What Can Someone on a Restricted Diet Eat on Christmas Day?

If you’re on a no-salt, no-sugar, no-fat diet like I am, or if you have other diet restrictions to deal with, what can you make that’s special for yourself on Christmas Day?

I wrote yesterday about going back to my roots for Christmas Eve. I’m doing the same for Christmas Day, but with a twist. I’m taking a traditional dish, manicotti with meatballs, and taking out all the restricted elements, re-imagining the dish with a variety of ingredients that get me at least some of the tastes I love.

My low-fat, low-salt manicotti, One of these has 128 calories, 1.8 grams of fat and 70 mgs of sodium. I eat five at a time
My low-fat, low-salt manicotti, One of these has 128 calories, 1.8 grams of fat and 70 mgs of sodium. I eat five at a time

Continue reading “What Can Someone on a Restricted Diet Eat on Christmas Day?”

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What Can Someone on a Restricted Diet Eat on Christmas Eve?

When we sit down to that meal, we will have much to be thankful for, including all the new recipes I’ve created since completely changing my diet. I wish you similar success, keep reading and I’ll do my best to keep posting new recipes. Send me yours as well.

My days of eating ham or steak or a big rib roast on holidays are over, thanks to the angioplasty I had Aug. 13, 2012. So how can I continue to celebrate important days with food I enjoy? Have you been asking yourself that question too?

The answer for me is to go back to my roots. Italian-Americans at one point traditionally had a meal of seven kinds of fish on Christmas Eve. The tradition goes back to the old country and a time when Catholics could not eat meat on the night before Christmas. It also was a way for poor fishermen to feast with banquets that would have made the rich feel right at home.

Most seafood is allowed on my no-salt, no-sugar, no-fat diet. Cold water varieties like salmon are even encouraged because of the omega-3 fatty acids they contain, although I’ve already seen one study saying those aren’t the superfood some had thought they were.

Preparing salmon with Mrs. Dash no-salt marinades. Regular stores don't carry these marinades, order them online at Amazon.com
Preparing salmon with Mrs. Dash no-salt marinades. Regular stores don’t carry these marinades, order them online at Amazon.com

When my grandmother did the seven fishes, she included clams, eel, an Italian salted cod called baccala, squid, snails and I’m not sure what else, likely crabs and flounder.

I’m going with fish I prefer to some of those and which are available to me here in the Midwest — salmon, tilapia, crab, shrimp, mahi mahi, lobster, and a second salmon variety, coho salmon. I’m also making some squid for me, that’s a delicacy my wife doesn’t eat.

I’m using Mrs. Dash no-salt marinades to flavor some, tomatoes and lemons to flavor others. For side dishes, I’m making a pepper trio salad, portobello mushroom caps, broccoli and some small red potatoes.

When we sit down to that meal, we will have much to be thankful for, including all the new recipes I’ve created since completely changing my diet. I wish you similar success, keep reading and I’ll do my best to keep posting new recipes. Send me yours as well.

Buon Natale!
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?”

Do You Have a Binge Eating Problem?

Call a friend for help is one piece of her advice. Another is to decorate your refrigerator with images that motivate you not to eat. Another is to find substitute treats that don’t involve eating.

Do you have a problem with binge eating? Do you rush for bags of junk food to munch on mindlessly when you feel the world closing in on you? Do you open that ice cream in your freezer to protect you from what the world has been throwing at you?

Answer yes to the above and you’re a binge eater. I know first-hand the seduction of binge eating, the feeling that you’re somehow in a protected cocoon of food where the troubles that had been hounding you can’t touch you.

Cooking, and eating, trays of Italian favorites like this are out for me now that I'm on a restricted diet. If you're binge eating, seek help as I'm doing.
Cooking, and eating, trays of Italian favorites like this are out for me now that I’m on a restricted diet. If you’re binge eating, seek help as I’m doing.

But when you’re thinking clearer, you know binge eating is only hurting you. How do you stop? It’s extremely difficult. I’m trying again now to leave it behind after having angioplasty in August, with the stakes considerably higher because of that surgery. The stress of it all have made my cravings stronger than ever yet I have avoided my former junk food favorites and as a result lost 23 pounds in four months. Continue reading “Do You Have a Binge Eating Problem?”

Can You Eat At Restaurants When on a Restricted Diet?

That AHA page is a good one for anyone on a restricted diet, not just heart patients, to bookmark.

I like to frequent restaurants and fast food outlets. I grew up in an era when eating out was a special treat so being able to do it whenever I want gives me a sense of having reached a secure financial state.

But given my recent artery and heart problems, I have cut back dramatically on my eating out. Where once it was common for my wife and I to have three meals out each weekend, we now seldom eat out more than once a weekend, cooking most of our own food to be sure we are getting low to no salt, sugar and fat in our dishes.

If you’re wondering what to order when you find yourself eating out, check out the American Heart Association website page called Tips By Cuisine which tackles the issue of eating out for people with heart problems and coronary disease.

A recent steakhouse order for me, no sauces, no butter and no sour cream but a great little filet mignon, a lean cut of meat.
A recent steakhouse order for me, no sauces, no butter and no sour cream but a great little filet mignon, a lean cut of meat.

A caveat, however, I think some of the language on the page is a bit PR-ish. Continue reading “Can You Eat At Restaurants When on a Restricted Diet?”

How Will Having Angioplasty Change What I Eat?

In short, being on a restricted diet has changed virtually all aspects of my life. By starting this blog, I hope some of my experiences can help you handle this type of massive eating change. I am slowly building an entirely new menu of dishes to cook and to eat, so stay tuned for recipes you might enjoy too.

Having angioplasty August 13, 2012, has completely changed what I eat. It has made me a man on a restricted diet, cutting out fat, salt and sugar whenever possible. And it also has greatly changed me. In the four months since the surgery, I’ve lost 23 pounds and now weigh roughly 193 pounds.

In recent years, I’ve cut out or cut back on many of my favorite foods. Pizza and Chinese food, for example, which I once ate weekly, are now a rarity for me. The same can be said for one-pound T-bone steaks and many cheese-filled Italian dishes which I’ve reserved for only holidays. Potato chips and french fries, once daily items for me, also are mostly gone from my diet.

Days of eating giant meatball subs like this one are over for me.
Days of eating giant meatball subs like this one are over for me.
Continue reading “How Will Having Angioplasty Change What I Eat?”