Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Helpful Products

I didn't always make the right eating choices.  I ate very few vegetables, and think I went years without picking up a actual piece of fruit.  When I got sick, I was forced to eat better, reluctantly.  In the beginning,  it was very hard.  I had rarely cooked anything but the most basic vegetables and the salads I was used to were loaded with cheese and meat and other fattening things. That left me with a very uninteresting  variety of healthy choices.  After awhile I began to try new vegetables and add more fruit in my diet. 
I thought I was eating healthier,  but I still faced some unexpected challenges.  I was counting my carbohydrates and weighing my food.  I lost weight and the doctor decreased my blood pressure medicine.  Then my blood pressure started climbing.  I was confused.  What was going on?  
Fact:  When manufacturers lower the fat in a product, they increase amount of salt in it to "add flavor".  So every product that is "light" or "low fat", has a higher sodium count than the original.  It makes it hard if you are trying to lose weight because without realizing it you can send your blood pressure rocketing.  
So now I watch my sugar and my sodium.  Controlling salt in your diet is much harder than controlling your sugar.  Manufacturers put salt in everything.  That creates a challenge when shopping. Best advice I can give: READ THE LABELS!  Compare products and select the ones with the lowest amounts of sodium and carb counts.
I have looked for products I can use and below is some of what they are and where I have found them.  Many specialized low-sodium and sugar-free items are sold online.  The ones on this list are ones easily available at local grocery stores.
Bread: Size does make a difference!  A lot of bread in the larger slices have so many carbs you can only have one slice.  Better to have two smaller slices and be able to make a sandwich.  Nature's Own Whole Grain Sugar-free bread tastes great and is low in carbs.  You can find it at Food Lion and Harris Teeter grocery stores.  Bread has salt in it, so when I started watching my sodium, I started using one of the few low-sodium breads that you can easily find in your local grocery store.  It's called Ezekiel 4:9 and it is in the freezer section or in the health food freezer section.  I've found it at Whole Foods and Kroger grocery stores.  It has no preservatives, so if you don't go through a loaf of bread quickly it's best to keep it in your own freezer.  I just take out my two slices, pop them in the toaster and I am good to go.  If you do not like to toast your bread, just leave your slices out for a bit and they will thaw and be fine.  There is 0 sodium in each slice, and it has a nutty, whole grain flavor.
Oatmeal is the healthiest breakfast you can have.  Quaker or store brand, it doesn't matter, just don't buy the boxes of single-serve packets!  They have unnecessary salt and sugar and taste almost too sweet.  Even the ones labeled "lower sugar".  Quick cooking oats in the large container cooks just as fast in the microwave and has 0 sodium in it and low in sugar.
If you crave the fancy flavors like apple-cinnamon, just take a tablespoon of no-sugar added apple sauce or some chopped apple, add cinnamon or apple pie spice, mix in and cook.  For maple/cinnamon, a little squirt of sugar-free maple syrup stirred with a sprinkle of cinnamon.  I  put !/4 of a banana sliced up into mine before I put it in the microwave.  Nuke it and stir, it melts right in.  I add cinnamon and fat-free milk, and if I have blueberries, I'll sprinkle a few on the top.  Note:  1/4 dry oatmeal makes 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal.
Pancake syrup:  There are several sugar-free brands available in your local grocery store.  Aunt Jemima, Log Cabin, Walden Farms, Maple Grove Farms, Atkins and Cary's are the ones I've seen.  Plenty to choose from. I use the Cary's brand, though I haven't tried them all.
Pancake mix/Baking mix:  Pancake mixes and baking mixes like Bisquick are high in salt.  You can make your own pancake mix and store it in a storage container, or look for Hodgson Mill Multipurpose Baking Mix.  It is gluten free and sodium free and makes pretty good pancakes. I add a little cinnamon and raisins to the batter and my husband loves them. You can also substitute this for any recipe calling for a baking mix.    I've also used Arrowhead Mills Organic Oat Bran Pancake and Waffle Mix.  It makes a denser pancake with a wheat flavor than the Hodgson Mill brand, and though it's not sodium free, there's only 75mg. in two 5-inchpancakes so it's not bad.  I've found both brands at Kroger.
Peanut butter & Jelly:  I use Crazy Richards All Natural Peanut Butter.  It comes in both smooth and chunky and has 0 sodium.  It makes great peanut butter cookies and in sandwiches.  I top it with Smuckers or Polaner brand sugar-free jams and jellies.  It tastes great.  I've had my daughter taste test this and she prefers Crazy Richards to "regular" PB brands.  If you do not want to be bothered with a natural peanut butter because you have to stir it,  use Simply Jif.  It is lower in sugar and salt than the other name brands.
