Pizza is a weakness for me and something that can pack a high cholesterol punch. Sure you can make it “lighter” or better for you, but when I think pizza I really think pepperoni and cheese. So, I tried Hormel’s version of Turkey Pepperoni vs. their normal pepperoni to see if I could eat a little healthier without sacrificing flavor.
Looking at the nutrition facts I was happy to find that the turkey version of this popular dried meat has 70% less fat than the regular kind. Guess what else…..I can’t taste the difference. I took a slice of both, plain, without anything else to distract me and ate them one at a time….to me there was no difference. So imagine when you throw in the sauce, a little cheese, etc. you won’t miss the fat. This is the best find yet.
I recently needed a dish for a holiday potluck and came across an olive salad. It basically had one kind of olive, some vinegar, parsley and olive oil which sounded kinda boring. Below is what I ended up making and it seemed to go over pretty well. This is a great alternative to those mayo heavy pasta salads that folks usually bring to the office potluck. I don’t have to mention that you should use pitted olives right? Unless you don’t really care for your co-workers that much, or you need to see who paid attention in safety class.
1 jar extra large whole green olives (the largest you can find)
2 cans of extra large whole black olives
1/2 jar of kalamata olives
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic or red wine vinegar
1/4 cup chili powder
1-2 cloves of diced garlic (start with one and taste it, add another if you want)
1 English cucumber diced
1 can artichoke hearts chopped
1/2 of a very thinly sliced red onion
low fat feta
give the olives a rough chop so they are different shapes and sizes being careful not to chop them to small, they are the main attraction. Dump in all the other stuff and mix well or dump in everything but the feta and sprinkle the feta on top for those that want some. serve room temperature or cold
When I find myself out to eat, either at a fast food place or a sit down restaurant, I need to make different choices than I would have before finding out my numbers were so high. Take McDonald’s for example. Before, I might have ordered the classic cheeseburger where now I find myself looking at the Asian salads. Recently I went to McDonald’s with a few friends, had the Crispy Asian Salad (which was very good by the way) and ended up feeling pretty good about my commitment to eating better. Until I got home and started doing some research.
My Crispy Asian Salad has 380 calories, 17g of fat and 45mg of cholesterol and adding the dressing increases the fat by a few grams. Hmmm…that seems high to me. Wanna know why, because it is. A McDonald’s cheeseburger has 300 calories, 12g of fat and 40mg of cholesterol…less in every category! What I learned quickly was just because the word “salad” is in the title don’t assume it is better for you. To be fair I did order the crispy version but looking at the grilled salad which has 300 calories (same as the cheeseburger), 10g of fat and 65mg of cholesterol I’m not sure that was the deal breaker.
Well, I thought, it’s McDonald’s what should I expect. So I started looking at other similar salads like the Mimi’s Cafe Asian Chop Chop and this will blow your mind. Mimi’s salad has 1277 Calories, 73g of fat (112% of you daily allowance) and 193mg of cholesterol. Just for reference if we had stayed at McDonald’s and ordered a Quarter Pounder with fries we would have eaten 760 calories (517 calories less), 39g of fat (34g less) and 90mg cholesterol (103 less). Ok, so this trying to eat better stuff is going to be harder than I thought. Not only do I have to make better choices but I need to make sure the choices I’m assuming are better actually are.
So here is what I did. I picked the 5 places I eat lunch at the most and went to their website. There they list the nutrition info for their menu and I was able to do a quick side by side comparison on what good and bad choices actually look like. For me, since I’m not looking to lose weight but just lower my cholesterol, I didn’t really focus on the calories but really looked at the fat and cholesterol numbers. This does take a little effort, but sometimes makes for a little interesting conversation over lunch with your friends. Well, until they don’t want to talk about it anymore and you are forced to start a blog so you can share all the cool things you’ve learned. Yeah, maybe bringing it up is a bad idea….hey wanna go to lunch sometime?
