Pandemic stock-up: essentials I’m buying online these days

I’ve been writing a great deal about how the Covid Pandemic has impacted people’s food shopping habits and product availability. You can click here to see a roundup of my posts. With low-salt products disappearing from mainstream supermarket shelves these days, I’ve been forced to do more shopping online.

Shipping charges generally make online shopping more expensive, so I’ve responded by buying non-perishable items in bulk. Here’s a look at items I have now — a six-bottle case of Mrs. Dash salt-free teriyaki sauce and Mrs’ Dash sloppy Joe, taco and fajita seasoning packets.

I have stocked up on some items I found locally, like Localfolks low-salt, low-sugar ketchup and barbecue sauces. One Whole Foods in my area carries Localfolks, I’m hoping it doesn’t stop any time soon.

You can also see a giant box of low-salt crackers from Costco.

I wrote some tips for bulk storage back in December, you can review those by clicking here.

The No Salt, No Fat, No Sugar Journal celebrates a milestone — 800 posts!

What you’re reading now is the 801st post in the history of the No Salt, No Fat, No Sugar Journal. When we started in late 2012, we never imagined we’d still be going all these years later.

Our initial goal was to help people who, because of heart disease or other ailments, had to radically change their diets to cut salt, fat and sugar. Those three things are in almost everything Americans routinely eat, so eliminating them is a herculean task.

But we have persisted and you have responded, making our No Salt, No Fat, No Sugar Recipe Page the most popular thing on our site. Do a search for such recipes and we will be at the top of your search page just under the paid placements.

Happy 800 posts to us!!!!

When the Pandemic hit, we pivoted to posting recipes that would work for families stuck at home together. We also starting labeling posts with topics such as Pandemic Shopping, to let you know about which no-salt, no-fat, no-sugar items were disappearing from local stores shelves and how to find them in alternate outlets.

We’re on track for a record year for views, thank you, and keep coming back! And tell your friends.

Eating less salt, fat and sugar can benefit anyone, not just those with health conditions already. Hopefully eating healthier can help you not get some of the health conditions that originally prompted the launch of this blog.

Stay safe, stay masked, get vaccinated and stay no-salt, no-fat, no-sugar.

Another recipe for tomato lovers — roasted tomatoes

If you’re like me, you’re growing tomatoes in your backyard this summer. Here’s a recipe to turn them into a tasty side dish — roasted tomatoes. I’ve written about making a roasted tomato sauce in the past, if that interests you, click here to read about it.

The roasted tomato recipe comes from the Food Network site and chef Ina Garten. While the recipe details roasting in an oven, you could easily do this on an outside grill as well.

Ingredients

12 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, cores and seeds removed

4 tablespoons good olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 large garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (leave this out or substitute Mrs. Dash salt substitute)

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Arrange the tomatoes on a sheet pan, cut sides up, in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle the garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper over the tomatoes.
  3. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, until the tomatoes are concentrated and beginning to caramelize.
  4. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Grilled chicken with an Italian Flair — Grilled Caprese Chicken

Summer grilling season is here and we can always use a new heart-healthy grilled chicken recipe. So try this, Grilled Caprese Chicken. The recipe comes from EatingWell.com.

While you can make this on an outdoor grill, it would probably work best on a grilling pan put on the grill to keep all the juices from dripping down into the fire source, be it gas jets or charcoal. Using a charcoal grill would add that charcoal-ly flavor as well.

Tomato & Mozzarella smothered grilled chicken cutlets

Here’s the recipe and instructions. I’d leave out the salt and get the lowest-fat mozzarella you can find. Some stores may still have fat-free mozzarella. I was able to find it pre-Pandemic, but haven’t seen it since Covid hit and stores starting cutting the variety of items they carry.

Note that the recipe calls for chicken cutlets, which are very thin and cook quickly. If you use regular chicken breasts, either pound them down to a thin consistency or cut them into thinner pieces to avoid under-cooked chicken. A meat thermometer is a must here.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic glaze (you can make this yourself or buy it pre-made), divided
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (eliminate this)
  • 1 pound chicken cutlets
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (get the lowest-fat mozzarella you can find)
  • 1 small tomato, thinly sliced

Directions

  • Step 1 Preheat grill to medium-high or heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.
  • Step 2 Combine oil, 1 tablespoon balsamic glaze, basil, garlic, pepper and salt in a small bowl. Brush the mixture on both sides of chicken.
  • Step 3 Oil the grill rack or pan. Grill the chicken until it easily releases from the grill or pan, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and top with mozzarella and tomato. Grill until the cheese is melted and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken registers 165°F, 3 to 4 minutes more. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon balsamic glaze and sprinkle with more basil, if desired.

A simple yet very tasty tomato salad recipe using heirloom tomatoes

I’ve always been a giant tomato fan, perhaps because we always had them handy in the Italian-American household of my youth. I’m always on the lookout for fun tomato dishes, and this one, Tomato Salad with Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette, fits the bill.

I like its use of heirloom tomatoes. If you’ve never had those, find some and enjoy. Their flavor is so much more intense than most store-bought tomatoes. And, as this recipe notes, you can find them in different colors and combine them for a colorful salad.

This salad uses heirloom tomatoes and English cucumber. It also has a simple recipe for a lemon-basil vinaigrette. I’d leave out the salt and use low- or no-fat feta instead of regular feta to get the salt content down even more than the 213 mgs of sodium per serving noted in the recipe.


The ingredient list is:

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (eliminate this)
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 4 large firm multicolor heirloom tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 medium English cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • ⅔ cup crumbled feta cheese (look for low- or no-fat feta)

You can watch this video for assembly instructions.

