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After my recent heart attack at the young age of 44, I was made aware of how important lifestyle, family genetics, and nutrition are in terms of both our mental and physical health. None of us are spared because of gender or age, as previously stated in numerous medical studies. Actually, all of us are equal in this regard. The recipes posted here are "Heart Healthy," in that they promote not only good nutrition, but they are gentle most specifically on our hearts. Please enjoy!

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake

Posted By NurseBossyBum on Mar 15, 2008 at 8:51PM

Heart healthy and delicious dessert!!

Apple and Fennel Roasted Pork Tenderloin

Posted By music_jewel321 on Mar 8, 2008 at 11:26PM

I absolutely love the somewhat licorice taste of fennel, and when mixed with apples and red onions, the flavors burst in your mouth. Here it is served as an accompaniment with a lean cut of pork tenderloin. Pork has a natural affinity with apples...they just go together so well. This dish, as elegant as it is, can be enhanced with a side of sautéed spinach and a glass of chianti.

Chicken Stock

Posted By music_jewel321 on Mar 6, 2008 at 11:56AM

There are very few things that are as healthy and heart warming as homecooked chicken stock. It is the foundation for so many recipes, from soups and stews, to consommes and sauces. I go through a gallon of chicken stock a week, so it's not cost efficient for me to purchase store bought chicken stock. It sounds kinda silly, but I collect chicken bones every Saturday from all my brother and sisters' homes so I can make chicken stock on Sunday. The store bought varieties, although they can be quite tasty, contain a lot of sodium and fat, even though they are marked as "low fat" or "low sodium." Personally, I prefer to control the amount of fat and sodium I put into my body.

New Orleans-Style Red Beans and Rice

Posted By music_jewel321 on Mar 3, 2008 at 10:44AM

As the numero uno carrier of heart healthy antioxidents out of any food known to man, red kidney beans should be a part of everyone's health regimen. Some people refuse to eat beans, though, because the...well, to put it politely..."after effects" can be disturbing (especially to bystanders!). If you place a raw red potato, unskinned but poked with a fork, into the beans while you cook them, the gas-producing enzyme will not be a problem. Just throw out the potato before serving, and the gas will be taken out right along with the potato.

2 tsp olive oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
1/2 red or green bell pepper, diced
1 small stalk of celery, diced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp dried thyme, crumbled
1 Tbsp paprika
1/2 Tbsp oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cups canned red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups fat free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cups brown rice, cooked
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper and celery and sauté for 4 minutes. Stir in garlic, thyme and spices, and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 2-3 minutes. Add beans and broth. Simmer gently, uncovered, over low heat until beans are creamy, about 15-20 minutes, making sure not to overcook them. Serve beans over brown rice.

Makes 6 servings, 1/2 cup each.

Calories: 170
Total fat: 2.5g
Saturated fat: 0g
Carbs: 29g
Protein: 6g
Fiber: 5g
Sodium: 140mg

Health Benefits of Common Beans

Posted By music_jewel321 on Mar 3, 2008 at 10:25AM

By Dr. Michael T. Murray

Michael T. Murray, N.D., is widely regarded as one of world's leading authorities on natural medicine. A prolific author, Dr. Murray has written over 20 books on health and nutrition including the best-selling Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine and his latest book The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. Dr. Murray is also Director of Product Development and Education for Natural Factors one of the leading manufacturers of natural products.

Legumes (beans) are among the oldest cultivated plants. In fact, fossil records demonstrate that prehistoric people domesticated and cultivated legumes for food. Today, this extremely large category of vegetables contains over 13,000 species and is second only to grains in supplying calories and protein to the world's population. Compared to grains, legumes supply about the same number of total calories, but usually provide 2-to-4 times as much protein.

Legumes are often called "the poor people's meat," however, they might be better known as the "healthy people's meat." Many legumes, especially soybeans, are demonstrating impressive health benefits. Diets rich in legumes are being used to lower cholesterol levels, improve blood glucose control in diabetics, and reduce the risk of many cancers. Legumes contain many important nutrients and phytochemicals, and when combined with grains, they form a complete protein. According to studies conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture, richly colored dried beans offer a high degree of antioxidant protection (see below). In fact, small red kidney beans rated the highest just ahead of blueberries.