I found Crazy Richards in my local Harris Teeter and the Smuckers and Polaner brands are found in most grocery stores.
Cream cheese:  As I said before, low-fat or light cream cheese has more sodium than regular cream cheese, and fat-free cream cheese has more sodium than light.  I've looked at every brand and the lowest in sodium while still being low fat (not fat free) and available in local grocery stores is Weight Watchers brand.  I've used it in recipes and it works fine.  The only store in my area that carries the Weight Watcher brand cream cheese is Kroger.  I would prefer to use organic dairy products  however organic  has just as much sodium as regular.
Cottage cheese:  Friendship brand has a "No salt added" cottage cheese that can be purchased at Harris Teeter and Fresh Market.  Although it tastes very plain,  it's fine mixed with fruit, mixed with tuna fish and even I've experimented with making a baked Ziti using this cottage cheese and Boars Head low sodium provolone cheese.   Boars Head can be found at various grocery stores, they have several versions of low sodium cheeses, but which ones are available varies from place to place. I found the provolone at Harris Teeter.  I will talk more about cheeses in a future post.      
Sour cream:  I have experimented with substituting plain Greek yogurt for sour cream and it works pretty good.  They have a similar flavor and consistency, and Greek yogurt has less fat and 1/2 the salt of regular sour cream.  Among Greek yogurts, the Oikos brand is the lowest in sodium for the plain and it tastes good.
Mayonnaise: The heart breaking fact is there is no low-sodium mayonnaise available.  Compromise must be made. All name brands are similar in sodium counts.  The light and fat free variations follow the formula mentioned above of higher and higher sodium counts.  Spectrum makes a vegan eggless mayonnaise that is lower in salt than regular brands.  Another alternative is to take 1 teaspoon of mayonnaise and mix with 1 tablespoon of greek yogurt to spread on your sandwich.  This is lower in salt and fat and works.  I've used this blend in larger quantities in my broccoli slaw recipe.  No one knew and I was able to have a serving too.
Ketchup:  Heinz has both No Salt and Reduced Sugar ketchup.  The Reduced-Sugar one has the salt content of regular ketchup and the No.Salt has the sugar of regular ketchup, so a choice has to be made.  I use the No-Salt sparingly and count the carbs.  I've found both options at Kroger. 
Mustard:  Whole foods carries Westbrae Natural Stone-ground Mustard-No Salt Added.  It has 0 sodium. It's not bad, actually.  It's great on burgers, and I have also mixed a teaspoon of this to a tablespoon of Greek yogurt to make a nice sandwich spread.
Spice/Herb Blends:  Be careful!  Most spice blends have salt in them.  Unless it says otherwise on the label, assume it's in there. The complete Mrs. Dash line is no salt and has lots of choices of blends  Mrs. Dash can be found in every major grocery chain.    McCormick's "Perfect Pinch"  line has 5 Salt-Free versions that are pretty tasty.   Although the McCormick brand can also be found at practically every grocery store, the Perfect Pinch line is relatively new so you may have to browse around to find it.   Another good blend is Chef Paul Prudhomme's Magic Seasoning (Salt Free) All Purpose Blend.  I've found it at Harris Teeter and Food  Lion.
Bouillon and Broths:  Bouillon cubes and soup starters are very, very high in sodium making it hard to easily create stews and soups and other recipes that use them.  Thank goodness Herb Ox the maker of bouillon cubes also puts out a sodium free version in both beef and chicken flavors in a small box of 8 packets. At 0 sodium, gluten free and no MSG they make life a lot easier.  Pacific Natural Foods has the lowest of the low sodium chicken, beef and vegetable low-sodium broths.  They are gluten free and organic and are sold in cartons not cans.  So are the low-sodium broths from Imagine Natural Creations.  While not as low as the Pacific brand, they are still much lower than any of the canned low sodium broths.  I have found both of these lines at Harris Teeter and Kroger.
Canned vegetables & beans:  Del Monte has a line of No Salt Added vegetables that are very easy to find, and most of the major grocery chains carry them.
Hunts brand has No Salt Added canned tomatoes in sauce, whole tomatoes, paste, stewed and diced.  Hunts also has diced tomatoes  in a garlic and oregano no-salt version.  Most of the major grocery chains carry their own store brand no-salt added  vegetables and tomato products, what they have available varies chain to chain.
Whole Foods carries no salt canned  black, kidney and pinto beans in their own brand called 365 Everyday Value

More helpful products in a future post...


