Sunday, January 18, 2009

Pasta Sauce Alternative

During my last trip to Trader Joe's, I found their private label Organic Marinara Sauce with no salt added. It's not sodium-free, but very low (25 mg per 1/2 cup). It was a little watery and had a more subtle taste than the typical bottled sauce, but hey, it's not bad when you don't have much time and you need to whip up a meal for the family (I typically like to make my own sauce from scratch, but seldom have time to do so). I added dried oregano & basil, a little crushed red pepper flakes and some no-sodium salt substitute (Morton's). The overall taste turned out pretty good, and the sauce stuck to the pasta well. As an accompaniment, I made some turkey meat balls.

For the meat balls, I used a pound of ground turkey, panko bread crumbs, black pepper, no-sodium salt substitute, dried oregano & basil, parmesan cheese, and one egg. After browning the mini meat balls (about 1-1.5 inches in diameter) in some grape seed oil on the stove top, I threw them in the oven and broiled them for about 15-20 minutes (in retrospect, they would've been less dry if they were baked instead).

All this yielded 3 decent-sized portions of pasta.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Tough Challenge

I've now been at my new job for almost a year, and the biggest challenge is still eating out for lunch everyday with coworkers. I've been continuing to try to balance it out by eating self-made dinners at home, which still seems to be keeping my BP in check. At my last doctors appointment it was at about 130/80 (which isn't too bad considering all of the burgers, burritos, etc that I've consumed!). One down side is that I've gained back about half of the weight that I initially lost a few years back. It's just so easy to fall off the wagon, especially when you love to eat tasty food!

Yes, processed foods are often terrible for a low-sodium diet, but shockingly, a lot of restaurant foods are even worse. I was reading this list of the saltiest foods in America and couldn't believe how much sodium some of these dishes have! I had been eating one of the dishes, broccoli with beef, instead of some of the saucier choices at Chinese restaurants because I thought that it was a better low-sodium option; boy was I wrong. Check out the list, its very interesting.

I'm now back in the process of trying to lower my sodium intake again, to avoid having my BP skyrocket like it did before. It's pretty easy to make low-sodium pasta sauces (I really enjoy experimenting with different ingredients), stir-frys and dishes made with our slow-cooker. One day I'll start to take lunch to work (at least a couple of times per week) - we'll see how that goes.

Thanks for reading, and for sharing your comments.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Year Later...

Now, about a year after I got off of atenolol, I'm maintaining my blood pressure at around 130/90, taking just 1/2 a HCZ pill per day. Yes, I was off of both meds for about 6 months, but my Dr. thought it would be good to get back on a minimal dose since my BP did go up some (but still within the normal range). I started a new job a few months ago, and I've been slacking some on the food I eat for lunch out. I'm still eating low sodium dinners (i.e. same cereal and/or no or little-salt-added cooking), so it seems to be balancing out. One surprising change at my last check-up was my cholesterol, which was at 210 2 years ago (when my BP was off the charts), was down to 170. Guess it was a positive by-product of my change in diet.

I've found that Swiss cheese (60-90 mg sodium/serving) is a much lower sodium alternative to cheddar or jack cheese (usually 170-190 mg sodium/serving). I like to melt a slice on a piece of toast to eat with my cereal. I also found Heinz No Salt Added Ketchup, which I had never seen before. Not as tasty as the regular version, but not too bad. Works well on no-salt-added turkey swiss burgers!

