A pandemic recipe suggestion — steamed shrimp and watermelon salad

Shrimp is always a nice change-of-pace to build a meal around. I’m always looking for new recipes that include shrimp, such as one with fennel and cucumbers I wrote about. So I was attracted to this recipe I found on CookingLight.com for steamed shrimp and watermelon salad.

A wonderfully simple shrimp, fennel and cucumber salad
A wonderfully simple shrimp, fennel and cucumber salad

It sounds pretty basic to make, if you don’t want to devein shrimp, buy them already cooked, I find that a handy time saver. Doing that eliminates the first step of this recipe, which is cooking the shrimp. Continue reading “A pandemic recipe suggestion — steamed shrimp and watermelon salad”

If you love lemons, this recipe, with changes, is for you — grilled lemonade chicken

I was made a lemon-infused tilapia that tasted so lemony, my wife could not eat it. What can I say, I love lemons.

My grandparents all came from a section of Italy that runs from Naples south to Salerno. It’s a region where they grow lemons as big as your head — and they make limoncello, an alcoholic beverage that has become the region’s major export.

Start by lining a sheet of aluminum foil with lemon slices
I often grill fish on a bed of leons.

So anytime I see a recipe with lemons, I’m interested. That’s why Grilled Lemonade Chicken from the Food Network got my attention.

With a few changes, this can be a heart-healthy recipe as well:

The recipes uses chicken thighs. Those are the fattest part of a chicken. They taste good plain, so it’s no great cooking challenge to make them taste good. Substitute chicken breasts.

The instructions talk about skin, that’s also a fat-carrier. I normally cook all chicken skinless.

The recipe also says use Minute Maid lemonade. That’s high sugar, I only buy MinuteMaid’s reduced-sugar varieties. Availability seems to vary by market, so check where you normally shop. Continue reading “If you love lemons, this recipe, with changes, is for you — grilled lemonade chicken”

Happier times — let’s talk about eating in Hawaii

Early this year my wife and I took a long-talked-about dream vacation to Hawaii, spending a week in Honolulu and another week on the island of Kauai. It seems a million years ago now with a pandemic sweeping the globe.

But I hope that reading about wonderful places to eat in Hawaii will brighten some people’s days and turn their thoughts to happier times.

I’ve already written that there’s a lot of junk food in Hawaii, especially in the heavy tourist areas like Honolulu. But there also are some wonderful restaurants featuring fresh seafood.

My Hula Grill dinner.

One we enjoyed was the Hula Grill Waikiki. It’s in a hotel, but much better than the average hotel restaurant. It offers a wide range of seafood option, including nightly specials, and fish you don’t see on the mainland like opah and monchong.

And both mahi mahi and ahi are on the menu, fresher there than you’ll taste on the mainland as well. Pictured here is my dinner, which as I recall was a nightly special, I think of ahi.

Healthy eating in Hawaii??? You have to work hard to search it out

My wife recently put together a winter vacation for us that had been a dream of mine for about 40 years — going to Hawaii. I’d been there, alone, in the early 1980s and loved it, vowing at the time to go back someday with someone I would want to share it with.

That’s exactly what I did with my wife in January. But there’s been a major change for me since 1981, my heart issues. And that complicated our eating while there for almost two weeks.

Fast food in Hawaii is inevitably salty and fatty. SPAM on rice anyone? It’s a popular sushi option there as is breaded fish of all kinds, tacos or all kinds and poke, which is highly salted fish. So we had to work hard to find healthy alternatives.

I had expected more fresh fish and fruit, which I remembered from my last visit. We had to search that out, most often in more expensive restaurants. We found some great meals, but had to pay $100 a couple and up for them (and we don’t drink alcohol very much so that was usually without drinks).

I’ll be blogging about our meals the next few days, come read about them. Here’s a tease, a beet salad and sashimi plate I had at Duke’s at the Marriott resort on Kauai.

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”

Here’s all you need to become an asparagus master chef

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.

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

Once you’ve reviewed it all, move on to my recipe page to see how to make asparagus with balsamic tomatoes, or asparagus as part of a grilled veggie selection that will dazzle all your friends. The photo I’m using for this site shows asparagus cooking on my outdoor grill, one of my favorite ways to make them.