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie recipe

 Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

 Makes 2 dozen

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon brown sugar Splenda*
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ENER-G sodium free baking soda substitute*
1/2 tsp. No Salt*
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups oatmeal (Can use old-fashioned or quick cooking)
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed for a few minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix a bit more.
Sift the flour, baking soda, No salt and cinnamon into a bowl. Pour in the flour mixture and run the mixer on low, just to work it in. Stir in the oats and raisins with a spoon.
Scoop out tablespoon-sized balls of dough onto parchment-paper-lined or Silpat covered cookie sheets about 2 inches apart.
Bake for 11 to 14 minutes, rotating cookie sheet halfway through baking. Let cool and enjoy. 
*You can find brown sugar Splenda and No Salt in your local grocery store.  ENER-G sodium free baking soda substitute is sold online through various low-salt websites.
Amended from a Oprah Winfrey recipe to lower the salt and sugar.

Chai-Spiced Cookie recipe

Chai-Spiced Cookies Recipe
I amended this recipe to lower the salt and the sugar.  It was a great success and everyone who tried them loved them.  If you like the spices in chai tea, you will love these.  

Makes about 30 cookies
Fragrant with the classic flavors of chai tea, these buttery, crumbly cookies are perfect for dunking in a cup of tea or coffee.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup Splenda
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon No-Salt (salt substitute)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar-free powdered sugar substitute*, sifted

Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat butter with granulated sugar in a medium bowl until well blended. Stir in flour, spices, salt and vanilla until just combined.
Scoop and roll dough into small teaspoon-sized balls and place about an inch apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake until lightly golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on the sheet for 5 minutes. Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar substitute and let cool completely on a rack. Store in an airtight container.  Makes 30 cookies. Two cookies equal one snack/dessert.
Original Recipe courtesy Whole Foods Market

 * I found the "Splenda",  "No Salt" and the "Ideal Confectionery" confectioners sugar substitute in local grocery stores.  If you have trouble finding the Ideal Confectionery, you may order their products online at idealsweet.com

