A classic use for Thanksgiving left-overs — low-sodium turkey soup

I always hate throwing away my turkey skeleton after Thanksgiving because I would think about using it for soup. This year, I took the extra effort and made the soup, low-sodium of course.

I started with a recipe I found online, but then generally winged it, adding what I needed to give it flavor in the absence of salt.

I had two boxes of low-sodium chicken broth (see photos here) in my fridge, having opened them to use for basting my turkey on Thanksgiving. What was left went into a soup pot after I had sauteed some celery and onion bits. I was lucky enough to get those already cut at a local supermarket that was selling big boxes of celery and onions for only a dollar after Thanksgiving. They were packaged for making stuffing.

Continue reading “A classic use for Thanksgiving left-overs — low-sodium turkey soup”

Pause to give thanks, remember those less fortunate

I read a very sad Thanksgiving story recently, namely that one in four people are planning to skip Thanksgiving because of rising food costs. At this time of year it’s easy to forget those less fortunate than we are.

This report from  MoneyTransfers.com changed that for me. Findings included:

  • 45% of all respondents this year felt Thanksgiving was causing them financial stress.
  • 54% of Gen Z and 51% of Millennials feel the strain more so than their older counterparts

Asked how they plan to save money this Thanksgiving, respondents said:

  • 37% Cook more from scratch
  • 36% Have fewer side dishes
  • 35% Have fewer dessert options
  • 27% Cut out alcoholic beverages

I’ve posted about how to save money food shopping during these inflationary times. Think about donating some of your savings to a reputable organization that will help people who need help.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

2022 low-salt turkey update for Thanksgiving

Low-salt turkeys seem a bit more widely available in 2022 than they were in 2021. That means you might actually spend less per pound on a turkey this year than last, like I did, despite inflated food prices.

Whole Foods has low-salt turkeys, the same farm that I bought from last year, for $3.99 a pound. A little steep I thought, especially considering that mainline supermarkets often offer high-salt turkeys for 69 cents a pound as a loss leader to get you to buy other things.

So I checked a local Jewel supermarket and found a low-salt turkey for $2.19 a pound. At just over 15 pounds, that meant a considerable savings compared to what I would have spent at Whole Foods.

I look for turkeys with only 60-70 mgs of salt per four-ounce serving (I normally eat a lot more than four ounces). Turkeys at Jewel and elsewhere can have more than 200 mgs of salt per serving because they’re injected with a salt solution that self-bastes the turkey, making it unhealthy in the process.

Continue reading “2022 low-salt turkey update for Thanksgiving”

Trader Joe’s is dead to me; its low-salt products are gone

Trader Joe's high fiber cereal is my go-to breakfast choice every day, high in fiber, low in sugar and sodium.
Trader Joe’s high fiber cereal is gone, a very, very sad loss for people trying to eat healthy.

I’ve been eating Trader Joe’s High Fiber Cereal for breakfast for longer than I can remember, definitely longer than the 10 years since my first stent was put in. It was lower in sugar and salt than competitors and tastier too.

But I say was because it’s disappeared from Trader Joe shelves for the second time this year and I fear this time its gone for good. I visited three Trader Joe’s in Cook and Lake Counties, Illinois, recently and the cereal is nowhere to be found.

I also discovered that Trader Joe’s has dropped it’s no-salt-added salsa.

The two losses join a string of Trader Joe product disappearances. Here’s what I once bought regularly at Trader Joe’s:

Salt-free whole wheat bread

No-salt-added marinara sauce

No-salt added shrimp sauce

High fiber cereal

No-salt-added salsa

Trader Joe’s has decided to make it easier for Americans to continue eating more salt than is healthy for them.

I have no reason to shop there any longer so #traderjoesisdeadtome.

It’s very sad to see a food store abrogating its responsibility to offer at least some healthy offerings.

Thanksgiving leftovers recipes: Turkey naan’wich with cranberry sauce & curry mayo; curry stew with naan

I recently received a giant box of samples from two food companies, Atoria’s Family Bakery and Spicemode, along with some ideas for using their products with Thanksgiving leftovers.

Before accepting the samples, I did what I usually do when food company public relations people approach me about trying samples — I asked if the products are low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar. A lot of companies never respond to those questions. But I received a very nice response from the owner of Spicemode through the PR person.

Continue reading “Thanksgiving leftovers recipes: Turkey naan’wich with cranberry sauce & curry mayo; curry stew with naan”

Our grocery shopping habits are a’changing

A recent Chicago Tribune story about the planned Albertson’s takeover by rival Kroger included a chart (see below) that was a dramatic reminder of how our grocery shopping habits have changed over the years.

The chart shows that while traditional supermarket Jewel still maintains the top spot in the Chicago area in terms of number of households that shop there, discounter ALDI has the second largest share of the area’s grocery shopping market, followed by Walmart and then Mariano’s, a Kroger brand.

A few decades ago, the Chicago market belonged to Jewel and traditional rival Dominick’s, two supermarket chains that were Chicago born but eventually were bought by national chains (Dominick’s no longer exists, local say Safeway drove it into the ground before shutting it down).

You can see why traditional chains like Kroger want to get bigger. They mistakenly think being bigger will protect them from all the rivals — Walmart, Target, Costco and let’s not forget Amazon which didn’t make this chart — trying to grab more marketshare. Sadly, getting bigger hasn’t worked in traditional retailing, so why would it work in food retailing?

