Evanston’s Celtic Knot surprised me with a nice salmon salad

The Celtic Knot is along-time fixture in my Chicago suburb of Evanston but I have not gone there in the three years since my angioplasty because the place advertises that it specializes in pub grub — exactly the kinds of foods I can no longer eat because they tend to be high in salt and fat.

My Celtic Knot salmon salad.
My Celtic Knot salmon salad.

So I wasn’t sure what I would eat there when I went to a recent event held in a private room at the downtown Evanston restaurant. I brought along my own oil and vinegar packets just in case those simple salad condiments weren’t available.

Continue reading “Evanston’s Celtic Knot surprised me with a nice salmon salad”

Another knock on processed meats, this one from WHO

Processed meats, such as hot dogs and cold cuts, are full of sodium and other things that have led me and many others to avoid them in recent years. I’m always amused by Subway calling its sandwiches healthy when they’re filled with high-sodium processed meats, for example.

Nathan's hot dogs and waffle fries, wondrous stuff.
Nathan’s hot dogs and waffle fries, wondrous stuff.

Another knock on processed meats came from the World Health Organization (WHO) recently. It pointed to a link between an increased likelihood of cancer and the consumption of processed meats. The report also threw in red meat as a possible cancer causer. Continue reading “Another knock on processed meats, this one from WHO”

Primo in Gurnee (IL.) — a primo lunch spot

Italian restaurants always worry me these days, not because I don;t love Italian food, but because my post-angioplasty diet means I shouldn’t eat regular pasta, or any sauces that are high in sodium. So when a friend suggested meeting for lunch at Primo in Gurnee, Il., not far from the Great America amusement park, I was apprehensive.

Octopus and potatos at Primo's. Bravo!
Octopus and potatos at Primo’s. Bravo!

My fears were misplaced, however. First we were told the minestrone soup for the day was low-sodium, I cannot remember when I’ve been told that in a restaurant before. I did not try it, but did yet the octopus appetizer, along with a half-dozen oysters, for a seafood lunch. Continue reading “Primo in Gurnee (IL.) — a primo lunch spot”

Rice bread — a nice low-salt alternative if you’re craving toast

I posted recently about trying rice toast on a recent visit with my son and daughter-in-law in Minnesota’s Twin Cities. I had the toast at  a farm-to-table place called the Co-Op Creamery.

My rice bread find from Minneapolis. A nice low-salt alternative to high-sodium white breads.
My rice bread find from Minneapolis. A nice low-salt alternative to high-sodium white breads.

Not sure what the nutritional profile was for rice bread, I sought it out later in my visit while we were shopping at the Seward Co-op my son belongs to and shops at.

Sure enough, I found some in the bread section and was pleasantly surprised to see it is a low-salt alternative to traditional wheat breads. Continue reading “Rice bread — a nice low-salt alternative if you’re craving toast”

Urban Agriculture examples from the Twin Cities

I mentioned  my son’s commitment to the farm-to-table, local food movement in another post. He and I toured several urban agriculture sites during my recent trip to the Twin Cities.

I found them fascinating and am waiting to see just how widespread this movement becomes in cities like Chicago and Detroit, which have wide swathes of unused and abandoned land in their poorest enclaves where fresh food is most needed.

The House of Hope Community Garden
The House of Hope Community Garden

The House of Hope Community Garden, which is run by a local Presbyterian Church in St. Paul,  was a personal favorite for me to see because my son has been involved in design and work there. The garden grows food to feed the needy. To know that he’s committed his time and efforts to such a worthy undertaking really made me feel proud and humbled by his great work. Continue reading “Urban Agriculture examples from the Twin Cities”

Minneapolis’ Co-op Creamery Neighborhood Cafe

A recent visit with my son and daughter-in-law in St. Paul, Mn., gave me a chance to try a host of places there that fit into the farm-to-table movement my son has become so passionate about. The movement is all about local food, local production and organic farming methods.


I love the concept, saving on fuel and other transportation costs while putting people back in touch with their food supply. I worry about the cost for the average and below-average income earner, but presumably as more of this happens, costs will come down.

