Here’s a 7-day no-added-sugar meal plan

Having eaten a ton of sugar in my two weekend trips to New York City in August and early September, I’m more concerned than usual about my blood sugar levels. So I recently posted about unexpected ways your blood sugar can rise and today I’m posting this 7-day no-added-sugar diet plan from Eatingwell.com.

My lemon salmon. I used leek instead of scallions and it came great. I loved the garlic flavor.
My lemon salmon…salmon is one of the items on this 7-day plan that I do enjoy.

The plan is based on the Mediterranean Diet, which doctors and nutritionists generally is the best to follow for those concerned about their health.

Continue reading “Here’s a 7-day no-added-sugar meal plan”

Burn Pit BBQ spices offer good flavor, kick in the hot offerings

Back in July, I received some spice samples from a Wisconsin company, Burn Pit BBQ. I’ve since had the opportunity to use them, and to get reviews of the spiciest ones from my formerly food-blogging daughter who loves hot sauces. We agreed all our experiences with the samples were positive. We can recommend these to spice lovers.

A sampling of Burn Pit BBQ offerings we tried.

I particularly enjoyed the garlic seasoning, called Ground Pounder, on my steaks. My daughter tried the hot sauce and found it flavorful with a hint of cajun seasoning. We both tried the Fire in the Hole mixture and found it hot but not overwhelming, a plus for someone like me who avoids the hottest of the hot.

Keep in mind these are not salt-free mixtures, but can be considered low-salt (the garlic mixture, for example, has 110 mgs of sodium in half a teaspoon; Fire in the Hole has 95 mgs). Nutrition information for each offering is viewable on the company website.

Continue reading “Burn Pit BBQ spices offer good flavor, kick in the hot offerings”

Trader Joe’s High Fiber Cereal is Back on Store Shelves!

After weeks away, Trade Joe’s High Fiber Cereal is back on store shelves in my Chicago north suburban store. I stocked up on eight boxes Sept. 1 after trying a variety of alternatives during the weeks the TJ’s cereal was not available.

Trader Joe’s High Fiber Cereal is back on store shelves, thankfully.

The shopping trip reminded me of a lot of reasons I prefer the Trader Joe’s to other high fiber cereals. Not the least of those factors is the price, $2.99 a box. For alternatives, I paid $6.99 for Fiber One, $4.99 for All Bran on sale and $4.99 for Buds on sale (each was $1.80 off their regular prices).

Given that I eat a box a week for breakfast, the savings over a year are substantial — $208 compared with Fiber One, $156 with All Bran or Buds (assuming I get those for the sale price all year).

I’m thankful that TJ’s high fiber cereal has not joined all the other low-salt, low-sugar products Trader Joe’s has cut in recent years, such as salt-free shrimp sauce, salt-free whole-wheat bread and no-salt-added marinara sauce.

July 4th’s gone, but Labor Day is jsuta round the corner — here are some Labor Day side dish ideas

You can tell I’ve been holding onto this piece for a few months, 4th of July Sides from CookingLight.com. It’s early August as I write this and Labor Day is looming at the next big family cookout day, so why not take a look at some of these for that meal?

A simple approach, fresh tomatoes, fresh basil and wonderful olive oil.
A simple side dish, fresh tomatoes, fresh basil and wonderful olive oil.

As always, be careful about salt, fat and sugar content. Just because a dish makes it into a magazine that’s talking about “light” cooking, whatever that is, does not mean it is watching salt, fat or sugar content.

A recipe like Creamy Black Pepper Coleslaw has fat and salt in it. Not a lot you might say. But think of it as one part of your larger meal, the salt and fat can add up fast at a traditional American cookout.

I’m more likely to make sides with things I’ve grown during the summer, like tomatoes and green beans. Check out these side dishes I’ve written about in the past.

Dilly Dally Provisions — a Chicago-area supplier keeping it local

I recently met a founder of Dilly Dally Provisions as he was giving out samples of mustard his company is making with a local (Evanston, Il.) brewery. I’m always eager to support local suppliers, so tried both the mustard and a hot sauce he had on his sample table.

I loved the mustard, it’s likely a variation of the beer mustard I found on the company’s website. It had a hint of horseradish in it and would be a great way to bring some flavor to something like a chicken sandwich (or of course the usual hot dogs and brats).

Mustard tends to be the healthiest condiment you can use, usually having no sugar or fat and very little to no salt.

The hot sauce was way too hot for me, but I’m not a hot sauce person in any way, shape, or form. I would imagine people who love hot sauce will enjoy it.

Check out the company website. It says they sell primarily at farmers’ markets but also will deliver free in a slice of the Chicagoland area for orders of more than $20.

Inflation food shopping tip: bananas are a relative deal

It’s no secret food prices have been soaring the past two years, I’ve warned about that continuing here. So look for more tips on how to cut your food shopping spending on this blog. Today’s tip comes from Eatingwell.com.

