Friday, July 28, 2006

Food post for a muggy day

My kid, he's not one of those picky eaters. Sure, Ben likes chips, sweets, fast-food burgers and fries, and that sort of junk food, but he's willing to venture beyond. We were shopping at Trader Joe's this afternoon, where he loves to visit the sample counter. Today's offering was grilled ciabatta topped with brie, prosciutto, baby arugula, and thinly sliced cantaloupe. He liked the sample so much, he wanted another—but other customers were snapping them up as fast as the guy could make them. He really, really wanted to have more, so he selected a wedge of brie from the refrigerated case and then, when prompted, a package of prosciutto. I picked out a cantaloupe (though watermelon is the only kind of melon I like), and figured multigrain bread and baby spinach would suffice for the other bits. Had to grill up an open-faced brie, prosciutto, spinach, and melon sandwich as soon as we got home. "Mom, you have to cut off the crust," nagged the picky kid within Ben. (He plucked the crust off the bread himself.)

I hope Mr. Tangerine likes this recipe, too (he shares my distaste for cantaloupe), because I sure won't eat it. Prosciutto = red meat + salt (no can do). Brie = salt and mildly assy taste (thanks to my friend Kristin for the handy cheese adjective "assy"—she calls it that even though she likes the assy cheeses, but I do not care for assy flavors and aromas). Bread and spinach, well, I can put them to better uses than to layer them with those other ingredients.

Speaking of salt, I've had to watch my sodium intake of late. Do you know how much salt is in nearly everything sold in packages in the grocery store? Not just chips, cheese, lunchmeat, mac and cheese, bacon, and the like, either. Cold cereal! Eight bowls of Cheerios with milk gives you all the salt you should have for the entire day (of course, the average American probably eats two or three times as much salt as doctors recommend). So if you're hardcore about watching salt intake and you're not inclined to eat, say, well-marbled steaks cooked in unsalted butter, you end up with lots of produce (fruit, salad with little or no dressing), chicken or fish with salt-free seasonings (if you feel like cooking, because anything you buy prepared at the store or a restaurant is probably salted), unsalted nuts (yum), a little health-food-brand granola, and not a ton else. It's definitely a challenge to adhere to a very-reduced-salt diet.

But! There is a "but." It's a great way to lose weight. I didn't aim to give up fat (unsalted nuts, low-salt peanut butter, ice cream, and peanut M&Ms are rich in fat but low in sodium). I didn't give up carbs (fruit, bread, sugar wafer cookies, yum!). You could drive yourself to the brink of insanity reading nutrition labels in the effort to avoid sodium, but I've found myself about 5 pounds lighter in two weeks of watching my salt but not starving myself in the slightest.

Maybe I should write a diet book: Orange's Desalinization Plan: Guaranteed Weight Loss. Ah, forget it. People are too hooked on salty food to follow my plan.


Cricket said...

I think Ben has great taste. Opposite you, wallermelon is out, but cantelope is in.

I eat way too much processed food anymore. I should look at the salt intake.

Anonymous said...

Salt, huh? Give gluten-free a try. The first year is depressing, then you just get used to reading labels on everything. Craziness.