The Co-op Creamery Neighborhood Cafe is owned by the Seward Co-Op, which also runs the supermarket in Minneapolis my son regularly shops at. And while the lunch menu was full of local foods, I remained a bit worried that most dishes might have too much salt for me, so I opted for an omelet, which has become a go-to dish for me when in new restaurants for lunch.  Continue reading “Minneapolis’ Co-op Creamery Neighborhood Cafe”

Shrimp for everyone — if you like spicy, saucy dishes

Shrimp is something I can eat on my post-angioplasty diet, according to the nutritionists I’ve consulted. The days when shrimp were thought to somehow be bad for cholesterol apparently have past.

So I was excited to see this Cooking Light compilation of more than 100 shrimp recipes, until I started scrolling through them.

The first few have either too much spice or too much sauce or other item, like butter on a roll, that I can no longer eat.

The grilled lemon bay shrimp could be one I’d enjoy, minus the salt in the recipe. Here’s the ingredient list:

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil $
1/2 teaspoon salt [omit this see if you notice the difference]
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
32 large shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 1 1/2 pounds) $
32 fresh bay leaves
4 large lemons, each cut into 8 wedges
Cooking spray


A festival of fennel recipes from Bon Appetit

Fennel is one of the ethnic foods of my Italian-American youth that suddenly has gone mainstream Americana. I’ve written about my love of it here, so I was thrilled to see this Bon Appetit piece entitled 33 Recipes That Make Us Fall for Fennel All Over Again.

Plum-fennel salad is the first and has me intrigued already. Shrimp salad with fennel  and cucumber also looks good, just leave out the salt as I do with most recipes.

Fennel at Trader Joe's is a convenient package. Fennel is normlaly a fall product but many stores now stock it year-round.
Fennel at Trader Joe’s is a convenient package. Fennel is normlaly a fall product but many stores now stock it year-round.

Some of the recipes sound great but wouldn’t fit with my post-angioplasty diet, like the luscious-looking leg of lamb. I miss fatty, juicy lamb.

Leg of lamb was the Easter Sunday dinner I was cooking back in 1986 when my father died of a heart attack at my home. I’ve seldom cooked it since, and not at all in the past three years since my surgery.

Lamb aside, hats off to Bon Appetit for this roundup.


Healthy snack ideas from Meijer’s

My recent American Heart Association 5k gave me a chance to speak with some representatives of the Meijer chain when I was done. They were handing out healthy eating tips at the end of the event. I picked up a sheet titled Easy Healthy Snacks and a second called  More for a Healthier You.

Me with the heart mascot, sporting my survivor's cap and beads for each year since my 2012 surgery.
Me with the heart mascot, sporting my survivor’s cap and beads for each year since my 2012 surgery.

I found the healthier snacks online in the form of a video too:


Many of the 15 snacks on the list appeal to me, surprising given what a picky eater I tend to be when it comes to anything called healthy. Apple slices, baby carrots, peach slices and whole grain English muffins all are snacks I have these days on my low-fat, low-salt, low-sugar diet. Continue reading “Healthy snack ideas from Meijer’s”

Major chicken recall underway — check your chicken

A major recall of chicken is underway, if you bought chicken recently at a host of retailers, check it immediately.

Grilling chicken breasts on my new grill pan.
Check your chicken, there’s a major recall underway.

The brands involved include:
– Acclaim
– Antioch Farms
– Buckley Farms
– Centrella Signature
– Chestnut Farms
– Family Favorites
– Home Dining Selections
– Kirkwood
– Koch Foods
– Market Day
– Oven Cravers
– Rose
– Rosebud Farm
– Roundy’s
– Safeway Kitchens
– Schwan’s
– Shaner’s
– Spartan
– Sysco

The recall of 561,000 pounds of chicken from Chicago-based Aspen Foods is an expansion of an earlier Aspen recall of 2 million pounds of chicken in September. Continue reading “Major chicken recall underway — check your chicken”

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