Monday, January 7, 2013

It's a salty world out there

Yes, it's a salty world out there.  And those of us with high blood pressure have to learn to navigate our way through it.  Even after losing weight, my blood pressure still has to be monitored.  I brought it down just from losing weight, but I was still taking my regular BP medicine. Then the doctor decreased my dosage.  That's a good thing, right?  But then my blood pressure started climbing, even though I was walking.  I realized I was going to have to cut back on salt, more than I had been doing already.   I had already stopped using it at the dinner table, and only used no-salt-added vegetables, low-sodium soups and other products, but it just wasn't enough.  So I started reading labels and looking up sodium content.  Along the way I found that "we" are obsessed with salt.
Our food is loaded with it.  To almost unbelievable excess.  Most people do not realize how much more salt is put into our foods than when I was growing up.  In our groceries, it's really not for taste, it's for profit.   The shelf life of food is lengthened by adding extra salt.  Gradually companies have increased the amount of sodium in their products and we've become used to how it tastes.  We are so used to it, it no longer tastes salty to us, which is why you will see people salting their already over-salted food in fast food places.  Restaurants have increased the amount of salt in their recipes to keep up with the public's taste buds.  We just can't taste it anymore if it's not used to excess. 
An average person is only suppose to have between 2200 and 2400 milligrams of sodium a day, but an entree at Olive Garden or a deluxe burgers with fries at McDonald's run about 1800mm to 2200 alone.  Ask to see a restaurant's nutritional information, you will be shocked.  Those two restaurants are no different than any others.  So what do we do?  
While many restaurants are cooperative, and if they can, they will limit the salt, however, sometimes there is just no low-sodium choices.  Also, salt is hidden where you would never expect.  For example, my family and I went out for a steak dinner for Father's Day.  We went to Longhorn Steak House, which is a very nice restaurant.  Like other steak houses, they season their steaks (salt), some are marinated (salt), then they add a pat of butter on the top of the steaks to give them that lovely glistening effect before serving.  They use salted butter, so that butter is extra salt. Your baked potato has salted butter, so does your vegetables, and the vegetables may also be seasoned.and sometimes cooked in salted water first. (salt, salt, salt)   Bread has salt in it and we already discussed the butter.
What about something bland like rice?  Do not assume rice has no salt.  In restaurants it's seasoned and then salted butter is added..  Appetizers are generally very salty.  Cheese fries?  They salt the fries, then add cheese and bacon, both full of salt.  Your salad?... the dressing is made with salt and sugar, and croutons and cheese sprinkled on top.  And of course, desserts are full of sugar and...what else?...salt!
So what did I eat when I was there?   That first time, I merely said no seasoning on my steak.  I had a light vinaigrette dressing on the side of my salad, baked sweet potato, vegetables with my steak. I skipped the roll and of course, the cheese fries.   But my blood pressure was still pretty high when I tested it and I couldn't understand where I went wrong.  After investigating, I found the hidden salt in my meal.  Next time my husband we went for steak dinner, I had my salad with vinegar and oil, and asked them to leave off the croutons and cheese.  Steak, unseasoned, no extra butter on top.  Baked sweet potato, no butter or sugar.  Now, I'd been used to putting no sugar on my sweet potato, but in restaurants no cinnamon either, because many restaurants use a cinnamon/sugar mix.
Despite my meal's restrictions, my steak tasted great.  Steak doesn't really need all that salt on it to taste good.  And sweet potatoes taste good even with no butter or sugar. Using less salt, you actually taste the original flavor of the food, which is why we eat it in the first place.  I did ask the waitress if they had unsalted butter for my sweet potato, but no dice.  She was kind enough to tell me about the extra salted butter being added on top of the steak, a perfect example of hidden salt source.  Most restaurants use salted butter, so if you go out to eat, you have to count for those extra milligrams of sodium, or skip butter completely.
It never hurts to ask the waitress for help and tell them you are watching your sodium.  At Chili's for example, the waitress informed me that they cook their own tortilla chips.  I was able to request ours be left unsalted.  Just watch how much salsa you eat.  Although it's made with tomatoes, peppers and onions which are healthy, it is high in salt.  In fact, most entree's at Chili's are high in sodium, but with careful ordering and portion control, you can eat there without sending your BP through the roof.  Fajitas are a good menu choice. 
Fast food burger joints are known to be high in salt and fat.  Stay away!  However, McDonald's will make you a batch of unsalted fries if you are willing to wait for them to make them.  Get the smallest size, remember it is still  carbs.  Their salads are full of sodium, however.  Whether fried or grilled, the chicken is seasoned and the cheese, croutons and salad dressing add to the high sodium count. 
Red Lobster is a good place to eat if you are on a diet and watching your sodium.  In fact most seafood places are pretty good.  You can order fish, get it broiled, seasoned with just lemon, and garlic and at Red Lobster they offer half portions.  Believe me, a half portion is plenty!  Portion sizes are another thing that have increased over time.  Tell the wait staff you are on a low sodium diet, and ask for your vegetables to not be seasoned either.
I've had good success at a local Mongolian stir fry place called Crazy Fire.  I assume it is typical of these stir fry restaurants.  You pick out your own fresh ingredients, and add what spices you want yourself. Then you take it up to the guys who stir fry it for you and ask you what sauce you prefer. Stick to individual spices as most spice blends offered have salt in them.  Unless it is clearly marked on the bottle, " no salt", assume it's in there!   No sauces, either.  They are loaded with salt and very fattening.  I get my stir fry with zucchini, bean sprouts, onions, broccoli, carrots, and mushrooms, with chicken and/or shrimp, garlic and some herbs. No rice or pasta.  It still comes out tasting great even without the sauces.  You can load up with vegetables and walk out of there stuffed!  Asian buffets are the same, if you have the will power to avoid most of the stuff offered on the bar and stick to the stir fry, fruit and treat yourself to some sushi.  Ask for low-sodium soy sauce or bring a bottle of it yourself.  I did!  Even with  low-sodium soy sauce, I dilute it further with a little water and use it sparingly.  Soy sauce is mega-high in sodium!
Surprisingly, Sweet Tomatoes restaurant is not as health friendly as you would think.  Despite having a giant salad bar and proclaiming their food is so healthy, their dressings are high in salt, so are their soups, the butter is salted and the specialty salads might have bacon, cheese, ham bits, and croutons mixed in, along with salad dressing.  And why do they have to use salted sunflower seeds?  Another hidden source of extra sodium.  The pasta dishes and cheesy pizza sticks all have cheese or cheese sauce and so are very salty.  They do have fresh fruit and usually a sugar-free mousse of some kind offered, though not always.  When I go, I help myself various lettuces and vegetables.  I treat myself to a little bit of broccoli salad,and toss.  I do not add salad dressing, using the sauce on the broccoli salad as my dressing.  Broccoli salad is made with mayonnaise and mayonnaise is high in salt, so watch it!  If you do not like broccoli salad, you can mix in a small amount of a specialty salad and mix that in, or use a small bit of their vinaigrette or skip the dressing altogether.   I wish they offered some low-sodium soup choices, but they do not, so I skip the soup and the pizza.  If you get a baked potato, remember the butter is salted.  I do treat myself to one or two of their mini-muffins and some of the sugar-free mousse.   Mousse and puddings are high in salt, another hidden salt source.  So even if they are low-sugar, you must keep the portion size down.  Despite it's limitations, a meal at Sweet Tomatoes with the salad, muffin, and mousse for dessert, you do not walk out of there feeling deprived and that is why I recommend you can treat yourself to Sweet Tomatoes once in awhile..
It's nice to go out for a treat occasionally and one of my favorite places is a frozen yogurt place called Skinny Dip.  They always offer a no-sugar-added choice and have fresh fruit on the toppings bar. Resist the other more fattening toppings and sauces and remember frozen yogurt like ice cream has salt in it, so watch your portion size. 
Let's face it, eating at home is easier because you can control the sodium yourself but you still need to be wary when shopping.  In my next blog, I will discuss shopping low-sodium.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012