The soybean, thanks largely to the United States is now the most widely grown and utilized legume, accounting for well over 50% of the world's total legume production. In terms of dollar value, the soybean is the United States' most important crop, ranking above corn, wheat, and cotton.

Common beans are variants of Phaseolus vulgaris and include black, kidney, lima, mung, navy, pinto, and string (or snap) beans. All of the varieties of Phaseolus vulgaris originated in Peru over 7,000 years ago, and were then spread by migrating bands of Native Americans into Latin and North America. The early explorers and settlers of the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries were introduced to these beans by the natives. In fact, the basic recipes for Boston baked beans and succotash were derived from those used by Native Americans. Common beans were then introduced into Europe in the 15th century by Spanish explorers returning from their voyages to the New World. They were subsequently spread to Africa and Asia by Spanish and Portuguese traders.

As common beans are a very inexpensive form of good protein, they have become popular in many cultures throughout the world. However, their use as a health promoting food today seems to have been eclipsed by the growing popularity of soybeans and soy foods. Nonetheless, there is an emerging appreciation on the benefits of consumption of beans based upon the results of recent scientific investigations. One of the big differences between the common bean and the soybean is the absence of phytoestrogens and goitrogens in common beans.

The key nutritional benefits of common beans are quite similar to those discussed above for soybeans except that they are much lower in fat content—usually only 1-to-2%. Their protein content and quality is quite similar though. Common beans also offer an excellent source of complex carbohydrate and fiber. They are a very good source of folic acid and molybdenum. Common beans are also a good source of phosphorus, iron, protein, magnesium, manganese, and potassium.

The major health benefit of common beans is their rich source of cholesterol-lowering fiber. In addition to lowering cholesterol, the high fiber content of beans prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making these beans an especially good choice for individuals with diabetes, insulin resistance, or hypoglycemia.

The common beans’ contribution to heart health lies not just in their fiber, but in the significant amounts of antioxidants, folic acid, vitamin B6, and magnesium these beans supply. Folic acid and B6 help lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that is an intermediate product in an important metabolic process called the methylation cycle. Elevated blood levels of homocysteine are an independent risk factor for heart attack, stroke, or peripheral vascular disease, and are found in between 20-to-40 percent of patients with heart disease.

Intake of common beans is also protective against cancer. In one analysis of dietary data collected by validated food frequency questionnaires in 1991 and 1995 from 90,630 women in the Nurses Health Study II researchers found a significant reduced frequency of breast cancer in those women who consumed a higher intake of common beans or lentils. That was not surprising, what was surprising was that only beans and lentils seemed to offer protection. Intake of tea, onions, apples, string beans, broccoli, green pepper, or blueberries had not protective effct. Eating beans or lentils two or more times per week was associated with a 24% reduced risk of breast cancer.

The largest USDA study of food antioxidants reveals common beans are amoung the best sources. Researchers with the United States Department of Agriculture analyzed antioxidant levels in over 100 different foods. Each food was measured for antioxidant concentration as well as antioxidant capacity per serving size. Base upon the results, the USDA has provided a list of the top 20 ranking of foods by antioxidant capacity. Several common beans appear within the list including small red beans at the top.

