The low-salt message is being heard, even in South Africa

It’s always nice to see articles touting the low-salt message. I get regular Google alerts every day with stories that do just that and I was excited to see one recently from South Africa.

If the message has reached there, perhaps it’s really beginning to sink in with people, that eating less salt can help their overall health.

Salt is salt, I avoid it to help control my blood pressure.

The piece by a South African dietitian, is consistent with stories from other parts of the world in its recommendations that we strive for less than 2,000 mgs of sodium a day. Someone with heart issues such as I have should aim even lower, perhaps 1,500 mgs, depending on their weight.

One fun comment in the story, ““Lemon is the new salt. Lemon juice enhances the flavour [British spelling here] of the food. Adding a squeeze of lemon to a meal can give you flavour without the risk.”

Another fun fact, March 11-17 is World Salt Awareness Week!

The author’s tips for cutting salt ocnsumption:

1. Choose less salty food.
2. Cook with less salt, adding natural flavurs like a squeeze of lemon.
3. Do not add more salt to your meal at the table.
4. Remove the salt shaker from the table.
5. Taste your food before adding salt (it might be a habit).

Pandemic Shopping: Food Prices Will Continue Climbing in 2021

It’s no secret that food prices shot up as the pandemic took hold last year. The bad news is you can expect those prices to continue to rise this year. Grocery store prices will climb 1-2%, predicts the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Restaurant/take-out food prices will increase 2-3 percent after climbing 3.9% last year, the USDA says.

The actual impact of the pandemic on your food bills has likely been much more severe than a percent or two. Pandemic shopping has meant shortages of items and an inability to shop for deals from store to store.

Shopping at Trader Joe's
The line I encountered waiting to get into a Chicago-area Trader Joe’s. These were all seniors waiting for the 8 a.m. opening of the store for senior shopping.

How many stores have you gone to in the average pandemic week? Pre-pandemic, I would normally go to three or four different stores, searching for the best deals on low-fat, low-salt and low-sugar products. During the pandemic, I’ve limited myself to one store a week, sometimes two.

The first change I plan in my life now that I’ve had both my vaccine shots is a return to more normal food shopping to combat rising prices.

Picturing 1,500 calories a day; it’s not much

Picturing how much you can eat on any given diet plan is always difficult. Diets talk about calories, a concept that people really don’t relate to when looking at a juicy steak or big plate of pasta.

So I always find it helpful to be reminded. Nurtritionists talk about an average man eating 2,000 calroeis a day and an average woman eating 1,500 calories, but what doies that mean in practice?

This piece, What 1,500 Calories Looks Like (DASH Diet), illustrates the 1,500 calories a day. While breakfast may look generous with French toast, meals get smaller and end with a sparse chicken dish for dinner (photo below).\

That’s what 300 calories looks like.

The article is a reminder that many of us eat a lot more than our bodies actually need.

Some good advice for a truly heart-healthy diet

The term heart-healthy diet has been co-opted by all sorts of people to push their favorite products. Many processed foods call themselves heart-healthy when they are still loaded with salt, fat and sugar. So it’s refreshing to see some tips for a truly heart-healthy diet in this piece, Ask A Dietitian: What Makes a Diet Heart-Healthy?

One of my favorite here is to develop a collection of seafood recipes you can’t wait to eat. A good place to start is on our recipe page, where we have a seafood section all ready for you. Supermarket fish counters often give away seafood recipe cards too. You may have to modify them to take out butter and salt, but they’re a starting point for you.

Use some spray-on canola oil to cook your tilapia
Tilapia such as these would work for fish tacos.

Another good tip is to use more spices instead of salt in your cooking. When you do, be sure to buy salt-free spice mixtures. Many pre-mixed spice offerings are loaded with salt. If you see salt listed as the first ingredient on such a mix, you know it is primarily salt, avoid it.

Check the article for other tips, just click here.

Check out our newly expanded recipe page

The most popular page on my food blog, by far, is my no-salt, no-fat, no-sugar recipe page. People are hungry for healthy recipes and we do our best to supply them on that page. Check it out, we’ve just expanded it, adding a section of pandemic meals, recipes we’ve been trying during the pandemic when we’re all cooking more at home.

And we’ve also added a slide show of some of our favorite dishes. Enjoy and let us know what else you’d like to see on that page..

We’ve taken down the picture of my low-fat, low-salt manicotti that was on the top of our recipe page, replacing it with a slide show of some of our favorite healthy dishes.

You can never have too many salmon recipes, so here’s 26 more

Your salmon feast awaits.
I love making salmon in a variety of ways.

Trying to stay on a heart-healthy diet means giving up almost all of the foods I once enjoyed.

Salmon, thankfully, is not one of those, however. Current nutritional thinking is that salmon has “healthy” fats and so is fine to eat for everyone, regardless of health concerns. In our house, salmon really has come to replace beef several nights a week.