Stocking your Pandemic pantry — four must-have food products

No-salt, no-fat, no-sugar products have become much harder to find at local food stores during the Pandemic, forcing people like us who want such products to shop online. Online shopping offers more variety, but with shipping it can get very expensive.

So my rule is to buy in bulk to spread the shipping costs over more products. Here’s what I’ve been buying lately:

Essential items in mo no-=salt, no-fat, no-sugar pantry.

Mrs. Dash salt-free teriyaki marinade, by the case via Amazon

Localfolks salt-free ketchup and barbecue sauce — these I can get at one Whole Foods in a nieghboring subrub, so when I buy, I stock up to cut down on individual driving trips there.

Mrs. Dash salt-free taco and salt-free fajita spice mixtures — these are available on Amaxon and the Healthy Heart Market.

Low-salt, low-fat multigrain cracks — I buy them in the large box you see in this picture at Costco.

Deal shopping — even at Whole Foods

I don;t regularly shop at Whole Foods. I find the prices too high for the value delivered, given that it has so few low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar products on its shelves.

There used to be two low-fat cookie brands offered that I would go specifically to Whole Foods for, but both have disappeared from its shelves, for example.

Also, I find it frustrating that different Whole Foods carry different products so that I ahve to search out the few healthy offerings it does have. An example is the Localfolks brand I’ve blogged about in the past. Localfolks low-sodium ketchup is a must-have for me but I can only find it at one Whole Foods store in a neighboring suburb, rather than the two Whole Foods that are in my town.

So I was at that neighboring Whole Foods recently to stock up on LocalFolks and I decided to scan the aisles to see what other low-salt items I coudl find, and what deals I could find in that high-priced environment. I discovered soem items were on sale — but only for Amazon Prime members. Amazon owns Wholoe Food these days and seems to be struggling to find synergies. These meber-only sales are one fo those.

I’m a Prime member and have download the special Amazon Prime/Whole Foods app. I also carry my Prime credit card since at times there are deals for using that there as well.

Deals at Whole Foods? You can save some money if you shop smart there. Here’s a recent trip of mine during whihc I saved 12% off of full prices on some low-salt products.

My quest turned up two Localfolks low-salt barbecue sauce on sale, with an extra 10% off for Prime members, and a low-salt salad dressing on sale with the extra 10% off as well. I saved $6.73 on a $54.79 bill, roughly a 12% savings.

When I shop at traditional supermarkets, I normally aim to save at last 33% off of full prices, so 12% isn’t in that league. But it’s pretty good for a Whole Foods trip, a testament to smart shopping.

Product Review: Organicville No-salt-added dressing — thumbs up!

I’m always searching for new low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar products to add some taste to my otherwise bland diet. I recently found something new at Whole Foods, a store I don’t normally frequent because of its high prices and lack of many low-salt, low-fat products.

But Organicville No Added-salt Italian dressing was not only low-salt, but on sale for Amazon Prime members the day I was shopping. Normally $4.49 a bottle, I got it for $2.49 — still a high price for a relatively small bottle (keep in mind I buy my olive oil in large bottles at Costco).

An interesting new low-salt dressing option.

The dressing has only 5 mgs of salt per two tablespoons, so even if you drench your salad in it, like I tend to do, the salt content is relatively low. Its 4 grams of fat per two tablespoons also is low. And it tastes more interesting than plain oil and vinegar. The label talks about “zest” — I think that’s the pepper you taste.

One note of caution, though. The product is not shown on the Organicville site, so it may be discontinued. Perhaps that’s why it was on sale? I hope not. I’d like to think it’s new and so not yet listed on the site. But given how many low-salt products have been cut during the Pandemic, I’m a little worried. Buy this while you can, it may not be around much longer.

Why you have to read the nutrition label — a barbecue sauce comparison

I have repeatedly harped on the importance of reading food labels so you can stay on a low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar diet. And I’ve created an entire page of low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar products that I use regularly since my heart issues began in 2012.

With summer hear and all of us grilling outside again, reading labels becomes even more important for products you might not be using in winter, like barbecue sauce.

Take a look at these pictures of two brands — Localfolks low-salt, low-sugar barbecue sauce, and a store brand, Signature Select (an Albertson’s house brand). I use nothing by Localfolks now, but happened the get the Signature Select bottle free ina recent store give-away.

A serving of the Signature select, 37 grams, has 260 mgs of sodium and 12 grams of sugar, 14 grams of carbs if you count those as well.

The Localfolks measures one serving as an ounce, which is 28.34 grams, so about a third less. Still, it has only 30 mgs of sodium and 4 grams of sugar, five grams of carbs. Even adding a third to that gets you to only 40 mgs of sodium and about five and a third of sugar.

Salt and sugar hide in all processed foods, that’s wehy most Americans eat more than they should. Read those food labels, and happy grilling!

Grilled tuna steak, with a little extra — mango salsa and pineapple

Tuna steak is a great lean alternative to beef steaks. I regularly grill them in the summer months. Here’s a basic recipe for grilling tuna from the Food Network. Leave out the salt, of course.

And here’s how I recently went beyond the basic recipe to add even more flavor to our tuna steaks. I added some low-salt mango salsa I bought at Trader Joe’s. You can see on the TJ nutrition information page the salsa has only 35 mgs of sodium per serving, much less than most pre-made salsas. It also has no fat and only 3 grams of sugar per two tablespoons, enough to coat the tuna.

My mango, pineapple tuna on the grill, and the finished product.

To go even more tropical, I added slices of fresh pineapple. Pineapple sales has been plentiful this summer in the Chicago area. A whole pineapple is going for 88 cents, so I’m using it in more recipes than ever before.

With food prices rising because of the “Pandemic, look for every deal you can find and adjust your no-salt, no-fat, no-sugar recipes accordingly.

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