Monday, July 3, 2017

365 (Whole Foods) Organic Applewood Smoked Turkey Breast Slices

Whole Foods Smoked Turkey Breast Slices

I know I’m late to the party, but I just discovered this product a few days ago, and what a find! 240 mg sodium for 2 oz or 4 slices. Wow! Compare those numbers to another easily available product such as Hillshire Farms Honey Roasted Turkey Breast at 410 mg sodium/2 oz serving. Applegate Organics/Naturals Smoked Turkey Breast is a lot better at 360 mg sodium/20 oz serving. But that’s still not as good as the 365 Applewood Smoked Turkey Slices.

Boar’s Head is a wonderful source for lower sodium deli style meats. It has a large selection of turkey breast products, including several smoked varieties. Their lower sodium Hickory Smoked Black Forest turkey breast is 390 mg sodium per 2 oz serving. Their Simplicity All Natural smoked turkey breast is only 250 mg sodium per 2 oz serving. Really great numbers! But there’s a problem. Not with the products but with availability. Boar’s Head makes the meats, but not every store carries all the varieties. In my local area, I’m only able to get low sodium plain roasted turkey breast. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a fine product. But it’s the smoky flavoring that I’m craving, and plain roasted turkey doesn’t satisfy that hankering.

I’m able to get packaged Applegate smoked turkey breast slices in several of my local supermarkets. It, too, is a fine product. My only complaint is that the smoke flavoring is very mild.

Only 240 mg sodium for a 2 oz serving (about 4 slices)

The 365 smoked turkey, however, has a more robust smoke flavoring that I really like. Its slices are also a bit thicker than most, making it easier to separate them. Also, 2 ounces adds up to four slices. Since the slices are a bit thicker, I’ve only used 2-3 slices per sandwich, lowering the sodium even more. Even with the reduced serving size, the smoky flavor still comes through.

So far I’ve used the 365 smoked turkey slices in cold sandwiches and salads. It’d also be good in scrambled eggs or omelets, grilled sandwiches, and any application where you’d normally use ham.

Smoked Turkey Sandwich with Summer Tomatoes and Lettuce

I only bought one package just to “test drive.” But next time I’m in Whole Foods, I plan to purchase at least two packages. I’m really happy to have made this discovery.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Chili Dogs

Chili Dogs Ready to Eat!
My husband and I have always loved chili dogs. Certainly not the healthiest things to eat, but they sure are tasty. Once we went low sodium, we pretty much gave up on them. But, as I’ve said before, “Alway Be Checking.” You just never know what you’re going to find.

The hardest part was finding hot dogs with low enough sodium content to use. That’s why I was so excited to discover Nature’s Rancher Uncured Pork & Beef hot dogs at Whole Foods. They’re only 250 mg sodium/link. That is really good for hot dogs! Once I had the hot dog problem taken care of, putting together lower sodium chili dogs was relatively easy.

(For a list of lower sodium hot dogs, click HERE)

I know finding ready-made low sodium hot dogs buns can be problematic. Some people really like King’s Hawaiian hot dog buns with only 130 mg sodium/bun, but they can be hard to find. Just remember, you don’t have to be tied to a traditional hot dog bun. I’ve used slices of homemade or store-bought low sodium bread for hot dogs. I just mist the bread lightly with water and microwave for about 5-8 seconds to soften it enough to wrap around a frankfurter. Other times, I’ve use low sodium homemade or store-bought flour tortillas. I’ve even used homemade hamburger buns, just cutting the hot dog lengthwise and flattening them a bit before putting into the bun. Of course, you can always make your own hot dog buns. Or you can make an open-face version using just half of a bun and eating it with a fork. And you can even forgo the buns altogether and top a hot dog with chili and all the fixings.

When it comes to the chili, I use my own hamburger/hot dog chili sauce topping. (Click HERE to read the recipe) I make up a pot full at a time. The chili sauce is all meat ‒ no beans, no chunky vegetables, no tomatoes ‒  and is made with all salt-free ingredients.

I’ve found that steaming or lightly simmering these lower sodium hot dogs produces the best texture. The links are kind of skinny, so broiling or grilling can dry them out. I’m not complaining, though. If the links were larger, they’d have more sodium.

