A simple yet very tasty tomato salad recipe using heirloom tomatoes

I’ve always been a giant tomato fan, perhaps because we always had them handy in the Italian-American household of my youth. I’m always on the lookout for fun tomato dishes, and this one, Tomato Salad with Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette, fits the bill.

I like its use of heirloom tomatoes. If you’ve never had those, find some and enjoy. Their flavor is so much more intense than most store-bought tomatoes. And, as this recipe notes, you can find them in different colors and combine them for a colorful salad.

This salad uses heirloom tomatoes and English cucumber. It also has a simple recipe for a lemon-basil vinaigrette. I’d leave out the salt and use low- or no-fat feta instead of regular feta to get the salt content down even more than the 213 mgs of sodium per serving noted in the recipe.


The ingredient list is:

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (eliminate this)
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 4 large firm multicolor heirloom tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 medium English cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • ⅔ cup crumbled feta cheese (look for low- or no-fat feta)

You can watch this video for assembly instructions.

Grilled tuna steak, with a little extra — mango salsa and pineapple

Tuna steak is a great lean alternative to beef steaks. I regularly grill them in the summer months. Here’s a basic recipe for grilling tuna from the Food Network. Leave out the salt, of course.

And here’s how I recently went beyond the basic recipe to add even more flavor to our tuna steaks. I added some low-salt mango salsa I bought at Trader Joe’s. You can see on the TJ nutrition information page the salsa has only 35 mgs of sodium per serving, much less than most pre-made salsas. It also has no fat and only 3 grams of sugar per two tablespoons, enough to coat the tuna.

My mango, pineapple tuna on the grill, and the finished product.

To go even more tropical, I added slices of fresh pineapple. Pineapple sales has been plentiful this summer in the Chicago area. A whole pineapple is going for 88 cents, so I’m using it in more recipes than ever before.

With food prices rising because of the “Pandemic, look for every deal you can find and adjust your no-salt, no-fat, no-sugar recipes accordingly.

A fat-free sorbet for July 4th cookouts

No-Churn Strawberry-Lemonade Sorbet sounded like an easy, fat-free dessert that anyone could make easily at home. It has only two ingredients, strawberries and lemonade mix. How difficult could it be?

Harder than it sounds, I discovered. Here’s the recipe”

Ingredients

16 ounces (about 4 cups) frozen strawberries

3 tablespoons frozen lemonade concentrate

Directions

  1. Add the strawberries and lemonade concentrate to a food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until scoopable, about 1 hour. The sorbet will keep for up to 2 months.
My lemon-strawberry sorbet, heavy on the leomn.


The three tablespoons of frozen lemonade concentrate stopped me because my concentrate was frozen and liquid. I measured out three tablespoons of the frozen part and added some extra liquid, which proved to be too much lemon (and I love lemon flavor). So I’d recommend dialing down the amount of lemon you use to suit your taste.

I’d also probably opt for fresh strawberries next time. A pound of frozen ones cost me $3.99 but this time of year, fresh ones are often on sale for less ($2.50) and they likely will be more flavorful.

With all those tweaks in mind, this can be a tasty July 4th fat-free dessert option. It does still have sugar (the amount is difficult to determine without nutritional info in the original recipe).

A Jamaican take on tilapia — Jamaican-Style Lime-Poached Fish

Tilapia has become a fish you can easily buy in most supermarkets these days, I’ve included several rcipes for it already on my recipe page, such as Greek Roasted Tilapia and Tilapia with Chilis. But I’m always looking for more recipes, so was intrigued by this one for Jamaican-style lime-poached fish. The recipe suggests several types of white fish work in it, including tilapia.

Here are the ingredients, I’d leave out the salt, there’s plenty of flavor here without it.

