A food pro changes her rich diet to help her heart. She loves the results--and so will you.
By Georgia Downard
I've always "lived to eat." Sounds decadent, I know, but given my heritage, it's hardly surprising. My mom weaned me on her great Southern cooking; Dad, a native of Canton, China, brought amazing Asian dishes to the table. Both ingrained in me a true appreciation for food and cooking.
A year spent in France studying the culinary arts further nurtured my passion. Returning home, I chose food as my life's work, and as a professional, I felt it my duty to embrace all food, including butter, red meat, creamy sauces, and rich desserts.
My cooking and eating style changed abruptly in February 2007. I went for a routine stress test, which led to an angiogram that showed one of my arteries was 85% blocked. A stent was inserted in the artery to keep it open, and I went home the next day.
But now I had to eat much more carefully--including following a low-fat diet. It sounded like unbearable deprivation! Thus began my quest to figure out how to cook what I love while protecting my heart from further damage.
The biggest adjustment was cutting back on meat and high-fat foods, particularly those high in saturated fat like my beloved butter, cream, and cheese--until I found satisfying ways to incorporate them into my diet, as you'll see in my versions of comfort-food classics such as macaroni and cheese, meat loaf, and chicken and dumplings. My passion for cooking still flourishes. And I still firmly believe that all foods have a place on my table; it's my job to tailor them to fit a heart-healthy lifestyle.
Georgia's Heart-Healthy Secrets
Although I'm not fond of many no-fat products, I find these reduced-fat items taste good: mayonnaise, sour cream, ricotta cheese, cream cheese, and cottage cheese.
No-fat plain yogurt is the exception to my "reduced-fat rather than no-fat" rule. It's great for eating with fruit and also for cooking.
I replace whole milk with 1% and fat-free milk. But if I want a creamy taste or texture, I add a small amount of the real thing or half-and-half.
Butter still has its place in my fridge, but I use less and add it at the last minute (almost as a seasoning) to get its full fresh flavor.
Olive oil is my fat of choice these days. It has lots of the good monounsaturated fats, and because it's so flavorful, a little bit goes a long way. Brush it on bread in place of butter, add a tablespoon or two to cooked sauces just before serving, and drizzle it on broiled fish and on vegetables for added flavor.
I substitute egg whites for whole eggs. For example, when I'm making a single-serve omelet, I use one whole egg and two egg whites.
I choose whole grain pasta when I can. It goes especially well with hearty, chunky sauces.
Likewise, I choose whole grain breads whenever possible.
Macaroni and Cheese
Chipotle chile pepper lends an unexpected but enticing kick to this classic comfort food made heart-healthier with a combination of reduced-fat dairy products.
Work Time: 10 minutes Total Time: 45 minutes Servings: 8
3 c elbow macaroni 3 med scallions, chopped (1/4 c) 2 1/4 c 1% milk, divided 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour 2 1/2 c shredded reduced-fat (2%) sharp Cheddar cheese (10 oz) 1/2 c reduced-fat sour cream 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard 1 tsp chopped chipotle chile pepper in adobo sauce 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper 3 Tbsp dried bread crumbs 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese 2 tsp olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 400[degrees]F. Coat 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Prepare macaroni per package directions.
3. Add scallions and 1 3/4 cups of the milk to large pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat while macaroni cooks. Whisk flour and remaining 1/2 cup milk in small bowl. Whisk milk-flour mixture into simmering milk. Cook, stirring, until thickened. Remove from heat and gradually stir in Cheddar until smooth. Add sour cream, mustard, and chipotle pepper. Add drained macaroni, salt, and black pepper. Transfer to prepared baking dish.
4. Combine bread crumbs, Parmesan, and oil in small bowl. Sprinkle on top of macaroni and cheese. Bake 25 minutes or until bubbling and golden brown.
Nutritional Info Per Serving 357 cal, 19 g pro, 43 g carb, 2 g fiber, 13 g fat, 6.5 g sat fat, 35 mg chol, 728 mg sodium
This dish hasa 18% fewer calories 54% less sat fat than the traditional version
A serving of this family favorite supplies about a third of your daily fiber needs, and the tomato sauce is rich in antioxidants. But once you taste a forkful, you'll forget the nutrients and just enjoy!
