Primo in Gurnee (IL.) — a primo lunch spot

Italian restaurants always worry me these days, not because I don;t love Italian food, but because my post-angioplasty diet means I shouldn’t eat regular pasta, or any sauces that are high in sodium. So when a friend suggested meeting for lunch at Primo in Gurnee, Il., not far from the Great America amusement park, I was apprehensive.

Octopus and potatos at Primo's. Bravo!
Octopus and potatos at Primo’s. Bravo!

My fears were misplaced, however. First we were told the minestrone soup for the day was low-sodium, I cannot remember when I’ve been told that in a restaurant before. I did not try it, but did yet the octopus appetizer, along with a half-dozen oysters, for a seafood lunch. Continue reading “Primo in Gurnee (IL.) — a primo lunch spot”

Shrimp for everyone — if you like spicy, saucy dishes

Shrimp is something I can eat on my post-angioplasty diet, according to the nutritionists I’ve consulted. The days when shrimp were thought to somehow be bad for cholesterol apparently have past.

So I was excited to see this Cooking Light compilation of more than 100 shrimp recipes, until I started scrolling through them.

The first few have either too much spice or too much sauce or other item, like butter on a roll, that I can no longer eat.

The grilled lemon bay shrimp could be one I’d enjoy, minus the salt in the recipe. Here’s the ingredient list:

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil $
1/2 teaspoon salt [omit this see if you notice the difference]
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
32 large shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 1 1/2 pounds) $
32 fresh bay leaves
4 large lemons, each cut into 8 wedges
Cooking spray

John

A low-sodium seafood cocktail sauce, wow, thank you Trader Joe’s

Shrimp is one great food I can still eat. The days of telling people with heart problems to avoid shell fish seem to be past, at least among the nutritionists I’ve seen.

But normally shrimp gets dipped in cocktail sauce to add some flavor. Cocktail sauce is, you guessed it, high in sodium, however.

Trader Joe's sells a seafood cocktail sauce that's low in sodium.
Trader Joe’s sells a seafood cocktail sauce that’s low in sodium.

A tablespoon of traditional Trader Joe’s Shrimp Cocktail Sauce has 155 mgs of sodium, for example. Others I’ve seen are much higher, too high for me to eat them. Continue reading “A low-sodium seafood cocktail sauce, wow, thank you Trader Joe’s”

Seafood and pasta, thank you Giada

Truth be told, if Giada DeLaurentiis suddenly showed up at my door and asked me to run away with her, I would, especially now that I know our families both come from the same region of southern Italy known for its food, song and limoncello.

Giada's seafood spaghetti.
Giada’s seafood spaghetti.

But since I don’t expect her to pop up here anytime soon, I’ll settle for this great-sounding recipe for seafood with pasta. I’d sub in whole wheat or Barilla Plus pasta for regular spaghetti, and leave out the salt (you don’t need it to cook spaghetti, that’s an old wives’ tale). The rest sounds delicious, I can’t wait to try it.

Continue reading “Seafood and pasta, thank you Giada”

Eastside Cafe, a little Austin gem deep in the heart of Texas

Austin, Texas gets a lot of publicity as a great place to live but I had never had the opportunity to check it out until just recently. My first tip to Austin brought me to several food places where I was able to find some relatively low-salt, low-fat treats..and one place where I walked away from my diet for a night to enjoy a classic Texas barbecue. More on that in another post.

My Eastside Cafe tuna
My Eastside Cafe tuna

In this post, I’ll be talking about Eastside Cafe, a little unassuming place recommended to us by a staffer at the LBJ Library on the University of Texas campus.

After driving by it a few times, we found the place and were glad we did. I ordered a tuna steak sandwich for lunch, asking the mayo be served on the side and opting for whole wheat bread instead of white, although I only had a small taste of the bread. Continue reading “Eastside Cafe, a little Austin gem deep in the heart of Texas”

St. Paul’s Fish Co., in Milwaukee, a great seafood choice

Mllwaukee’s Public Market is a smaller version of Seattle’s famous Pike’s Market, offering a variety of local food vendors with a lovely upstairs seating area. It’s in the Third Ward, the former Italian section of Milwakee which has become a go-to place for restaurants these days.

St. Paul Fish's giant crab watches over you as you eat.
St. Paul Fish’s giant crab watches over you as you eat.

 

We stopped for lunch at the St. Paul Fish Company which is in one corner of the market right inside the door. Even at lunchtime on a Sunday it was packed. We had a short wait for a table, but the food was worth the wait.

The place looks like it would be right at home in Pike’s Market too with its large selection of fresh ocean fish, crabs and lobsters. If I still lived in Milwaukee this would likely be a regular stop for me. Continue reading “St. Paul’s Fish Co., in Milwaukee, a great seafood choice”

Swordfish and zucchini on the grill, a great summer cookout option

Grilled fish are a great summer alternative to over-eating fatty beef. I often grill salmon, but last night decided to try grilling some swordfish we just bought instead.

Grilling our swordfish steaks.
Grilling our swordfish steaks.

I marinated one piece in Mrs. Dash’s salt-free teriyaki sauce while the other got a dry spice rub (my wife’s choice). I did the fish on a charcoal grill to impart the smokey flavor of the coals.

Zucchini on the gas grill, basted with olive oil and Italian spices.
Zucchini on the gas grill, basted with olive oil and Italian spices.

Grilled zucchini was the side dish for our meal. I cut the zucchini into small circles and covered them with olive oil and Italian spices. I sprayed the grilling pans with olive oil as well to prevent sticking. Those went on my gas grill where I find it easier to regulate the heat levels to get a nice even cook. Continue reading “Swordfish and zucchini on the grill, a great summer cookout option”

Quince in Evanston — a worthy successor to a venerable predecessor

Grant Achatz is perhaps the most celebrated chef in Chicago and across the Midwest these days. His restaurant Alinea and Next are consistently on the culinary frontier. But before he achieved all this fame, he was cooking, and getting lots of attention, at a restaurant in suburban Evanston called Trio.

Squid is a test for any restaurant to cook. Quince passed with flying colors.
Squid is a test for any restaurant to cook. Quince passed with flying colors.

Trio is long gone but in the space it once occupied now sits Quince, also an upscale eating establishment of some renown. I decided to take my wife there for her birthday dinner recently and we were very happy with the results. While not as gastro-wild as Achatz can be, the food was wonderful. Continue reading “Quince in Evanston — a worthy successor to a venerable predecessor”

Grilling for the 4th of July — try these salmon skewers

This has been grilling week on the blog, with posts about a guide to grilling fish and another about a grilled salad. Here’s another fun idea for your 4th of July grilling weekend, rosemary salmon skewers with cherry tomatoes.

Jillian Michaels' grilled rosemary salmon skewers.
Jillian Michaels’ grilled rosemary salmon skewers.

This recipe comes from the website of former Biggest Loser trainer Jillian Michaels. I sometimes quibble with what she calls healthy eating, but this recipe looks good, once you omit the salt, that is. It’s not needed and will only add to your salt overload, I’d leave it out.

That said, here’s the ingredient list:

  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 fresh garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, freshly grated
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pound wild Alaskan salmon fillet, center-cut, skinned, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 pint organic cherry tomatoes

Just click here to get the instructions for preparation.  Continue reading “Grilling for the 4th of July — try these salmon skewers”

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