Pandemic food price gouging – demand advertised sale prices

The continuing increase in food prices throughout the pandemic has been well documented, in posts I’ve written and elsewhere. And I’ve given tips on how to cope, such as shopping dollar stores that stock produce and buying essential items in bulk.

Today, I ran into one of the most egregious examples of pandemic food price-gouging I’ve seen. My local Jewel, an Albertson’s chain in Illinois, had advertised filet mignon for $5.99 for a six-ounce steak.

Filet is normally the leanest cut of steak and so fits in my efforts to minimize my fat intake. Because it is an expensive cut, I’m always watching for deals and so jumped at the chance to buy some 6-ounce fillets for $5.99 each.

When I arrived at the meat counter of the Jewel in Wilmette, Il., a neighboring suburb, however, the signs posted said the filets were $6,99 each, not the advertised $5.99. Asking the meat counter attendant got me no answer, he had to follow what the sign said, he told me.

So I went to the store service counter. The person there had no answer for the disparity and so called the head of the meat department. She replied that store had decided to charge $6.99, not the advertised $5.99. But since I had complained, she would sell me some for $5.99

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The No Salt, No Fat, No Sugar Journal celebrates a milestone — 800 posts!

What you’re reading now is the 801st post in the history of the No Salt, No Fat, No Sugar Journal. When we started in late 2012, we never imagined we’d still be going all these years later.

Our initial goal was to help people who, because of heart disease or other ailments, had to radically change their diets to cut salt, fat and sugar. Those three things are in almost everything Americans routinely eat, so eliminating them is a herculean task.

But we have persisted and you have responded, making our No Salt, No Fat, No Sugar Recipe Page the most popular thing on our site. Do a search for such recipes and we will be at the top of your search page just under the paid placements.

Happy 800 posts to us!!!!

When the Pandemic hit, we pivoted to posting recipes that would work for families stuck at home together. We also starting labeling posts with topics such as Pandemic Shopping, to let you know about which no-salt, no-fat, no-sugar items were disappearing from local stores shelves and how to find them in alternate outlets.

We’re on track for a record year for views, thank you, and keep coming back! And tell your friends.

Eating less salt, fat and sugar can benefit anyone, not just those with health conditions already. Hopefully eating healthier can help you not get some of the health conditions that originally prompted the launch of this blog.

Stay safe, stay masked, get vaccinated and stay no-salt, no-fat, no-sugar.

Product Review: Organicville No-salt-added dressing — thumbs up!

I’m always searching for new low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar products to add some taste to my otherwise bland diet. I recently found something new at Whole Foods, a store I don’t normally frequent because of its high prices and lack of many low-salt, low-fat products.

But Organicville No Added-salt Italian dressing was not only low-salt, but on sale for Amazon Prime members the day I was shopping. Normally $4.49 a bottle, I got it for $2.49 — still a high price for a relatively small bottle (keep in mind I buy my olive oil in large bottles at Costco).

An interesting new low-salt dressing option.

The dressing has only 5 mgs of salt per two tablespoons, so even if you drench your salad in it, like I tend to do, the salt content is relatively low. Its 4 grams of fat per two tablespoons also is low. And it tastes more interesting than plain oil and vinegar. The label talks about “zest” — I think that’s the pepper you taste.

One note of caution, though. The product is not shown on the Organicville site, so it may be discontinued. Perhaps that’s why it was on sale? I hope not. I’d like to think it’s new and so not yet listed on the site. But given how many low-salt products have been cut during the Pandemic, I’m a little worried. Buy this while you can, it may not be around much longer.

Summer no-salt shopping — my latest assortment of goodies

The Pandemic knocked a lot of no-salt food products off mainstream store shelves as retailers pared down their assortments to concentrate on stocking their biggest sellers. So those of us eating no-salt diets had to turn elsewhere, primarily online to places like Healthy Heart Market..

I’ve written about Healthy Heart before, noting it can get expensive to ship heavy food offerings. But sometimes there’s no alternative for a given product you want.

