Procedure Preparation -Food ideas

Last week J had to undergo a procedure at the hospital that required a clear liquid diet only for 24 hours. The instructions allowed bouillon or broth, jello and  drinks as long as there was no red or purple colouring. For many people this might not be too difficult but if you’re  on a sugar and salt restricted diet, this can be more difficult.

For example, beverages – almost all the clear juices on the grocery shelves had too much sugar, so they were off the list.


Next I tried the liquid or powder drink flavouring. Many of the Crystal Light flavours had raspberry mixed in so we were left with only Lemon/Lime. Brands such as Tang or Mio also either had the restricted colours or too much sugar, althoughI did find a nice Mango Peach that was good.  Also keep in mind you (or your “patient”) might not need to drink too many glasses, so depending on your daily intake, this might not be a problem if you only have a glass or two.

The Jello products were also a disappointment because I could only find Orange and Lemon in the Sugar Free versions. But they were helpful to make in advance before and after the procedure.

Bouillon/Broth – Campbell’s is now making a fairly good “no salt added’ broth. The Vegetable broth has only 20mg of Sodium and 45mg of Potassium for 2/3 cup of broth which is fairly good for commercially made broth.  I opted to make my own chicken broth.

Chicken Broth Recipe

A couple of days prior I placed two whole chickens in my pressure cooker along with 3 cups of liquid (you can use water, or a low sodium/low potassium broth). Place the pressure cooker on the high heat until the pressure builds and then reduce the heat to medium high to keep the steam going. Cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

According to the manufacturer’s instructions, when safe to do so, open the pressure cooker and use an instant read thermometer to check for doneness. Once the chicken is done separate the whole birds from the broth and place on a platter to cool down.

At this point I like to transfer the liquid to my stock pot because it has a thicker base than my pressure cooker and therefore is less likely to burn ingredients onto the bottom.

I add spices such  as: bay leaf, peppercorns, thyme, oregano and slowly bring to a low simmer. If desired, you can also add vegetable to your broth, such as celery, carrots, onions chopped into small-medium sized pieces.

In the mean time I separate the meat from the bones, adding the bones to the broth and once all the bones are in the broth, I place on a low simmer for 4 hours. Strain the broth to remove the bones and the vegetables and discard to your food recycling.

Let the broth cool and transfer to a container for your fridge.

The following day, you can degrease the broth by removing the hardened layer of fat from the broth. This can then be consumed following the instructions of the medical procedure.

You can later use the remaining broth as you normally would – maybe even adding back your cooked chicken for a chicken noodle soup, or other dishes.


Reading Food Labels (the “Coles Notes” version)

For the Eight Mystery of the World, we add ….. FOOD LABELS!!!

Food labels are difficult to decipher, even the nutritionists and dieticians comment about the variances between them and how tough they can be to decipher. What does it all mean?

Here’s a few quick comments, but I’ve also included some links to articles written by the professionals for you read as well.

SERVING SIZE The first thing you need to pay attention to is serving size. Some items have very small serving sizes – for example “three crackers”. If the serving size is small, and depending on what is broken down on the label, you may want to by-pass the product all together as you’ll may have a tough time sticking to the serving size and end up with too much fat or salt etc.

SALT FREE/SODIUM FREE – be cautious of foods that are labeled as sodium free, often they make up the flavour (or preservative properties) of the sodium by using POTASSIUM instead. For many heart patients, a little potassium might not be so bad. In fact, some of you may have had your dietician recommend you eat more bananas for the potassium. But if you have kidney issues along with your heart issues, you will need to be very cautious of added potassium in these items.

Continue reading “Reading Food Labels (the “Coles Notes” version)”


Ah bread – for those of us lucky enough NOT to have a gluten allergy, bread is a wonderful thing. However, following a Heart Smart/Diabetic diet means you need to switch to whole grains and reduce your salt and sugar intake. For us, most of the commercial breads were no longer an option.  Yes, there are plenty of higher-end “artisan” breads to buy,  but the loaves are often quite expensive since there are only two of us we’d either have to freeze a portion of the loaf (which is always an option) or waste too much of it.

For us, our best option is to make our own bread – this way we substitute the sugar and reduce the salt. Our choice was the Zojirushi Home Baker Mini Bread Maker*


Continue reading “Bread”

What’s for dinner?

Prior to J’s heart attack he did all the grocery shopping but after being released from the hospital he had to take it easy. All the walking that’s required to shop is a lot for someone recovering so I had to take over. Previously he was quite the foodie and loved to eat well but now we had to completely overhaul what and how he ate. We now had to keep in mind his diabetes (low sugar)  PLUS a heart smart diet (low-fat, low salt).

Reducing sugar and fat are not too difficult since so many packaged foods focus on these but almost all packaged/processed food is too high in salt. J had been advised to have less that 2300 mg of sodium (approx. 1 teaspoon). We now had to read all product labels and it was shocking to see the amount of salt in canned and packaged foods. Even foods that say “no salt added” still contain amounts often too high for the serving size (more on this coming soon).

Here’s our initial grocery listing:  Continue reading “What’s for dinner?”