It's amazing how all of these little things that you can watch can really make a different in the long-run.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Daily Breakfast

I've been eating the same 2 things for breakfast everyday for the past few months. The first is what I call my "Open Face Breakfast Sandwich", which includes:
  • 1 egg (I like organic brown eggs)
  • 1 small red or white potato
  • grated parmesan cheese - 90 mg sodium/2 tsp
  • black pepper
  • salt substitute
  • chili pepper flakes
  • 1 slice bread (I use a whole grain brown bread) - 95 mg sodium/slice
  • Heat a some olive oil in a small frying pan over low to medium heat (enough to coat the bottom)
  • Slice the potato into thin, long strips and put into pan (make sure all strips are touching pan)
  • Sprinkle some chili pepper flakes onto potatoes (to taste)
  • When potatoes are browned on one side, flip them over and crack the egg over the top (potatoes should be arranged in a loose grouping, so that eggs covers them)
  • Sprinkle the salt substitute & black pepper over the egg (to taste), and enough of the parmesan cheese to make a thin layer over unbroken yolk & rest of egg
  • After a few minutes, flip entire egg/potato over without breaking yolk, and brown on yolk side
  • Toast bread
  • Remove egg/potato mix from pan and blot with paper towel (should come out of pan as one cohesive unit).
  • You can put the mix onto the toast as is, or sometimes i like to spread a little mustard or hummus onto the toast before putting the egg mix on
  • Ready to eat!
I eat this with a small bowl of cereal, with a one sliced up banana & Rice Dream Organic Original flavor rice milk (lactose intolerant). My cereal of choice is Nature's Path Organic Pumpkin Flax Plus Granola (25 mg sodium/half cup). The rice milk is lower in sodium than the soy milks that I've seen (100 mg sodium/cup). I know that for normal eaters, this doesn't sound very appetizing, but it's actually pretty good. Trader Joe's has the cereal for between $2 to $3. At Gelsons they charge around $5 for the same product. The rice milk is around $1.99.

If you do search for flax seeds, you'll see that one of its benefits is that it helps lower blood pressure. Same goes for bananas, because of their potassium content (I always load up on bananas before my Dr. visits!).
Back on the Meds

I went for my check up back in April, and my BP was a little too high for my Dr.'s liking, so I was put back on meds. Luckily it's only 1/2 pill per day of a water pill (Maxide), unlike before when I was taking 1 water pill + 1/2 Atenolol per day. My BP was 149/85.

I know that I've slacking on my low-sodium diet, eating out way too much. Since then I've been trying to cook at home more, and eat out only once or twice a month. That restaurant food has so much sodium! I guess if you watch the Food Network you do notice that all of the chefs are pretty liberal with the salt.

This past week I had my first follow-up appointment since being back on the meds. My BP had gone down to 138/70. The Dr. said I can come back in 4 months instead of 3, and if I can get my systolic (top #) down below 130 and maintain it there, we can talk again about getting off the meds (and of course keep the diastolic down around 70). I need to come up with some new low-so recipes to keep variety in my diet. Can't eat the same 3 dishes all the time! As I develop new ones I'll try to post them up here on my blog.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Another Low Sodium Cheese Found

I found another low sodium cheese (both Cheddar & Monterey Jack available) at my local natural foods store. It's from Sonnet Farms, and distributed by CLC of Kenwood, CA. It has no salt or coloring added, its aged over 60 days, rennetless, and made from whole raw milk from a cow not treated with rBST.
The serving size is 1 oz, and the nutritionals per serving are: 110 cal, 9 g fat, 20 g Cholesterol and only 10 mg sodium. Much lower than even the Landmark cheese that I bought last time which had 35 mg sodium per 1 oz! The taste is very similar to the Landmark cheese (don't expect a lot of flavor from either - just add your own low/no sodium seasonings & dried herbs before melting). Since Sonnet Farms cheese has less than 1/3 the sodium, I guess I found myself a new fav to buy (and I can eat three times as much! haha). The price was $6.99/lb (same as Landmark). The only difference that I noticed was that the Sonnet Farms seemed to be a little softer (less firm). Sorry for the bad pic. I waited till I finished eating it to take the pic.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Bacon Update

I recently found two more bacon brands that are lower in sodium. They are Boar's Head (190 mg per 2 slices) and Pederson's Natural Farms (140 mg per 2 slices). These are actually lower than the Niman Ranch bacon (135 mg per 1 slice). I plan on trying the Pederson's first (since it has the lower sodium level) as soon as I finish off my current package of bacon. I can't wait!