court salad — with some major alterations.

I recently came across a post talking about how unhealthy that Costco food court salad is. “This jacked-up salad has more calories, total fat, cholesterol and sodium than either the Kirkland Signature All Beef Hot Dog or Polish Sausage,” writes the Tasty Island blog.

The fat is in the dressing, of course, and the cheese and croutons that come with the salad. If you eat all that, the salad has 40 grams of fat and 2,680 mgs of sodium, about two days worth of salt for me, or for you if you’re dealing with blood pressure or heart issues.

“As for the salad, substitute the OEM Caesar dressing for an Extra Virgin Olive Oil-based vinaigrette dressing and take out some of the parmesan cheese and croutons, and it obviously will be far better for you than the hot dog. But who’s going to do that at the convenience of Costco’s Food court? Not me, that’s for sure,” writes the Tasty Island.

This is what a Costco food court Caesar salad looks like when you unwrap it, a giant cup of fat-filled Caesar dressing and a mound of high-salt, high-fat grated cheese
This is what a Costco food court Caesar salad looks like when you unwrap it, a giant cup of fat-filled Caesar dressing and a mound of high-salt, high-fat grated cheese

Well, that’s exactly what I do routinely. First, I never get the croutons. The counter help will offer them to you in a small bag. I simply say hold the croutons, they are fat bombs I don’t need. Continue reading “Costco Food Court Salads: you can make them healthier”

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Seasons 52 offers a low sodium menu…bravo!

Checking the menu online before we went, I found only one low-sodium entrée option, which was disappointing tome. But when we arrived and I asked the waitress about low-sodium options, she said the restaurant has a low-sodium menu! This was the first I’ve encountered.

Seasons 52 is a relatively new restaurant chain headquartered in California but with restaurants across the country including here in the Chicago area. It bills itself as “A fresh dining experience that celebrates living well” and trumpets that no individual item on its seasonally inspired menus has more than 500 calories.

We’d been there before and enjoyed it, but that was before I was ordered into my current low-sodium, low-fat, low-sugar diet, so I wasn’t sure what to expect on our latest visit.

Seasons 52 offers a low-sodium menu. Bravo for doing that, keep expanding it please.
Seasons 52 offers a low-sodium menu. Bravo for doing that, keep expanding it please.

Checking the menu online before we went, I found only one low-sodium entrée option, which was disappointing to me. But when we arrived and I asked the waitress about low-sodium options, she said the restaurant has a low-sodium menu! This was the first I’ve encountered. Bravo Seasons 52, I can only hope and pray others follow your lead on this and develop low-sodium menus of their own. Each item on the menu lists its sodium content. Continue reading “Seasons 52 offers a low sodium menu…bravo!”

27 Live, a new Evanston spot worth checking out

As always before I dine out these days, I first checked 27Live’s menu online to see if anything seemed remotely low-sodium and low-fat so I could eat it. I saw a fish dish and a vegetarian option, both of which I thought might be able to fit my needs.

27 Live is a new restaurant, whiskey lounge, music venue hybrid in Evanston, the Chicago suburb where I live, that’s worth checking out for its food and ability to accommodate a low-salt dinner request.

I was interested in seeing what the operators of 27 Live had done with the space they have. For many years, it housed a Carmen’ pizza place in a cavernous two-story restaurant complete with big staircase and upstairs bar and party area where I spent many an end of the soccer season when I was coaching my son’s AYSO teams years ago. Carmen’s was always a family favorite, even after it downsized a few years ago, turning over part of its space to a Brazilian steakhouse I never got to try out.

Chestnut gnocchi in a brown sugar and bacon sauce was amazing at 27 Live.
Chestnut gnocchi in a brown sugar and bacon sauce was amazing at 27Live.

As always before I dine out these days, I first checked 27 Live’s menu online to see if anything seemed remotely low-sodium and low-fat so I could eat it. I saw a fish dish and a vegetarian option, both of which I thought might be able to fit my needs, so my wife and I went there for dinner to check the new place out. Continue reading “27 Live, a new Evanston spot worth checking out”

Fat free chocolate pudding or sugar free: which should you pick?

