More pandemic food casualties: Salt-free teriyaki sauce, low- and no-fat cheeeses

Healthier food options have definitely been casualties of the Covid-19 pandemic. With demand up because people are eating at home more, food processors have stepped up production of their most popular offerings — normally the least healthy ones — and dropped healthier ones. The same is true for mainstream supermarkets which are having trouble keeping their shelves stocked, still today.

Preparing salmon with Mrs. Dash no-salt marinades.
Preparing salmon with Mrs. Dash no-salt marinades.

The latest healthier product that’s become impossible to find in stores near me — Mrs. Dash sweet teriyaki sauce.

Mrs. Dash teriyaki is salt-free, a miracle when it comes to anything with an Asian flavor to it. I use it constantly on fish and in stir fry veggie, chicken and shrimp dishes I create.

In normal times, I could buy it locally at Food 4 Less, a Kroger store in my area.

But the pandemic has wiped it from the shelves here. Checking the store website, it’s not even listed for shipment. Continue reading “More pandemic food casualties: Salt-free teriyaki sauce, low- and no-fat cheeeses”

Foods to avoid to get the sugar out of your diet

I’ve written before about hidden sugars in foods where people least expect it. I’m always on the lookout for such lurking demons of food.

So I was interested in this piece from Ecowatch.com:  18 Foods and Drinks That Are Surprisingly High in Sugar

I've found two brands of low-sodium,low-sugar ketchup, Westbrae and LocalFolks Foods.
I’ve found two brands of low-sodium,low-sugar ketchup, Westbrae and LocalFolks Foods.

 

Some are ‘usual suspects” — fruit juice, ketchup, barbecue sauce, prepared spaghetti sauce. There are low- and no-sugar versions fo these you can track down. Check my ingredients page for some tips.

One managed to surprise me, like low-fat yogurt. Check the labels before you buy such offerings.

Another Pandemic Shortage: Propane for backyard barbecues tough to find

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about all sorts of food and home supply shortages — try buying disinfectant hand wipes if you don’t believe that. I stumbled across the latest shortage just before July 4th — propane tanks for backyard barbecues are non-existent at most of the usual places.

I went to five places one day, mostly Walgreens that carry the propane brand I usually buy with rebates it offers, and none had any. I then started calling places instead of driving, and was told much the same thing, whether it was a local home center or my neighborhood CVS — tanks are scare and stores never really know when a delivery is coming or how much they’ll receive. Continue reading “Another Pandemic Shortage: Propane for backyard barbecues tough to find”

Here we go again: another bagged lettuce recall

Recalls of lettuce, both loose and in bagged varieties and salad kits, were widespread in 2019. Now, a new one is occurring right in several states. My Garden Bar salad

The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued safety alerts June 19 for the following:

  • ALDI Little Salad Bar Brand Garden Salad, sold in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and Missouri.
  • All Hy-Vee Brand Garden Salad, sold in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri and Nebraska.
  • Jewel-Osco Signature Farms Brand Garden Salad sold in Illinois.

The reason for the recall this time? Something called Cyclospora cayetanensis, which  “is a parasite that can cause an intestinal illness called cyclosporiasis that’s spread when infected feces contaminate food or water,” reports the Evanston Patch.

“So far there are 76 confirmed cases of illness, including 16 hospitalizations, in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Minnesota,” the Patch reports.

Pandemic ground beef recall: check that chopped meat in your freezer

As if food shopping during the pandemic hasn’t been difficult enough, now there’s a nearly 43,000-pound ground beef recall to cope with.

A processor named Lakeside Refrigerated Services, Swedesboro, New Jersey, produced the beef June 1. The possible presence of E coil is the culprit prompting the recall.

The meat is sold under the Marketside Butcher and Thomas Farms brands and was sent to roughly 700 Walmart and other retailers nationwide.

States where Marketside Butcher Organic Grass-Fed Ground Beef is likely to turn up include Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Vermont, and Puerto Rico.

The recall is a reminder than even organic items can get contaminated, depending on where they are processed and packaged for sale.

A great pandemic grilling tip: clean up with an onion

Here’s a great grilling hack for everyone cooking more outside now that the weather has turned hot. The worst part about grilling is cleaning the grill, I think. I typically buy disposable grilling sheets at a local dollar store to put over my grill so food doesn’t bake on it. That cuts down on how much wire brushing I need to do in the cleanup stage.

But now I’m going to try this hack from Southern Living magazine that says an onion can be a handy cleaning tool for a grill. Just cut a large onion in half and put the cut side down on your grill, moving it up and down with a long grilling fork to remove cooking residue on the grill, it suggests.

I use these disposable grilling sheets to keep my main grill clean, but this onion trick sounds like a great alternative.

“For extra gunk-fighting power, spray the grates with lemon juice or our old friend white vinegar first. The extra acidity helps with the cleaning process,” the magazine article states.

