Healthy Deli

Decoding the Deli Counter

Cold cuts have gotten a bad rap, but if you use this counter intelligence, you can pick up a tasty and nutritious meal on the fly.


The number one deli order is turkey, and there’s nothing wrong with that—except that it gets old fast. “Fresh turkey is healthy, but the deli can be a one-stop shop of delicious, health-conscious options,” says Keri Gans, R.D., author of The Small Change Diet. If you’re wary of sodium, nitrates, and other dangers you’ve heard about, read on to learn the best choices for your body.


Not All Cuts Are Created Equal
Sliced whole roasted ham, turkey, and pot roast are known in deli-speak as “whole cuts.” Far more common, though, are processed meats, which tend to be fattier and are made by adding preservatives (mostly salt) and sometimes fillers (anything from meat by-products to corn syrup) to ground meat, says Jan Novakofski, Ph.D., a professor of nutritional science in the meat science laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


“The best way to make sure you’re getting a whole cut is to ask for it.”

Nitrate Dangers Are No Baloney
A study in the journal Circulation found that a daily dose of 50 grams (about two slices) of processed red meats such as bologna and salami increases heart-disease risk by 42 percent and diabetes risk by 19 percent; including smoked turkey. The study findings suggest that high amounts of nitrates (and sodium) may explain the higher risk of heart attacks and diabetes, says lead study author Renata Micha, Ph.D., R.D.


But this doesn’t mean you can never have another pastrami on rye—just make sure it’s loaded with greens.

“Some studies show that the antioxidants in vegetables may prevent nitrates from converting into cancer-causing compounds,” says Rebecca Scritchfield.

 “Stuff your sandwich with lots of veggies, not just lettuce. Spinach, alfalfa, and tomatoes are all high in antioxidants and nutrients and low in calories.”


 Low-Sodium Doesn’t Have to Mean Low Taste

Surprise—some sandwiches can pack 150 percent of your RDA of sodium. Low-sodium meats and cheeses slash salt by anywhere from 30 to 85 percent. When going low-sodium, pick a meat or cheese you don’t normally eat. That way, your taste buds won’t be expecting the same flavor and, choose a variety with herbs or spices, like chipotle chicken or peppered roast beef, so you don’t miss the salt.


Choose Your Cheese Wisely
Swiss has 83 percent less sodium than American cheese, and more calcium—about 25 percent of the recommended daily value. And although no regular cheese can claim to be low-fat, mozzarella is the best one for your body, with about six grams of fat per ounce. Ask for your order to be sliced thin—not only will you save calories, but thin cheese slices are a better choice for hot sandwiches. Their lower density helps them melt better.


Avoid Shiny Sides
When the veggies in deli salads are slick and glistening, it’s usually a good sign that they’ve been bathed in high-calorie oil. Instead, go for a cucumber salad or mayo-free coleslaw.


Oils the Cooking story…

The Cooking Oils You Should be Using, and When to Use Them

Someone who follows food news knows that butter is back. What’s really in is cooking oil.


In 2010, while Americans consumed 4.9 pounds of butter a year per capita, they consumed 53.6 pounds of cooking oil. From commonly used oils like canola and olive to others like avocado and hempseed oil, there are a ton of oils out there to use for culinary purposes. With so many kinds of oils, choosing the right one for cooking can be daunting.

Health benefits aside, the key factors you need to consider are heating temperature and flavor. Oils break down at a certain temperature, which is known as their smoke point. The smoke point for oils is always a rough estimate, because the breakdown happens gradually and not at a precise moment, and also because smoke points depend on how refined the oil is. Regular olive oil is more refined than extra virgin olive oil, and there might be varying degrees of refinement for various peanut oils.

Unrefined oils have lower smoke points than refined oils, which make them good for salad dressings. They also tend to have a stronger flavor. Refined oils have higher smoke points and typically a more neutral flavor, which makes them better for sautéing, frying or even deep-frying.
Here are 11 common cooking oils, and how to choose the right one for your recipes.
• Olive Oil, always the star of the show…

Olive oil on the shelves at Laurenzos

Olive oil on the shelves at Laurenzos

What it is: Olive oil comes from pressing whole olives. While it’s used all over the world, it is the primary cooking oil used in the Mediterranean. It is high in good-for-your-heart monounsaturated fatty acids.
Smoke point: Smoke points vary depending on the type of olive oil: Extra Virgin is 320°F, Virgin is 420°F, Pomace is 460°F, Extra Light is 468°F
What it’s good for: Extra virgin olive oil has the richest flavor because it is made without any heat or chemicals, which makes it good for salad dressings and drizzling. Refined olive oil is good for sautéing.
What it’s bad for: Frying and deep-frying
Canola Oil

