Eating fresh means knowing when to dump old food too

Heart-healthy approaches to eating usually emphasize eating a lot of fresh, rather than processed, foods. That means your refrigerator should be stocked with fresh produce, fresh fish and fresh chicken, depending on your tastes.

Start with white meat chicken. Cut it into bite-sized cubes.
How long can you keep chicken in your refrigerator, even after you’ve frozen it? Check this list.

But how long can you keep those before they start to spoil, even in the refrigerator?

WebMD has a handy illustrated guide, although the first thing that struck me about it is that we shouldn’t be eating many fo the items covered here — like deli meats, Mayonnaise, butter, most high-fat ground beef and cheese. Continue reading “Eating fresh means knowing when to dump old food too”

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Restaurant review: Five & Dime had bar food, but a surprise or two

Rooftop bars and restaurants are having their moment in Chicago these days, with people willing to pay up for expensive drinks that come with views of the city skyline.

My Chicago suburb has its own entry in the rooftop derby, albeit not one that looks at the skyline of Chicago. Five and Dime is mostly outdoor dining above two other restaurant below it. My brother-in-law wanted to go there for his recent birthday dinner.

Looking at the menu on-line, something I do whenever I go out to eat so I can search ahead for any low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar offerings, the only thing I saw that might possibly be ok for me was a salmon grilled with charred lemon, farro & quinoa, tomato, basil, olive oil for $23.75.

My poke at Five and Dime
My poke at Five and Dime

Grilled salmon tends to be my go-to at most upscale restaurants and I usually ask for it without whatever sauce or butter mixture they try to put on it.

But it gets tiring to have salmon every time I eat out, so I decided to try something else, a poke bowl with Ahi tuna sashimi over steamed rice, sesame seaweed salad, vegetables, spicy Kewpie aioli, tobiko & a big tempura shrimp for $16.75.

Poke bowls are another culinary hotspot these days, but I’ve read they can be unhealthy, primarily because many are loaded with white rice which I’ve been told by nutritionists not to eat. Sushi rice, often used in poke bowls, also contains more sugar, another reason to avoid it.

But the thought of some fresh ahi tuna applied to me, so I tried the Poke at Five and Dime. I was pleasantly surprised, first because there was not a massive amount of rice in it.

The tuna was fresh and tasty, I had the aioli brought on the side and didn’t eat it after tasting how spicy, and likely salty, it was. The seaweed was tasty, although I worry if there was salt on it. The pieces of cucumber were fresh and unadorned which was fine with me.

Did it fill me up? No, not really, but it was good. The birthday boy, meanwhile, got a big slab of ribs while my wife went with barbecued brisket. Neither healthy but they smelled and looked so good.

My wife’s brisket and fries.

Vacation eating — joy or fear?

I’m trying to walk a middle ground, which has meant ordering seafood as often as possible and minimizing my pasta, pastry and gelato intake.

Maintaining a heart-healthy diet takes a lot of inner discipline given that we’re surrounded by so many food options that are high in salt, saturated fat and sugar. The task becomes even more daunting when you’re on vacation, especially in a foreign country with even more foods you love.

I’ve been vacationing in Italy, my ancestral homeland, with a large group of cousins. That means meals here have been wonderful family affairs with so many food options its difficult to count them all. But most involve salt and sugar. What to do, fear everything I eat or put diet concerns aside for the duration of the trip?

Pasta portions are smaller in Italy, thankfully.

I’m trying to walk a middle ground, which has meant ordering seafood as often as possible and minimizing my pasta, pastry and gelato intake. Southern Italy is a wonderful place to eat seafoods. I had a piece of amberjack in a light tomato sauce last night, for example, something I rarely see on US menus.

I’ve also had oysters and clams, albeit with pasta. Pasta portion sizes are smaller here than in the US, which is a good thing since we tend to fill plates to overflowing at home.

Gelato, of course, is the hardest goodie to pass up, especially when everyone else keeps pushing for it. And with that, I don’t do small portions well.

Grilled vegetables are on every menu in Italy, a wonderful, simply side dish .

I’m assuming I’ll gain weight on this trip, we’ll see how much when I’m back in the States and have a scale again. Then it will also be back to strictly watching the salt, fat and sugar,

12 days of no-salt, no-sugar Christmas recipes — try a simple scallop dish

We started our 12 days of no-salt, no-fat, no-sugar Christmas meals with a great new chicken recipe I tried recently that includes a strawberry/pineapple salsa. So let’s follow that tonight with a simple but delicious scallop dish.

low salt low fat recipes
My finished scallops, seared brown and delicious.

Scallops can be made simply on the stove-top in hot oil. Add flavorings that you enjoy to spice them up, or have them plain as I do and enjoy the natural flavor.

I’d pair the scallop with a fun side-dish like the roasted carrots with red onions, fennel and mint that I wrote about as a possible thanksgiving side-dish option. It’s a bit more complex and so would be a nice accompaniment to the simple scallops. One simple, one complex makes a nice combination for your taste buds.

 

 

New guidelines for safer fish consumption, will these be the last?

The Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency recently put out new guidelines regarding fish consumption that includes this handy infographic showing which fish have less mercury (that’s the interpretation of healthy, or best choices, here).

fish-consumption

The chart is aimed especially at pregnant women and parents but we all should be aware of mercury content in the fish we eat. The FDA and others position fish as a healthier alternative to fatty meats, but mercury content is the wild card here that throws a wrench into all of that. Continue reading “New guidelines for safer fish consumption, will these be the last?”

A fun seafood restaurant in food-heavy Highwood, Il.

The atmosphere is very casual and the staff was very helpful and friendly. And the menu had several other offerings I hope to try on future visits.

Highwood, a far northern Chicago suburb, has been known traditionally for its Italian restaurants but the foodscape there is becoming much more diverse these days. Lucky Fish Deli is just one example, a fun seafood shack that can make you feel like you’re in some sleepy East coast fishing town. Indeed, the decor was inspired by a trip the owner took to Maine, according to one story I’ve read.

Grilled octopus and asparagus at Lucky Fish, loved it.
Grilled octopus and asparagus at Lucky Fish, loved it.

The seafood was excellent. I went with a half-dozen oysters, which came out clean, fresh and cold as they should be served. I think the waiter said they were bluepoints. I was a little surprised there weren’t several varieties to choose from, but was very happy with what was available. Continue reading “A fun seafood restaurant in food-heavy Highwood, Il.”

Low-sodium Thanskgiving hacks from across the Web

So don’t despair about enjoying your Thanksgiving meal, you can get the salt out.

Finding low-sodium options for Thanksgiving has been a passion of mine since my angioplasty in 2012. I’ve written about being sure to buy a low-sodium turkey, making low-sodium stuffing and low-sodium sides.

Time to eat all those turkeys! Happy Thanksgiving!
Time to eat all those turkeys! Buy a fresh one to cut salt that comes in self-basting, frozen ones. Happy Thanksgiving!

But the online world is amazing for the amount of information out there. I did a search for low-sodium thanksgiving turkey, for example, and found some other greats sites worth checking out as you plan your Thanksgiving.

Hackingsalt.com has what it terms a complete guide to a low-sodium Thanksgiving that includes a low-sodium apricot mustard glazed turkey and many sides.

Sodiumgirl.com, a site I love, has a guide to low-sodium turkey that includes the tip I’ve used of injecting salt-free broth into a turkey to juice it up.

And the dailydishus.com has 50 low-sodium Thanksgiving dishes to pick from.

So don’t despair about enjoying your Thanksgiving meal, you can get the salt out.