Steak: here’s a lean alternative from New Zealand, via Trader Joe’s

When it comes to steak, another old favorite, I now only have fillet mignon because it is the leanest cut available on restaurant menus [4 ounces has 14.1 grams of fat]. But recently I found another alternative which I really enjoyed, a grass-fed Angus beef ribeye from New Zealand sold frozen at Trader Joe’s.

I’ve written about my quest for beef lean enough to fit into my low-fat diet. I now buy 96% lean ground beef [4.5 grams of at per four-ounce burger] for my occasional made-at-home hamburger and have given up eating hamburgers out [a Wendy’s single has 24.8 grams of fat], a sad turn of events since I once had them weekly.

Lean grass-fed ribeye from New Zealand, sold at Trader Joe's for $12.99 a pound.
Lean grass-fed ribeye from New Zealand, sold at Trader Joe’s for $12.99 a pound.

And when it comes to steak, another old favorite, I now only have fillet mignon because it is the leanest cut available on restaurant menus [4 ounces has 14.1 grams of fat]. But recently I found another alternative which I really enjoyed, a grass-fed Angus beef ribeye from New Zealand sold frozen at Trader Joe’s. You can see on the nutrition info for it here that four ounces has 10 grams of fat, less than a traditional fillet.And it had a good beef flavor. At that level, it’s leaner than a bison steak I had at Ted’s a while back, which had 14 grams of fat per four ounces. Continue reading “Steak: here’s a lean alternative from New Zealand, via Trader Joe’s”

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Morton’s gave me an anniversary gift — mini fillet mignon treats

It was nice to be sitting in the bar of an upscale steak house feeling like one of the normal people again. So thank you Morton’s. I’ve held a warm spot for you ever since my 23rd birthday when my grad school classmates took me to the original Morton’s in Chicago for a steak dinner.

I wrote recently about the one year anniversary of my angioplasty and about how my life has changed in the past 12 months. Although it wasn’t intended as such, the Morton’s steak house chain gave me a gift for that anniversary. It promoted Aug. 13 as national fillet mignon day and offered mini-fillets for $1.

I didn’t expect much for $1, but I’m not supposed to eat more than six ounces of red meat a week anyway, so I was just happy to be able to walk into a restaurant at lunchtime and order something beside salad. The special was only available at the bar, so that’s where I sat. I also spent $4.75 for a diet Coke. I asked the bartender how much the minis weighed and she just shrugged and so I ordered four to start, thinking they might be an ounce each.

A plate of three mini-fillets at Morton's, I ate seven in all on Aug. 13.
A plate of three mini-fillets at Morton’s, I ate seven in all on Aug. 13.

You judge from the photo, each came on a sliced piece of Italian bread and was basically two pieces of steak, done rare as I requested. I left most of the bread since white bread is off my diet these days but indulged myself with two pieces of it. Continue reading “Morton’s gave me an anniversary gift — mini fillet mignon treats”

What’s life like six months after angioplasty?

Now, acting gives me the escape from everyday trials and troubles that food once did. As I write this, I’m preparing to be in my first student-made film and a play I wrote myself.

I woke up early this morning fighting a mild cold with a bit of an upset stomach. Still in all, I woke up glad to be alive. Six months ago today, I was being wheeled into a surgery to save my life. Doctors had discovered one of the arteries around my heart was 80 percent blocked, meaning blood was barely getting through.

An angioplasty took place, a procedure in which doctors used a small balloon to clear the blockage and then inserted a stent, a wire mesh tube, to keep my artery open. It’s fair to say that changed my life, giving me years I likely would not have otherwise had, hopefully.

Me before my surgery
Me before my surgery
Me today, 29 pounds lighter
Me today, 29 pounds lighter

It also changed my food life more radically than anything else that has ever happened to me. My diet now bears little resemblance to what it had been. Gone are the daily chocolate candies, snack cakes and diet sodas that once were staples for me. Gone are burgers from McDonald’s, Wendy’s and elsewhere. My lunch almost every day now is a salad with oil and vinegar which I carry myself since most places don’t have it as an option. Dinners involve more vegetables and also more ground turkey, more fish and an occasionally very lean steak or 96 percent lean ground beef burger. White bread, rice and anything made with white flour are out.

The result? When I checked into a hospital Aug. 13, 2012, I weighed 219. This morning, six months later, I weigh 190, so I’ve lost 29 pounds in six months by eliminating everything I once loved from my diet.

I am constantly hungry these days, my appetite has not receded as predicted by some know-it-alls. And my taste for chocolate has not disappeared either. Indeed, yesterday I had the first real chocolate chip cookie I’ve eaten in months and it was amazingly good. This morning, to celebrate my anniversary, I ate the last two Drake’s Yodels I bought on eBay after parent company Hostess went into bankruptcy at the end of last year. And they tasted as wonderful as I remembered.

But like a diabetic who can no longer eat sugar, I can no longer eat my favorite foods if I want to continue living. So I am slowly finding substitute dishes, remaking old recipes with new healthier ingredients, and adapting. In six months, I have established a fairly decent home cooking routine that takes care of most dinners. Lunches out are salads, as I mentioned, boring but not harmful. And my wife and I are slowly assembling a new list of restaurants that have healthy dishes or that can accommodate me when I call ahead and say I want dishes with no salt, no fat and no sugar involved.

I’ve also thrown myself into a wonderful new avocation, acting. I’ve wanted to try acting since I was a kid but was too shy in those days. Luckily, my wife and I starting an acting class before my surgery and I fell in love with the whole process. Now, acting gives me the escape from everyday trials and troubles that food once did. As I write this, I’m preparing to be in my first student-made film and a play I wrote myself.

So if you’ve faced massive life changes like I have and had to leave your safety blanket of old foods behind, take some heart from my experiences. Rebuild and find new ways to enjoy the life you have now. I’m here to help.
John

Can You Eat At Restaurants When on a Restricted Diet?

That AHA page is a good one for anyone on a restricted diet, not just heart patients, to bookmark.

I like to frequent restaurants and fast food outlets. I grew up in an era when eating out was a special treat so being able to do it whenever I want gives me a sense of having reached a secure financial state.

But given my recent artery and heart problems, I have cut back dramatically on my eating out. Where once it was common for my wife and I to have three meals out each weekend, we now seldom eat out more than once a weekend, cooking most of our own food to be sure we are getting low to no salt, sugar and fat in our dishes.

If you’re wondering what to order when you find yourself eating out, check out the American Heart Association website page called Tips By Cuisine which tackles the issue of eating out for people with heart problems and coronary disease.

A recent steakhouse order for me, no sauces, no butter and no sour cream but a great little filet mignon, a lean cut of meat.
A recent steakhouse order for me, no sauces, no butter and no sour cream but a great little filet mignon, a lean cut of meat.

A caveat, however, I think some of the language on the page is a bit PR-ish. Continue reading “Can You Eat At Restaurants When on a Restricted Diet?”