New nutrition labels and how they show salt, fat and sugar

Nutrition labels, or more accurately nutrition information panels on food and beverage labels, are getting a makeover, the Food and Drug Administration announced last week. My first reaction: disappointment that salt content isn’t being targeted and that the FDA didn’t significantly reduce what it recommends as daily salt intake for an adult.

“The FDA proposal also reduces the daily recommendation on sodium to 2,300 milligrams from 2,400, which the Center for Science in the Public Interest said isn’t enough. The daily value should be reduced to 1,500 milligrams, the nonprofit advocacy group said,” reported Bloomberg.

Since my angioplasty, nutritionists have told me to limit salt intake to 1,500 mgs a day. I’ve aimed for 1,200, believing products can have more salt than advertised, especially when it comes to restaurant food. Continue reading “New nutrition labels and how they show salt, fat and sugar”

Healthy Takeout Food: I’d think again

Any article that talks about healthy restaurant food gets my attention, so I was drawn to this piece headlined: “Healthy Takeout Cheat Sheet.” Unfortunately the recommendations left me sadly disappointed.

I've come up with a relatively low-salt, low-fat pizza, but any takeout will have both too much salt and too much fat in the cheese, even without adding meats.
I’ve come up with a relatively low-salt, low-fat pizza, but any takeout will have both too much salt and too much fat in the cheese, even without adding meats.

Basics like don’t get meat on pizza to save on fat are fine if you’re in your 20s or 30s and not all that concerned about fat or salt intake. But for anyone watching fat and salt, pizza is basically off the table, literally. I’ve come up with my own homemade version that cuts fat but is still borderline high in sodium. It’s light years better than any takeout pizza, however. Continue reading “Healthy Takeout Food: I’d think again”

Low-fat cake with sugar-free frosting: a taste test

Cakes and chocolate frosting are two things I miss dearly since switching to my low-fat, low-salt, low-added-sugar diet. As a parent of grown children, I sometimes wonder if my offspring realize just how difficult the eating change in my life has been for me. As adults themselves, they have their own lives to live, of course, and looking back I wonder how aware I was of my father’s health problems.

So that said, it was a wonderful surprise to receive a Christmas present from my daughter that shows she is aware of what I’m going through. She sent me a low-fat cake mix along with some sugar-free low-fat frosting mix.

low-salt, low-fat frosting mix
The low-salt, low-fat frosting mix my daughter sent me.
Continue reading “Low-fat cake with sugar-free frosting: a taste test”

Fat-free, sugar-free foods: checks the labels before buying

I am an advocate of finding tasty fat-free and sugar-free treats to replace ones you have to give up when you’re on a low-fat, low-sugar, low-salt diet as I am. But you have to check all ingredients on such offerings, not just the levels of the things you’re trying to reduce.

That was brought home in a recent article I saw from the Cleveland Clinic. “The High Cost of ‘Free’ Foods. The truth about fat-free and sugar-free products,” has some warnings about fat-free and other free-from foods.

“Think twice before reaching for that fat-free cookie or sugar-free ice cream bar as an afternoon snack.

“In most cases, you’re better off having the real thing in moderate portions, says Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD, wellness manager at Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute.

“The issue, Kirkpatrick says, is that choosing heavily processed foods over natural foods often means taking in too many additives and refined ingredients with questionable nutritional value,” the article states.

When I write about say, fat-free or low-fat cookies I‘ve found, I also include sugar levels so you know whether sugar has been upped to compensate for the lower fat. Unfortunately we have to be constantly reading labels and evaluating what we eat, nothing seems without perils at the moment. I only hope science progresses past this frightening time in our food lives and finds out it’s ok to eat fun foods again some time soon.
John

Low-fat chocolate chip cookies: found some good ones at Whole Foods

Finding low- and no-fat cookies is a challenge. Baked goods also have lots of salt in them, so it’s really a double challenge, and a discouraging one for someone like me who loved baked goods before my angioplasty. I’ve written about SnackWells chocolate cookies, which are fat-free.

But last week, I found a really great new option at Whole Foods, low-fat chocolate chip cookies that are incredibly chocolatey, and are relatively low sodium and low sugar (for a cookie anyway).

Chocolate chewies, I'm lovin' 'em.
Chocolate chewies, I’m lovin’ ’em.
Nutritional info for chocolate chewies.
Nutritional info for chocolate chewies.