Ingredients:
½ bunch fresh Italian parsley
4 cloves garlic
2 small, fresh jalapeños
2 cups no-salt-added vegetable stock (or broth), divided
¼ cup lime juice (plus additional for serving, optional)
1 cup diced yellow onion
½ teaspoon pepper, divided
3 oz sliced green onions, divided
2 (6 oz) white fish fillets (such as haddock, snapper or tilapia, about 12 oz.)
¼ teaspoon kosher salt

The instructions:

  • Chop parsley (1/2 cup) and garlic finely. Dice 1 jalapeño and slice remaining jalapeño thinly, removing seeds and membranes, if desired.
  • Combine 1 cup stock, lime juice, yellow onions, garlic, diced jalapeños, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and one-half each green onions and parsley. Place fish in shallow dish (wash hands) and pour mixture over fish. Marinate 30 minutes.
  • Remove fish from marinade (wash hands). Pour marinade and remaining 1 cup stock into large sauté pan and bring to a boil on high, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 5 minutes.
  • Carefully nestle fish into mixture; cover and simmer (do not boil) 8-10 minutes until fish is opaque and flakes easily. Remove fish and sprinkle with salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Top with jalapeño slices and remaining half green onions and parsley.
  • Serve fish with poaching liquid, accompanied by rice and additional lime juice, if desired. Always check fish for bones and cook to an internal temperature of 145°F.

If you try it, let me know how it turns out.

Roasted Garlic Lemon Broccoli, one healthy recipe out of nine ‘amazing’ ones

When I see a headline like “9 Amazing Broccoli Recipes Everyone Will Love” I have to stop and read it. AS I suspected, however, most of these ‘amazing’ recipes were high in salt, or fat, or both. I did find one, however, that would fit our low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar criteria, roasted garlic lemon broccoli.

The recipe is simple to make as well:

  • Preheat the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a bowl, toss the broccoli pieces with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, garlic, and pepper. [LEAVE OUT THE SALT, IT’S NOT NEEDED WITH GARLIC]
  • Spread the broccoli on a baking sheet and bake for at least 15 minutes until the broccoli is tender.
  • After 20 minutes, transfer roasted broccoli into a serving platter.
  • Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the preparation and serve with a tangy twist.

A Memorial Day Grilling Treat: Stuffed Turkey Burgers

Memorial Day cookouts should be a little more special this year as families become fully vaccinated and so gather again. You can grill and eat relatively low-salt, low-fat and low-sugar, just check some of the recipes on my recipe page. Or try this new recipe I found recently for stuffed turkey burgers.

This burger is basically healthier take on the Minnesota classic jucy Lucy, which is two burger patties squished together around a center of cheese.

For the turkey burger, the creator (she has a video you can watch) suggests lean ground turkey and part-skim mozzarella. I go farther and get either fat-free mozzarella or reduced fat mozzarella which has even less fat than the skim kind.

Your turkey meatloaf ready to cook
Two of my ground turkey recipes, meatloaf and meatballs.

You stuff your turkey burgers with mozzarella and roasted red pepper, seal them, and then grill like you would any other burger. The full recipe is here, just click.

Lean ground turkey is a great substitute for ground beef. I use it in meatballs, tacos and even meatloaf, as well as for burgers.

Summer cookbooks to help you stay low-salt, low-fat and low-sugar

One of 17 cookbooks available from the American Heart Association.

With summer just around the corner, I’m cleaning out my in-bin of several cookbooks sent to me over the past year that can help you eat healthier.

The first is The Clean & Simple Diabetes Cookbook by Jackie Newgent, which is backed by the American Diabetes Association. As the name implies, it uses simple, whole ingredients to crate a full menu of dishes that avoid or minimize sugar.

Secondly, check out the American Heart Association cookbook page for 17 cookbooks aimed to provide heart-healthy recipes. I thin the AHA often doesn’t go far enough in eliminating salt, fat and sugar from many of the produces and recipes it endorses, but these recipes are a good starting point, modify them further to eliminate more of the evil big three as you cook. I reviewed one of these books, Cooking in Color, just click here to read what I said about it.

