27 Live goes Greek — Oompa!

27 Live is an Evanston music and events venue whose restaurant has had several lives in the recent past. I wrote about it last March when my wife and I enjoyed a meal there. It went through some menu changes (and some neighbors told me the food went a bit downhill).

My octopus with artichoke.
My octopus with artichoke.

But now it’s reopened its restaurant companion as a Greek place, Kefi Greek Tavern. We went to check it out and found some dishes we enjoyed.

The menu offers both small plate and large plate choices. We were in a bit fo a rush because we had play tickets the night we went, so our server advised us not to order some large plate options we wanted because they took 20 minutes to cook. So we instead made our meal out fo small plate offerings and we happy with the choices we made. Continue reading “27 Live goes Greek — Oompa!”

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Salt-free beets, a good choice for your do-it-yourself salad

Salad has become my regular lunch choice since my 2012 angioplasty. When I was still working in Chicago Loop, I would frequent a local salad bar. I had a choice of three near my last downtown office.

Now that I work at home, I buy large boxes of spring greens at Costco and make my own salad at least three days a week, sometimes more. So I’m always looking for low-fat, low-sodium, low-sugar items to add. I regularly put on slices of portobello mushrooms, tomatoes, reduced-sodium olives and fat-free feta cheese. And I’ve gotten in the habit of cooking more protein than we’ll eat at a given dinner so I have some leftover salmon, chicken or ground turkey to add to my salad the next day as well.

Look for no-salt-added beets to add to your salads.
Look for no-salt-added beets to add to your salads.

One item I routinely added at salad bars was slices of beets. But when I went to buy them at a supermarket I found salt hidden inside, 250 mgs per serving to be exact. I didn’t want all that salt from something so innocuous, so I’d given up on beets until recently. That’s when I found a sodium-free beets alternative at my local supermarket. Continue reading “Salt-free beets, a good choice for your do-it-yourself salad”

Shrimp with cucumbers and fennel, try it, you’ll like it

Fennel is one of my favorite snacks and side dishes and it’s working its way into mainstream cooking more and more these days. It’s like a lot of Italian dishes from my youth that once were ethnic-only foods and now are being more widely recognized (can you say lentil soup or squid, two other similar examples).

A wonderfully simple shrimp, fennel and cucumber salad
A wonderfully simple shrimp, fennel and cucumber salad

Bon Appetit magazine recently featured this recipe for a shrimp salad with fennel and cucumber. It would make a great summer starter for a cookout with friends and family. Rather than cooking the shrimp as recommended in the recipe, you could grill them. Here’s a garlic and herb grilled shrimp recipe from Food.com. I would likely leave out the sugar on that one, as I would leave out the salt on the salad recipe. Continue reading “Shrimp with cucumbers and fennel, try it, you’ll like it”

Summer salads and edamame pasta — a light, fun meal

Cooking seems all the harder in the summer when the world heats up around you (if you live in a northern climate as I do. If you live in the South, it’s always hot, so this post is for you year-round). So rather than do a lot of summer cooking, how about a night or two of cold salads, with some edamame pasta thrown in as the cooked center of your plate?

Some fun, and easy-to-make summer salads. And some edamame pasta.
Some fun, and easy-to-make summer salads. And some edamame pasta.

I recently put this assortment together. These actually were all left-over from a gathering we had at our house to start work on our new play, Boys in the Basement, which you can read about on my theater site. Please do, and please contribute to make the play possible and then come to see us perform in November. Continue reading “Summer salads and edamame pasta — a light, fun meal”

July 4th — how not to make it your annual day of fasting

Grilling great July 4th meals when we’re home has become no problem for me on my low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar diet. I simply turn to fish, like wonderfully delicious salmon, or white meat chicken with rosemary and other spices.

A July 4th salad with romaine lettuce, tomatoes, low-salt olives, fat-free feta, mushrooms and salmon.
A July 4th salad with romaine lettuce, tomatoes, low-salt olives, fat-free feta, mushrooms and salmon.

But eating away from home on the 4th has become an annual day of fasting for me because other people make the traditional 4th items of hot dogs, hamburgers, ribs and other delicious foods I can no longer eat. I wrote Fourth of July: why I went hungry while the country celebrated in 2013 after a particularly frustrating day at a 4th of July party where there was absolutely zero things I could eat. Continue reading “July 4th — how not to make it your annual day of fasting”

Grilling season is here — how about grilled salad?

Grilling is a summer favorite. I’ve done grilled vegetables like zucchini for parties and for our consumption over the years. But I never thought of grilling a salad until I saw this in Bon Apetit recently.

Grilled vegetables
Grilled vegetables can work well on a salad too, try them.

I would modify this recipe. Take out the salt, of course. I’d also eliminate the avocado and the pistachios because I don’t like either. If you do, keep them. I’d substitute in some grilled asparagus and grilled portobello mushrooms along with grilled zucchini too.

I like the idea of grilling tomato, I’ve done that for shish kabobs with white meat chicken, using cherry tomatoes which hold up better on the heat than if you tried to slice a regular tomato and use that. Continue reading “Grilling season is here — how about grilled salad?”

Salmon salad for a lazy Saturday dinner treat

The 12 days of Christmas are speeding by and, at this point, you likely have had your fill of big meals. So why not something light for dinner tonight, like a salad topped with something left over from one of your earlier feasts?

My wonderful salmon salad.
My wonderful salmon salad.

My Saturday suggestion is a salmon salad, a big bowl of spring greens and tomatoes topped off by a piece of salmon that may be left over from your Christmas Eve fish feast. A tilapia fillet also would work as a topping as would chunks of leftover crab or lobster you also may have eaten Christmas Eve.

Today is a day to relax, enjoy the blessing in your life, and have a low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar diner treat.

John

Finding low-sodium, low-fat food at Mall of America

Mall of America outside Minneapolis is truly the mother-ship of all enclosed shopping malls in the United States. Large enough to have an amusement park inside it, it dwarfs any similar structures.

Crave...most of the orders coming up were burgers.
The open kitchen at Crave…most of the orders coming up were burgers.

But finding low-sodium, low-fat lunch foods there is a daunting task, much as was finding healthy foods at Orlando’s Universal or Disney World.

We bypassed the usual fast food options and high-salt locations like Bubba Gump Shrimp to try a restaurant that billed itself as “fresh, vibrant American.”

Crave talks the talk about fresh but getting what I wanted required some rearranging of menu items, and an extra charge. I had hoped to get a salmon salad much like one I recently made at home. Continue reading “Finding low-sodium, low-fat food at Mall of America”

Safeco Field offers salmon salad…gotta love it

Seattle is the salmon capital of the continental United States (Alaska does a pretty good job of it as well) but even knowing Seattle’s salmon reputation, I wasn’t prepared to find salmon sold at the Seattle Mariners’ ballpark, Safeco Field.

Salmon salad was a great surprise at Safeco Field in Seattle. Bring your own oil and vinegar packets so you can spike the high-fat dressing.
Salmon salad was a great surprise at Safeco Field in Seattle. Bring your own oil and vinegar packets so you can spike the high-fat dressing.

But that’s where I found it, specifically atop a salad. Ballparks are where we eat hot dogs, but hot dogs have been off my menu since my angioplasty two years ago. That makes going to a baseball game much less fun for me than it once was. I usually can scrounge up a chicken breast sandwich now. Continue reading “Safeco Field offers salmon salad…gotta love it”

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