Inflation food shopping tip: plan your shopping list based on weekly sales

With food prices likely to rise all year, it’s more important than ever that you go to food stores with a shopping list and a plan. Impulse buys will cost you dearly these days. It’s time to be a smart shopper.

I look at weekly food stores ads each Wednesday when they come out, to see what’s on sale. I then create heart-healthy recipes based on those sales. My goal — save 25% or more off supermarket normal prices by shopping only sales. I want to see something taken off each item I carry out of the store. And usually, I do.

Continue reading “Inflation food shopping tip: plan your shopping list based on weekly sales”

Inflation food shopping tip: bananas are a relative deal

It’s no secret food prices have been soaring the past two years, I’ve warned about that continuing here. So look for more tips on how to cut your food shopping spending on this blog. Today’s tip comes from Eatingwell.com.

Photo by Couleur on Pexels.com

Bananas, it notes, are a relative bargain in the fruit world. “The average price of 1 pound of bananas was $0.62 in the U.S. in 2021. This could give you a week’s worth of fruit to eat as a snack or as a side to a meal for less than $1. Compared to $1.45 for a pound of navel oranges or $4.44 for a pint of fresh blueberries, bananas are an incredibly budget-friendly fruit,” the article states.

In my suburban Chicago market area, bananas ranged from 59 cents a pound at a local Whole Foods to 69 cents at a Jewel (although different Jewel’s here charge only 59 cents, so shopping around pays, even within the same supermarket chain).

Costco has been a low-cost banana seller in the past but the last I check it was not, check your local Costco or Sam’s Club to see how it compares in your area.

“One medium banana contains 105 calories, 1 gram of protein, 27 grams of carbs (including 14 grams of naturally occurring sugar), 3 grams of fiber and 422 milligrams of potassium (about 16% of our daily needs). Bananas contain resistant starch, which can help improve gut health, help with blood sugar control and even promote healthy weight management. This flavorful fruit can also help lower your risk of heart disease, decrease blood pressure, improve mood, reduce risk of anxiety and more,” the article notes.

I eat one to two bananas a day to replace the potassium I lose because of one of the heart medications I take. My other alternative would be taking another pill, a potassium pill. The fewer pills I have to take, the better I like it. Plus I love the taste of a good banana.

Healthier Baked Goods? Possible, if you can do the math

Some holiday cupcakes I made last Christmas. One of my few times baking.

Baked goods like chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cake, eclairs, the list goes on, are the hardest thing for me to give up as I try to stay on a low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar diet. Truth is that, especially during the pandemic, I turned to cakes for solace. So I was intrigued by this piece offering a healthier way to bake.

The Cooking Light piece talks about how an award-winning chef reduced the sugar content of various cookies. There’s math and weighing your ingredients involved, but if done correctly you can cut half to 75% of the sugar a recipe calls for.

I find baking a little too much like chemistry, so I normally buy my baked goods already baked. But perhaps I can talk my wife into trying this and report back here. Stay tuned.

McDonald’s 2022 salads — first look at nutrition information

When this blog was among the first, if not the first, to write that McDonald’s had brought back salads in U.S. outlets in 2022, the nutrition information for those was not posted either on the McDonald’s website or in its ordering app.

Last week, though, I saw it was now on the bottom of the salad container. So here is your first look:

Southwest Salad

  • Calories: 200
  • Total fat: 9 grams
  • Sodium: 350 mg
  • Carbs: 15 grams
  • Protein: 16 grams

The pre-pandemic McDonald’s Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad had 350 calories and 930 mgs of salt, likely because there was much more chicken on it and it had a glaze that included salt. It also had 37 grams of protein, 12 grams of fat and 9 grams of sugar, again all because of the larger chicken serving, I’m guessing.

It had 27 grams of carbs, for the carb counters out there.

So does that make the new salads healthier? You could say that, but remember it’s being done by making them smaller with less chicken.

I’m still buying two to make one decent-sized salad but I’m finding more and more brown-edged lettuce in these pre-packaged salads.

For our non-meat-eating friends — veggie fajitas

Fajitas have become a go-to recipe for me after discovering that Mrs. Dash offers a salt-free fajita spice mix. I’ve written about making turkey fajitas as creative use of Thanksgiving leftovers, for example.

Building our turkey fajitas.

So I enjoyed seeing his recipe for veggie fajitas on recipewonderland.com. It includes peppers and onions. Just substitute the Mrs. Dash for the taco seasoning called for in the recipe and you have a tasty dish that’s also low in salt.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 large bell peppers (any color), seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons taco seasoning (use salt-free Mrs Dash fajita spices)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 8 medium flour or corn tortillas

Cooking directions:

  • In a large skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat.
  • Add the sliced bell peppers and sliced onions. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes. Be sure to toss so everything cooks evenly.
  • Add taco seasoning, garlic powder, water and toss. Cook for 5 more minutes.
  • Remove from skillet and place on top of tortillas.
  • Serve with any desired toppings and sides.