Steaming - Almost Ready!
For me, the key to making really good chili dogs is to steam them a bit once they’re all put together. The hot frankfurter goes into a bun and is topped with NSA or low sodium mustard* (I always add a spoonful of low sodium sweet pickle relish* on mine), hot chili, a sprinkle of shredded cheese, and a handful of chopped onions. Then the whole thing is put into a shallow bowl or plate and microwaved for 8 - 12 seconds. When it comes out of the microwave, I cover it all with plastic wrap or a plastic microwave cover. (I’ll put a pot holder over the cover opening to keep the steam from escaping.) Alternately, you can wrap each individual chili dog in plastic wrap. But I find using a plate neater and easier. By the time I’m ready to serve up the hot dogs, they’ve been properly steamed.

Served with salt free french fries or potato chips, some NSA pickles, and you’ve got a great low sodium “fast food” treat.

*Low Sodium Chili Dog Condiments:

Westbrae No Salt Added Stoneground Mustard (Available at Amazon or Healthy Heart Market)

Boar’s Head Yellow Mustard (54% lower sodium – 25 mg sodium/tsp)

Monday, June 5, 2017

Hot Dogs

Or in the case of low sodium hot dogs, “Get ’em while they're available!

Lower sodium franks are out there, but they can be hard to come by. And, as with everything else low sodium, they come and go. A good example is Applegate Organic Uncured Beef Hot Dogs. Not that long ago, they were only 280 mg sodium per link and were available at Trader Joe’s and other stores. Then they changed their formulation and the hot dogs are now 500 mg sodium per link. A disappointment for many.

Something similar happened with Trader Joe’s Uncured Chicken Hot Dogs. They were 250 mg sodium per link but their current status is questionable. I haven’t seen them at any of my local TJ stores, and an online Fearless Flyer article dating back to 2012 states, “Fearlessly Archived—Still a fun read; price & availability may have changed.” Not very encouraging.

Low Sodium Hot Dogs with NSA Mustard
That said, there really are low sodium hot dogs available. Some are offered at nationwide grocery store chains. Some are sold regionally, and some are only available online. Sometimes they’re labelled specifically as a lower sodium product. Sometimes, the company just happens to produce a regular hot dog that isn’t loaded in sodium. Don’t be fooled by brands, though. Just because a specific brand produces one lower sodium hot dog, doesn’t means all its offerings will be lower in sodium. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

Below is a list of what I’ve found so far. It’s not exhaustive, by any means. Some  franks are a little higher in sodium content than others. Check out the accompanying links to get more information: nutritional labels, where they’re sold, how to order, etc. And always remember – availability and sodium content may change.

(This the hot dog I purchase at my closest Whole Foods. I don’t make the trek to Whole Foods often, so I buy two packages at a time, and then bundle up 4 links each for freezing. Each bundle is perfect for two days worth of hot dog lunches. According to its website, Nature’s Rancher products are exclusive to Whole Foods. However, not all WF stores carry all Nature’s Rancher products. The website advises checking with your local WF market’s meat manager for availability.)

Coleman Beef Uncured Hot Dogs ‒ 260 mg sodium/link

Oscar Mayer Classic Premium Uncured Beef Franks – 360 mg sodium/link

Sam's Choice Organic Grassfed Uncured Beef Hot Dogs - 250 mg sodium/link (available exclusively at Walmart)

Simple Truth Uncured Beef Hot Dogs ‒ 250 mg sodium/link (available exclusively at Kroger's)

The Buffalo Guys All Natural Buffalo Hot Dogs ‒ 160 mg sodium/link

If you’ve found a resource I haven’t listed, please share it. Your additional information could greatly benefit someone else. And, finally, if you have already tried one of the hot dogs listed, feel free to express your opinion and give us a review of the product.

One last note: Please, no lectures about how hot dogs are devoid of nutritional benefits. I’m not advocating them as an important part of a low sodium diet. They’re an occasional treat – no more and no less. Everyone is free to do want they want with hot dogs. Eat one every couple of months or never let one touch your lips.

As I’ve said before, everyone approaches going low sodium differently. It definitely is not a "one size fits all" proposition. You’re the only one who understands your likes and dislikes, your schedule, your cooking abilities, your finances, what’s available in grocery stores nearby, and what you’re willing to do in order to eat lower sodium. Everyone has different skills, tastes, and levels of motivation. What works for you may not work for others. You are the only one who can develop a lower sodium routine  and regimen that fits your unique personality. You can glean ideas and inspiration from a lot of sources, but everything you do needs to satisfy you and you alone. If hot dogs are out for you — Great! If you enjoy an occasional lower sodium hot dog — Great! After all, it's YOUR low sodium program.