A taco primer: tacos can be low-salt, low-fat, if you watch the ingredients you use

Taco Tuesday has become a regular thing, especially during the pandemic, when members of various online food groups were all posting pictures of their latest taco creations. But like most ethnic foods, tacos also can be quite unhealthy for you — high in salt (in the shells) and fat (in the meats used).

But you can control all that in tacos you make at home. This piece, Are Tacos Healthy? Ingredients, Calories, and Serving Sizes, provides a great overview of tacos and the ingredients you should be using. Unfortunately, it doesn’t include salt content for some of the options it provides, but it does warn against high salt, high-fat shells.

I’ve written about how you should seek out low-salt and no-salt corn soft tortillas for your tacos. I’ve also highlighted using Mrs. Dash salt-free taco spice mix, a fixture in my kitchen.

I normally make tacos with ground turkey to get a lean protein option. Recently, though, I used shrimp for a change pf pace. The shrimp I bought were precooked, so they jsut needed some warm in a frying pan with Mrs Dash taco spices mixed with water. I had first made some peppers and onions in the same pan to flavor it, eventually cooking everything together.

We did splurge that night with some hard taco shells I found which were low in salt. They remain relatively high in fat (7 grams each), so most of the time, I’d opt for the soft ones instead.

The ‘Cookbook of Healthy Living & No Regrets’ — handy for those cutting sugar

Jayne J. Jones went through a harrowing health crisis before being diagnosed with diabetes. It prompted her to change how she eats and to create the Cookbook of Healthy Living & No Regrets and to dub herself the No Sugar Baker.

If you can’t eat sugar but crave baked goods of all sorts, this book will interest you. The baking section is extensive. Actually, you could say two sections are devoted to baking — one for brunch baking and another just to baked goods.

As someone who doesn’t bake, I was most interested in the sections entitles Salads, Sides & Soups and Family Dinner Time Treats.

Those sections are a reminder of how difficult it is to cut, salt, fat and sugar from recipes you love and still have something you love. The recipes in those sections cut the sugar, but include butter, bacon, pork rinds and other ingredients that are high in salt and fat (specifically bad fat).

So if you need to cut sugar, this could be a cooking guide for you (I’m actually sending my copy to a friend who was recently diagnosed with diabetes and is scrambling to change how he eats). If you want to cut sugar, fat and salt, check my recipe page as a start, and also look at some of the other recipe sites I have here.

One-Pot Garlicky Shrimp & Spinach — leave out the salt and enjoy

Shrimp recipes are a favorite of mine but I have to keep in mind that shrimp are high in salt, 111mgs per 100 grams of shrimp, or about a fifth of a pound. Few people will sit down and eat a pound of shrimp, but half a pound isn’t all that much and it has about 244 mgs of salt.

One-pot garlicky shrimp

So with that in mind, you don’t need to add salt to a shrimp recipe. Take this one, called One-Pot Garlicky Shrimp & Spinach. It’s ingredients are fairly straight-forward:

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
6 medium cloves garlic, sliced, divided
1 pound spinach
¼ teaspoon salt plus 1/8 teaspoon, divided
1 ½ teaspoons lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 pound shrimp (21-30 count), peeled and deveined
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

You can easily leave out the salt and still have a very tasty dish. For the entire recipe, click here.

The nutrition info for this, with the salt added is:

Serving Size: 1 Cup Per Serving: 226 calories; protein 26.4g; carbohydrates 6.1g; dietary fiber 2.7g; sugars 0.7g; fat 11.6g; saturated fat 1.7g; cholesterol 182.6mg; vitamin a iu 10760.1IU; vitamin c 37mg; folate 222.5mcg; calcium 195.8mg; iron 3.8mg; magnesium 131.4mg; potassium 962.8mg; sodium 444mg. Exchanges:
3 Lean Protein, 2 Fat, 1 Vegetable

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