USDA Ranking of Foods by Antioxidant Capacity

1 Small Red Bean (dried) Half cup: 13727
2 Wild blueberry 1 cup: 13427
3 Red kidney bean (dried) Half cup: 13259
4 Pinto bean Half cup: 11864
5 Blueberry (cultivated) 1 cup: 9019
6 Cranberry 1 cup (whole): 8983
7 Artichoke (cooked) 1 cup (hearts): 7904
8 Blackberry 1 cup: 7701
9 Prune Half cup: 7291
10 Raspberry 1 cup: 6058
11 Strawberry 1 cup: 5938
12 Red Delicious apple One: 5900
13 Granny Smith apple One: 5381
14 Pecan 1 ounce: 5095
15 Sweet cherry 1 cup: 4873
16 Black plum One: 4844
17 Russet potato (cooked) One: 4649
18 Black bean (dried) Half cup: 4181
19 Plum One: 4118
20 Gala apple One: 3903

One of the problems with legumes is increased intestinal flatulence (gas) or intestinal discomfort. Most humans pass gas a total of 14 times per day, with a total of 1 pint. About half of the gas is swallowed air and another 40% is carbon dioxide given off by bacteria in the intestines. The remaining 10% is a mixture of hydrogen, methane, sulfur compounds, and by-products of bacteria, such as indoles, skatoles, ammonia, and hydrogen sulfide. It is this last fraction that is responsible for the offensive odors.

The flatulence causing compounds in legumes are primarily oligosaccharides, which are composed of 3-to-5 sugar molecules linked together in such a way that the body cannot digest or absorb them. Because the body cannot absorb or digest these oligosaccharides, they pass into the intestines where bacteria break them down. Gas is produced by the bacteria as they digest the oligosaccharides. Navy and lima beans are generally the most offensive.

The amount of oligosaccharides in legumes can be significantly reduced by properly cooking or sprouting them. In other words, the amount of flatulence produced by legumes can be dramatically reduced by proper cooking. If you still experience increased flatulence when you eat legumes even if they are cooked properly, you may wish to try a commercial enzyme preparation such as MultiEnzyme from Natural Factors or Beano.

Although most beans can be purchased precooked in cans, cooking your own offers significant economical, as well as possibly health, benefits. Cooking your own will produce 3 times the amount compared to canned products.

Dried beans are best prepared by first soaking them overnight in an appropriate amount of water in the refrigerator to prevent fermentation. Soaking will usually cut the cooking time dramatically. If soaking overnight is not possible, here is an alternate method: place the dried legumes in an appropriate amount of water in a pot, for each cup of dried legumes add 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda, bring to boil for at least 2 minutes, and then set aside to soak for at least 1 hour. The baking soda will soften the legumes and help breakdown the troublesome oligosaccharides. The baking soda will also help reduce the amount of cooking time. Be forewarned, however, beans cooked using the quick soak and no soak methods may split or develop a slightly mushy consistency. For beans that retain an even shape, ideal texture, and tender, creamy bite without mushiness, overnight soaking is the optimal method. Also beans that have not been presoaked may need some additional water, about ¼ to ½ cup per cup of beans, to replace the water that evaporates as steam during their longer cooking process.

Before cooking presoaked beans, regardless of soaking method, skim off any skins that floated to the surface, drain the soaking liquid, and then rinse them with clean water. The beans should be brought to a gentle boil and then simmered with a minimum of stirring to keep them firm and unbroken. A pressure cooker or crock pot can also be used for convenience. Regardless of cooking method, do not add any seasonings that are salty or acidic, such as vinegar, wine, tomatoes, or citrus fruits and their juices, until after the beans have been cooked since adding them earlier will make the beans tough and greatly increase the cooking time. Whenever possible, use the cooking liquid as well as the beans. About 35% of the B vitamins and 50% of the folic acid will leach into the liquid when beans are cooked for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

If you are running short on time, you can always use canned beans in your recipes. If the beans have been packaged with salt or other additives, simply rinse them after opening the can to remove these unnecessary additions. Canned beans need to only be heated briefly for hot recipes, while they can be used as is for salads or prepared cold dishes.


Messina MJ. Legumes and soybeans: overview of their nutritional profiles and health effects. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999;70(Suppl.3):439S-450S.

Adebamowo CA, Cho E, Sampson L, et al. Dietary flavonols and flavonol-rich foods intake and the risk of breast cancer. Int J Cancer 2004;114(4):628-633.

Wu X, Beecher GR, Holden J, et al. Lipophilic and hydrophilic antioxidant capacities of common foods in the United States. J. Agric Food Chem 2004;52;4026-4037.