What it is: Canola oil is low in saturated fat, with only seven percent saturated fat — compared to sunflower oil, which has 12 percent, and olive oil, which 15 percent saturated fat. It has a neutral flavor, high smoke point and is also relatively inexpensive.
Smoke point: 400°F
What it’s good for: All-purpose, good for cooking and dressings
What it’s bad for: Drizzling where flavor is required
• Vegetable Oil

What it is: Vegetable oil refers to any plant-based oil, which may include any or a combination of the following: soybean, sunflower or safflower oil. Most vegetable oils have a high smoke point and neutral flavor, which make them great for baking.
Smoke point: Depends on the brand because of its mixed ratios of Canola, Soybean, Sunflower, Safflower, etc…
What it’s good for: All-purpose, good for cooking and dressings
What it’s bad for: Drizzling where flavor is required
• Peanut Oil

What it is: Peanut oil has a mild flavor and high smoke point, which makes it great for deep-frying and a range of other cooking. It’s made from pressed steam-cooked peanuts and is popular in Asian cooking.
Smoke point: 450°F
What it’s good for: Deep-frying, pan-frying, roasting and grilling
What it’s bad for: Baking or anything that requires a neutral flavor
• Grapeseed oil

What it is: Grapeseed oil is versatile — it has a somewhat neutral flavor and medium-high smoke point. It can be used in salad dressings, but also works for sautéing and baking. And it’s a by-product of wine-making!
Smoke point: 392°F
What it’s good for: Sautéing, frying and salad dressings
What it’s bad for: Deep frying
• Sunflower Oil

What it is: Sunflower oil’s high smoke point and light flavor make it a favorite for frying, but it is also good oil for baking. It is made from pressed sunflower seeds, is high in vitamin E and low in saturated fat.
Smoke point: 450°F
What it’s good for: Frying, margarine, salad dressings, baking
What it’s bad for: Drizzling or low-heat cooking
• Safflower Oil

What it is: Safflower oil has a neutral flavor and the refined kind has a very high smoke point, which makes it great for searing and deep frying. It comes from the seeds of a safflower plant (which is related to the sunflower).
Smoke point: 450°F
What it’s good for: Deep-frying, searing, stir-frying, margarine, mayonnaise
What it’s bad for: Drizzling or low-heat cooking
• Coconut Oil

What it is: Coconut oil is having a moment right now — it’s the darling of vegan cooks, who often use it as a replacement for butter in baking. It’s turning up in vegan recipes and products all over the place. Extracted from the meat or kernel of a coconut, the oil has a distinct, sweet flavor — the natural sweetness makes it good for baking sweet treats and also for certain sautéed dishes. It is high in (not-good-for your-heart) saturated fat — specifically a kind called lauric acid, which some consider a healthier fat source.
Smoke point: 350°F
What it’s good for: Baking, frostings, sautéing
What it’s bad for: Deep-frying, dressings
• Sesame Oil

What it is: Sesame oil has a very distinct flavor and is popular in Asian cooking. Light sesame oil has different uses than dark sesame oil.
Smoke point: 410°F
What it’s good for: Light is good for deep-frying and dark sesame oil is better for stir-frying and dipping sauces and used more for the flavor that it gives off.
What it’s bad fort: Baking
• Corn Oil

What it is: Corn oil is made from corn kernels and its high smoke point makes it good for frying. It’s a favorite of fast food chains — almost 70 percent of fast food restaurants make French fries with corn oil. It’s also used to make margarine. The oil is high in saturated fats and low in so-called good fats, which is why it’s often considered one of the unhealthiest oils (GMO content oil).
Smoke point: 450°F
What it’s good for: Deep-frying and also margarine
What it’s bad for: Drizzling and low heat cooking
• Soybean Oil

What it is: Soybean oil has a stronger flavor and aroma and is commonly used in processed foods. In 2007, NPR reported that almost 80 percent of oil used for cooking and baking in the U.S. came from soybeans. Because it has a short shelf-life, soybean oil often gets treated with hydrogen gas, which creates trans fats. In 2005 we were consuming 15.5 billion pounds in 2005 and about half of that was partly hydrogenated, the New York Times reports. With the government’s ban on trans fat, that statistic should soon change. In 2012, the use of edible soybean fell to 12.3 billion pounds.
Smoke point: 450°F
What it’s good for: Processed foods, margarine, salad dressings
What it’s bad for: Drizzling