Stunning tomato recipes — maybe not stunning but worth checking

As a former online news editor, I’m always amused at the subject lines publications use in their emails to increase their open rates. I recently got one from Cooking Light, for example, that had the subject line “Stunning Tomato Recipes.”

MY cherry tomatoes on a baking sheet, ready for roasting
Given my love of tomatoes how could I not open an emailed with the subject line Stunning Tomato Recipes?

How could I not open that, given my professed love of tomatoes? Needless to say, I didn’t really find the recipes stunning. And several likely have more fat, salt or sugar than I want to eat, but there were some I may try and recommend to others to check out.

The tomato and cucumber salad looks tasty and I was intrigued by what “sweet peach dressing” was. Clicking through to that recipe, I founds it included sugar, which I would leave out. The peach should be sweet and vinegar fools our taste buds into tasting sweet, so the sugar is not needed. I’d also leave off the salt in the recipe for the salad itself. Continue reading “Stunning tomato recipes — maybe not stunning but worth checking”

Another tasty-looking tomato sauce recipe from Recipe Rehab

Recipe Rehab is a TV show I have recommended here. It takes grossly unhealthy recipes from American families and asks tow chefs to reimagine them in healthier ways.

Recipe Rehab's Chef Richard and show host Evette Rios watching him make this tomato sauce.
Recipe Rehab’s Chef Richard and show host Evette Rios watching him make this tomato sauce.

It doesn’t always get enough salt out, in my opinion, but at least it tries. And in the process hopefully it gets viewers to think about eating healthier foods. I’ve blogged about a roasted cherry tomato sauce (we call it gravy) recipe I tried from the show. Recently, I saw another tomato sauce recipe there I plan to try as well. Continue reading “Another tasty-looking tomato sauce recipe from Recipe Rehab”

Roasted cherry tomato sauce – a great quick gravy for any Italian dish

Tomato sauce, called gravy in my Italian-American family, is something I simply do not want to live without. I now make it with only the lowest salt-content tomatoes available and have even found low-salt tomato paste. Cooking it, or rather simmering it down to its rich, luscious thickness, is an all-day process, which means when I make it I make a lot and freeze it for future use.

But I recently saw a quick version of tomato sauce on Recipe Rehab and decided to give it a try. I couldn’t get the recipe used on the show because it’s from the shows first season and those recipe aren’t on its website. But I found several variations of the same recipe for using cherry tomatoes and roasting them in an oven to start the process.

MYy cherry tomatoes on a  baking sheet, ready for roasting
My cherry tomatoes on a baking sheet, ready for roasting

I went with a version of this one, using real garlic and real onions instead of powder and leaving out the salt entirely. You cut the cherry tomatoes in half and roast them in the oven. Rather than add the oil and spices on top as the recipe suggests, I mix them all in a bowl to coat the tomatoes first. Continue reading “Roasted cherry tomato sauce – a great quick gravy for any Italian dish”

Watermelon salsa? I’m going to give it a try

Salsa, at least most store-bought salsa, is loaded with salt. I have found several low-salt varieties I’be blogged about here. But I find most turn up the heat, pepper-wise, to compensate for less salt and I’m not a big hot pepper fan.

Watermelon salsa, check the Food Network link in my post for the recipe.
Watermelon salsa, check the Food Network link in my post for the recipe.

So I was intrigued when I saw this Food Network recipe for watermelon salsa. I love watermelon and eat it often in the summer, and the winter when I can find good ones. So I’m planning to try this recipe, substituting real garlic for the garlic salt to cut the salt content. Continue reading “Watermelon salsa? I’m going to give it a try”

A low-salt brown gravy mix? Taste was ok, but salt is still high

I was recently at Food 4 Less looking for a low-fat, low-salt brown gravy to have with some left-over turkey we had brought home from my in-laws house on Easter. Most prepared gravies are very high in salt, even the fat-free varieties. I have found a salt-free gravy online but didn’t have time to order it in this instance.

So after comparing all the prepared gravies and finding them all too high in salt and fat, I looked at the mixes section. Gravy mixes normally are loaded with salt too but I was surprised to find a reduced salt offering in the Kroeger store brand.

Kroger's reduced sodium brown gravy had less salt than prepared gravies but the taste was just ok, it still tasted salty to me.
Kroger’s reduced sodium brown gravy had less salt than prepared gravies but the taste was just ok, it still tasted salty to me.
Kroger reduced sodium gravy nutrition info
Kroger reduced sodium gravy nutrition info










I bought two packets and mixed the contents with water to make my turkey gravy. Each quarter cup, prepared had 210 mgs of sodium, so if you use half a cup, you’re at 410 mgs, about a fifth of my daily salt limit.That’s a significant amount for a condiment. The taste was ok, nothing to write home about.

