Life two years after angioplasty: thinner, hungier and hopefully healthier

But I have to keep reminding my self the days when I lived to eat are over, now I eat to live so I can finish projects and adventures I want to do, such as my recent play-writing and acting.

While this is a food blog and not a health blog, I ask reader indulgence for this post which will talk a bit about my health. I recently had my two-year checkup for my heart following the angioplasty I had done in 2012.

The news was all good. My blood pressure is in normal ranges now, although I take medication to keep it there. And my doctor took my off one of my post-surgery medications, something called beta blockers which slow your heart down. Taking those the past two years meant I always felt I was walking through mud, fighting my way every step, really.

Me, following angioplasty in 2012. I've since lost 23 pounds.
Me, following angioplasty in 2012. I’ve since lost 23 pounds.

I never felt rested and I certainly never felt any of the added energy people kept thinking I should feel after having a major artery unblocked. Sleeping was more fitful and I was constantly constipated, which I’m only now seeing is a side effect of those medications. Continue reading “Life two years after angioplasty: thinner, hungier and hopefully healthier”

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Low-salt, low-fat breakfast options when entertaining guests

Making dishes I can’t eat any longer because of my angioplasty, such as bacon and eggs or big stacks of regular pancakes or waffles, is a painful experience for me and one I would rather avoid.

I recently had two cousins come visit us in Chicago, a wonderful time for me but one that had me wondering what I could make them for breakfast each day. Making dishes I can’t eat any longer because of my angioplasty, such as bacon and eggs or big stacks of regular pancakes or waffles, is a painful experience for me and one I would rather avoid.

Luckily, they understood this and also have some dietary concerns of their own that meant they weren’t expecting such classics. Rather, I went low-salt and low-fat, as well as low-sugar when it came to what we drank.

Breakfast takes on a light tone when you opt for low-fat, low-salt, low-sugar options. Pictured here is fat-free yogurt (regular and Greek), low-sodium English muffins, low-sugar orange juice, jams, fresh figs and Smart Balance instead of butter.
Breakfast takes on a light tone when you opt for low-fat, low-salt, low-sugar options. Pictured here is fat-free yogurt (regular and Greek), low-sodium English muffins, low-sugar orange juice, jams, fresh figs and Smart Balance instead of butter.

Continue reading “Low-salt, low-fat breakfast options when entertaining guests”

A low-salt, low-fat lunch can get expensive, try $20+

Add it all up and I spent $22 trying to fill up. Did I?

Salad bars are my lunch choice when eating out these days. I’ve written about three near Millennium Park in Chicago, not far from my office.

My very expensive attempt to fill up at lunch -- salad, salmon, edamame and frozen yogurt.
My very expensive attempt to fill up at lunch — salad, salmon, edamame and frozen yogurt.

But salad alone rarely fills me up on any given day, so I often buy add-ons to try to quell my normal hunger pains. When getting my salad at Marinao‘s, I’ll also pick up two ounces of raw salmon for $7, often doubling the cost of lunch from around $7 to $14. Continue reading “A low-salt, low-fat lunch can get expensive, try $20+”

How to make a low-fat, low-salt turkey meatloaf

A two-pound loaf cooks down a bit, but it makes at least two meals for my wife and I. If you can get by with a quarter-pound slice a meal, it will last you longer.

I’ve alluded in several posts here to the turkey meatloaf which has become a staple of my low-fat, low-salt diet these days. I find it simple to make and tasty too. Plus, if you make a big one, you can have it ready for additional meals when you need something that is quick to make for dinner during the week.

All the ingredients you'll need for your turkey meatloaf.
All the ingredients you’ll need for your turkey meatloaf.

Here’s a handy step-by-step guide to creating it. Continue reading “How to make a low-fat, low-salt turkey meatloaf”

Tunisian peppers: if you like exotic, this could be a dish for you

I’d leave out the salt, of course, and am not sure how I’d react to all the other spices included here, but I’m open to trying it sometime.

Grilled peppers and stuffed peppers are among my favorite foods, harkening back to my Italian roots and such familiar Italian-American favorites as grilled peppers and onions.

If you enjoy North African spices, this could be the dish for you.
If you enjoy North African spices, this could be the dish for you.

So I’m intrigued about trying a recipe I saw in the New York Times for Tunisian grilled peppers and couscous. I’d leave out the salt, of course, and am not sure how I’d react to all the other spices included here, but I’m open to trying it sometime.

Among the ingredients are:
1/4 teaspoon ground caraway
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
Pinch of cayenne (more to taste)
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice, to taste
2 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

This recipe comes from the Times Recipes for Health section, which sometimes has recipes I want to try immediately but other times still has too much salt in recipes for my taste. If you try these peppers before me, let me know how it is.
John

Simple summer side dishes: tomatoes and beans from your garden

Simple and delicious, along with salt-free as these are, has been my flavor mantra since my angioplasty two years ago, both of these sides fit that mold perfectly.

I wrote recently about a Sunday dinner I created using chicken skewered on rosemary sprigs as a main dish.

To accompany that and a salmon I made for the same meal, I went with simple side dishes that included grilled zucchini, tomato slices with basil and olive oil, and green beans freshly picked from my garden and cooked in olive oil and spices.

A simple approach, fresh tomatoes, fresh basil and wonderful olive oil.
A simple approach, fresh tomatoes, fresh basil and wonderful olive oil.

The fresh beans were so flavorful, tasting them reminded me why I plantĀ  a vegetable garden each summer. I went with olive oil on them this time but have also made beans with a a balsamic vinegar glaze that works quite well to add some sweetness to the dish. Continue reading “Simple summer side dishes: tomatoes and beans from your garden”

Rosemary chicken: a nice way to add flavor to chicken breast

Simply cut the chicken into bite-sized cubes, marinate with olive oil, lemon juice and what spices you like. I added rosemary, thyme, oregano and pepper, leaving out the salt the original recipe calls for.

Eating chicken breast can get boring fast given that white meat, while the lowest-fat part of the chicken, also is the driest. I tend to cook it covered with tomato sauce or some other ingredient to add some flavor to it.

Chicken rosemary skewers were wonderfully flavorful and easy to make.
Chicken rosemary skewers are wonderfully flavorful and easy to make.

So, searching for new recipes, I was interested in trying a recipe I saw in People magazine from TV personalities Bill and Guiliana for chicken skewered on sprigs of rosemary. It all tuned out well and seemed to be a hit with Sunday dinner guests recently. The only tricky part of the recipe is finding long rosemary branches. I bought a rosemary plant to get them since packaged rosemary in stores tends to be rather short sprigs. Continue reading “Rosemary chicken: a nice way to add flavor to chicken breast”