Can you eat healthy at Disney World?

The bottom line is that in four and a half days there, I lost four pounds from the combination of little to eat and all the walking we inevitably did. Disney World surprised me with a healthy option for lunch, one of the best I had on the trip in fact. Universal was a total junk food mecca, as were the places we ate in Orlando itself.

My wife and I recently spent a holiday week at Disney World in Orlando, going at perhaps the busiest time of the year. But the crowds weren’t worrying me so much as was the food, or more precisely the lack of food that I can eat on my no-salt, no-fat, no-sugar diet.

Would I be able to find any healthy food at Disney? Or at Universal Studios where we also planned to spend considerable time? And what about in Orlando itself, a place I think of as a mecca of fast casual restaurants that have little to nothing healthy on their menus?

The bottom line is that in four and a half days there, I lost four pounds from the combination of little to eat and all the walking we inevitably did. Disney World surprised me with a healthy option for lunch, one of the best I had on the trip in fact. Universal was a total junk food mecca, as were the places we ate in Orlando itself, TGI Friday’s and Carrabba’s, an Italian chain.

The start of my Disney Day
The start of my Disney Day
Continue reading “Can you eat healthy at Disney World?”

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What happens when you have an unexpected meal?

Not being able to get an Angus burger, which is what I would have done before my angioplasty, was very depressing. And to make it even more depressing, some whole wheat toast I asked for came already covered in melted butter.

my egg white omelet, and the sneaky buttered toast.
my egg white omelet, and the sneaky buttered toast.
Living on a restricted diet means you need to plan every meal to ensure your avoid the foods and ingredient you need to avoid. What happens though, when an unplanned meal develops?

I faced that situation recently and had to scramble, literally. Coming home from work one recent evening, trains were delayed after they pulled out of my Chicago station. I literally sat on a train for two hours waiting to move, unable get off because we were between stations.

When we finally did get to a station, we were again stopped as tracks ahead were being cleared, so I decided to get off and call my wife to come get me. I was about 20 minutes from home by car at that point.

Looking around where I was on Chicago’s north side, I saw a nearby pancake house and decided to get some dinner while I waited, since it was then nearly 9 p.m.

The pancake house had a large multi-page menu but page after page had things I couldn’t eat, either because they were high in fat, salt, sugar or white flour.

My now go-to pancake house item, whole wheat pancakes, were available but they had nuts in the batter and I don’t eat nuts.

I defaulted to a veggie melt made with egg whites only, an incredibly bland choice that also had cauliflower, something I don’t eat and so had to pick out. I also ordered it without the usual cheese, worried about the fat. I did use some ketchup to give it some taste, which probably had more salt in it than is recommended for me.

Not being able to get an Angus burger, which is what I would have done before my angioplasty, was very depressing.

And to make it even more depressing, some whole wheat toast I asked for came already covered in melted butter, something I couldn’t see until I separated the slices brought me.

Unplanned meals stink.
John

Why should you use oil and vinegar?

Salad dressings are little food bombs full of bad things — sugar, salt and fat. No one on a restricted diet should be using them.

Salad dressings are little food bombs full of bad things — sugar, salt and fat. No one on a restricted diet should be using them. 

Carry your own olive oil for salads.
Carry your own olive oil for salads.

So what can you do to make a salad tastier? Try olive oil and vinegar. I grew up with that mixture on salads, thanks to my Italian roots. I didn’t try a salad dressing until I was eating in a college dorm. Continue reading “Why should you use oil and vinegar?”

Roasted Garlic Dressing

Thoughts

simplehealthyhomemade

Let’s face it, most of us like creamy dressings to go with our salads, at least every once in a  while. I have lately been hooked on lemongrass-mint white balsamic from Seasons and could eat salad with just that on it. Yep, nothing else, no oil, just that. It’s especially good on baby spinach with pomegranate seeds. But I digress, back to the subject: creamy dressings. The problem with salad dressing and especially the creamy kind is the caloric impact they tend to have. So you decided to have a ‘light’ lunch, a salad, but guess what, that commercial dressing you just poured on made it have more calories and in some cases more fat than a burger. So what to do? Your ticket is flavor, the more flavor your dressing has, the smaller the amount you need, plus making it at home allows you to control exactly what goes in…

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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?”

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”