2022 starting with salad recalls, so beware

The new year is barely upon us and we already are dealing with salad recalls that started in late December. “The FDA announced recalls from Fresh Express, Simple Truth and Nature’s Basket. Many bagged and boxed greens are affected,” reported the Food Network on Jan. 7.

Fresh express announced a recall Dec, 20 of salads bearing its name and store brand names as well because of concerns of Listeria contamination.

My Garden Bar salad
Always wash your lettuce, even if it comes bagged and supposedly pre-washed.

The second recall of Simple Truth Organic Power Greens and Nature’s Basket Organic Power Greens happened early this year. “The CDC posted an outbreak warning of E. coli 0157:H7 on January 6th, 2022 linked to boxed salad greens sold in Washington, Oregon, Ohio and Alaska. The power greens have Use-By-Dates through December 20th, 2021, which means products will not be in grocery cases but could still be in home fridges. They were sold at Fred Meyer, QFC and Giant Eagle grocery chains and should be thrown away immediately,” Food Network reported.

A reminder, thoroughly wash all your lettuce, whether bagged or not. Lettuce can be a great place for these pesky bacteria to hide

My first walk around an Amazon Fresh — few low- and no-salt products, few deals

Amazon Fresh Stores have come to the Chicago area, with one now open in the northern suburb of Morton Grove, only a short drive from my house. So I went to check it out. I was disappointed to see none of my favorite low-salt and no-salt products on shelves.

Prices were comparable, or sometimes higher, than other mainstream supermarkets and the only sales I saw were in the produce section.

This is a high-tech store. You can shop and checkout with the Amazon app on your phone, with no need to wait on checkout lines. But the day I visited, everyone was on checkout lines, I saw no one going out through the automatic areas where you could scan your app to pay and exit.

Continue reading “My first walk around an Amazon Fresh — few low- and no-salt products, few deals”

A lesson in reading food labels — canned garbanzo beans can be loaded with salt

Canned chickpeas can be loaded with salt, always check the label.

When you’re trying to get the salt out of your diet, you need to be constantly aware of the salt hidden in every food you buy. This was recently brought home to me when my wife asked me to pick up a can of garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas).

She planned to put them into a homemade soup that she wanted to be low-salt for me. Luckily, when I was searching for them, I came across a low-salt variety.

The low-salt chickpeas had only135 mgs of salt per serving. Regular brands had 340 mgs! Multiply that by the number of servings per can and you can see your salt intake rising before your eyes.

For more tips on cutting salt, read my post, Salt is everywhere, beware; become a smart shopper & diner, and check my Ingredients and Smart Shopper pages.

Pandemic food causalities — low- and no-salt products continue to disappear from store shelves

The Pandemic, and how supermarkets and other food sellers have reacted, has certainly made it more difficult to eat healthy. Last Thanksgiving, for example, I wasn’t able to find fresh, low-salt turkeys at Costco for the first time in years.

A recent buy from Healthy Heart Market.

Readers also keep writring me to tell me low-salt products I’ve written about in the past are no longer aavilable at Trader Joes, so I’ve created the hastag #ShameonTraderJoes.

Here’s a list of items I was able to buy pre-pandemic which are no longer available on store shelves in my area:

  • Trader’s Joe’s salt-free shrimp sauce.
  • Trader Joe’s salt-free marinara sauce
  • Mrs. Dash salt-free teriyaki sauce
  • Salt-free fresh turkeys at Costco
  • Low-fat frozen yogurt at Costco (chocolate was dropped pre-Pandemic, but vanilla is gone now too, replaced by ice cream)
  • Low-salt canned olives at several retailers (others still have them)
  • Trader Joes salt-free wheat bread (this disappeared before the pandemic, but its worth mentioning for #ShameonTraderJoes)

Stores are stocking the highest volumes products they sell now, and dropping others to simplify thier supply chain problems. And tjhose of us wanting to eat healthy are suffering as a result.

eI’ve turned to more stocking up when I do find items that can be stored. I’ve also done more shopping online at Amazon and Healthy Heart Market, despite the higher prices and shipping costs involved. I’m willing to pay those prices now, I want to survive this Pandemic and that means not letting the virus, or salt kill me.

Looking for a low-sodium Thanksgiving turkey during the Pandemic — shop early, buy big

Time to eat all those turkeys! Happy Thanksgiving!
Finder smaller, fresh turkeys under 16 pounds could be a challenge this year, shop early, and buy bigger.

Shortages, and talk of soon-to-happen shortages, have become a regular feature of the Covid Pandemic over the past two years. Already, stories are emerging about turkey shortages for Thanksgiving.

Doing some research, I found some of those stories overblown. The shortages are likely to be for fresh, smaller turkeys, those under 16 pounds. Of course, fresh turkeys also are low-sodium turkeys. They haven’t been injected with high-salt solutions like many frozen ones. I wrote about salt differences in turkeys back in 2014, read details by clicking here.

