Bye bye trans fats — the FDA finally lowers the hammer

Trans fats, which unfortunately Americans have been eating for the past half century or so, are finally being banned from U.S. foods. The Food and Drug Administration finally has set a deadline for the complete elimination of partially hydrogenated oils, the main source of trans fats in our diets, from things like cake frosting, microwave popcorn, cakes, cookies and other things we used to think tasted good.

Bye bye trans fafts. Maybe now movie popcorn will get healthier.
Bye bye trans fafts. Maybe now movie popcorn will get healthier.

I say finally because this has been a long time coming. I blogged about it way back in 2013, not long after I started this blog. As I wrote then, “food makers and restaurants saw the writing on the trans fat walls long ago and have been phasing it out of most products.” Continue reading “Bye bye trans fats — the FDA finally lowers the hammer”

Junior’s in Brooklyn — coming home, eating amazing cheesecake

Junior’s restaurant in downtown Brooklyn boasts on its website that it serves “The World’s Most fabulous Cheesecake.” If it’s true, is it a boast?

Junior’s is one of the few things in Brooklyn that’s still there from my childhood so, so many years ago. It’s also a place that binds my family together. My parents went there before I was born and then took me there in the days when downtown Brooklyn was where we did our major shopping.

Lunch at Junior with my wife Carolyn, and wonderful friend Vic.
Lunch at Junior with my wife Carolyn, and wonderful friend Vic.

We ate breakfast there in 2011 with my daughter as she was about to graduate from New York University. Even a vegetarian like her loved Junior’s cheesecake!

So my wife and I planned a Junior’s meal as part of my birthday dream week in New York recently. When I realized a wonderful high school friend worked nearby, we invited him to join us, turning a great meal into a great meal with great company as well. Vic was one of my closest friends in high school and now, even though he lives 1,000 miles away from us, has become a major supporter of my new theater company. Continue reading “Junior’s in Brooklyn — coming home, eating amazing cheesecake”

My New York food vacation

My birthday this year was very special for me because, thanks to my wonderful wife, I was able to spend it in my hometown, New York City. We saw two Broadway shows and went to a Tony Awards party while there. And I also resolved to eat the foods I grew up loving, plus some new favorites, during my five days there.

The result of my food vacation? I gained 6.5 pounds over the five days we were there.

My wife Carolyn and I ended our New York dream trip with very late-night drinks at one of the Waldorf's bars.
My wife Carolyn and I ended our New York dream trip with very late-night drinks at one of the Waldorf’s bars.

My splurge included pastrami and cheesecake at Junior’s, a classic Brooklyn deli and cheesecake emporium, hot dogs and waffle fries at Nathan’s, the classic New York hot dog spot, a slice of NYC-style pizza at a street corner storefront, Italian ices, an unbelivable breakfast in bed at the famed Waldorf Astoria Hotel, and the most exquisite sashimi I’ve ever eaten at at Iron Chef Morimoto’s New York restaurant on my birthday night. Continue reading “My New York food vacation”

Happy Birthday to me!

I turn 62 today and I’m back in the city of my birth. A few years ago, just before having an angioplasty performed in August 2012, I didn’t think I’d see my 62nd birthday, or even my 61st. Even in the year after the surgery, I expected a heart attack every day. It’s amazing to me I’m still here.

My New York, Luna Park apartments at Coney Island.
My New York, Luna Park apartments at Coney Island.

What’s even more amazing is to be in New York City for this birthday. New York is the land of bad food, all the foods I grew up loving — New York pizza, pastrami, cheesecake, Italian pastry, sausage and onions, giant plates of spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, Nathan’s hot dogs, Drake’s cakes, Carvel…the list goes on and on. Continue reading “Happy Birthday to me!”

Who sells America’s saltiest fast foods?

I’ve written before that fast food is loaded with salt, you might as well go to a salt mine and start licking the walls as eat anything at McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, and even Subway which positions itself as healthier but still has much too much salt in its offerings.

Subway's spicy Italian, avoid it like a salt plague!
Subway’s spicy Italian, avoid it like a salt plague!

So I wasn’t surprised by this latest list of America’s saltiest foods compiled by TheDailyMeal.com and reported by Fox News, among others. Continue reading “Who sells America’s saltiest fast foods?”