I was less than excited to do this product test after my experience with the soy hot dogs. The only thing I had going for me was that I found out long ago everything tastes better on a stick. For my corn dog taste test I decided to pick three alternative type dogs and just elminate the traditional ones all together. I’ve had a normal corn dog, everyone has, so I have a good idea of what they taste like. For this entry I picked a soy corn dog (sigh), a turkey corn dog and a chicken corn dog.
I started with the turkey dog and to be honest this one had an unfair advantage. Hot Dog on a Stick currently operates in 12 states and started making their namesake in 1946. You may not be aware but HDOS uses 100% Turkey dogs and fries them to perfection. But at 20% of my daily Saturated Fat allowance and 17% of my daily cholesterol it is by no means a health food.
Next I bit the bullet and heated up the soy dogs by MorningStar Farms, these have 3% of my daily Saturated Fat and 0% Cholesterol so I anticipated a disaster like my soy hot dog challenge I did last week. I was wrong. Although not as tasty as the HDOS these were absolutely passable. I baked them in the oven to make them a little crisp and with a sizable helping of Ketchup and Mustard I enjoyed it. The only downside is that they are a little bland, the flavor didn’t jump off the stick but it didn’t make me jump off the couch to spit it out either.
Finally the chicken dogs and for these I picked the leader in chicken, Foster Farms. What I found interesting was if you didn’t want cheese in the corn dog (which I’m against by the way) then you had to get a honey battered one. This ended up being the deal breaker for me. The batter just didn’t taste right and I couldn’t get over the sweetness.
The verdict is that I’m only going to keep the MorningStar Corn Dogs in my freezer. But, if I happen to be at the mall with a Hot Dog on a Stick and need to eat lunch….there are worse choices right?
The Associated Press recently reported that for the first time in 50 years Americans average cholesterol is ideal at 199. Researchers at the CDC found that adults with cholesterol 240 or higher dropped to only 16% of the population. Fantastic! If I wasn’t already upset that my numbers were high, now I find out how small my peer group actually is…and that is if the cut off is 240. I’m about 60 points higher than that! The only thing that made me feel better about this survey was that most experts are attributing the reduction to the recent increase in prescribing cholesterol lowering drugs.
Just because I’m trying to lower my number naturally doesn’t mean that I’m against the drugs. In fact I may end up taking one of them one day. My goal is just to see if I can make more positive eating choices that will enhance my overall health and lower my numbers without feeling that I’m missing out on great food.
So to the 84 of you reading this blog that are in a good place, congrats on being part of the average. For those of you that are like me and part of the elite 16…your Mom always said you were a leader!
I haven’t reviewed the various types of burgers yet but I do like turkey burgers. I’ve tried different ways to prepare them but below is my current favorite.
1 package ground Turkey (I prefer Jennie O Turkey Store)
½ of a red onion diced
½ cup of reduced fat feta (more if you prefer)
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
2 tlbs dried oregano
Salt and Pepper
Place turkey and all ingredients into a large bowl and mix well with your hands. Form into patties and grill until done. I use my Forman grill most of the time for these and they turn out great. Put on a whole wheat bun and top with some baby spinach leaves or some watercress to give it a little crunch. My condiments of choice are Grey Poupon, and a little Ketchup.
According to the Mayo Clinic, walnuts “can significantly reduce blood cholesterol. Rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, walnuts also help keep blood vessels healthy and elastic. Almonds appear to have a similar effect, resulting in a marked improvement within just four weeks.”
I happen to like Walnuts, my wife says they taste like dirt. It appears that for Walnuts to be effective in reducing cholesterol about 20% of your daily calories need to come from the nut. That seems like a lot, but these little guys are packed with calories so about a generous handful a day should do the trick.
I have about a 40min drive to work everyday so I started making a little cholesterol busting trail mix to take with me on the drive. Walnuts, Almonds (both without salt), Honey Nut Cheerios (it says on the box it can reduce cholesterol so who am I to argue), and orange flavored Craisins.