Chocolate Chewies have 70 calories and 1.5 grams of fat per cookie. Each cookie has only 30 mgs of sodium and 12 grams of sugar. The sugar level is high if you’re diabetic I’m sure. A doctor once told me not to buy my diabetic mother anything with more than 10 grams of sugar per serving. Continue reading “Low-fat chocolate chip cookies: found some good ones at Whole Foods”

Happy New Year: with no and low salt treats

New Year’s Eve parties were legendary in my family for a vast array of foods I can no longer eat — ham, roast beef, fried calamari, fried eggplant, cookies and cakes of all descriptions. I even wrote a play about it all that includes a food parade!

So how can you celebrate the New Year without salt, fat or sugar?

My low-salt, low-fat Super Bowl treats. Try them for New Year's Eve too.
My low-salt, low-fat Super Bowl treats. Try them for New Year’s Eve too.
Continue reading “Happy New Year: with no and low salt treats”

No salt, no fat foods: we’re here to write about them

No salt, no fat foods became must-haves for me in 2012 after having an angioplasty. The operation changed what’s left of my life from what I thought it would be.

I could no longer revel in wondrous high-fat, high-sugar, high-salt foods. If I wanted to continue living, I had to completely change everything I ate.

Cooking, and eating, trays of Italian favorites like this are out for me now but I've found ways to cope.
Cooking, and eating, trays of Italian favorites like this are out for me now but I’ve found ways to cope.

I’ve done that and I created this blog in December 2012 to help all of you who face similar challenges. The progress of this blog in being discovered has been heartening for me. Daily average visits have increased tenfold since I started it. Traffic has improved monthly. There’s still a long way to go in building this, but I’m starting to get good traction in searches for no salt, no fat foods and hope to build on that in 2014. Continue reading “No salt, no fat foods: we’re here to write about them”

Thanksgiving Menu: Adding cheese to your salad

Thanksgiving menus at our house always include a giant salad bowl. But most of the items I once added to salads such as olives, croutons, capers and cheese, are high in sodium. Cheese is also high in fat, so it’s a double no-no.

Fat-free feta works well on salads but beware the sodium, it's loaded.
Fat-free feta works well on salads but beware the sodium, it’s loaded.

photo 2

Recently, however, I’ve found some low-fat and no-fat cheeses. One I enjoy is Athenos fat free feta crumbled for easy use on a salad. Continue reading “Thanksgiving Menu: Adding cheese to your salad”

Thanksgiving menu: how about some chestnuts

Thanksgiving is traditionally chestnut time. Nuts are among my least favorite things, generally, but the one exception is chestnuts. Unlike other nuts, chestnuts get soft when you cook them and they’re quite filling as well.

Chestnuts are normally only available around Thanksgiving time in the United States. Cooking and peeling them can be an effort, if you don’t peel them quickly after cooking, the shells will stick and you’ll end up throwing them away.

PRe-cooked, pre-peeled chestnuts, I found them at Costco but you can shop online for them as well.
PRe-cooked, pre-peeled chestnuts, I found them at Costco but you can shop online for them as well.

photo 2 Chestnuts are low-fat and low-salt, but there’s sugar to worry about.

So I was excited to see chestnuts that were pre-cooked and pre-peeled at Costco recently. The box contains four packets of about a cup each of chestnuts, or 200 calories with only 2 grams of fat and 2 mgs of sodium. You have to love that. One caveat though, they also contain 44 grams of sugar. Now some nutritionists say sugar in fruits is ok, it’s just processed sugar that causes trouble for our bodies. Others say all sugar is bad, so if you’re on a low-sugar diet, beware here. Continue reading “Thanksgiving menu: how about some chestnuts”

Bragg marinade: a dream product — no salt, no fat, low sugar

I’ve written before of my quest for sauces and marinades that have no salt, no fat and no sugar. Finding them is almost impossible, with some notable exceptions. One of those is Bragg Organic Hawaiian marinade which I buy at Whole Foods.

As you can see on the label here, it has no salt and no fat. At 4 grams, it’s sugar content is very low for a marinade as well. I would call it a dream product that makes me forget about my dietary restrictions.

Bragg organic Hawaiian marinade, a dream product of you're going low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar/
Bragg organic Hawaiian marinade, a dream product of you’re going low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar/
bragg nutrition Continue reading “Bragg marinade: a dream product — no salt, no fat, low sugar”

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