Healthier food options have definitely been casualties of the Covid-19 pandemic. With demand up because people are eating at home more, food processors have stepped up production of their most popular offerings — normally the least healthy ones — and dropped healthier ones. The same is true for mainstream supermarkets which are having trouble keeping their shelves stocked, still today.
The start of any year is notorious for people resolving to lose some weight. Indeed, all the major weight-loss programs already are running ads to attract new clients this time of year.
Like millions of others, I’m resolving to drop some pounds this year too. But I don’t use any commercial diet plans. Rather, I merely need to return to what I was eating after having my first angioplasty in 2012.
Following that surgery, I dropped 25 pounds by cutting out everything I enjoyed — red meat, candy, cookies, doughnuts, cake, rich, creamy ethnic foods (think most things from Europe), high-salt ethnic foods (think anything from Asia).
Sadly, after three years of that, I began slipping back, mainly with M&Ms and cream-filled doughnuts, until, in 2017, I was forced to have a second angioplasty to open yet another blocked artery.
That second surgery really had me questioning whether changing my diet had any impact on my artery-health, since it seemed like the answer was a resounding no.
So for the past two years, I’ve been eating much more junk food than before and have gained back that 25 pounds I lost. That officially makes me a fat old man these days and I don’t like that image. So I’m starting all over again.
Here’s today’s lunch salad which I made at home. Restaurant salads are normally load with salt, fat and sugar, avoid them or strip them down to their basics if you must eat one.
I try to add as much as possible to the basic spring greens lettuce mix to give the salad some texture. Here’s a look at ingredients before I built the salad. The only thing missing in this photo is the turkey I put on. That’s leftover from our low-salt Christmas turkey.
The feta cheese is fat-free and the olives (in that black liquid) are low-salt. The beets are sold at Costco, they’re sealed and shelf-stable, not the jarred ones that are loaded with salt.
The mushrooms, tomatoes, cucumbers and even the lettuce mix were on sale at a local supermarket. Eating healthy is expensive, so always shop the sales each week to find deals.
I topped all this with olive oil (a so-called good fat) and balsamic vinegar.
Healthyheartmarket.com is a good online source for all things low- and no-salt. The one caveat is that shipping is usually expensive, especially for heavy liquid items. So I always look locally first for items I see here before buying online.
I make my own pasta sauce (and in my Italian-American family, we called it gravy). I use low-salt, imported Italian tomatoes. If you’re not accustomed to making your own, this Rinaldi brand could be a good alternative.
Trader Joe’s also sells its own brand of low-salt marinara sauce, another alternative if you have a TJs nearby. Hunt’s also has a pre-made low-salt sauce, although many main-stream supermarkets do not carry it or only carry small cans of it.
Opt for a whole wheat pasta, add gravy and you have a great crowd-pleasing meal for the holidays.
Lots of people will be touching lots of food this July 4th. So it;s a good time to review how to keep all the food you make and serve that day safe for people to eat, notes the Partnership for Food Safety Education. It’s created this flyer on using thermometers for grilling. It also has some general food handling tips, such as:
Not just the grill master, but everyone at the gathering should wash their hands with soap and water before and after handling food.
Always use a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature of grilled meat and poultry. Print the temperature chart (below) for your refrigerator.
Keep your cooler filled with ice, so picnic perishable foods stay chilled to 40 °F.
Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry or seafood. Be sure to have plenty of clean utensils and platters on hand.
Happy grilling and a happy 4th to all our readers!!!
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.
Asparagus has a variety of health benefits but can be intimidating to some to prepare and cook. If you’ve been in that group, fear not, this Food Network guide, How to Cook Asparagus, will turn you into an asparagus master chef who will soon be dazzling your friends with your asparagus prowess.
It gives you a basic rundown of how to prep asparagus for cooking, how to steam them and how to grill them.
Mushrooms are a great add-in for salads and can make a great side dish for any meal. I use slices of large portobello mushrooms in my salads as a meat substitute because they give me something more substantial than lettuce to bite into. A recent study now is saying mushrooms also may aid with mental health as we age.
I’m not one to believe in so-called superfoods because we really still know so little about how eating impacts our health or how that impact varies from person to person. Someday doctors may be able to custom tailor healthy diets for us based on our genetic makeup, but that day is far, far away.