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?

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.

Another handy way to carry your own oil & vinegar

Salad dressing served in restaurants are loaded with salt, fat and sugar, exactly what you don;t want to put on a healthy salad. I’ve advised in the past that you carry you own olive oil and vinegar to use when dining out. Small packets of each are available on Amazon, i buy them literally by the hundreds.

My new tiny oil and vinegar bottles for eating out.
My new tiny oil and vinegar bottles for eating out.

My resourceful daughter presented me with another option this Christmas when she gave me tiny dressing bottles from Crate & Barrel (full disclosure, she works for the company, so likely got these at a discount. You can get them on the store’s site for $4.95 each).  Continue reading “Another handy way to carry your own oil & vinegar”

AMC Dine-in Menu — hear the sound of your blood pressure spiking???

Sunday is movie day in our house. We normally go to the first show of the day to get cheaper tickets because why pay more to see the same movie a few hours later? Movie theaters today are adding all sorts of new perks to get people to leave their houses. One of the new perks is expanded food options.

AMC is a large theater chain and I saw recently that it has what it’s calling the AMC dine-in menu now. The cardboard menu they give you to pick from actually has calorie counts right on it for every dish, a requirement that comes from the healthcare law commonly called Obamacare.

Continue reading “AMC Dine-in Menu — hear the sound of your blood pressure spiking???”

More advice on what’s healthiest to order at McDonald’s

McDonald’s is everywhere across the United States, so chance are you’ll find yourself in one for a meal from time to time even if you’re on a low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar diet. I actually go to a local McDonald’s once a week, getting a salad and bringing my own oil and vinegar packets so I don’t use the high-salt Paul Newman dressings.

A McDonald's breakfast platter my mother once loved.
A McDonald’s breakfast platter my mother once loved.It didn’t make the healthy breakfast list on MyFitnessPal.com

And I’ve written before about what nutritionists recommend there. So I was interested to see a story from Myfitnesspal.com headlined What’s the Healthiest Thing to Eat at McDonald’s? Continue reading “More advice on what’s healthiest to order at McDonald’s”

McDonald’s Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich — a salt bomb to avoid

McDonald’s has been working hard to improve the image of its food offerings, wanting to get away from seeming processed or simply bad fast food and I give it credit for those efforts. But sadly I think it’s still missing the point, at least for someone like me worried about salt, fat and sugar in my diet.

One of McDonald's new grilled artisan chicken sandwiches.
One of McDonald’s new grilled artisan chicken sandwiches.

The McDonald’s Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich is its latest attempt. artisan conveys a sense that this chicken is somehow more special than its regular chicken sandwich. So I was really hoping to see that in its nutrition information. What I saw instead though was a mountain of salt.

The regular variety has 1110 mgs of sodium, half a day’s worth for a healthy person, almost a full day;s worth for someone like me dealing with heart disease. It also sports 7 grams of fat, not all that bad, and 11 grams of sugar. Continue reading “McDonald’s Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich — a salt bomb to avoid”

Say it ain’t so Naf Naf Grill. Did you add salt and fat?

I wrote an enthusiastic post about the relatively new fast food chain Naf Naf Grill back in 2014 when I discovered the low-salt content of its pita bread and the low-fat content of its beef in a pita offering. I’ve been touting it to friends and family ever since.

The menu board from a Naf Naf Grill location in Niles, Ill. Other outlets have slightly different offerings.
The menu board from a Naf Naf Grill location in Niles, Ill. Other outlets have slightly different offerings.

So I was shocked and dismayed recently when I checked it’s site and found the numbers have changed drastically for the worse. I’ve written Naf Naf and posted on its Facebook page to get answers but haven’t heard a word yet, very poor customer relations. Continue reading “Say it ain’t so Naf Naf Grill. Did you add salt and fat?”

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