13 cucumber salad recipes just in time for July 4th

My grilled artichoke, along with corn, cucumber salad and tomato salad.
My basic cucumber salad.

Cucumber salads are a staple of my kitchen. You can find a variety of recipes for them on my No Salt, No Fat, No Sugar Journal. I thought I knew all the ways to make one until I saw this piece, 13 Easy Cucumber Salads on Eatingwell.com.

Cucumbers with avocado? It’s here. A Japanese cucumber salad? Here too.

One caveat, some of these recipes involve cream or other non-heart healthy ingrteidnetds. Avoid those. As always, avoid salt. fat and sugar. A wonderful, refreshing cucumber salad doesn’t need those to be tasty.

Happy 4th of July. Stay safe, Covid may be fading but it’s still among us.

Some timely tips for keeping your tomatoes fresh longer

A fun salad for July 4th, or any meal where you want fresh ingredients.
A fun salad for July 4th, or any meal where you want fresh ingredients.

Anyone who has read my No Salt, No Fat, No Sugar Journal knows I love tomatoes. Just check out some of my fav tomato recipes, like this one for a tomato salad, or this one for a tomato sauce. I buy tomatoes every week and grow my own in summer, so I’m always interested in keeping them for as long as possible. So I enjoyed this piece, How to Store Tomatoes So They Stay Fresh For Longer.

The piece’s advice:

  • On the counter, they stay good for about a week
  • Two weeks if you put them in a refrigerator
  • Two to three months in a freezer

I’ve never tried freezing a fresh tomato but will and will post about it here. The article notes, “frozen tomatoes probably shouldn’t be used in recipes that call for fresh ones because freezing will definitely change how they taste and feel in your mouth.”

Let me know if you freeze tomatoes.

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.

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”

Diet trends to watch for in 2022 — know what ashwagandha is?

Cooking Light has out its look at which diets people are quitting in 2022 and what new food trends to expect. Keto is out. Intermittent fasting is in as is something called ashwagandha.

This is what ashwgandha looks like.

Why is keto out? “The diet’s restrictive nature is one reason we think interest is fading. Another reason is that consumers are realizing they can achieve desirable outcomes without eliminating carbs,” the article states.

And for that ashwagandha — “Ashwagandha grew slowly in popularity in 2020 and 2021, but it’s going to be bigger than ever in 2022 so get ready to see this adaptogen everywhere. Used in ayurvedic medicine for over 3,000 years, adaptogens improve the body’s physiological ability to cope with stress and include ashwagandha, turmeric, holy basil, goji berries, and others—but ashwagandha is one of the most studied.”

That explanation left me scratching my head, so I went to WebMD to find out what this stuff actually is. “Ashwagandha is an evergreen shrub that grows in Asia and Africa. It is commonly used for stress. There is little evidence for its use as an “adaptogen.” Ashwagandha contains chemicals that might help calm the brain, reduce swelling, lower blood pressure, and alter the immune system. Since ashwagandha is traditionally used as an adaptogen, it is used for many conditions related to stress.” WebMD states.

So it could be another miracle ingredient that really isn;t much of miracle at all. Always beware of any claims that foods can do other than feed you.

Are bagged salads healthy? Here’s a yes, with lots of conditions attached

This year started with recalls of some bagged salads, so it would only be natural for people to wonder just how healthy such products are. A nutritionist tells Cooking Light magazine in this piece that they’re healthy but adds a lot of conditions to that recommendation.

The longer it takes lettuce to get from field to table, the more nutrients will decrease in it. So the processing time of bagged salads should mean they are less nutritious than buying a head of lettuce and doing all your own prep right? Not exactly.

“While bagged salads do experience more initial loss due to washing and chopping, research suggests they may make up for it when packaged thanks to an oxygen-reducing process called modified atmosphere packaging. Most manufacturers use to this type of packaging to maintain the color of leaves and to extend shelf life, but an added perk for consumers is that lower oxygen levels may also slow the rate at which nutrients like vitamin C and folate are lost.

“The thinking seems to be that nutrient loss in bagged salads is comparable, or possibly even less, than a whole head of lettuce stored for the same amount of time,” author  Carolyn Williams, PhD, RD states.

Should you buy bagged salads?

“With nutrient loss and bacteria risk comparable to what is seen in whole heads of lettuce and greens, most consider the benefits of increased vegetable consumption—thanks to the help of bagged salads—greater than potential risks,” she writes.

A tip to make roasted veggies crispier

Regular readers know I love roasted veggies. You’ll find recipes on my recipe page for roasted tomatoes, roasted garlic lemon broccoli, and roasted vegetables with pumpkin seed gremolata that’s great for special occasion dinners. So when I saw this piece from Eatingwell.com, The #1 Tip for Extra-Crispy Roasted Vegetables, it grabbed my attention.

This simple potato recipe provides a fun summer side dish.
Cornstarch on roasted potatoes? Maybe.

The secret is — cornstarch! Yes, I was surprised too. I use cornstarch primarily to coat my pizza stone so low-salt pizzas we make don’t stick to it while baking.

Keep in mind cornstarch is a refined carb, so don’t use a great deal of it if you’re concerned about heart health or sugar levels in your blood.

The story instructs:

Continue reading “A tip to make roasted veggies crispier”

Finding new meal ideas can be as close as your local supermarket

Remember when supermarkets put out cards with recipes on them? These used to be pretty common at fish counters especially. Well, that function has moved online — you may find it helpful when doing your own weekly meal planning.

I recently got an email from the Jewel supermarket chain (which is owned by Albertson’s) about a meal planning option in its app. My first reaction was that it would feature high-salt, high-fat, high-sugar processed ingredients. But I was pleasantly surprised.

The app let’s you begin by putting in your dietary restrictions. It doesn’t;t include low-salt as one, unfortunately, I put in carb-conscious instead. Other restrictions I included were dairy-free, no nuts, no soy sauce, no eggs and no sulfites.

Continue reading “Finding new meal ideas can be as close as your local supermarket”

Brownies with allulose — not exactly like regular brownies

Food processors are constantly looking for a sweetener that will make people think they’re eating sugar while not getting all the harmful side effects of consuming sugar. I wrote recently about one such sweetener, allulose, which some say is better for us than sugar.

I purchased a brownie mix with allulose from Lang’s Chocolates to see how this sweetener works in a baked product and how it tastes. The results were disappointing.

The brownie mix seemed very sticky while I was mixing it and the final baked brownie seemed the same. The end product did not taste all that chocolatey and it had an after-taste which I assume comes from the allulose. In short, it did not taste like a brownie made with sugar.

Continue reading “Brownies with allulose — not exactly like regular brownies”

A lesson in reading food labels — canned garbanzo beans can be loaded with salt

Canned chickpeas can be loaded with salt, always check the label.

When you’re trying to get the salt out of your diet, you need to be constantly aware of the salt hidden in every food you buy. This was recently brought home to me when my wife asked me to pick up a can of garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas).

She planned to put them into a homemade soup that she wanted to be low-salt for me. Luckily, when I was searching for them, I came across a low-salt variety.

The low-salt chickpeas had only135 mgs of salt per serving. Regular brands had 340 mgs! Multiply that by the number of servings per can and you can see your salt intake rising before your eyes.

For more tips on cutting salt, read my post, Salt is everywhere, beware; become a smart shopper & diner, and check my Ingredients and Smart Shopper pages.

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