McIntosh M, Miller C. A diet containing food rich in soluble and insoluble fiber improves glycemic control and reduces hyperlipidemia among patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Nutr Rev 2001;59(2):52-5.

Menotti A, Kromhout D, Blackburn H, et al. Food intake patterns and 25-year mortality from coronary heart disease: cross-cultural correlations in the Seven Countries Study. The Seven Countries Study Research Group. Eur J Epidemiol 1999;15:507-15.

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

Posted By music_jewel321 on Feb 26, 2008 at 9:56AM

It took me a long time to get used to brown rice, but I really like the nutty flavor it adds to this recipe. I received this recipe from my nutritionist, and I find it particularly flavorful. Tell me what you think.....Is there anything you think you might add?

Photo courtesy www.dvo.com

4 medium green bell peppers
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup canned pinto beans, rinsed and drained
¾ cup finely chopped onion
¾ cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
½ tsp dried basil
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375 deg. F.

Spray an 8 inch square baking dish with cooking spray. Cut the tops off the bell peppers and set them aside. Remove the seeds. To help the peppers stand firmly, trim a thin slice from the bottom, taking care not to cut through. In a large bowl combine the rice, beans, corn, onion, and basil. Spoon the filling into the bell peppers, packing them lightly. Place the peppers in a baking dish and cover them with the reserved tops. Place the baking dish on the middle rack in the oven. Carefully add water to the baking dish to a depth of 1 ½ inches. Bake until the peppers are soft when pierced with a knife, about 45 minutes. Remove the pepper tops and discard. In a small bowl, combine the oil and lemon juice and spoon over the peppers. Let the stuffed peppers stand for 20 minutes before serving.

Makes 4 servings.

Calories: 284
Total Fat: 7g
Carbs: 48g
Protein: 9g
Fiber: 8g
Sodium: 475mg

Baked Potato Pancakes

Posted By music_jewel321 on Feb 26, 2008 at 9:45AM

I'm of German descent, and my mother always served either Klosse (Potato Dumplings) or the fried version, Reiberdatschi (Potato Pancakes) with nearly every meal. Now that I've become more health conscious, I have found a way to duplicate the taste of Reiberdatschi without all the saturated fat. I like to serve these Baked Potato Pancakes as a side dish to any type of roast. They have a taste similar to Latkes, I think. Enjoy!

Photo courtesy isitedible.com

Cooking oil spray
6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
2 large carrots, peeled
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ flat-leaf parsley, finely minced
¼ cup green onions, finely chopped
2 large eggs, beaten (or ½ cup egg substitute)
1 Tbsp canola oil
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Fat-free sour cream or unsweetened applesauce (optional)

Preheat oven to 450 deg. F.

Spray a large non-stick baking sheet with cooking spray. In a food processor, coarsely grate the potatoes and carrots. Place them in a large sieve, set securely within a larger bowl. Squeeze the vegetables to wring out as much liquid as possible. If the vegetables still feel wet, pat them dry with paper towels, then transfer them to a mixing bowl. Add the flour, parsley, onion, eggs, oil, and pepper. Combine the ingredients well.

Spoon small mounds of the mixture on the baking sheet to form 2 ½ inch pancakes, leaving 1 inch between each. Bake the pancakes until they are golden brown, about 6-8 minutes on each side, turning once with a spatula. Transfer them to a serving platter and garnish with reduced fat sour cream or applesauce, if desired.

Makes about 16 pancakes, or 8 servings.

Calories: 163
Total Fat: 3g
Saturated Fat: 0.5g
Carbs: 28g
Protein: 6g
Fiber: 5g

Apple Crunch Salad

Posted By music_jewel321 on Feb 26, 2008 at 9:28AM

Here's a healthier version of Waldorf Salad, which can be high in saturated fat. In place of one of the Gala, Fuji, or Red Delicious apples, I sometimes use a Grapple--the apple that tastes like a grape--for a more unique flavor. For serving, I think it's especially pretty when presented in a "bowl" made from a lettuce leaf.