I needed to find sources of encouragement for myself. I found a devotion site online that emails me a daily devotion aimed toward dieters. It's called Devotions for Dieters. It's a new year and a new start. I've committed myself toward getting as healthy as I can in 2012. I've been heavy for most of my life. For me, it's not about getting thin and fitting into a size 2 anymore. It's about getting healthy and strong so I can serve God as he needs. It's about being a good steward of the body God has provided for me. I've posted the devotions for these first few days of January as an encouragement to myself and others. Remember, we are not dieting alone, God is with us every step of the way.

1 Corinthians 6:19
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? As Christians, we believe that God dwells within us. Our bodies become His home, and it makes sense that we should try to make His surroundings as nice as possible. The temple of God in Israel was kept immaculately clean and pure. Only the most clean and holy of men were allowed to enter it. It was revered by all. The temple was the most holy and special place of all. When we are told that our bodies are the temple of God, it is not an option whether or not we will take care of it; it is a duty. When we care for our physical being, we are making God's temple a holy and special place

January 2

1 Peter 1:16
...it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. Too often we think that holiness is merely a matter of the spirit. We feel that if we read our Bible, pray regularly, and attend wor-ship, we are being holy. But holiness requires that we tend to our physical health as well as our spiritual health. Early Christians realized that they were more alert and better able to concentrate on God when they felt good. Tending to the body made them better at their spiritual pursuits. Dieting may make us look better, but it will also make us feel better, and it will enable us to pursue God in deeper and more meaningful ways.

January 3

1 Thessalonians 4:7
For God hath not called us unto uncleaness, but unto holiness.

When we try to figure out what it means to be holy, we think of many things that we do which we shouldn't. Our minds fill with 'thou shalt nots' and we promise ourselves that we will do better. Our minds should not be so filled by the bad things we have done; we should focus on the good things we can do. Certainly, dieting requires sacrifice, but the benefits involved far outweigh the costs. Our focus must be on what we receive rather than what we must do without. Dieting is not turning from what we shouldn't do. Dieting is doing what God calls us to do.

January 4

1 Corinthians 6:20

For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

Sometimes it is difficult to stick with a diet once it has begun. If we are dieting for ourselves, we often lose heart, but if we feel we're dieting for someone else, it can be the motivation we need to stick with it. Every day we make promises to God, and those promises we do everything in our power to keep. God calls us to be the best we can be, physically as well as spiritually. We should commit our diets to God. If we see dieting as a sacrifice we make to God, then we can find a deeper power to remain committed to our efforts to lose weight. Let everything we do honor and glorify God, for that is what truly pleases Him.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Holidays are hard...

