Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Looking for healthy food in the hospital

Beautiful BluefinImage by Sifu Renka via Flickr
Although you can't stop the destruction of the giant bluefin tuna, you can refuse to buy
 any at Mitsuwa, the Japanese supermarket in Edgewater, and at Japanese restaurants.

Editor's note: Today, I discuss my search for healthy food in a hospital cafeteria, urge you to boycott a Japanese supermarket's bluefin tuna festival, note higher prices at Costco Wholesale and offer a recipe for a mayo-less canned fish salad.

Sliced strawberries nestled in whipped cream? For breakfast?

I stared at the tray on the fruit-salad bar in the cafeteria of Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, and wondered what hospital administrators are thinking.

In September, I had tests and then open-heart surgery at the hospital, and was served a series of healthy but awful meals during my recovery: no salt, no sugar, no caffeine and no taste.

Since I started cardiac rehab a few weeks ago, I had walked past the cafeteria on the first floor without going in, so on Friday, I walked through and did the same on Monday morning.

The cafeteria is open to the public as well as to the staff, including doctors and nurses, but the chances of finding healthy food are slim. 

On Friday, just after 9 a.m., the first salad bar I came to had only a few shrink-wrapped platters of pale, farmed salmon with vegetables or salad, but on Monday, the same bar was empty.

To the right, there were bananas and two other kinds of whole fruit, plus buttered rolls, big Jersey bagels, pastries, muffins, sugar buns, cookies and pound cake. 

The Boar's Head Sandwich Bar was self-service, but you can be sure the only cold cuts served there are from animals raised with antibiotics and growth hormones, and cured with preservatives.

A grill offered an "all-natural" hot dog without nitrites for $2.66. The hamburger and cheeseburger are a mystery, however.

A steam table offered two or three kinds of hot cereal and scrambled eggs, plus greasy mystery bacon, sausage and corned-beef hash.

At the fruit-salad bar, fruit salad was 50 cents an ounce -- or $8 a pound. I guess the sliced strawberries and whipped cream cost the same.

I'm on a no-bread diet, so if I wanted to have breakfast there, I would have to satisfy myself with coffee or tea and fruit salad or maybe some eggs without anything else.

Tuna-boycott time

It's time to boycott the Giant Bluefin Tuna Festival on Nov. 19-20 at Mitsuwa Marketplace in Edgewater.

Please stay away from the Japanese supermarket's three "cutting performances," in which beheaded fish weighing hundreds of pounds are reduced to sushi and sashimi by a small army of workers.

The magnificent giant bluefin tuna is an endangered species, but the Japanese have a voracious appetite for the fish, despite its extremely high mercury content. 

In 2009, Mitsuwa sold sashimi from the belly of the fish for $60 a pound. 

Women of child-bearing age and children should not consume any blue-fin tuna.

Higher Costco prices

In looking over my wife's receipt on Monday from Costco Wholesale in Hackensack, I noticed a couple of price increases.

Two pounds of Jarlsberg sliced, reduced-fat Swiss Cheese are now $9.49, compared to $8.99.

Two large containers of Greek Yogurt are now $6.99, and 1 pound of Earthbound Farm Organic Spring Mix is $4.89.

The Roma plum tomatoes are from Euro Fresh Farms, but they are grown in the United States and pesticide free ($4.99 for 2 pounds).

Canned-fish salad

I chopped up red onion and sweet yellow pepper, opened up two cans of pink salmon, two cans of Moroccan sardines and a can of light, yellowfin tuna.

Everything, including the liquid from the cans, went into a plastic container, and I mixed it all up.

Then I added lots of Dijon mustard, ground cumin and fresh lemon juice to taste, but no mayonnaise. 

A big mound of the canned fish salad made a nice breakfast over red-leaf lettuce dressed in extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, with olives on the side. 

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  1. Victor - so sorry to read that you were under the weather. Wishing you complete and speedy healing!


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