I’ve been buying reduced sodium pickles, for example, but really wanted salt-free ones. Healthy Heart has its own brand of no-salt pickles. Buying just two jars, though, doubled the cost when shipping was added in. So I decided to look for other items to spread out the shipping cost a bit.

My Healthy Heart Market purchase, and the bill.

I also bought some lite Greek dressing, which I’ve reviewed here in the past, some Mrs. Dash salt-free fajita mix since I can’t find that locally, a jar of no-salt tomato paste (not pictured) and some no-salt bullion.

I’m particularly interested in trying to bouillon since I rarely eat any soup these days because of the the high salt content.

My bill came to $52.36, of which $14.55 was shipping (I used a $5-off shipping deal).

Expensive, yes, but with my blood pressure rising all through the pandemic, despite my doctor adjusting my various medications, the more salt I can get out of my diet, the better.

A quick primer on low-sodium, reduced-sodium, et. al.

This blog is all about eating less sodium (and less fat and sugar). Cutting back on salt helped lower my blood pressure over the years and can do the same for you. We write about low-salt foods and recipes so much, we assume everyone knows how much salt they should be eating every day. But of course that’s not true, so here’s a quick primer we found recently on tylerpaper.com.

“The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams a day of sodium and moving toward an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults. On average, Americans eat more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium each day,” writes Claudann Jones Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

Looks promising, lots of protein too.
Read every label for salt content!

The author talks about where to find salt content on food labels and also includes this handy primer of all the terms food processors use about salt, most designed to make you think the products have less sodium than they actually do:

• Sodium-free – Less than 5 milligrams of sodium per serving and contains no sodium chloride

• Very low sodium – 35 milligrams or less per serving

• Low sodium – 140 milligrams or less per serving

• Reduced (or less) sodium – At least 25 percent less sodium per serving than the usual sodium level

• Light (for sodium-reduced products) – If the food is “low calorie” and “low fat” and sodium is reduced by at least 50 percent per serving

• Light in sodium – If sodium is reduced by at least 50 percent per serving

She also reminds readers to think about how many servings of a given product they would normally eat. The label lists salt for one serving but who really eats only one serving of anything?

Always hungry? Me too. Here’s a surprising possible reason why

It’s not an exaggeration to say I’m always hungry. It takes mountains of food to fill me up, mountains of foods that I can’t eat on my heart-healthy diet. So I’ve written before about possible causes of being hungry.

It takes a mountain of food to fill me up, so to eat healthy, I remain hungry most days.

Now I’ve come across a new one. My old nemisis salt can cause sensations of hunger, according to a piece I saw on CookingL:ight.com. I’ve cut my salt intake dramatically since my first angioplasty in 2012, so I don’t think salt is causing my problems with hunger.

But it may be for you if you’re still eating processed foods and restaurant foods that are high in salt.

“Experts say this counterintuitive discovery—that dietary salt boosts appetite but decreases thirst—upends more than 100 years of conventional scientific wisdom. The findings are published this week as a set of two papers in the Journal of Clinical Investigation,’ according to the Cooking Light article.

It’s a reminder that we don;t know as much as we think we do about eating and our health and how the two intersect.

Pandemic Cooking: Slow-cooker chicken recipes

Here’s some help if you’ve become stuck in a recipe rut while cooking at home so much during the pandemic, 12 Slow Cooker Chicken Dinners Under 370 Calories. But beware, low-calorie doesn;t necessarily mean low-salt, low-fat and low-sugar. As always, look at the details before trying these and substittue when necessary.

Low sodium broths are not created equal, always read the nutrition panels.
Low sodium broths are not created equal, always read the nutrition panels.

For Slow-Cooker Lemon Greek Chicken, for example, substitute chicken breasts for the fatty thighs in the recipe. You also can use fat-free feta. The cheese is likely where a lot of the salt is as well, leave it off to cut salt considerably.

The Slow Cooker Chicken and Barley Soup does recommend low-sodium broth. Compare packages to see which low-sodium broth really is low-sodium. Read my post on that here.

Consumer Reports finds the best low-sodium soup is…homemade!

Processed soups, whether in cans or at deli counters or in restaurants, traditionally are overloaded with salt. Even soups labeled low-sodium have a ton of salt, as I’ve written about the many low-sodium broths on supermakret shelves, for example.