So, if like me, you’re planning to buy a fresh turkey, shop earlier than usual and freeze it until Thanksgiving. And think about buying a larger turkey than you otherwise might to get a better selection. I did that last year after a long quest for a fresh turkey, grabbing a 19-pound bird at a local Whole Foods for our small Thanksgiving gathering in the first year of the Pandemic.

You can easily freeze leftovers for a variety of future uses like your own homemade low-sodium soup or turkey fajitas which I made after last Thanksgiving.

Good hunting, and an early Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Here’s how American eating habits will change post-pandemic

Two-thirds of Americans are re-evaluating their life priorities because of the Pandemic and that spells a change in American eating habits ahead, according to research from British market research firm Mintel.

Mintel’s Jenny Zegler

“In food and drink, US adults say the pandemic caused the most change in where they eat, how they grocery shop and how they approach their diets. Many of these new habits and attitudes will be routine when “the next normal” arrives in the US. Consumers will have more flexible meal needs, a reliance on ecommerce and a proactive approach to health,” writes Jenny Zegler, associate director of food and drink at Mintel.

(A brief disclosure here. I worked at Mintel from 2012 through the end of 2013, heading it’s food and beverage research group. Jenny worked briefly for me before moving on to bigger and better things at Mintel.)

Continue reading “Here’s how American eating habits will change post-pandemic”

The Pandemic isn’t done, and neither are the food shortages that have come with it

The pandemic has meant shortages of various products at mainline supermarkets for the past two years, from the absence of many low-salt products, to even such items as propane for backyard grills becoming difficult to find.

Expect Pandemic-induced food shortages to continue into the fall for a variety of items.

Expect shortages to persist into this fall, reports Today.com, “Rodney Holcomb, a food economist at Oklahoma State University, told TODAY in an email that we can expect to see a shortage of canned foods, but that this has to do more with the container than the actual food,” Today reports. Apparently even aluminum supplies are being impacted b the pandemic.

Also, “Meat and poultry products will still be tight supplies this fall, not necessarily because of a shortage of livestock or poultry but because COVID has processing plants working at less than full capacity,” Holcomb told Today.

A fine line exists between hoarding and stocking up when you see something you use regularly. I have a small basement freezer where I can store meat, poultry and fish items I find on sale.

Hopefully that stockpile will help me ride out shortages this fall and winter.

Some Berry, Berry good advice on storing berries

My weekly berry haul.

With summer drawing to a close, fresh berries seem to be everywhere in food outlets these days. You can find them from farmers’ markets to your local supermarket, often on sale at the larger outlets. And if you’re hardy, you may even be picking your won at a local farm.

So here’s a guide to keeping those berries fresh as long as possible from Myrecipes.com.

Some tips surprised me — like don’t wash them all as soon as you get home. Wash them as you use them. And don’t store in air-tight containers or zip-lock bags.

I’m not a berry eater myself, but my wife has them every morning with her Greek yogurt, so I buy them weekly for her. Here are some raspberries I bought today, on salt 2 containers for $3.

Wondering what to do with your basil? Here are 87 recipes that use the tasty herb

Growing your own herbs is something you can do inside or out, adding a variety of nee flavors to your food so you won’t miss all the alt you don’t eat any longer. We have an indoor herb garden in winter and big pots of basil outside in summer. So I was happy to see this piece in Epicurious, 87 Basil Recipes, Because You Can Only Eat So Much Pesto Pasta.

The headline appealed to me because I actually don’t like pesto because of the nuts in it, so I’m always looking for other ways to enjoy my basil.

You can see some of my choices in the photo gallery here — basil-topped, thin-crust, low-sodium pizza; basil topped chicken breast with tomato and low-fat mozzarella; and a simple basil and tomato salad.

Let me know your favorites, and which of the 87 you try out.

Give iceberg lettuce a break — it’s ok to like it

Iceberg lettuce tends to get a bad reputation in foodie circles as not as nutritious and healthy as greener types of lettuce like Romaine. But it still has its benefits and so shouldn’t;t be written off, states this article from Eatingwell.com.

My wonderful salmon salad.
My salmon salad, made with leftover salmon. A salad is my lunch daily these days.

“Iceberg lettuce also has a lot to offer when considering the roster of vitamins and minerals it contains. From immune-supporting vitamin A to bone health-supporting magnesium and calcium, it would be a stretch to claim that this lettuce is nutrient-free, as some folks on the internet claim,” the article states.

I tend to buy whichever lettuce I can get on sale during any given week. Iceberg has been featured quite a bit this summer as a sale item by several supermarkets. I buy it because I like it too, and because too many leafy greens mess with the blood thinner I take for a heart issue.

If you can, mix it with greener, leafier types of lettuce in a salad to add texture and a needed crunch to the mixture. If you have to eat a salad every day for lunch as I do, at least make it fun. Enjoy!

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