Work Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes Servings: 8
1/2 lb whole wheat lasagna noodles (9-10 total)
2 tsp olive oil 4 cloves garlic, minced 1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes (not in puree) 2 Tbsp tomato paste 3/4 tsp dried thyme 1/2 tsp dried oregano 1/2 tsp salt 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp olive oil 1 med onion, finely chopped 1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced 3 lg cloves garlic, minced 2 bunches (1 lb total) spinach, trimmed 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper 1 container (15 oz) part-skim ricotta cheese, divided 8 oz shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese, divided 1/3 c grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1. Preheat oven to 375[degrees]F. Coat 13" x 9" baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Cook noodles in boiling salted water until just done, 5 to 8 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Lay noodles on baking sheet in one layer so they won't stick together.
3. Prepare sauce: Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until pale golden, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes (with juice), tomato paste, thyme, oregano, salt, and pepper. Simmer, covered, 10 minutes.
4. Make filling: Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, cover, and cook, stirring often, 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, cover, and cook, stirring often, 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add spinach, cover, and cook until wilted, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Assemble lasagna: Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce on bottom of prepared dish. Cover with layer of the noodles. Spread on half of the ricotta and half of the spinach-and-mushroom filling. Spoon on one-third of the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with one-third of the mozzarella and one-third of the Parmesan. Spread half of the remaining sauce over cheeses. Cover with layer of noodles. Spread remaining ricotta over noodles. Add remaining spinach-and-mushroom filling. Spoon half of the remaining sauce over filling. Sprinkle with half of the remaining mozzarella and half of the remaining Parmesan. Cover with layer of noodles. Spread noodles with remaining sauce.
6. Cover dish with foil and bake 40 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle top with remaining cheeses. Bake 8 minutes or until cheeses are melted.
Nutritional Info Per Serving 354 cal, 24 g pro, 40 g carb, 8 g fiber, 13 g fat, 6 g sat fat, 35 mg chol, 811 mg sodium
This dish hasa 22% fewer calories 40% less sat fat than the traditional version
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Buttermilk might sound as rich as cream, but it actually has 98% less fat. Crush the garlic before you slice it and let it stand while you peel the potatoes to maximize its heart-protective compounds.
Work Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 35 minutes Servings: 8
2 lb Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2" pieces 3 lg cloves garlic, sliced 3/4 c low-fat (1%) buttermilk 1 Tbsp butter 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1. Combine potatoes and garlic in medium pot with salted water to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until tender, about 20 minutes.
2. Warm buttermilk in small saucepan over medium-low heat.
3. Drain potatoes and garlic. Push through potato ricer or food mill into medium bowl or mash with potato masher.
4. Beat buttermilk into potatoes. Beat in butter, salt, and pepper.
Nutritional Info Per Serving 121 cal, 3 g pro, 24 g carb, 2 g fiber, 2 g fat, 1 g sat fat, 5 mg chol, 453 mg sodium
This version hasa 39% fewer calories 84% less sat fat than the traditional dish
Meat Loaf with Mushroom Gravy
Flavor boosters such as mushrooms, garlic, herbs, and wine enhance the flavor of lean beef. For easier slicing, let the meat loaf cool 10 minutes before serving.
Work Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 2 hours Servings: 8
1 oz dried mushrooms, such as porcini 1 1/2 c hot water, divided 1/2 c bulgur 1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce, divided 1/2 c dry white wine or reduced-sodium beef broth 1 1/2 lb lean ground sirloin (95% lean) 2 lg egg whites, beaten lightly 2 med onions, finely chopped (2 c) 1 c soft whole wheat bread crumbs 2 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbsp) 1 tsp dried thyme 1 tsp dried oregano 3/4 tsp salt 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp olive oil 1 sm onion, chopped (1/2 c) 1/2 lb white mushrooms, sliced 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 1/2 c reduced-sodium beef broth 1/2 c dry white wine or 1/2 c reduced-sodium beef broth 1 tsp dried thyme 1/4 tsp salt 2 Tbsp water 1 Tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot
1. Soak mushrooms in 1 cup of the water 20 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the liquid, and chop. Soak bulgur in 1/2 cup of the water 30 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Preheat oven to 375[degrees]F. Coat 9" x 5" x 3" loaf pan with cooking spray.
2. Combine mushrooms, reserved mushroom liquid, and bulgur in large bowl. Add tomato sauce, reserving 1 tablespoon for gravy, and remaining meat loaf ingredients. Gently mix to combine. Transfer mixture to loaf pan. Bake 1 hour 15 minutes.