So I was intrigued by a headline I saw about Consumer Reports rating low-sodium soups. Had the venerable journal found a low-sodium soup I’d missed? Not exactly.

Imagine low-sodium soups: I applaud the effort, but taste is lacking, big time.

Consumer Reports’ top choice in the blind test is a homemade minestrone made by its trained chef. It had less sodium and the best flavor of all of them. So if you have a little more time, consider making your own soup. It just might taste better and be better for you,” according to a report on the magazine’s findings by news4jax.com.

Here’s the recipe for that homemade soup:

Consumer Reports’ easy minestrone recipe

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

3 carrots, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

½ teaspoon dried oregano

½ tsp dried thyme

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 (28 ounce) can no salt added crushed tomatoes

3 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth

2 cups water

1 (15 ounce) can no salt added chickpeas, drained

1 (15 ounce) can no salt added kidney beans, drained

1 small zucchini, chopped

1 cup green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces

4 ounces ditalini pasta, cooked according to package directions

4 cups fresh spinach

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Directions

1. Add the oil, onion, celery, carrots, and garlic to a multi-cooker on Sauté mode or a traditional large pot on the stovetop. Stir and sauté the ingredients for 5 minutes. Stir in oregano, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

2. Add the tomatoes, broth, water, chickpeas, kidney beans, zucchini, and green beans. For multi-cooker: Close the lid with the vent in the sealing position. Change the setting to Pressure mode. Set the timer for 5 minutes. When the multi-cooker beeps, do a quick pressure release according to the manufacturer’s directions. For stovetop: bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 to 35 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.

3. Stir in the spinach until wilted, about 1 minute; add cooked pasta. Serve topped with the Parmesan cheese and parsley.

Makes about 10 servings

Nutritional information per 1 cup serving: 210 calories, 4 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 33 g carbs, 9 g fiber, 10 g protein, 190 mg sodium

The low-salt message is being heard, even in South Africa

It’s always nice to see articles touting the low-salt message. I get regular Google alerts every day with stories that do just that and I was excited to see one recently from South Africa.

If the message has reached there, perhaps it’s really beginning to sink in with people, that eating less salt can help their overall health.

Salt is salt, I avoid it to help control my blood pressure.

The piece by a South African dietitian, is consistent with stories from other parts of the world in its recommendations that we strive for less than 2,000 mgs of sodium a day. Someone with heart issues such as I have should aim even lower, perhaps 1,500 mgs, depending on their weight.

One fun comment in the story, ““Lemon is the new salt. Lemon juice enhances the flavour [British spelling here] of the food. Adding a squeeze of lemon to a meal can give you flavour without the risk.”

Another fun fact, March 11-17 is World Salt Awareness Week!

The author’s tips for cutting salt ocnsumption:

1. Choose less salty food.
2. Cook with less salt, adding natural flavurs like a squeeze of lemon.
3. Do not add more salt to your meal at the table.
4. Remove the salt shaker from the table.
5. Taste your food before adding salt (it might be a habit).

Pandemic Snacking: Crispy Broccoli at Trader Joe’s

Any list about healthy snacks always gets my attention because normally those words — healthy and snack — are a conflict in terms. Anything you want to snack, i.e. binge, on generally is not healthy because it contains high amounts of salt, fat or sugar, or perhaps all three.

That’s why a recent list of so-called healthy snacks at Trader Joe’s caught my attention with one list, crispy broccoli florets. I eat a lot of broccoli, but had never thought of it as a snack, or as crispy for that matter. So I bought a bag and gave them a try.

The result was mixed. Salt-wise, they’re ok with only 15 mg a bag. Fat content seems high at 20 grams, about half what I’m supposed to have every day on my heart-healthy diet. And there’s 5 grams of transfat, again about half what I can have.

Taste-wise, they taste like broccoli, but having that cold and crisped up somehow just didn’t seem right. The taste of them actually became less palatable the more I had. So I guess that would preclude binging on them.

So my search for healthy snacks goes on, sans broccoli.

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