So I have a lot of salmon recipes on my recipe page. But you can never have enough.

So I was happy to read this piece on EatingWell.com 26 High-Protein Salmon Dinners for Weeknights. Some of these don’t appeal to me because they’re highly spiced, but others, like one-skillet salmon with fennel and sun-dried tomato couscous, sound intriguing.

A nice feature about these recipes is they include nutritional information so you can see if they’re truly healthy, i.e. low in salt, fat and sugar, or just claiming to be. Remember, never assume a recipe is healthy just because whoever posts it says so.

Pandemic eating: Another warning to eat healthier in the age of Covid-19

Being stuck at home during this pandemic has meant more take-out and more quick snacks for many people, I’ve written about the dangers of that before. But now a new warning about such eating habits comes from the website eatthis.com

“As we change the way we live, we have the risk of developing some very serious patterns that do real damage to our bodies and potentially put us in harm’s way,” the site notes.

Splurge on the garlic fries at Safeco Field. They were a garlic-lover's dream.
Beware the fried foods you may be eating more of these days.

The site asked nutritionists for advice. Among the recommendations — take care with what type of take-out foods you order, don’t keep junk food in plain sight around your house, and watch your salt intake, a constant challenge for most Americans.

As someone who decided to splurge on hot dogs and fries the past two weekends, I’m feeling this is written to me — and to all of you.

A supermarket recipe that might actually be healthy

Supermarkets often supply recipes to encourage people to shop for the items they’ll need to make a given dish. These days, they will call a recipe “healthy” even if it’s still loaded with salt, fat and sugar. But one I received recently from my local Jewel store (owned by Albertson’s) actually might be healthy and tasty as well

Your salmon feast awaits.
I love making salmon in a variety of ways.

It’s called one pan salmon. The ingredients list and my modifications and comments:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion (chopped)
3 cloves garlic (minced)
20 cherry tomatoes
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken broth [I’d use the lowest sodium broth you can find here to cut salt]
1 lemon (sliced)
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt [cut this, not really needed with all the other flavors here]
12 ounces linguine [go for whole wheat to address sugar concerns you may have]
4 (4 oz) Waterfront BISTRO® Salmon Fillets [note the branding here, as I said, they want you to buy this but any salmon will do]

Here’s more on preparation:

Cooking Instructions

Step 1

Preheat a 12-inch sauté pan to medium high heat. Add olive oil and onion, sautéing until onion is translucent.

Step 2

Add tomatoes, stirring occasionally, giving tomatoes time to get slightly charred and then burst.

Step 3

Add garlic and cook one minute.

Step 4

Pour in wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to pick up the brown bits. Add broth, lemon & seasonings.

Step 5

Add pasta and bring to a boil.

Step 6

Place salmon filets in and cover pan.

Step 7

Cook 7-9 minutes, until pasta is al dente, and salmon is pink. Top with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and basil.

If you try this, let me know how it turns out.

Pandemic Snacking: Crispy Broccoli at Trader Joe’s

Any list about healthy snacks always gets my attention because normally those words — healthy and snack — are a conflict in terms. Anything you want to snack, i.e. binge, on generally is not healthy because it contains high amounts of salt, fat or sugar, or perhaps all three.

That’s why a recent list of so-called healthy snacks at Trader Joe’s caught my attention with one list, crispy broccoli florets. I eat a lot of broccoli, but had never thought of it as a snack, or as crispy for that matter. So I bought a bag and gave them a try.

The result was mixed. Salt-wise, they’re ok with only 15 mg a bag. Fat content seems high at 20 grams, about half what I’m supposed to have every day on my heart-healthy diet. And there’s 5 grams of transfat, again about half what I can have.

Taste-wise, they taste like broccoli, but having that cold and crisped up somehow just didn’t seem right. The taste of them actually became less palatable the more I had. So I guess that would preclude binging on them.

So my search for healthy snacks goes on, sans broccoli.

Here’s your chance to help pick a new salt-free spice mixture

Food company press releases flood my e-mail inbox every day. Most have little that interests me, but one came in today that got my attention — a West Coast spice company is working with the American Heart Association and the National Kidney Foundation to come up with new salt-free spice mixtures. And it’s inviting consumers to vote on its new creations.

“Spiceology invites the flavor obsessed to choose their salt-free favorites from 11 new options crafted by Spiceology’s team of chefs. The four winning flavors will join Spiceology’s existing salt-free collection and provide a perpetual revenue stream to both the NKF and AHA, helping each to further their missions,” the release from spice company Spiceology states.

This one sounded good to me.

You can click here to see what its created and pick your favorites, you get to select five. The comapny is even offering several prizes for those who vote. Voters will be entered into drawings for:

  • LARQ self-cleaning water bottle
  • Vitamix blender
  • Made•in Carbon Cookware set,
  • Salt-free Spiceology signature blend lineup

Have fun and good luck…and stay away from spice blends with salt in them.

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