Friday, February 28, 2014

170 Reasons to Season with McCormick or get Sloppy with Safeway

Cleaning out the pantry continues to open my eyes. Things I never looked at, including this. I'm going to have to do some thorough investigating across many products but I am wondering if this is a good example of why buy the name brand over private label. I buy about a 50/50 split between the name brand and the house brand but this has me rethinking everything. Does the house brand always contain more salt? Why does Safeway include Monosodium Glutamate? To be fair, McCormick does have 1 more (g) of sugar than Safeway but if I ever bought this again, the choice is obvious.

I encourage you to do your own side-by-side comparison on products you buy and see for yourself.

With many markets moving in to the nutrition and wellness category, to make the grocery a more wholistic health destination, adding in-store dietitians, offering shelf tags for easier decisions, then slipping potential dangers in to the fine print and making recipes that tip the scale in the wrong direction...well, that's just sloppy strategy.

Nutrition Facts: Safeway 450mg of Sodium/McCormick 280mg

packaging facts nutrition label

Nutrition Labels are due for an overhaul and that's on the horizon but compliance may take up to two years. In the meantime, check the facts for yourself and choose wisely. These are two good examples of why. There are lots of brands that can go through this side-by-side salt comparison.

Who will you choose?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Get Some Delicious-In Season Asparagus

Just looking at this image of asparagus will make you feel good. There are many health benefits to eating asparagus, so while it's in season you can enjoy an extra boost of fresh and healthy. It's a rich source of fiber, protein, vitamins (A,K,B) as well as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Asparagus is also  a great source of potassium. One spear is 32mg. A half a cup of cooked, boiled asparagus is 224 mg. If you are not eating it the same day you purchase it, store it in the refrigerator with the tips wrapped in a wet paper towel. I also stand it up in a small amount of water. Eat fresh asparagus within 48 hours for the most benefit. If you want to eat just a small amount add the spears as a salad topping.

NOTE: This is not a food to eat if you have high potassium levels.

cooked and plated asparagus stalks
Crisp salad with grilled chicken, warm mushrooms and cooked asparagus

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Biggie Burger Meatloaf

Meatloaf slim slice

I shouldn't have but I did. I made a meatloaf that was not low in salt. The ketchup is loaded with salt, so this will be my last one. Darn. It was so good. I shared this meal with another who said, this is the best meatloaf I've ever eaten. The great part about this meatloaf is that for the first time I made it in to a big pattie and cooked it in a 9" glass pan. This switch from a deep meatloaf pan made this a quicker cook and a crispier crust. The long slice made for a nice slim serving and it's about an inch thick.

Yesterday I did find a site called that has a recipe for no tomato ketchup made with red peppers that I am going to try. She also has a low salt recipe for tomato ketchup that I'm trying to get. Her book, Sodiumgirls Limitless Low-Sodium Cookbook, How to Lose the Salt and Eat the Foods You Love is available on her site.

Biggie Burger Meatloaf

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

How much Salt is in a Portion of Pasta with Sauce?

Pasta sauce from a jar is high in salt. As I said, I have a few things to finish in the pantry before going totally to homemade. In the past, these ingredients were handy go-to's for lots of things. Having evaluated the salt content, its got to go. I did water it down to lessen the 1/2 cup, 630mg of salt but since I added meat to the sauce, it bumped it up some. This is a portion of spaghetti measured out. All and all, it is enough for a serving, but as you can see, if you are eating a big plate of spaghetti, you are consuming huge amounts of salt. I think I've covered this subject of salt enough to help you change the way you eat. I wish I had started paying attention earlier, but it just wasn't on my radar. I'm grateful for the new knowledge I've acquired to eat more healthfully and more conscious of nutrition label information. The thing is, once you know, you know. Since my awakening, every day its been easier and easier to reduce the salt and feel better. Yesterday, one of my friends said this about canned soup. Her remark sums up my salt report perfectly. Thank you Susan.

"Haven't had Campbell's soups in decades and the last time I did it tasted like I was swallowing the ocean." 

