Mary’s Memo #2121


I do urge people to read labels but when it came to my favorite potato chip I didn't realize until recently that they're cooked in hydrogenated soybean oil, a solid fat and anything cooked in a solid fat has trans fatty acids that raise bad cholesterol (LDL) and decrease good cholesterol (HDL). I still think my chip-of-choice tastes better but I try to avoid any food with trans fats. Also, in my older days I'm trying to stay as well as I can for as long as I can and I don't need something that raises my cholesterol! So do read labels carefully.


A flexitarion is semi-vegetarian who only eats carnivorous cuisine from time to time, according to an article by Louise McCready from McCready reports that meat is the single most expensive thing Americans eat, and in tough times it's one of the first things to go. Fifty one percent of shoppers surveyed by the American Meat Institute say they have changed their meat purchasing relative to the economy. Despite the recent increase in home cooking, the average family prepares 3.9 meals that include a meat item, down from 4.2 meals last year.

Although I don't consider myself a flexitarian, I am making myself more meatless meals. I admit to liking a hot dog occasionally but don't want to deal with a pound of them. Every Thursday our A&W features a Coney dog for 99 cents. So when I crave a hot dog, I buy it that day. By doing so, it limits my consumption of processed meats a tad.

I do want people to make healthier food choices but prefer that they make the decision themselves. I like to think of Mary's Memo as a bully pulpit where I can encourage good eating habits without spending an arm and a leg. Take advantage of the special sales on produce at Chief and Rays in addition to the weekly specials. Then plan your menus around the sale items. Because I want you to have the latest information about foods and nutrition, I personally subscribe to 5 monthly newsletters on the subject. Sometimes you get the information in the memo before it's reported in newspapers and on TV.

Tomato and Sweet Onion Salad is a suggestion because grape tomatoes (miniature romas) are often featured. The original recipe called for 4 large tomatoes, sliced. Instead, I used 3 pints of grape tomatoes, halved. I also doubled the dressing because even doubled, it wasn't an excessive amount. When I served the salad at the Bryan Chief I used regular balsamic vinegar and I didn't like the way it colored the onions and prompted a customer to ask "what's the brown stuff?" Chief and Rays also carry white balsamic vinegar that comes from the same part of Italy as regular balsamic but it's processed differently. It's only aged one year so it has a milder flavor and light color which I prefer in this salad.


1/2 cup light olive oil
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 pints cherry tomatoes, washed and halved
1 medium sweet onion, sliced thin
1/4 cup chopped basil

Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, salt, sugar and pepper in a glass or stainless steel bowl. Arrange tomatoes and onion slices in alternate rows in a 9x13-inch serving dish. Sprinkle with chopped fresh basil and drizzle evenly with dressing. Cover and let set at room temperature for at least 2 hours. Serve with a slotted spoon. Recipe makes 8 servings.

Source: Adapted from Southern Living recipe, July 2005.

There is no shortage of zucchini. Even if you don't grow it, I'll bet you have a friend who wants to give you some. So it seems appropriate to share a zucchini recipe. I added fresh mushrooms to this recipe simply because I like them! I'm also reading good things about the health benefits of mushrooms. They're an excellent source of potassium and a rich source of riboflavin, niacin and selenium, an antioxidant.


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, sliced thin
2 medium zucchini, cut in half and sliced about 1/2-inch thick
2 cups button mushrooms, sliced in half
2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
Ground black pepper

Heat oil in large 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Stir in onions and cook 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until lightly browned. Add zucchini and cook I minute. Stir in teriyaki sauce, soy sauce and sesame seeds. Cook until zucchini is crisp-cooked, about 5 minutes. Stir in ground pepper and serve immediately. Recipe makes 6 serving.

Source: Adapted from recipe provided by, the world's favorite recipe web site.

Note: To toast sesame seeds, cook in a skillet over medium heat until lightly browned, stirring almost constantly.

PS: Remember the Cucumber and Grape Salad from this spring? I have made it several times but now I'm using plain Greek yogurt. It's thicker and creamier than other plain yogurts. It does cost more but it's worth it. Download PDF of Memo #2121

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