Oddly enough, there are fat-free chocolate puddings and sugar-free chocolate puddings but no fat-free, sugar-free varieties that I can find. So if I want chocolate pudding these days, it becomes a matter of which do I fear more, eating a lot of sugar or a lot fat?

Chocolate pudding is something I’ve enjoyed since I was a young child but of course it now has all the things I can’t eat, namely fat and sugar. So I’ve been searching through pre-made pudding alternatives to see what’s out there.

Oddly enough, there are fat-free chocolate puddings and sugar-free chocolate puddings but no fat-free, sugar-free varieties that I can find. So if I want chocolate pudding these days, it becomes a matter of which do I fear more, eating a lot of sugar or a lot fat?

Fat free pudding or sugar-free pudding? Which would you pick?
Fat free pudding or sugar-free pudding? Which would you pick?

My answer has been to mix and match what I eat of this snack. Snack Pack brand’s sugar free pudding has 70 calories a cup with no sugar but 3 grams of fat. So two cups a serving is 6 grams of fat and 3 grams of saturated fat, not bad in my total daily allowance of 40 and 10 of each. This pudding also has 95 mgs of sodium a cup, or 190 mgs for the two, again not bad toward my daily allowance of 1,200. Continue reading “Fat free chocolate pudding or sugar free: which should you pick?”

Healthy new food products? I’d think again

Don’t be fooled by health claims, look at salt, fat and sugar content before buying any new food product.

Which new food products were the hottest sellers of 2013? Interestingly enough, products that offered some health benefit topped an annual list put together by Information Resources, Inc., a firm that tracks supermarket checkout data.

Dannon Light & Fit Greek yogurt was the top selling new food product of 2013.
Dannon Light & Fit Greek yogurt was the top selling new food product of 2013.

“Among food and beverages launches, seven of the top 10, and 73 of the top 100, as ranked by total first-year dollar sales across grocery, drug and mass retail formats, offer a “healthier for you” benefit,” reported Marketing Daily in detailing IRI’s results.

The Top 10 list includes:
1. Dannon Light & Fit Greek — $144.9 million in year-one sales
2. Yoplait Greek 100 — $135.1 million
3. Kellogg’s Special K Pastry Crisps — $100.6 million
4. Tostitos Cantina Tortilla Chips — $100.3 million
5. Bud Light Lime Lime-A-Rita — $97.4 million
6. Müller Yogurt — $95.8 million
7. Eight O’Clock K-Cups — $89.8 million
8. Pepsi Next — $83.2 million
9. Kellogg’s Special K Flatbread Breakfast Sandwiches — $77.9 million
10. Atkins Frozen Meals — $74 million

So how healthy are these? Many yogurts have too much sugar. Anything more than 10 grams is too much. The top two here are light varieties, which means they have less sugar but you have to ask yourself how you feel about whatever sweetener is put in them instead.

Cereals and chips generally have too much salt and can be loaded with fat as well depending on the product, check all nutrition labels, always.

Frozen meals generally have too much salt. Pepsi Next is a lower calorie cola which again raises the issue of how you feel about the sweeteners used to get the calories out of the drink.

All in all, not a very healthy list. Don’t be fooled by health claims, look at salt, fat and sugar content before buying any new food product.
John

How much salt is too much? Here’s a simple guide

My rule to to try to stay under 1,200 mgs a day since I assume measurements on packaged products or for restaurant nutrition menus can be off a bit. That translates into 400 mgs a meal. That’s for a meal, not a single part of a meal

How much salt is too much for you to eat? General guidelines these days say 2,300 mgs for normal people and 1,500 mgs for those with heart or blood pressure issues (i.e. me) or people 51 or older.

So how do you translate that into meals, especially meals eaten away from home? My rule is to try to stay under 1,200 mgs a day since I assume measurements on packaged products or for restaurant nutrition menus can be off a bit. That translates into 400 mgs a meal. That’s for a meal, not a single part of a meal like a turkey burger or side dish like broccoli or whole wheat pasta.

Sliced meats like this are a no-no on a low-salt diet. Even reduced salt varieties have more salt than you need at one meal.
Sliced meats like this are a no-no on a low-salt diet. Even reduced salt varieties have more salt than you need at one meal.

That’s not much at all. To achieve that level you have to avoid: Continue reading “How much salt is too much? Here’s a simple guide”