3. Make gravy. Heat oil in medium skillet. Add onion. Cook over medium heat, stirring, 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and stir 5 minutes. Add garlic and reserved tomato sauce. Cook 1 minute. Add broth, wine, thyme, and salt. Bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, 10 minutes.
4. Whisk water and cornstarch in small bowl. Add to gravy. Stir until thickened.
Nutritional Info Per Serving 218 cal, 23 g pro, 19 g carb, 4 g fiber, 6 g fat, 2 g sat fat, 44 mg chol, 669 mg sodium
This dish hasa 56% fewer calories 81% less sat fat than the traditional version
Chicken and Dumplings
Making the sauce with reduced-fat sour cream instead of heavy cream slashes the saturated fat in this all-in-one main dish. Add the gnocchi-like dumplings to the simmering broth at the last minute to preserve their light, tender texture.
Work Time: 40 minutes Total Time: 40 minutes Servings: 6
1 lb Idaho or russet potatoes (2 med), peeled and cubed 1 lg egg, beaten 3/4 tsp salt, divided 1/2 tsp baking powder 1/2 c all-purpose flour 1 Tbsp olive oil 1 med onion, chopped (1 c) 3 med ribs celery, sliced (1 c) 2 med carrots, sliced (1 c) 5 c reduced-sodium chicken broth 2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme, rosemary, or sage, or a combination, or 2 tsp dried 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper 1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1" pieces 1/2 c reduced-fat sour cream 2 Tbsp dry sherry (optional) 1 Tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot 1 1/2 c frozen peas, thawed 3 Tbsp chopped fresh chives, tarragon, or parsley (optional) 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
1. Boil potatoes in large pot of salted water until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and press through potato ricer or coarse sieve into medium bowl. Let cool 10 minutes. Add egg, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and baking powder. Stir. Add flour to form soft dough.
2. Transfer to floured surface. Roll into 1" balls.
3. Saute oil, onion, celery, and carrots in skillet, 1 minute. Add broth, thyme, pepper, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Simmer 10 minutes.
4. Add chicken to simmering broth. Return to a simmer, cover, and cook 10 minutes. Add dumplings and simmer 1 minute longer. Whisk sour cream, sherry, and cornstarch in small bowl. Add to broth along with peas. Cook over medium-low heat until thickened. Stir in chives and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Nutritional Info Per Serving 361 cal, 35 g pro, 36 g carb, 4 g fiber, 8.5 g fat, 3 g sat fat, 110 mg chol, 936 mg sodium
This dish hasa 25% fewer calories 69% less sat fat than the traditional version
Rich Chocolate Pudding
You'd never guess this rich-tasting pudding is made from 1% milk. Cocoa powder has less fat and a higher concentration of antioxidants than regular chocolate; using a combo of both is good for your heart and pleasing to your tastebuds.
Work Time: 10 minutes Total Time: 10 minutes + chilling time Servings: 4
1/3 c packed brown sugar 1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder 3 Tbsp cornstarch 1 tsp instant espresso powder (optional) 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon Pinch of salt 2 c 1% milk, divided 1 lg egg 2 oz bittersweet chocolate bits (about 1/3 c) 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1. Whisk sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, espresso powder (if using), cinnamon, salt, and 1/2 cup of the milk in medium saucepan.
2. Pour remaining milk into sugar mixture while whisking. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Beat egg lightly in small bowl. Pour in 1 cup of the hot milk mixture while whisking. Pour egg mixture back into pan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring, 2 minutes.
4. Remove pan from heat. Add chocolate. Whisk until mixture is smooth. Stir in vanilla extract.
5. Pour mixture into 4 serving dishes. Chill 2 hours or overnight, covered.
Nutritional Info Per Serving 250 cal, 8 g pro, 40 g carb, 3 g fiber, 9 g fat, 5 g sat fat, 59 mg chol, 115 mg sodium
This dish hasa 26% fewer calories 57% less sat fat than the traditional version
More Recipes! See a slide show of 15 more heart-healthy comfort foods at prevention.com/comfortfood.
"Now serving: Comfort." Prevention Feb. 2009: 132. Academic OneFile. Web. 11 Nov. 2009.
Gale Document Number:A199529456
Disclaimer:This information is not a tool for self-diagnosis or a substitute for professional care.
(Album / Profile) http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=10034&id=1661531726&l=0b77e26203