The Pandemic drove many people to try online grocery shopping. Some are abandoning that. Indeed a new survey shows online grocery sales were down 3%, year-over-year, in October. The survey is from brickmeetclicks.com.

But that’s still $7.8 billion nationally being spent online. Expect that to increase as all the stores on the Chicago list try to hold onto or gain marketshare as well.

Unexplained listeria outbreak spreading across country

A recent listeria outbreak linked to deli meats and cheeses has spread to several states with no apparent source found as of Friday, Nov. 11.

Beware deli meats, a listeria outbreak traced to a New York supermarket deli counter is sickening people.

Most of those who have become sick are in New York and have been found to shop at the same local supermarket, which has closed its deli counter because of the outbreak.

But other people in Illinois, Maryland, Illinois, Massachusetts, California and New Jersey also have become ill and there appears no link as yet between them and the New York store.

“The true number of sick people in this outbreak is likely higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses,” reports the Centers for Disease Control.

“In interviewing those sickened, CDC investigators found that five of the seven people in New York purchased sliced deli meat or cheese from at least one location of NetCost Market, a chain of stores selling international foods. However, that is not the only location of the illness, the CDC said, as people sickened in other states reported buying meats or cheeses from other delis,” CNN reports. A total of 16 people are known to have been infected so far.

Listeria is a nasty disease that is transmitted on food. One death already has been reported in this outbreak and another sickened person who was pregnant lost the baby she was carrying because of the listeria.

Dressing up McDonald’s bare-bones salads

I’ve written about how bare-bones McDonald’s post-pandemic salads are, if you can find them at your local McD outpost at all. So I’ve taken to bringing my own accompaniments to dress them up a bit. And I was excited to see someone else is getting a lot of TikTok views with her version of a McDonald’s salad.

Me first. You can see in the picture that I added cherry tomatoes (these are from my own garden), artichoke hearts and cucumber slices to one salad. I then layered in the lettuce from a second to make a more filling salad than anything on the McDoanld’s menu these days.

Other times, I’ve also brought slices of roasted red peppers to add. And of course, I’m using my own olive oil and balsamic vinegar, not any of the dressings available, all of which are too high in salt and fat,

Speaking of more filling salads, someone known as Amber_Rae55 on TikTok posted a video of her idea for a McDonald’s salad — basically a quarter pounder with no bun but extra lettuce, tomatoes, mayo, et al.

I wish she had opened the box to show us more, it’s a great idea. If you try ordering it, let me know.

If enough of us do things like that, maybe McDonald’s will finally get the message to add some real salads to its menu.

Aldi, Walmart promise Thanksgiving food price breaks

Aldi and Walmart have captured media attention recently by saying they’re rolling back prices on their Thanksgiving offerings to 2019 or 2020 price levels. The moves come in response to what seems like a public obsession with inflation these days. (That obsession is overblown in my opinion, you can adapt by how and where you shop to still find food deals as I’ve written about here).

Checking their sites for more details, I found that Walmart is very specific in terms of what prices will be held down.

“We’re removing inflation on an entire basket containing traditional Thanksgiving items. We made significant investments on top of our everyday low prices so customers can get a traditional Thanksgiving meal at last year’s price at Walmart*,” according to a press release on the Walmart site.

Having covered Walmart as a food business journalist, I can tell you its senior execs are very serious about always offering the lowest prices. Their buyers get continually pushed to find lower prices. So this move doesn’t surprise me, it fits with the DNA of the brand.

Aldi is less specific about what prices are being rolled back. When you click on its Thanksgiving Price Rewind graphic (on the Aldi website), it simply takes you to an online shopping page. Aldi is claiming to roll back prices to 2019 levels, significant since we did express price increases in 2020 and 2021.

I’m going to be checking both locations to see if either is offering low-sodium turkeys, fat-free gravy, or healthier butter substitutes for prices lower than the local supermarket chains. I’ll let you know what I find.

It’s not just inflation driving up Thanksgiving turkey prices in 2022

Inflation isn’t the only culprit driving turkey prices up at least 20% per pound this Thanksgiving. There’s also a nasty case of bird flu making the rounds of U.S. turkey flocks, killing 6 million turkeys through late October, the Washington Post reports.

Beware turkeys like this one that are self-basting. They’re loaded with salt. My annual search for a low-sodium turkey has begun for 2022.

“It was really a sad time to see that many birds pass to something that was that aggressive and that uncontrollable. It definitely did impact our availability and supply, and we won’t have everything for everyone like we normally do; we just won’t,” one turkey farmer told the Post.

My advice — start looking early for your low-salt turkey. I’ve already seen some at my local Jewel supermarket for around $2.90 a pound but the products aren’t listed in the Jewel shopping app which tells me only some stores have gotten them.

Shortages of low-sodium turkeys have sent me to buy them at Whole Foods the past two years but shop around this year.

In years gone by, even Costco had low-sodium turkeys at lower prices than supermarkets.

Remember, any turkey that is self-basting is also very high in sodium. Buy one that isn’t self-basting and then buy low-sodium chicken broth and baste it yourself.

How to find a low-sodium turkey, a post I wrote in 2014, is still one of the most popular on my website.

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