VitaTops — a quick snack but don’t believe the picture

Baked goods like cakes and even snack cakes (i.e. HoHos) have been largely off my diet since having angioplasty in 2012. And I miss them terribly.

So I’m always looking for something baked that I can eat without too much presumed damage to my arteries. That means looking for low-fat, low-salt baked items, almost an impossibility. But there are some. Normally they’re smaller than anything I once ate, but at least they satisfy my cravings a bit.

Look at all those chocolate chips on each top...
Look at all those chocolate chips on each top…
Here's what they really look like on a  small plate.Find the chips?
Here’s what they really look like on a small plate.Find the chips?

One such product is VitaTops. They’re essentially muffin tops with chocolate chips in them so I can taste a bit of chocolate. Each is only 100 calories and has only 3 grams of fat and 170 mgs of sodium. So eating two means 340 mgs of sodium, about a fifth of my daily 1,500 mg limit. Continue reading “VitaTops — a quick snack but don’t believe the picture”

McDonald’s chicken recipe is getting simplified; Bravo!

McDoanld’s is a difficult place to get anything low-salt, low-fat or low-sugar. These days all I eat there are salads and yogurt parfaits. The parfaits have come in for criticism for being high in sugar. The salads have a lot of salt, and an impossible amount if you add any of the dressing supplied, so I usually bring my own vinegar and oil packets instead.

I’m not the only one eating there less, Millennials who grew up with Ronald are turning away in droves. The Big Mac seems to be getting the message and is moving as fast as a major company can to change some things. I applaud the changes and say do more, more quickly, now.

McDonald's planned artisan chicken sandwich, with fewer harmful ingredients.
McDonald’s planned artisan chicken sandwich, with fewer harmful ingredients.

A major recent change was announced for its chicken. “The biggest change is the removal of sodium phosphates, which it said was used to keep the chicken moist, in favor of vegetable starch. The new recipe also does not use maltodextrin, which McDonald’s said is generally used as a sugar to increase browning or as a carrier for seasoning,” reported Fox News, and other outlets, recently.

Anything to cut sodium is great for me. A McChicken sandwich at the moment has 650 mgs of sodium, about half what I can eat a day, which is why I never buy one.

McDonald’s new Artisan chicken also will be cooked in an olive oil blend instead of margarine, according to another report. That can only help as well.

“McDonald’s new grilled chicken sandwich recipe has been introduced in response to consumer demands for simple ingredients, the company said. By removing artificial ingredients consumers are not familiar with, the company is making an effort to simplify their recipes and respond to increasing demands for natural foods,” reported Olive Oil Times.

Keep it up McDonald’s keep it up.

John

Happy low-salt, low-fat Thanksgiving!

If you’re like me, you’ve been cooking since the pre-dawn hours today. Hopefully you’ve tried some of my low-salt, low-fat recipes and you saw my warning about checking the sodium content of your turkey before buying one.

So all that’s left is to finish the cooking and enjoy. Thanksgiving is perhaps my favorite holiday of the year because it transcends all religions, or lack of religions, and celebrates the American family coming together to give thanks for each other.

Time to eat all those turkeys! Happy Thanksgiving!
Time to eat all those turkeys! Happy Thanksgiving!

We will be doing that in a very special way at our house this year, my son is with us from Minneapolis, my wife’s brother is coming over and she has relatives and friends here all the way from Holland to share our special feast.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
John

Healthy eating at Taste of Chicago? Think again

I was amused to see recently that insurance company Humana put out a list of so-called healthy food choices at Taste of Chicago, an annual mega-food fest here in the Windy City that ended last Sunday.

Taste of Chicago has gotten smaller in recent years, but the food offerings are still more than I can eat on a  restricted diet.
Taste of Chicago has gotten smaller in recent years, but the food offering are still more than I can eat on a restricted diet.

The last time I went to Taste was 1994, long before my heart surgery. The event is smaller and doesn’t last as long these days as it did then, but it’s still all about eating. Area restaurants set up tents and sell their specialties, so you can go wild trying everything in sight. I don’t even go near it now because I know it would throw me off my restricted diet. Continue reading “Healthy eating at Taste of Chicago? Think again”

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