Lettuce recalls are everywhere this summer, take care

After my first stent was put in back in 2012, the hospital nutritionist I consulted with basically told me the only thing I could eat for lunch was lettuce.

This is what a Costco food court Caesar salad looks like when you unwrap it, a giant cup of fat-filled Caesar dressing and a mound of high-salt, high-fat grated cheese
Salads like this Costco one have been off my menu this summer because of recall after recall.

So lunch salads have pretty much become my daily routine. But not this summer. Lettuce recalls have been popping up at both places to eat out like McDonald’s and food retailers like Trader Joe’s and Kroger.  Continue reading “Lettuce recalls are everywhere this summer, take care”


A funky summer take on a cucumber salad

Cucumber salads are a favorite of mine, I’ve written about cucumber with tomatoes and fennel, among other combos. But recently I saw a new take on a cucumber salad from Bon Apettit, a cucumber and peach salad.

My grilled artichoke, along with corn, cucumber salad and tomato salad.
My cucumber salad, maybe next time I’ll add some peaches.

Fresh peaches are a wonderful summer treat, why not combine them with cucumbers for something different? “The combination of sweet, fragrant peaches and crunchy, hydrating cucumbers works weirdly well,” writes Andy Baraghani in Bon Apettit.  The recipe is inspired by street vendor offerings he saw in Mexico, he explains. So his recipe involves hot sauce and chiles. Continue reading “A funky summer take on a cucumber salad”

Tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions…gotta love it

Rather than the regular crumbled feta in the recipe, we used fat-free feta. I use this in a lot of dishes, but sparingly because it still contains a lot of salt, as do almost all cheeses.

July 4th was a cookout day for us, as it was for many, many Americans. In addition to grilling salmon and extra-lean beef burgers, we made a variety of cold salads that I thought I’d blog about so you can enjoy them too. The first involved tomatoes, cucumbers and red onions along with cheese. Here’s a link to the the original recipe my wife found.

A fun salad for July 4th, or any meal where you want fresh ingredients.
A fun salad for July 4th, or any meal where you want fresh ingredients.

I write often here about my love of tomatoes, so how could I not love this salad? We did make one major modification however to cut the fat in it. Continue reading “Tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions…gotta love it”

The Garden Bar in Portland — a great spot for a salad

The atmosphere was fresh and exceedingly clean with a bit of offbeat humor in a sign I really enjoyed.

Sometimes, you just want a great salad for lunch, one that isn’t loaded up with a lot of the unhealthy items most restaurants put on them so they can think they’re being creative and charge you more in the process.

Portland's Garden Bar, one of its five locations.
Portland’s Garden Bar, one of its five locations.

That’s why I prefer make-your-own salad bars, I can pick — and pay for — only the ingredients I want, avoiding any high in salt or fat. Knowing my salad bar preference, my daughter found a really good one for us to have lunch at during my recent Portland, Ore., trip — the Garden Bar.

The Garden Bar isn’t exactly make your own. Ingredients are under glass and a staffer makes the salad to your specifications. Or you can choose one fo their pre-planed salads. Both the people I was eating with went with pre-planned house salads, I made my own since the menu salads often have one or more items, like nuts, that I don’t eat. Continue reading “The Garden Bar in Portland — a great spot for a salad”

A festival of fennel recipes from Bon Appetit

Lamb aside, hats off to Bon Appetit for this roundup.

Fennel is one of the ethnic foods of my Italian-American youth that suddenly has gone mainstream Americana. I’ve written about my love of it here, so I was thrilled to see this Bon Appetit piece entitled 33 Recipes That Make Us Fall for Fennel All Over Again.

Plum-fennel salad is the first and has me intrigued already. Shrimp salad with fennel  and cucumber also looks good, just leave out the salt as I do with most recipes.

Fennel at Trader Joe's is a convenient package. Fennel is normlaly a fall product but many stores now stock it year-round.
Fennel at Trader Joe’s is a convenient package. Fennel is normlaly a fall product but many stores now stock it year-round.

Some of the recipes sound great but wouldn’t fit with my post-angioplasty diet, like the luscious-looking leg of lamb. I miss fatty, juicy lamb.

Leg of lamb was the Easter Sunday dinner I was cooking back in 1986 when my father died of a heart attack at my home. I’ve seldom cooked it since, and not at all in the past three years since my surgery.

Lamb aside, hats off to Bon Appetit for this roundup.


Let us discuss lettuce, is it all the same?

Lettuce is something I eat daily since my angioplasty in 2012. A salad is my normal lunch when working at home, or eating away from home.

My wonderful salmon salad.
My wonderful salmon salad, made with leftover salmon. A salad is my lunch daily these days.

I generally buy a spring mix of various lettuce types at Costco or elsewhere if I see the one–pound box on sale. I also buy baby romaine hearts at Costco which can be used in place fo taco shells for some reformulated Mexican meals.

Is all lettuce the same? Not exactly, says fitness expert Jillian Michaels, the former Biggest Loser trainer. The greener the leaves, the healthier, she says. Iceberg lettuce gets a bad rap from her, and a lot other nutrition experts. It was the only kind of lettuce I ate as a kid, I miss it these days.

Jillian suggests mixing the lettuce types you have for some variety. It’s all green stuff to me.


Standard Market Grill — some nice salad choices

The rest of the menu, once you move beyond the salad section, looks a bit high-salt, high-fat to me, unfortunately.

Restaurants attached to supermarkets are all the rage these days, but the food can be spotty depending on how much the supermarket really wants to invest in its prepared foods operations. Often too, anything made is loaded with too much salt and fat.

So I was a bit wary when a friend suggested with try the Standard Market Grill in Naperville. The grill is attached to the Standard Market next door, a typical new age supermarket with a lot of produce and prepared foods for busy shoppers to take and eat at home.

My Standard Market salad with salmon, a tasty lunch treat.
My Standard Market salad with salmon, a tasty lunch treat.

But I was pleasantly surprised by the salad offering sat the grill. I shied away from the dressings but forgot to say no cheese on my Mediterranean salad which included grilled salmon. Luckily the cheese was only crumbles of feta so I was able to stay away from most of it. I also asked for no croutons. Continue reading “Standard Market Grill — some nice salad choices”