Photo by Couleur on Pexels.com

Bananas, it notes, are a relative bargain in the fruit world. “The average price of 1 pound of bananas was $0.62 in the U.S. in 2021. This could give you a week’s worth of fruit to eat as a snack or as a side to a meal for less than $1. Compared to $1.45 for a pound of navel oranges or $4.44 for a pint of fresh blueberries, bananas are an incredibly budget-friendly fruit,” the article states.

In my suburban Chicago market area, bananas ranged from 59 cents a pound at a local Whole Foods to 69 cents at a Jewel (although different Jewel’s here charge only 59 cents, so shopping around pays, even within the same supermarket chain).

Costco has been a low-cost banana seller in the past but the last I check it was not, check your local Costco or Sam’s Club to see how it compares in your area.

“One medium banana contains 105 calories, 1 gram of protein, 27 grams of carbs (including 14 grams of naturally occurring sugar), 3 grams of fiber and 422 milligrams of potassium (about 16% of our daily needs). Bananas contain resistant starch, which can help improve gut health, help with blood sugar control and even promote healthy weight management. This flavorful fruit can also help lower your risk of heart disease, decrease blood pressure, improve mood, reduce risk of anxiety and more,” the article notes.

I eat one to two bananas a day to replace the potassium I lose because of one of the heart medications I take. My other alternative would be taking another pill, a potassium pill. The fewer pills I have to take, the better I like it. Plus I love the taste of a good banana.

Healthier Baked Goods? Possible, if you can do the math

Some holiday cupcakes I made last Christmas. One of my few times baking.

Baked goods like chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cake, eclairs, the list goes on, are the hardest thing for me to give up as I try to stay on a low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar diet. Truth is that, especially during the pandemic, I turned to cakes for solace. So I was intrigued by this piece offering a healthier way to bake.

The Cooking Light piece talks about how an award-winning chef reduced the sugar content of various cookies. There’s math and weighing your ingredients involved, but if done correctly you can cut half to 75% of the sugar a recipe calls for.

I find baking a little too much like chemistry, so I normally buy my baked goods already baked. But perhaps I can talk my wife into trying this and report back here. Stay tuned.

McDonald’s 2022 salads — first look at nutrition information

When this blog was among the first, if not the first, to write that McDonald’s had brought back salads in U.S. outlets in 2022, the nutrition information for those was not posted either on the McDonald’s website or in its ordering app.

Last week, though, I saw it was now on the bottom of the salad container. So here is your first look:

Southwest Salad

  • Calories: 200
  • Total fat: 9 grams
  • Sodium: 350 mg
  • Carbs: 15 grams
  • Protein: 16 grams

The pre-pandemic McDonald’s Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad had 350 calories and 930 mgs of salt, likely because there was much more chicken on it and it had a glaze that included salt. It also had 37 grams of protein, 12 grams of fat and 9 grams of sugar, again all because of the larger chicken serving, I’m guessing.

It had 27 grams of carbs, for the carb counters out there.

So does that make the new salads healthier? You could say that, but remember it’s being done by making them smaller with less chicken.

I’m still buying two to make one decent-sized salad but I’m finding more and more brown-edged lettuce in these pre-packaged salads.

Is hummus healthy? Depends on who is asking and how they define healthy

Hummus seems ubiquitous these days. Our local supermarket stocks multiple brands and anytime I eat with my grown children, we seem o end up at a Mideastern restaurant that has hummus on the menu. People certainly think it’s healthy, but it is? EatingWell.com tackles that question in this article.

The answer, like any question about “healthy”, depends on who is asking and why.

“Chickpeas (and thus hummus which is made from chickpeas) are not allowed on the Whole30 diet because they are a legume. For the same reason, hummus is not allowed on a paleo diet. Hummus can be keto friendly, if you eat it in limited amounts and allot carbohydrates in order to make room for it. (Many people count “net carbs” or total carbs minus grams of fiber. In this case, a serving of hummus has 3 net carbs.),” the article states.

So if you’re paleo or Whole30, it’s not. If you’re keto, some of it is ok.

What about those of us trying to cut salt, fat and sugar?

Continue reading “Is hummus healthy? Depends on who is asking and how they define healthy”

First look: McDonald’s 2022 salads – a shadow of what they used to be

McDonald’s has always had a love-hate relationship with salads, offering them primarily for mothers of small children who came demanding Happy Meals. But for me, salads were the only half-healthy item I could eat at McDonald’s, so I modified them to cut salt and carried on.

When the Pandemic hit, McDonald’s pulled salads completely from its U.S. menu. But as this spring arrives, a new McDonald’s salad offering is on store menus. Here’s a first look at the new Southwest Style Salad.

The new McDonald’s salad comes in a deeper plastic bowl than the old one and has a tray of ingredients on top that you add to the salad to build it. I left off the beans.

You can see from my pictures, packaging is radically different than the pre-pandemic Southwest salad. Ingredients are in a little tray that sits atop the lettuce.

Continue reading “First look: McDonald’s 2022 salads – a shadow of what they used to be”

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