First salad of 2020…and so it begins

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.

Happy 2020 eating everyone!!!

Last-minute low-salt Thanksgiving Dishes

Rushing around trying to figure out how to blend a traditional Thanksgiving meal with low-salt offerings? Check my recipe page first for a whole Thanksgiving menu.

Getting ready for holiday cooking? Check back here often for no-salt, no-sugar, no-fat recipes.

And if you want more options, this Low Sodium Thanksgiving list from Epicurious.com is just what you’re looking for. Among the options:

There’s also a slew of cranberry recipes. I don’t eat those, so didn’t pay much attention but if you love them, this is the list for you.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Thanksgiving is a time to think about turkey (burgers)

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner at your house, there’s likely a giant turkey somewhere nearby just awaiting its moment. But if you’re planning to eat out, or going to someone’s else’s home as I am this year (my son is cooking!!!), you might have an urge for turkey when you get home.

My Applegate turkey burgers with low-fat cheese on a whole-wheat bagel.

So Thanksgiving time could be the ideal time to try turkey burgers, which can be low in fat and salt and satisfy your craving without all the mess of making an entire turkey.

Turkey burgers generally are a good substitute for hamburgers as well since they are generally lower in salt and fat. One caveat, read the package label, some turkey burgers include dark meat and even skin which sends their fat content souring. Many add salt too, especially when they’re flavored somehow.

Applegate Natural & Organic Meats recently sent me some of its turkey burgers to sample. I like them. They pass the fat content (8 grams per burger) and salt content (105 mgs a burger) for a low-salt, low-fat diet. I broiled mine in the oven and was surprised to see them browning. Other turkey burgers I’ve tried usually remain a dull white color.

I think I left them in a bit long, so carefully monitor when you’re cooking them. I had two in a whole wheat bagel (the only whole wheat product in my local supermarket bakery the day I went). I added a slice of low-fat mozzarella cheese and used Localfolks low-salt, low-sugar ketchup to top them off. I also added a side of steamed asparagus.

Applegate turkey burgers are relatively low in fat and salt and have a very clean label in terms of ingredients.

It was a simple meal but delicious, sometimes simple is best, especially after elaborate Thanksgiving feasts. Thanks Applegate, I’d buy these burgers and serve them to company, especially when I do summer grilling.

20 healthy Easter sides? Check the salt and fat content first

Holidays are always difficult when you’re trying to minimize your salt, sugar and bad fat intake. Easter — traditionally a ham or lamb day — is no exception. We’ve posted about trying seafood instead, something we plan. But what about the side dishes? The Food Network recently ran this piece on 20 Healthy Easter Side Dishes which, of course, got my attention.

I regularly use pepper on grilled veggies such as these asparagus and zucchini.

But how healthy are they, really? The first, Provencal Potato Gratin, isn’t if you’re worried about sugar level since it starts with potatoes and also includes cheese, which is salty and fatty.

The steamed artichoke is good, if you leave off the melted butter shown. Try some lemon juice instead. Continue reading “20 healthy Easter sides? Check the salt and fat content first”

Looking for a low-salt Easter dinner idea? Try fish

Fish is a traditional Friday dish for Catholics on Friday during Lent, the 40 days leading up to Easter. Easter Sunday itself is usually reserved for salty main courses, like ham, or fattier ones like lamb. But if you want to avoid high-salt, high-fat meals, why not try fish for an Easter Sunday main course instead?

The New York Times recently ran an easy-to-make recipe for Sheet-Pan Roasted Fish With Sweet Peppers.

You can use hake, cod or flounder as the main ingredient. I’d leave out the salt called for, but include everything else, except look for low-salt olive instead of regular salty ones. Ingredients are: Continue reading “Looking for a low-salt Easter dinner idea? Try fish”

A quick spring salad — radicchio and asparagus give it variety

The trick to keep salads from getting boring for those of us who eat a lot of them is to mix up the variety of items to add to the basic lettuce. This salad, using bibb lettuce along with radicchio, and asparagus, popped up recently in a Cooking Light email I receive and I thought it sounded worth sharing.

Ingredients are simple and easy to prepare (leave out the salt as we usually advise):

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt  (who needs this)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups thinly sliced radicchio
  • 1 cup diagonally sliced asparagus
  • 1 head Bibb lettuce, leaves separated and torn (about 6 oz.)

Continue reading “A quick spring salad — radicchio and asparagus give it variety”

Women may benefit more from low-salt diets than men

Women may benefit more from low-salt diets than will men when it comes to reducing their high blood pressure, a study published in the research journal Hypertension.Salt can lead to stomach cancer, one more reason to get it out of your diet.

As all too often happens, past research has looked primarily at men and their reactions to salt, the study authors note.

The researchers worked with male and female rats and found It all has to do  with levels of a hormone called aldosterone. If you want the scientific specifics, click here.

The point is women need to watch their salt intake, especially if they’re already dealing with high blood pressure. We have plenty of low-salt and salt-free recipes on our recipe page, start your efforts to dump the salt there.

5 Food Trends for 2019 — back to basics

The year may be almost 1.6th over, but we still wanted to report on a prediction for food trends for 2019, so here’s the outlook from the GE Appliances site, of all places. But I suppose who better to predict than a maker of ovens?

A tasty idea, grill fish on a bed of lemon slices.
Pacific Rim Fusion cooking includes lots of seafood.

The first is Pacific Rim fusion which the site defines broadly as cuisines from any country that touches on the Pacific Ocean, from the United States all the way to New Zealand, Japan and their neighbors.

A second trend will be the return of classic cooking techniques while a third is the resurfacing of French cuisine and French cooking techniques (somewhere, Julia Child is smiling.

Another is plant-based eating which has been getting a great deal of press this year.

Sadly, there’s nothing in here about lower-salt, lower-sugar, and healthy fat cooking

A Salt-Free Thanksgiving Side — Roasted Vegetables with Pumpkin Seed Gremolata

If you’re searching for salt-free side dishes to make for Thanksgiving that will amaze and satisfy your guests try this variation on roasted vegetables from Chef Laura Frankel.

I recently met Chef Laura and sampled this wonderfully tasty dish, at a meeting of my local Mended Hearts chapter, a support group for heart disease survivors.

The dish contains things I never eat, like Brussel Sprouts. Somehow, Chef Laura has made them desirable, a miracle in culinary magic if you ask me.

Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy!

Here’s the recipe:

Roasted Vegetables with Pumpkin Seed Gremolata

8+ servings as a side

3 large shallots, sliced thinly
1 pound Brussels sprouts, cut in half
2 Sweet potatoes, not peeled, cut into large dice
1 small Acorn or butternut squash, peeled and cut into thin wedges or large dice
2 raw beets, peeled and cut into large dice
1 small celery root, peeled and sliced thinly
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Freshly cracked black pepper

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper, preheat oven to 400F.

1. Toss vegetables with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange on lined baking sheet.
2. Roast vegetables in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and tender.
3. Arrange vegetables on serving platter and sprinkle generously with Gremolata.

Gremolata

½ cup pumpkin seeds
3 tablespoons finely chopped flat leaf parsley
6 cloves garlic, grated on a microplane
Pinch of crushed red chili flakes
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
2 fresh sage leaves
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1. Toast pumpkin seeds in a dry medium saute pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they pop. Transfer seeds to a food processor.
2. Pulse toasted seeds, parsley, garlic, chili flakes, zest and juice, sage leaves and extra virgin olive oil until a coarse mixture is formed.
3. Sprinkle gremolata on top of roasted vegetables, roasted chicken, fish and turkey.

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