Photo courtesy Anawaltgardennews.com

1 cup diced, unpeeled Granny Smith apples
1 cup diced, unpeeled Golden Delicious apples
½ cup diced unpeeled Gala, Fuji, or Red Delicious apples
1 cup sectioned oranges
1 medium banana, sliced


¾ cup nonfat sour cream
2 Tbsp fresh orange juice
2 ½ tsp sugar
2 tsp toasted unsweetened coconut

Combine all fruits in an attractive serving bowl. Mix together the dressing ingredients. Toss with the apple mixture and serve.

Makes 4 servings, ¾ cup per serving.

Calories: 95
Total Fat: 0.5g
Saturated fat: 0.4g
Cholesterol: 5mg
Sodium: 15mg
Carbs: 19g
Fiber: 3g
Protein: 3g

Heart Healthy Alfredo Sauce

Posted By music_jewel321 on Feb 23, 2008 at 6:03AM

Can there really be such a thing? There are so many options today for adapting even the most unhealthy, fatty foods, to something that is good for us. Most commonly, Alfredo Sauce has about 56 grams of fat, nearly all of the saturated kind, and about 1500 calories per 1/4 cup serving. With some basic changes to store-bought fat free products, these scary numbers are reduced to one-tenth the original total. Enjoy without guilt!

4 tablespoons Fat-Free I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 (8 ounce) package fat free cream cheese
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 cups fat-free Half & Half
(1 cup) grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper

Melt ICBIN butter in a medium, non-stick saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil. Add cream cheese and minced garlic, stirring with wire whisk until smooth. Add milk, a little at a time, whisking to smooth out lumps. Stir in Parmesan and pepper. Remove from heat when sauce reaches desired consistency. Sauce will thicken rapidly, thin with Half & Half if cooked too long. Toss with hot pasta to serve.

Variations: 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg and fresh Italian parsley can be added at ended for a more “Swiss” flair. Sauce can be used as a base for creamy pesto. Extra tablespoon of garlic and 1 cup sliced Portobello mushrooms for a more French flair. Also, 2 tablespoons of fresh basil and crushed tomatoes can be added for a creamy Italian tomato sauce. Great as a vegetarian dish: add steamed broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots. Of course, grilled chicken would be a great addition, as well!

Makes 10 servings, ½ cup each.

Calories: 124
Total Fat: 9g
Saturated Fat: 3g
Cholesterol: 11mg
Carbs: 5g
Sodium: 249mg
Protein: 4g

Heart Healthy Shrimp Scampi

Posted By music_jewel321 on Feb 21, 2008 at 11:12AM

Traditionally, Shrimp Scampi is taboo for anyone concerned about their fat intake. But no more! I've adapted the customary scampi recipe to make it heart healthy. Olive oil, a necessary addition to a heart healthy diet due to its high concentrate of beneficial Omega-3s, replaces most of the butter. Trust me, you won't miss it!

Photo courtesy Augusta Chronicle

4 tsp olive oil
2 tsp I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Light
1 1/4 pounds med shrimp, peeled (tails left on) and deveined
6-8 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup + 1 T minced parsley
1/4 tsp No-Salt salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
4 lemon slices
Linguini noodles, cooked

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil and butter alternative. Saute the shrimp until just pink, 2-3 min. Add the garlic and cook stirring constantly, about 30 seconds. With a slotted spoon transfer the shrimp to a platter, keep hot.

In the skillet, combine the broth, wine, lemon juice, 1/4 cup of the parsley, the salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Boil, uncovered, until the sauce is reduced by half; spoon over the shrimp. Serve garnished with the lemon slices and sprinkled with the remaining tablespoon of parsley.

Makes 4 servings

Calories: 184
Total Fat: 7g
Saturated Fat: 1.5g
Cholesterol: 219mg
Sodium: 404mg
Carbs: 3g
Fiber: 0g
Protein: 24g