Would I buy this again? I suppose, but not with a lot of enthusiasm.

Finding a low-salt salsa — Hola, they are out there

Salt, and too much salt, has found its way into almost everything we eat today, even places you wouldn’t expect it. Salsa, that catchall term for generally peppery Mexican sauce, can have tons of salt, for example.

One brand you can buy at Costco, for example, has 100 mgs of salt in every two tablespoons. Think about how much salsa you can down with chips, which are also high in salt, and you see the salt building up in your system.

Places like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods do have lower-salt salsa, though. I’ve found one brand, Green Mountain Gringo, which has 75 mgs of sodium in every two tablespoons. Another, Trader Joe’s Fire Roasted Tomato Salsa, has only 30 mgs in two tablespoons, however. It also says no salt added on its label.

Desert Pepper low-sodium salsa
Desert Pepper low-sodium salsa
Desert Pepper salsa nutrition information
Desert Pepper salsa nutrition information

My latest find is the Desert Pepper brand’s peach mango salsa with only 25 mgs of salt per two tablespoons. The peach and mango combination give it a nice flavor as well, slightly different from your run-of-the-mill salsa. At $4.99 a jar at Whole Foods, it is more expensive than salty salsa, but if you’re watching your salt, that’s the price you need to pay.

Merry Christmas! Here’s some low-salt, low-sugar dinner recipes

The wonderful smell of tomato sauce cooking on the stove is wafting through my house as I write this post. What better special treat to make for Christmas Day than an Italian pasta dish with whole wheat or multi-grain pasta and low- or no-fat cheese?

Baked mostaccoli, or do you call them ziti?
Baked mostaccoli, or do you call them ziti?

For a side dish, make turkey meatballs from extra lean or lean ground turkey, depending on your preference. My 12 Days of no sugar, no salt, no fat Christmas recipes includes two choices for Christmas day, mini-manicotta with low-fat ricotta cheese in them, or baked mostaccoli using the same low-fat cheese.

Either will wow your family and friends, and in my opinion can be one of the few meals you make that will truly fill you up. So enjoy, and check my other recipe for this holiday season.

Merry Christmas to all my readers, thank you for stopping by!

Recipe: Low-salt, low-fat baked mostaccioli

I wrote recently about my low-salt, low-fat baked mossaccioli. Here’s a step-by-step guide to making it.

Start with wheat pasta and low-fat ricotta cheese, about 13 ounces of each (these once came in 16-ounce packages but food makers have cut package sizes rather than raise prices in recent tough economic times).psta building1low fat ricotta

Combine the ricotta with egg white or egg white substitutes equal to one egg to thin it a bit, making it easier to spread. Continue reading “Recipe: Low-salt, low-fat baked mostaccioli”

Low-salt, low-fat baked mostaccioli: gotta love it

Most of the Italian-American classics I grew up with, lasagna, manicotti, stuffed shells, are off-limits to me now because of the fat in the cheese used, not to mention the high salt content of most cheese as well. I also can only eat whole wheat pasta now to get away from simple carbs that could impact my pre-diabetic sugar levels.

I have found whole wheat pastas I enjoy and I have begun finding low-fat and even no-fat Italian cheese. The cheeses still contains high salt levels, though, so I use them sparingly and as a treat.

One recent treat I made was whole wheat mostaccioli baked with low-fat ricotta cheese covered with my low-salt homemade tomato sauce (we call it gravy in my family).

Baked mostaccioli, gotta love it, and it's low salt and low fat.
Baked mostaccioli, gotta love it, and it’s low salt and low fat.
Continue reading “Low-salt, low-fat baked mostaccioli: gotta love it”

INdustri Café – sad to see it go

Since I first wrote this post, Industri has unfortunately closed for business. I will miss it on my trips to Milwaukee. The chef-owner will hopefully pop up in a new place there soon, let me know if you hear any news about him:


I‘ve written more than once about how difficult it is to eat at restaurants when you’re on a restricted diet. Tell a waiter you need no salt and no fat in your dish, and you get bare plates with plain veggies and a small piece of meat, as I have.

So I didn’t have high hopes when trying a new place during a weekend visit to Milwaukee recently. But the INdustrie Café was a pleasant and wonderfully tasty surprise for me.

A lean flank steak, with a pepper crust rather than a salt one, amazing.
A lean flank steak, with a pepper crust rather than a salt one, amazing.

When I told the waiter of my restrictions, he spoke with the chef who recreated two of the place’s small plate specials without salt or butter. A lean steak came with a pepper crust instead of salt one, a major change that would have sent most chefs running out the back doors. Another dish came with a sauce made with an olive oil base rather than a butter base, amazing!!!! Continue reading “INdustri Café – sad to see it go”

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