“Not only do onions have natural antibacterial properties, but if you’re cooking with charcoal, you can throw into right in the coals when you’re finished to add flavor to whatever you’re grilling,” it goes on to state.

 

Pandemic eating means quick meals and more take-out, study finds

I’ve been blogging for several days about fascinating new research from Influence Central about how the COVID-19 Pandemic has impacted how people eat and cook. Today I’m focusing on what it’s meant for cooking time and take-out behavior.

While people are being forced to eat more at home, they don’t seem to be turning into health-conscious cooks who spend hours each day in their kitchens, the study finds. For example:

  • 46% are willing to spend 15 to 30 minutes cooking
  • 44% will spend 30-60 minutes.
  • Only 23% are willing to devote more time to dinner prep
  • 73% are devoting about the same as prior to stay-at-home orders

Sadly, what this means is many are eating unhealthy meals.

My mix and match fish dinner cooking away, walleye in the white pan, tilapia in the black with peppers and onions in the third.
My mix and match fish dinner cooking away, walleye in the white pan, tilapia in the black with peppers and onions in the third.

“Frozen meals from pizzas to more substantial heat and serve entrees, prepared meals ready to cook from the supermarket, and canned goods such as soups and chili become go-to items,” says Stacy DeBroff, CEO and founder, Influence Central.

“It’s clear that even with more time at home, some people still don’t necessarily want to spend all day in the kitchen,” she says.

All of those choices are normally very high in salt and can be high in fat and sugar as well.

When it comes to take-out:

• 69% of consumers have ordered take-out or delivery food from restaurants during the pandemic.
• 71% order from restaurants they ate in prior to the crisis.
• 87% order take-out from a specific local restaurant out of a desire to support the restaurant financially.
• When it comes to getting food delivered, consumers’ top choice is direct from the restaurant itself (60%). Favorite delivery services: Door Dash, followed by GrubHub and Uber Eats.

“More than half said they have not been concerned to leave the house to pick up food or collect it from a delivery driver,” DeBroff reports.

Influence Central found that the top ordering choices are:

1. Pizza (79%)
2. Fast Food (52%)
3. American and Pub Food (ex. Burgers and wings) (45%)
4. Mexican (39%)
5. Asian (35%)
6. Italian other than Pizza (23%)

Sadly, again, not very healthy choices. Continue reading “Pandemic eating means quick meals and more take-out, study finds”

Covid-19 — a boon for home cooking; organics have been hurt, study finds

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced people to rely more on home cooking and home-made meals. That one is pretty obvious, but new research from Influence Central dug a little more deeply into that trend to find that:

  • 88% of people are cooking more meals at home since stay-at-home orders went into effect.
  • 49% are now cooking meals from scratch.
  • 46% add into the mix pre-cooked and packaged foods.
  • 5% stick mostly to pre-cooked and packaged options.
  • These choices reflect consumer preference (57%) versus availability (43%).
  • 84% of consumers eat the meals they prepare right away.
  • 14% prefer preparing meals ahead of time.

    Getting ready for holiday cooking? Check back here often for no-salt, no-sugar, no-fat recipes.
    Almost everyone is cooking more at home since Covid-19 struck.

Influence Central’s May survey of 630 consumers found 17% of respondents are now delegating more cooking responsibilities to spouses and partners. For 3%, responsibilities have reversed, which means for 80%, who cooks has not changed. Continue reading “Covid-19 — a boon for home cooking; organics have been hurt, study finds”

Covid-19 Pandemic changing how we food shop, and eat, new research confirms

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused major changes in the way Americans shop for their food, and in how they feel about grocery shopping, reports marketing firm Influence Central in new research it recently published.

Among the findings:

• 72% of consumers are going to the grocery store less frequently than they did before the pandemic.
• Consumers now overwhelmingly prefer shopping online with home delivery, followed by drive-by or curbside pickup, as opposed to actually going into a store to shop.
• 56% of consumers say they feel anxious about forgetting to pick up or not being able to find specific foods when shopping in-store.

My local Food 4 Less supermarket ona recent trip. I couldn’t wait to get out because of pandemic fears.

I’ll be doing several posts on this research. It quantifies and reinforces a lot of the anecdotal shopping experiences I’ve already been writing about, plus provides more details about what people are buying.

More than half of families’ eating habits have changed as they’ve been staying at home with 70% snacking and eating more frequently than they did pre-pandemic. And it’s not clear if they’re eating healthier or simply throwing down more junk food.

  • 43% eat more fruit and
  • 42% eat more vegetables,
  • 30% are eating more protein in the form of meat, poultry or fish.
  • 47% are turning to more sweets,
  • 24% have decreased their vegetable intake,
  • 21% east less fruit and 19% are eating less protein.

Continue reading “Covid-19 Pandemic changing how we food shop, and eat, new research confirms”

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