A very comprehensive list of sodium content is here for your review and consideration. I hope you'll take a look. You'll be glad you did.

cup of spaghetti measured with sauce

one cup of cooked spaghetti and one half cup of sauce

For another opinion on the subject, I have included this link.
Why? Because your body does need a certain amount of salt to function.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Surprising and Hidden Sources of Salt

Since keeping track of salt in foods, every day continues to bring surprises. Today I learned that one stalk of celery has 35mg of sodium. Whoa! By contrast, a one cup serving of red peppers comes in at 4mg. As time consuming as it is, I know that gathering this info will make it easier to make good choices about what I eat and what I don't.

There are many ways to gather the info but it's in the measuring of your own servings that really determine how much salt is in your food. This salad is yummy but when I started adding it all up, I found it hard to figure out how much sodium may be in it.

I'm still clearing out some of the foods that have already been purchased like canned black beans, so the best I could do was drain and rinse these.

But the real biggie is the chicken. Sources tally sodium content based on portion size and cooking method. I am still not sure how much is in the chicken portion. Why? I don't know if it is salt water plumped, or enhanced with chicken broth. That's my first priority next time I go shopping. This practice of plumping chicken has been going on since 1970, and although I think the chicken I buy is not plumped, I need to make sure. And who knows if they even tell the truth.

This salad contains romaine lettuce, fresh cucumber, red peppers, celery, black beans, shredded chicken and is topped with one spoonful of Greek yogurt, one spoonful of pico de gallo from the deli case and black pepper. As best as I can figure, the bottom line is between 500-600 mg of sodium. Upon reflection, too much for a medium salad. My intake for the day so far was about 700 under the 1500 limit. Then I got hungry later in the evening and had a piece and a half of sourdough toast and caved by adding some butter. Yes, it was no salt butter, but bread and butter nonetheless.

Final for the day. Approximately 1200mg of sodium.

What do you think? Is the salad worth the sodium?

Black bean and chicken salad with veggies

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Low Salt, Big Flavor. Pork, Wild Rice and Broccolini.

Mission accomplished.

This meal, served on a salad size plate, is a full plate of flavor, and very low in salt. (total 85mg) The Lundberg long-grain and wild rice takes about the same amount of time to cook and baste the pork chop. This one was in the freezer, so you will have a shorter cooking time if you use a fresh chop. I cook the pork chop @ 375 for about an hour. The rice takes 50 minutes. Get your rice going first and it will all be ready at the same time. The broccolini takes no time at all, it quick steams, so this is the last step. The carrot, cucumber, lettuce rolls were fresh from the sushi counter and make a great finish to this meal.

TIP: I turn the pork chop often to baste and brown it in its natural juices. Once the juices start to get stuck to pan I add a little water, turn the chop, let it soak up the flavor and get it good and browned. I do this again at the end to have the juice to pour over the rice and top of chop.

Boneless Pork Chop, Wild Rice and Broccolini

*This dish may be even less than 85mg. of sodium. This is not a full serving of broccolini, and it's a small chop.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Wake Up Call. Go Low to No Salt and Your Body will Thank You.

cauliflower mash with pepper

I am a salt lover. Some people go for the sweets, I go for the salt. Since I am not much of a snacker, except a rare occasion of pretzels, chips or crackers, I hardly paid attention to the salt content of food. Not good. When I finally did start looking I was shocked, and I mean shocked! at how much sodium is in food. How could I have been so careless? Why did I consume all this tasty, salty food without a thought?

To cook without it has been a bit of a challenge. It will be a learning curve, one that I embrace. As they say, knowledge is power but it is like starting all over on the cooking front. These two are the lowest in salt for this week. The cauliflower mash is just that. Boiled cauliflower, drained and then whipped in my NinJa blender. One cup is 19 milligrams of salt. Boiling and draining the cauliflower is the way to go because it allows some of the natural sodium to leach in to the water and you can pour it off. The green beans are the best. No salt and have a great crisp flavor, helping satisfy the crunch desire we all love.

I've started keeping track of each item I eat, and how much salt is in it. Things I used to think were good snacks like a string cheese stick packs 200 mg, while 1/2 cup of cottage cheese is 420 mg and a fat-free glass of milk is 130 mg. It all adds up before you know it.

With 1500 mg being the suggested limit, you can see how it can get out of control before you know it.

The downside to eating too much salt is far reaching. Here are the top three but I share these two links for you to review for yourself. It's a must read.