 

Eating fresh means knowing when to dump old food too

Heart-healthy approaches to eating usually emphasize eating a lot of fresh, rather than processed, foods. That means your refrigerator should be stocked with fresh produce, fresh fish and fresh chicken, depending on your tastes.

Start with white meat chicken. Cut it into bite-sized cubes.
How long can you keep chicken in your refrigerator, even after you’ve frozen it? Check this list.

But how long can you keep those before they start to spoil, even in the refrigerator?

WebMD has a handy illustrated guide, although the first thing that struck me about it is that we shouldn’t be eating many fo the items covered here — like deli meats, Mayonnaise, butter, most high-fat ground beef and cheese. Continue reading “Eating fresh means knowing when to dump old food too”

Vacation eating — joy or fear?

Maintaining a heart-healthy diet takes a lot of inner discipline given that we’re surrounded by so many food options that are high in salt, saturated fat and sugar. The task becomes even more daunting when you’re on vacation, especially in a foreign country with even more foods you love.

I’ve been vacationing in Italy, my ancestral homeland, with a large group of cousins. That means meals here have been wonderful family affairs with so many food options its difficult to count them all. But most involve salt and sugar. What to do, fear everything I eat or put diet concerns aside for the duration of the trip?

Pasta portions are smaller in Italy, thankfully.

I’m trying to walk a middle ground, which has meant ordering seafood as often as possible and minimizing my pasta, pastry and gelato intake. Southern Italy is a wonderful place to eat seafoods. I had a piece of amberjack in a light tomato sauce last night, for example, something I rarely see on US menus.

I’ve also had oysters and clams, albeit with pasta. Pasta portion sizes are smaller here than in the US, which is a good thing since we tend to fill plates to overflowing at home.

Gelato, of course, is the hardest goodie to pass up, especially when everyone else keeps pushing for it. And with that, I don’t do small portions well.

Grilled vegetables are on every menu in Italy, a wonderful, simply side dish .

I’m assuming I’ll gain weight on this trip, we’ll see how much when I’m back in the States and have a scale again. Then it will also be back to strictly watching the salt, fat and sugar,

Mustard-crusted salmon, a quick, tasty dinner option

Salmon really has become like steak once was for me, a satisfying, relatively quick main course that I now have at least once and often twice a week. My recipe page has a variety of ways to prepare it, many involving salt-free Mrs. Dash and other brands of marinades as well.

But as I was getting ready to make dinner recently, I recalled an old favorite I hadn’t made in years, mustard-crusted salmon. Mustard is a condiment I can eat without worries since it usually does not include salt, saturated fat or sugar. I grew up in New York eating, more often than not, a spicier brown mustard, the  Gulden’s brand to be specific.

So I still look for brown mustard today and used it in this recipe from Rachel Raye instead of Dijon mustard. Another substitution I made was using a slat-free spice mixture from a local spice story instead of herbes de Provence which I did not have handy. I also served it with asparagus instead of rice.

Cooking it was easy in the oven and it came out flaky and moister than when I’ve done it on the stove top in a  frying pan.

Here are the details from Rachel’s site, she is the queen of quick meals, nice to see such a healthy one:

Ingredients
1 1/3 pounds center-cut salmon fillet
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or 1-1/2 tablespoons dried dill
1 1/2 tablespoons herbes de Provence
1/4 cup Dijon mustard

Baking it:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Rub the salmon with the olive oil. Place on a foil- or parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with the dill and herbes de Provence. Spread the mustard over the top, using a table knife or rubber spatula to cover completely.

Bake the salmon until no longer translucent, about 15 minutes.

 

 

12 days of no-salt, no-sugar Christmas recipes — try a simple scallop dish

We started our 12 days of no-salt, no-fat, no-sugar Christmas meals with a great new chicken recipe I tried recently that includes a strawberry/pineapple salsa. So let’s follow that tonight with a simple but delicious scallop dish.

low salt low fat recipes
My finished scallops, seared brown and delicious.

Scallops can be made simply on the stove-top in hot oil. Add flavorings that you enjoy to spice them up, or have them plain as I do and enjoy the natural flavor.

I’d pair the scallop with a fun side-dish like the roasted carrots with red onions, fennel and mint that I wrote about as a possible thanksgiving side-dish option. It’s a bit more complex and so would be a nice accompaniment to the simple scallops. One simple, one complex makes a nice combination for your taste buds.

 

 

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