A vacation breakfast challenge — avoid the pastry

Vacation eating is always fraught with tension for anyone concerned about their salt, saturated fat and sugar intake. It becomes even more of a challenge in a country like Italy with all its wonderful gastronomic creations.

I’ve been vacationing in southern Italy and trying to stick to simple seafood dishes for dinner, but breakfast presents its own challenges. Continue reading “A vacation breakfast challenge — avoid the pastry”

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Vacation eating — joy or fear?

I’m trying to walk a middle ground, which has meant ordering seafood as often as possible and minimizing my pasta, pastry and gelato intake.

Maintaining a heart-healthy diet takes a lot of inner discipline given that we’re surrounded by so many food options that are high in salt, saturated fat and sugar. The task becomes even more daunting when you’re on vacation, especially in a foreign country with even more foods you love.

I’ve been vacationing in Italy, my ancestral homeland, with a large group of cousins. That means meals here have been wonderful family affairs with so many food options its difficult to count them all. But most involve salt and sugar. What to do, fear everything I eat or put diet concerns aside for the duration of the trip?

Pasta portions are smaller in Italy, thankfully.

I’m trying to walk a middle ground, which has meant ordering seafood as often as possible and minimizing my pasta, pastry and gelato intake. Southern Italy is a wonderful place to eat seafoods. I had a piece of amberjack in a light tomato sauce last night, for example, something I rarely see on US menus.

I’ve also had oysters and clams, albeit with pasta. Pasta portion sizes are smaller here than in the US, which is a good thing since we tend to fill plates to overflowing at home.

Gelato, of course, is the hardest goodie to pass up, especially when everyone else keeps pushing for it. And with that, I don’t do small portions well.

Grilled vegetables are on every menu in Italy, a wonderful, simply side dish .

I’m assuming I’ll gain weight on this trip, we’ll see how much when I’m back in the States and have a scale again. Then it will also be back to strictly watching the salt, fat and sugar,

Costco says bye, bye to chocolate frozen yogurt, I say #byebyeCostco

Costco shopping followed by a meal there has been a regular Thursday ritual for me since at least 2006, first for shopping and dinner at its food court and, since I retired in 2015, for Thursday shopping and lunch.

Costco’s food court frozen yogurt swirl, consisting of fat-free vanilla and fat-free chocolate frozen yogurt, is one of the few dessert treats I can reasonably eat on my heart-healthy restricted diet.

What had been my weekly Costco lunch is no more. Who dumps chocolate from the vanilla-chocolate combo? Shame on you Costco.
What had been my weekly Costco lunch is no more. Who dumps chocolate from the vanilla-chocolate combo? Shame on you Costco.

That’s why I was shocked and despondent this past Thursday when I went to order my usual lunch, a salad and a twist of frozen yogurt, only to be told Costco was no longer selling chocolate frozen yogurt at the food court!!!

A little online research found others already have posted about this, apparently the former $1.39 frozen yogurt twist is being replaced by a bowl of frozen acai sherbet with berries and granola for $5.99!!!!

Obviously Costco is trying to appeal to Millennials, who are not shopping there now, with this new offering.

It’s also trying to do it on the cheap by making the new sherbet in the machines that had made the chocolate yogurt rather than bringing in new equipment so it could be offered it in addition to the chocolate yogurt (the vanilla will stay on the other side of the same frozen dessert making machines). Continue reading “Costco says bye, bye to chocolate frozen yogurt, I say #byebyeCostco”

Another look at what to eat at restaurants

Almost all restaurant food is awash in salt, far and sugar, so eating out is a challenge for anyone concerned about their heart-health. I’ve created a page of options for eating out that I’ve found, but I’m always on the lookout for other advice. Cooking Light magazine recently ran this piece, These are the Healthiest Meal Choices at 35 Popular Chain Restaurants.

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
Stick to salad when eating on the run, and take out the high-fat dressing and cheese. Always carry your own oil and vinegar packets to use instead.

Keep in mind, healthiest doesn’t necessarily mean healthy, it just means least bad.Still, if you find yourself stuck at a Boston Market or an Au Bon Pain, for example, this list may help you.

I was intrigued that the McDonald’s choices didn’t include a salad without the dressings, which are loaded with salt. I always carry my own oil and vinegar so I’m not tied to any dressing served by a restaurant.

Product review: Sans Sucre sugar-free mousse and brownies

Baking is not usually my thing, I find it a bit too scientific a process as compared to cooking which allows for more freedom to depart from recipes and become artistic. So most of the recipes you’ll find on this blog are for cooking main courses and side dishes rather than desserts.

That said, I love to eat baked goods such as cakes and doughnuts, items I really should try  to avoid on my heart-healthy diet because of sugar and fat they contain.

Sans Sucre Mousse Mix
Sans Sucre Mousse Mix

So when I was approached by a public relations person for a brand called Sans Sucre which makes sugar-free and gluten-free baking mixes, I was intrigued enough by the prospect of guilt-free items that I asked for samples to try to make. (The brand name means without sugar in French, by the way.)

I’ve since tried the sugar-free, low-fat Chocolate Mousse Mix and the sugar-free chocolate fudge brownie mix. Of the two, I enjoyed the mousse more and found it relatively simple to make, even for a baking-challenged cook like me. Continue reading “Product review: Sans Sucre sugar-free mousse and brownies”

Saturated fat is the bad stuff, here’s where it hides

“Fat, fat the water rat,” is an expression I remember vividly from my childhood as one mean kids would yell at other children they thought were too heavy (including me).

Oddly enough, I can’t find its origins via an Internet search, but I thought of it while reading this piece on where saturated fat hides.

I love donuts, but they don;t love me, they carry saturated fats.

When I started this blog back in 2012, nutritionists were saying avoid fat (hence the blog name includes No Fat). That thinking has evolved a bit, now it’s just saturated fats that need to be avoided. Those are fats that are solid at room temperature, a nutritionist recently told me, like butter (although margarine is bad too, sorry).

Saturated fats are in lots of foods Americans eat as well, and many people miss that fact. This piece from WebMD is a handy way to understand that there are hidden saturated fats in foods like dark meat chicken (not all chicken is good unfortunately), milk, pizza (sorry again), and donuts. Continue reading “Saturated fat is the bad stuff, here’s where it hides”

Consider mushrooms for your Easter table

Mushrooms have always been something I enjoy, from cutting up small ones for salads to roasting giant portabellos on the grill with a salt-free teriyaki sauce for flavoring.

So it’s nice to know they have lots of healthful properties, as this slide show from WedMd.com shows.

Trout, with mushrooms as a garnish.

“If you’re looking for an all-natural multivitamin, skip the supplement aisle and pick up some mushrooms,” WebMD says. “Among their many nutrients: B vitamins — including pantothenic acid (B5), niacin (B3), and riboflavin (B2) — plus copper and selenium. Mushrooms also have protein, fiber, potassium, vitamin D, calcium, and more.

“Mushrooms may do a lot more for your health than fuel your body. They have antibacterial properties. They can help lower cholesterol. They’re good for your immune system. They may even help prevent or treat Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, high blood pressure, and cancer,” the slide show goes on to state. Wow. I tend to be doubtful about such superfood claims, there’s still so  much about nutrition and our bodies that science hasn’t figured out, after all.  Continue reading “Consider mushrooms for your Easter table”