1. High Blood Pressure
2. Fluid Retention
3. Dehydration

sunny plate of green beans

Giving up all the foods you love is hard to do. I suggest you start as soon as you can, but don't be too hard on yourself. Do it at a pace you can handle. Maybe three days a week to start and then the next week, five days and ultimately build up to every day with the low-no salt lifestyle. I'll keep you posted as to what is working for me.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Fresh, Nutritious Satisfaction-Cucumber Boats and Single Serving Tomato Bites

Have a cucumber boat for lunch. You can fill it with just about anything you want. This one is so simple. Non-Fat cottage cheese, topped with sprinkles of red cabbage and unsalted sesame seeds. One bite sides are fun to add to the plate like this tomato half. That too, can be filled with what you like. Or, make a whole plate of tomatoes stuffed with a variety of flavors. Tuna, eggs salad, and hummus work well.

Peel the cucumber, cut it in half, scrape out the seeds, fill with your favorite light ingredient, top with a seed garnish and enjoy the fresh crunch. Delicious and nutritious.

Cucumber Boat with Side of Tomato

Small Tomato Bite with Sesame Seeds

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Hitting a Food Wall

I'm full!

After almost a year of food blogging, watching too many food shows, pouring over Pinterest, reading anything about food, sometimes cooking just for fun, and gaining weight, I have to move on.

My focus now is on purely fundamental fare.

Today, my market basket was filled with mostly vegetables, fruit and nuts. I did get some non-fat cottage cheese, plain Greek yogurt and eggs too...oh, and a package of whole wheat pita pockets, but nothing else.

Flavoring has become over the top. I'm going to taste and eat food without flavor add. Cut the salt, leave the butter, cheese, and wonderful rubs and sauces I have learned to make, and fallen in love with.

It may be a bit extreme, but I have to do it for the love of the ingredients. I want to know them without make-up. They deserve to be loved with honorary reverence for who they naturally are. Me too.

A short time ago I shared with you that I had not been hungry and needed to give my taste buds a rest...this was probably the beginning of my need to stop the food frenzy. It's not just this year I have been cooking and eating too much flavorful's been a love affair for a long time. A companion, an art class, a joy to enjoy from every angle.

I never thought to eat without trying to make it something unique and wonderful...not realizing it was unique and wonderful all by itself.

So far so good. Although I have some general withdraw from my cooking habit, I'm also finding it a pleasant change.

One meal I did this week was a combo. I cooked some cauliflower and then finely chopped some red peppers and a tiny amount of broccolini for added color. That was lunch. Then the next day I had about a cup left of the mix, so I tossed it in with one egg for a scramble. To my surprise, it was amazing. Not only good flavor, but the texture of the small cauliflower buds were much like fluffy eggs. The combination was perfect. A bit of spinach for a garnish and it was visually satisfying. I'll call it V'eggio Scramble.

cooked cauliflower saladCauliflower scramble

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Year-Round Healthy-Heart Valentine

Happy Heart Valentine

We are coming up on Valentine's Day. For some this is a happy celebration, for others, without a love in their life, it can be a challenge. During these times you may forget to love yourself, one of the most important things you can do for a happier, healthier life.

Today, I'd like to suggest that a heart-healthy diet is a year-round valentine you can give yourself. There is a ton of information on this topic but here are a few highlights to get you thinking in this direction with a link to a great place you can get a pdf to download as a guide.

First things to take off your plate, or eat/drink as minimally as possible.

1. Processed meats as they are high in salt and preservatives.
2. Highly refined processed grains and carbohydrates. (Away from nature foods).
3. Soda

Great Go-to Foods:

1. Fruits and Veggies
2. Whole Grains
3. Fat-Free or Low Fat Dairy Products
4. Fish, Skinless Poultry, Lean Meats, Dry Beans, Eggs and Nuts
5. Tomatoes and Tomato Products
6. Orange and Grapefruit Juice
7. Lettuce
8. Papayas


1. Fish
2. Canola Oil
3. Soybean Oil
4. Walnuts
5. Ground Flax seed and Flax seed Oil

Flavonoids: Up your Potassium In-Take

1. Red Grapes
2. Berries
3. Apples
4. Broccoli
5. White and Sweet Potatoes


1. Limit your intake of salt to 2/3 teaspoon-1500 mg per day
2. Use other spices to add flavor

For more information: