Pandemic Food Casualties: Costco sheet cake, McDonald’s salads, yogurt parfaits

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a lot of food purveyors, whether retailers or restaurants, to cut back menus and just concentrate on their top sellers, or, for restaurants, on items that are quick to prepare. So several of my favorites have fallen by the wayside.

The most painful loss is that McDonald’s has cut what I considered the two healthiest items on its menu — salads and yogurt parfaits. I was a regular at a local McDonald’s before the pandemic, ordering a salad, side salad and two parfaits. The staff came to know me by my order, which I usually placed ahead of time through the McDonald’s ordering app.

What had been my weekly Costco lunch is no more. Who dumps chocolate from the vanilla-chocolate combo? Shame on you Costco.
Those were the days my friend — gone now. No frozen yogurt at Costco, no salads at McDonald’s.

With those options gone now, there’s no reason for me to stop at McDonald’s, even if it has reopened for eat-in service.

On the other end of the food scale — totally unhealthy but delicious, Costco has stopped selling its giant sheet cakes. Those were a mainstay when we had large parties, there was inevitably enough to freeze for ourselves to have on later occasions as well.

Costco already broke my heart when it dropped its fat-free chocolate frozen yogurt for the trendy acai. I used to eat lunch there once a week, getting a salad (bringing my own oil and vinegar to avoid it’s fatty dressing) and a yogurt swirl. I had shifted to McDonald’s salads after that. Now with both gone, there’s I am confined to eating lunch at home.

By the way, Costco also has dropped acai from its food court! Ha!!!!

Happier times — let’s talk about eating in Hawaii

Early this year my wife and I took a long-talked-about dream vacation to Hawaii, spending a week in Honolulu and another week on the island of Kauai. It seems a million years ago now with a pandemic sweeping the globe.

But I hope that reading about wonderful places to eat in Hawaii will brighten some people’s days and turn their thoughts to happier times.

I’ve already written that there’s a lot of junk food in Hawaii, especially in the heavy tourist areas like Honolulu. But there also are some wonderful restaurants featuring fresh seafood.

My Hula Grill dinner.

One we enjoyed was the Hula Grill Waikiki. It’s in a hotel, but much better than the average hotel restaurant. It offers a wide range of seafood option, including nightly specials, and fish you don’t see on the mainland like opah and monchong.

And both mahi mahi and ahi are on the menu, fresher there than you’ll taste on the mainland as well. Pictured here is my dinner, which as I recall was a nightly special, I think of ahi.

Help your local restaurants with a meal Tuesday 3/24

A lot of people have been posting on social media about helping their local restaurants by ordering take-out  and delivery meals. Some of the delivery services are even offering lower or no fees for a few weeks to encourage it.

Now, a large group of national restaurants wants to take the idea across the country with what they’re calling The Great American Takeout on Tuesday, March 24. And yes, of course, there’s a hashtag  #thegreatamericantakeout

Many. many people are out of work right now and likely can’t afford such luxuries, but if you can afford it, ordering from your favorite restaurant with a takeout meal Tuesday is a great way to show support.

I’ve been doing it locally in Evanston where I live with meals from Dave’s New Kitchen and The Celtic Knot, two of my favorite local establishments. Continue reading “Help your local restaurants with a meal Tuesday 3/24”

Healthy eating in Hawaii??? You have to work hard to search it out

My wife recently put together a winter vacation for us that had been a dream of mine for about 40 years — going to Hawaii. I’d been there, alone, in the early 1980s and loved it, vowing at the time to go back someday with someone I would want to share it with.

That’s exactly what I did with my wife in January. But there’s been a major change for me since 1981, my heart issues. And that complicated our eating while there for almost two weeks.

Fast food in Hawaii is inevitably salty and fatty. SPAM on rice anyone? It’s a popular sushi option there as is breaded fish of all kinds, tacos or all kinds and poke, which is highly salted fish. So we had to work hard to find healthy alternatives.

I had expected more fresh fish and fruit, which I remembered from my last visit. We had to search that out, most often in more expensive restaurants. We found some great meals, but had to pay $100 a couple and up for them (and we don’t drink alcohol very much so that was usually without drinks).

I’ll be blogging about our meals the next few days, come read about them. Here’s a tease, a beet salad and sashimi plate I had at Duke’s at the Marriott resort on Kauai.

Feel like a drink? Maybe you want to hold off on that idea

I try never to give medical advice on this blog because that advice changes so quickly and so frequently. I always have my doubts about any medical advice about which foods are healthy and which are not, or which are so-called superfoods and which are not.

I was reminded of why I’m a doubter by a recent story knocking down the idea that moderate drinking it ok, health-wise.

