Saturday, February 7, 2009

February is “Heart Healthy Month”, which means it is time to check in with yourself and make sure you are eating a healthy diet that is beneficial for your heart and overall health. Eating a “whole-foods diet” meaning foods in their natural form as they come from the ground and not processed, is the cornerstone for a heart healthy diet. Locally grown fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, nuts, fish and green teas all help reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Fresh produce helps wipe out free radicals in the bloodstream, protecting the blood vessels, while grains, nuts, fish, and tea, provide phytonutrients, which promote health. Protecting your heart by modifying your eating habits or fine tuning your diet will not only give you more energy, but eating properly will bring your whole body in balance. Start by limiting unhealthy fats and cholesterol and remove trans fats completely. Switch to low-fat protein choices. Lean meat, poultry, fish, low-fat cheese, egg whites, beans, legumes and substitute soy protein for animal protein. Eat more fruit and vegetables. Eat more fiber. Choose whole grains. Reduce your salt intake. Moderation – control your portion size. Avoid last minute meal decisions by planning ahead. There are many choices when it comes to choosing foods that protect your heart and blood vessels and variety is important when trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
The following heart healthy foods list is a foundation to help build your own recipes.
Salmon – Flaxseed – Oatmeal – Kidney or Black Beans – Almonds – Walnuts – Red Wine – Tuna – Tofu – Soy Milk – Brown Rice – Blueberries – Carrots –Spinach – Broccoli – Sweet Potato – Red Bell Peppers – Asparagus – Oranges – Tomatoes – Acorn Squash – Cantaloupe – Papaya – Organic Tea – my favorite, Dark Chocolate 70% or higher cocoa.

Basic Granola
by Penny Rich
Oatmeal – Grandma called it roughage. Oats are nourishing whole grains and a great source of vitamins, minerals and cholesterol lowering fiber.

2 cups rolled oats, not instant
1 cup almonds, raw
½ cups sun flower seeds, raw
¼ cup sesame seeds
¼ cup canola oil
¾ cup honey

Mix the ingredients in a large bowl. Toss until everything is evenly coated. Pour the ingredients on a baking sheet with a lip or roasting pan. Bake for 30 minutes in a 300F oven, stirring every 10 minutes until golden brown. If you like dried fruit in you granola add it now. Mix and allow to set. Store in an airtight container.

Creamy Spinach Soup
By Penny Rich
Serves 8
Spinach is the powerhouse of the vegetable kingdom. The dark green color comes from the multiple phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals including folate and iron that fight disease, protect against heart disease, and preserve your eyesight. Soy is an inexpensive, high-quality protein containing fiber and vitamins, assisting in lowering triglycerides.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound red potatoes, diced
2 leeks, washed, cleaned and diced
Salt and pepper
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups unsweetened soymilk
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon freshly grated horseradish
10 cups fresh baby spinach

Heat oil in a large soup pot. Add potatoes and leeks. Cook until slightly tender about 7 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Add broth, milk, thyme and horseradish. Cook for 20 minutes. Add spinach and cook for about 1 minute just until the spinach wilts. Puree with emersion blender. Adjust seasoning. Serve hot with crusty bread or homemade garlic croutons*.

*To make croutons, dice 2-3 slices of day old bread and toss with minced garlic and 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. Spread on baking try and toast in a 350F oven for 5-7 minutes.

Salmon with Blueberry Salsa
by Penny Rich
Serves 4
Salmon is a cold water fish, a great source of protein and packed with omega-3 fatty acids.

½ cup blueberries*
½ cup diced mango
3 scallions, diced
½ red pepper, diced
2-3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 jalapeno, finely diced
Salt and pepper to taste
For the Fish
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds salmon**
Salt and pepper

In a medium bowl mix the salsa ingredients together. Set aside. Heat Olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over high flame. Cut the salmon into 4 servings, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook3-5 minutes on each side.
*local blueberries can be frozen in the spring for winter time use. Blueberries top the list as one of the most powerful disease fighting foods. They contain anthocyanins, an antioxidant that provides the blue color. Packed with fiber and vitamin C, add blueberries to your regular diet by adding them to cereal, muffins, waffles and sauces.
** Salmon is versatile, easy to cook and tastes great. Try using salmon in pasta dishes, soups, salmon cakes, salads or spreads.

Dark Chocolate Fondue
By Penny Rich
Dark chocolate contains flavonoids that are responsible for lowering blood pressure, improving circulation, defending against free radicals and assisting in digestion.

1 pound premium 70% cocoa dark chocolate, well chopped
1 ½ cups organic heavy cream

Heat the cream in a medium saucepan. Do not let the cream boil. Just at the simmer add the chocolate. Stir until it is melted. Transfer to a fondue pot and enjoy with chunks of fresh fruit, dried fruit and nuts.


mikko said...

I love this granola recipe.

Ronnie said...

Your links are looking much better.

penny rich said...

Thanks Ron. What would I do without you?