How Lean Can Lean Beef Be?

At home, I had been buying 90 percent lean ground beef, thinking it was the leanest available. But as I’ve scouted my local stores with the new eyes of someone on a no-salt, no-fat, no-sugar diet, I discovered that one Chicago supermarket, Jewel, sells a leaner ground beef, 96% lean in fact.

My trio of nutritionist don’t agree on eating beef on my restricted diet. The first told me straight out to eat vegetarian, which I do not want to do. The other two were more understanding and suggested limiting beef intake to six ounces a week and finding the leanest beef possible.

For me, six ounces is one serving, even though for nutritionists, it’s two. So I’ve bought some six-ounce fillets as a weekly treat.

But I also love hamburgers and wanted a way to continue eating those. Hamburgers you eat out can range from 75 percent to 80 percent lean, which means they’re 25 to 20 percent fat. That’s not doable for me, so I’ve cut out McDonald’s, Wendy’s and White Castle burgers.

A lean burger, along with peppers and asparagus.
A lean burger, along with peppers and asparagus.

At home, I had been buying 90 percent lean ground beef, thinking it was the leanest available. But as I’ve scouted my local stores with the new eyes of someone on a no-salt, no-fat, no-sugar diet, I discovered that one Chicago supermarket, Jewel, sells a leaner ground beef, 96% lean in fact.

It’s the most expensive of course, as healthy items invariably are, but I’m paying the price to keep hamburgers in my life.

I buy packages a bit over a pound to make four burgers and freeze them for future use. My first nutritionist, the nutrition nazi as I call her, said the only type of hamburger bun I can eat is something called an Ezekiel bread bun, available frozen only at Whole Foods in my area. Continue reading “How Lean Can Lean Beef Be?”

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Is All Ground Turkey Lean? Think Again

Stores sell lean ground turkey and extra lean ground turkey. The lean ground turkey, which often goes on sale for $3.99 a pound, has 8 grams of fat per serving (depending on the brand) while the extra lean, which never seems to go on sale in my area and costs $5.69 or more a pound, has only 1 gram of fat per serving.

White meat turkey is on my approved meat list, but white meat turkey can be drier than paper to eat, as I found out when I was in the hospital last August and ate what passed for a meal of turkey there.

Turkey burgers present the opportunity to use ketchup to flavor them up a bit. But my nutrition nazi had a warning about buying ground turkey or pre-made turkey burgers. Pre-made turkey burgers, such as the ones in restaurants or sold pre-made in supermarkets, contain turkey skin to give them some moisture so their fat content can be as high as that of some red meats.

Not all ground turkey is the same. There's lean and there's extra lean.
Not all ground turkey is the same. There’s lean and there’s extra lean.

I’ve found a corollary to that warning in my shopping, namely that not all ground turkey is the same leanness either. Continue reading “Is All Ground Turkey Lean? Think Again”

What can I eat Super Bowl Sunday on a restricted diet?

So I’m ready for kickoff and you can be too, just search out the low-salt, low-fat treats out there.

Super Bowl Sunday is upon us, an annual ritual that has become more about eating and TV commercials than the game itself. All over this country, people will be gathering for Super Bowl parties and that will mean mountains of food — ribs, burgers, beer — and a cavalcade of other foods that those of us on no-salt, no-fat diets can’t eat any longer.

So does that mean fasting on the big day, much as you do the rest of the year? I have held a Super Bowl party at my house for many years, but will not be having it this year. That’s because I’m changing the menu drastically and people accustomed to my old ways would not understand.

But it doesn’t mean I won’t be eating. I’ve searched out alternatives that will still allow me to eat with the game and have some of the old food fun I was once accustomed to. Let’s start with some basics, like salsa. Salsa has become as American as apple pie, but it’s usually loaded with salt, so it’s generally a no-no now. But I’ve found low-salt salsa at both Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. Combine that with salt-free, tortilla chips from Trade Joe’s. Fourteen unsalted chips have seven grams of fat. I also have salt-free potato chips with nine grams of fat per ounce and a low-fat, low-salt popcorn from Trader Joe’s with three grams of fat per ounce.

My low-salt, low-fat Super Bowl treats.
My low-salt, low-fat Super Bowl treats.

Kroger has a fat-free cookie that has only 25 mg of salt per cookie, another treat I’ll have tomorrow.

And then for the main course, I’m making my own whole wheat manicotti filled with low-fat ricotta and covered with my low-salt homemade tomato sauce. My sauce has less than 200 mgs of salt per quart. Since I’ll likely use less than a pint on my manicotti, I’ll have only about 100 mgs of salt from it.

So I’m ready for kickoff and you can be too, just search out the low-salt, low-fat treats out there.
John

Do All Whole-Wheat Pastas Taste Like Paste? No, Try Barilla Plus

I enjoyed it so much, I ate five ounces (dry weight, it grows to about 20 ounces cooked), or 515 calories of it for dinner one night. That meal was rare on my new diet, it actually made me feel full when I was done rather than still hungry.

Pasta, for me as an Italian-American, is something I treasure more than milk (indeed I’m lactose intolerant, so I’ve never liked milk.

But pasta is forbidden on my new no salt, no sugar, no fat, low-carb diet. The nutritionist I consulted after my angioplasty in August did give me one out of that horrible situation, whole-wheat pasta. I’ve tried some in the past but always found them pasty or chalky tasting, in sharp taste conflict with a rich tomato sauce.

But the nutritionist, who basically has put me on a bread and water diet without the bread since my angioplasty, suggested trying Barilla Plus which labels itself a multigrain pasta. Barilla Plus won my home taste test.

Barilla Plus won my home taste test.
Barilla Plus won my home taste test.
Continue reading “Do All Whole-Wheat Pastas Taste Like Paste? No, Try Barilla Plus”

What Can You Eat on a No Salt, No Sugar, No Fat Diet?

You can hunt down decent foods, it’s a job but it can be done.

In recent months, I’ve slowly been building new menus to reflect my new restricted diet, trying to avoid salt, fats and sugar. My wife has been great in shopping with me, reading every label and finding the hidden sugar and salt bombs in most processed foods that I simply can’t eat any longer

A low salt product we found on a recent shopping trip.
A low salt product we found on a recent shopping trip.

[March 1, 2014: check out our expanded recipe page. We’ve added 10 new low salt, low sugar, low fat recipes, some with illustrated step-by-step guides to making them.]
Continue reading “What Can You Eat on a No Salt, No Sugar, No Fat Diet?”