Lobster — you can eat it on a restricted diet, AHA says

Lobster is one of the wonderful delicacies of our age. Yet the thinking once was that it contained high levels of cholesterol so it was not recommended for someone with heart disease who is watching cholesterol levels.

Three lobster tails that started as four ounces each; meat weight -- 2.5 ounces.
Three lobster tails that started as four ounces each; meat weight — 2.5 ounces.

Thankfully, that thinking has changed. Even the nutrition nazi I saw after my angioplasty in 2012 tells me it’s ok to eat shellfish like lobster. The American Heart Association website seems to agree. Continue reading “Lobster — you can eat it on a restricted diet, AHA says”

Can you enjoy vacationing on a restricted diet?

I’m about to take the dream trip of my life — journeying to my ancestral homelands in Italy with my wife and six cousins. It’s exciting but all I can focus on right now is how will I be able to keep to my restricted diet while there? How much gelato, pasta, cheeses and other treats will I have to pas up while everyone around me eats to their heart’s content?

We'll be visiting Amalfi and Salerno, towns my grandmothers were born in, among other places on this trip.
We’ll be visiting Amalfi and Salerno, towns my grandmothers were born in, among other places on this trip.

In the 10 months since my angioplasty, I have rebuilt what I eat and become relatively adept at making meals at home, plus at searching out the usually one thing on any restaurant menu I can safely eat (like buckwheat pancakes without butter at a pancake house today). How do I transition to eating every meal out every day in a foreign country?

See how I do, or don’t do, here. I’ll be blogging whenever I can get Web access.

What can I eat Super Bowl Sunday on a restricted diet?

Super Bowl Sunday is upon us, an annual ritual that has become more about eating and TV commercials than the game itself. All over this country, people will be gathering for Super Bowl parties and that will mean mountains of food — ribs, burgers, beer — and a cavalcade of other foods that those of us on no-salt, no-fat diets can’t eat any longer.

So does that mean fasting on the big day, much as you do the rest of the year? I have held a Super Bowl party at my house for many years, but will not be having it this year. That’s because I’m changing the menu drastically and people accustomed to my old ways would not understand.

But it doesn’t mean I won’t be eating. I’ve searched out alternatives that will still allow me to eat with the game and have some of the old food fun I was once accustomed to. Let’s start with some basics, like salsa. Salsa has become as American as apple pie, but it’s usually loaded with salt, so it’s generally a no-no now. But I’ve found low-salt salsa at both Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. Combine that with salt-free, tortilla chips from Trade Joe’s. Fourteen unsalted chips have seven grams of fat. I also have salt-free potato chips with nine grams of fat per ounce and a low-fat, low-salt popcorn from Trader Joe’s with three grams of fat per ounce.

My low-salt, low-fat Super Bowl treats.
My low-salt, low-fat Super Bowl treats.

Kroger has a fat-free cookie that has only 25 mg of salt per cookie, another treat I’ll have tomorrow.

And then for the main course, I’m making my own whole wheat manicotti filled with low-fat ricotta and covered with my low-salt homemade tomato sauce. My sauce has less than 200 mgs of salt per quart. Since I’ll likely use less than a pint on my manicotti, I’ll have only about 100 mgs of salt from it.

So I’m ready for kickoff and you can be too, just search out the low-salt, low-fat treats out there.

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

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!

Do All Whole-Wheat Pastas Taste Like Paste? No, Try Barilla Plus

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”

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