I’d add a salt-free taco sauce, as you can see in my photo here.

Is hummus healthy? Depends on who is asking and how they define healthy

Hummus seems ubiquitous these days. Our local supermarket stocks multiple brands and anytime I eat with my grown children, we seem o end up at a Mideastern restaurant that has hummus on the menu. People certainly think it’s healthy, but it is? EatingWell.com tackles that question in this article.

The answer, like any question about “healthy”, depends on who is asking and why.

“Chickpeas (and thus hummus which is made from chickpeas) are not allowed on the Whole30 diet because they are a legume. For the same reason, hummus is not allowed on a paleo diet. Hummus can be keto friendly, if you eat it in limited amounts and allot carbohydrates in order to make room for it. (Many people count “net carbs” or total carbs minus grams of fiber. In this case, a serving of hummus has 3 net carbs.),” the article states.

So if you’re paleo or Whole30, it’s not. If you’re keto, some of it is ok.

What about those of us trying to cut salt, fat and sugar?

Continue reading “Is hummus healthy? Depends on who is asking and how they define healthy”

A simple eggplant recipe to spice up your summer grilling season

Eggplant is a favorite of mine, although I would touch it when I was a kid in an Italian-American family that made it often, usually breaded and fried or baked. My tastes these days tend to like it grilled, as I’ve written about before, so this simple recipe from lovelyfoodblog.com seems a winner.

Another fun place for eggplant, pasta with tomatoes and eggplants

The ingredients:

  • 1 eggplant
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup fresh oregano, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh dill, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper (leave off the salt)

Prep is simple as well:

  • Slice the eggplant into pieces
  • Combine the oil, vinegar, garlic herbs, salt and pepper. Let it sit to absorb the flavors for about 15 minutes
  • Brush eggplant with oil and herb mixture all over, ensuring that the herbs get distributed well.
  • Place on a lightly greased grill and grill for about 15-20 minutes, flipping half way through.
  • Mix with olive oil and garlic. Then let the flavors blend for about 15 minutes.

Enjoy!

Jif products recalled in 12 states, check your pantries & food cabinets

The J.M. Smucker company is recalling several of its Jif products, including crunchy and creamy peanut butter, natural peanut butter, no-sugar-added peanut butter, and squeeze packs of peanut butter.

“The recalled products will have lot codes between 1274425 and 2140425. The first seven digits of any potentially affected product will end with 425, denoting that the peanut butter was manufactured in Lexington, Kentucky,” reports Foodandwine.com.

Here’s where to find the lot numbers on your Jif peanut butter jar label.

You can find the lot codes on the label near the Best if Used By dates.

States impacted are Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, Ohio, North Carolina, New York, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.

The possible presence of Salmonella prompted the recall. At least 14 people have reported health issues because of the products and two had been hospitalized when FoodandWine.com published the news.

For more information, read the Food and Drug Administration release on the recall.

Multi-stop shopping becoming the norm in these inflationary times

Shopping around for the best deals is a must-do strategy as you try to control your food bill in these inflationary times. I’ve offered several suggestions for how to do that, such as pre-planning every trip you make.

This was what awaited me during a Pandemic shopping trip in senior shopping hour at a local supermarket — packed aisles and long checkout lines. The lines are shorter these days.

Now the rest of the country seems to be catching up to me, according to data from IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm.

More than three in four consumers (78%) in April adjusted their grocery-shopping behaviors in an effort to save money amid rising inflation,” reports Winsight Grocery Business. “In comparison, 72% of consumers said they had made one or more changes to their shopping behaviors in March.”

“While the pandemic saw consumers trying to complete their grocery shopping in one trip, it seems the trend is now reversing, as 17% of consumers now visit multiple retailers to get the best deals, IRI found,” the Winsight article reports.

Only 17%? Until more of us do more comparison shopping and go to different places to get deals, prices will stay high. For more tips on finding low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar products during these high-price times, check out my smart shopping page.

A simple dish from days gone by — spaghetti with olive oil and garlic

I’m old enough to remember when Catholics couldn’t eat meat on Friday, a sign of sacrifice we no longer practice. As a child, there were many alternatives for me since I didn’t eat fish then. It was either pizza or an Italian dish called agilo e olio, basically spaghetti with garlic and olive oil.

Spaghetti Agilo e olio — spaghetti with garlic and olive oil

So it was a trip down memory lane for me to find this recipe for it on Cooking Professionally. Even if you don’t consider yourself a great cook, you can make this in minutes and impress your family and friends.

The recipe is simplicity itself.

Ingredients

• 1 pound spaghetti, uncooked 

• 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil 

• 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced 

• 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes 

• 1/4 cup chopped parsley 

• 1 cup parmesan, grated, optional

I use only whole wheat or multigrain pasta these days, too much regular pasta can cause blood sugar issues for you.

Cooking it all is a nine-step process:

Continue reading “A simple dish from days gone by — spaghetti with olive oil and garlic”

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