Holidays are hard. They are difficult for many people for many different reasons. They are hard for me, because most holidays involve food. The food is so intertwined with the holiday, that it makes it extremely difficult to stay true to eating healthy. But what is the alternative? Taking a "diet holiday"? I know people who do exactly that. "Oh, it's too hard to be good, I'll go back on my diet when the holiday is over!". I've tried it myself. It didn't work out that well. It is very hard to get back on that horse again. So what to do? The year is filled with holidays. There always seems to be some special occasion coming up.
I've tried various strategies with mixed success rates.
1) Skipping an event where I know there will be a lot of great food: I've stayed home and been miserable, feeling sorry for myself, while my friends were off celebrating. I was extremely grouchy and made myself and my family miserable. I wound up stuffing my face in frustration.
2) Going and "toughing it out": Attending the party, dinner, etc. and eating like a bird. Refusing all forbidden foods and sitting there with a martyred look on my face and a glass of water in my hand trying not to look at all the food displayed around me. This backfired. Although I did not cheat and got through the night, I was like a tea kettle coming to a boil. The next day I totally went off my diet and probably ate twice what I would have had at the party.
3) Going and maintaining my diet, but allowing myself to have a little "something" extra. The trick is to limit this and not go crazy. Having a small slice of of birthday cake, or a second slice of Thanksgiving turkey. (Indulging yourself with protein is always better than with carbs.)
I've had better results with this method. It works best for me, if I decide in advance what my treat will be. An example of this is my decision in advance to allow myself one of those wonderful cheese biscuits when my family dined out at Red Lobster. I adhered strictly to my diet for the rest of the meal but did not feel deprived.
4) Bringing your own food. This probably works the best. If you are going to a party and are suppose to bring a dish, bring something YOU can eat. That way you know there is at least one thing you can have. If you are going over someone's house and you are not sure what's on the menu, ask. Plan your meal in advance. Know what your choices are.
Desserts are especially hard to deal with. I have found many delicious sugar-free dessert recipes online. I make one and bring it along. (Just have to remember to still maintain portion size even for sugar-free recipes.)
If I am going out to a restaurant, I like to go where I know the menu and know there is something there I can eat. Going somewhere new is more of a challenge. I've learned not to be afraid to ask the wait staff questions about what's in the dishes presented. Most restaurants post their menus online with nutritional facts. Take a look BEFORE you go, so there are no surprises.
My husband took me out to a popular steak house, and feeling secure that I could maintain my diet there, I planned to ordered a steak, a baked sweet potato, and a salad. For my allowed portion, I would eat 1/2 my steak and potato and bring the rest home. Well, once there I was chatting with the waitress and found out that when the steaks are cooked they are seasoned with salt and basted in butter just before serving. They only used salted butter, even on the sweet potato. Although the menu said they had a vinaigrette dressing, it was very fattening. (Just because it's called vinaigrette you can't assume it is a light dressing.) So what did I do? Asked for my steak to be cooked with no butter or salt. No butter on the sweet potato either, simple vinegar and oil on my salad. Even plain, the steak tasted great, but I felt discontented.
Dining out is a challenge, but holidays are hardest. It's so hard to make some of the family's favorite holiday dishes, and not sample them yourself. I've started "slimming down" family recipes to make them better for myself. Hopefully your family will be supportive of you in this. When I lightened up a favorite broccoli and cheese casserole recipe for Thanksgiving, I warned my family first what I was doing. I was so worried they would be upset with me, but they were OK with it, and the dish came out great.
Still sometimes the easiest thing is to just not make that favorite dish and avoid temptation.
Basically, my goal is to get through the best that I can. Sometimes I sail through, and sometimes I mess up. Maybe someday holidays won't be such a challenge to me, but right now they still are.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Recipe for Sugar-Free Strawberry Vinaigrette

A sugar-free version and still delicious. Wonderful on spinach salad.

Sugar-Free Strawberry Vinaigrette
1 cup Smuckers* sugar free strawberry preserves
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup Dijon mustard**
1/2 cup to 1 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 cup cup olive oil
1/2 cup water

In a medium bowl, using a wire whisk, whip together the preserves, vinegar, mustard and pepper, until thoroughly emulsified. Gradually whisk in 1/2 cup olive oil, then 1/2 cup of water, (more, if desired). Makes 2 1/2 cups or 20 servings (2 tablespoons).

*Feel free to use whatever brand of sugar-free strawberry preserves you prefer.

** Dijon mustard is high in sodium. To cut this, as I am watching my salt, I used 3 Tablespoons of a no-sodium stoneground mustard and 1 Tablespoon of regular Dijon mustard, (4 Tablespoons = 1/4 cup).
Westbrae Natural Stoneground Mustard is the no-salt variety I used, and the dressing tasted great. If you do not have a problem with salt, feel free to use what-ever brand of Dijon mustard you prefer.