Put down that beer…at least until the next study comes out.

Headlined Study challenges health benefits of moderate drinking  this Associated Press reports that “A new study challenges the idea that a drink or two a day could actually be good for you. Continue reading “Feel like a drink? Maybe you want to hold off on that idea”

The latest diet fad — the 21 Day Meal Plan

My blanket advice about any diet plan that promises amazing results is to avoid it. Any “diet plan” will not help you long-term because it’s by nature a short-term fix for problems with how you eat.

I have opted to cut salt, fat and sugar from my daily food intake because those are thought to have negative impacts on my heart health. Heart disease has plagued me since my first stent in 2012. I’ve seen cutting salt impact my blood pressure in a positive way and so stick with that. The others, fat and sugar, have been much more difficult for me to give up because it’s difficult to see a direct correlation to my heart health.

So the 21 day meal plan intrigued me because it too looks at cutting salt and fat. It also talks about eating whole foods and eliminates eating out, more difficult goals to achieve. So I was interested in reading this Cooking Light article headlined: I Lived Through the Entire 21 Day Meal Plan—Here’s How It Went

The author, who calls herself an avowed foodie, had her problems with the meal plan, mostly because she missed the salt. Her thoughts on that just affirm how hooked most of us are on salt, chefs included. Even celeb TV chefs routinely talk about how salt “brings out flavor” in meats and other dishes. All it brings out is the salty flavor. Continue reading “The latest diet fad — the 21 Day Meal Plan”

Ever eat at Corner Bakery? If you’re cutting your salt, don’t

Life can have unexpected consequences sometimes. Since the New Year began, I’ve been on a cleaning and organizing binge, likely because of Japanese-super-organizer Marie Kondo and her new Netflix series. My wife and I even organized our kitchen junk drawer, usually a no-mans-land of forgotten items.

And in that drawer I found I had an old Corner Bakery gift card. Corner Bakery was an early entrant in the fast casual category of restaurants — places that tried to be a cut above hamburger joints and positioned themselves as healthier with fresher ingredients than tradition fast food.

But as always with such claims, the devil is in the details. Or should I say the salt is the devil in the menu? The reason I never finished using my Corner Bakery gift card was because of the high salt content of most Corner Bakery offerings. So I’ve had this card for years with about $7 left on it to spend.

So I visited the Corner Bakery site today to see if by chance its menu has changed from the high-salt offerings I remembered. Sadly, it has not. It does have some very cool nutrition search functions, including one where you build a meal and another where you can rank all the menu items by salt content (or any nutrition content). Continue reading “Ever eat at Corner Bakery? If you’re cutting your salt, don’t”

Is black pepper the next super food?

I’m always wary of claims that various foods can cure anything or even improve health. The science of how what we eats impacts us is still too primitive and too general for my taste. Case-in-point is this story I read recently about black pepper.

Find a spice store that will create salt-free blends for you
Find a spice store that will create salt-free blends for you

For someone trying to cut salt from their diets, pepper becomes a go-to flavoring It’s usually available when eating out, for one, and it’s tasty without being spicy hot which I tend to shy away from. So I’m using more pepper in my cooking.

But this Time article says black pepper could aid digestion and have other health benefits as well. It also can counter-act some carcinogens in charred beef (barbecue fans take note).

I hope all that is true, but for now, I’ll just use black pepper because I like the taste. If you have a local spice shop, ask for a salt-free mixture of various peppers as I’ve done to get some variety of flavor.

Here’s one reason olive oil gets all the glory

Olive oil is like the Mount Olympus of ‘good’ fat, most nutritionists agree. But exactly why is that the case? So much of nutrition science is still in its infancy that I often am skeptical when anything is touted as a ‘healthy’ food.

Always carry your own oil and vinegar packets to use on any salad. I buy these in bulk on Amazon.
Always carry your own oil and vinegar packets to use on any salad. I buy these in bulk on Amazon.

But a new study may give some insight into why olive oil can help us. Apparently it helps your good cholesterol, the HDL kind, work more effectively, according to an article in Cooking Light magazine.

Continue reading “Here’s one reason olive oil gets all the glory”

Have some bad eating habits? Here are ways to break those

Bad eating, binge eating, eating lots of sugar, salt and fat — all are ways to say we have bad eating habits.

Like to over-eat? Try this quiz that may help you break that and other bad habits.

A new year is always a good time to resolve to break such bad habits, it’s a fresh start after all, isn’t it?

So try taking this WebMD quiz on how to break bad habits. Some of the answers it gives (you have to answer questions and then get told if you gave the right or wrong answer, may surprise you. The correct answers will give you tips on how to best break bad habits.

 

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