Yep ... I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. Husband, Tom, is doing very well ... I wish I could say I do as well now that my cholesterol is under control. He is cautious about portion control watching everything carefully. I left his breakfast on the counter this morning ... two pieces of homemade zucchini bread with a tiny bit of butter and a small bowl of fresh pineapple. Knowing lunch wouldn't be far off for him a big breakfast just isn't needed on week days. I told him he was on his own for lunch, but there was some roasted chicken in the meat drawer. I knew there we had lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, and onion and wondered just what he'd do with the leftover chicken, but my lack of time and curiosity got the best of me. When I returned he did exactly what I expected ... a chicken sandwich with mayo (gotta give him credit here - he's using "my" mayo ... Kraft mayo with olive oil - on white wheat with some lettuce. No chips. Not bad. Not great. I asked him why he didn't cut up a tomato and he explained he thought it would slip off the sandwich and get too messy. He's probably right. I told him to try and fill his plate with color ... some fruit, sliced tomato ... he smiled. I knew he would.
I know he's missing his beloved beef so I will be making him some stew this week. He'll like that.
Here's my post for the day ...
Over the years my husband has grumbled about eating healthy indicating he'd rather die than give up red meat and other favorites. After hearing he would need to rethink his food consumption he had stepped up to the plate, so to speak, and is doing what needs to be done. Granted it's only day three, but if the last three days are an indication, you can color me happy!
When I offered breakfast of his choice yesterday, he opted for oatmeal. We had oatmeal the day before so I suggested he just have some cold cereal as lunch time wasn't far off. He agreed. When I returned to fix my bowl of one cup of Kashi with rice milk I glanced his way. He had three cups of Honey Bunches of Oats with whole milk. Now, let me explain ... he had recently purchased organic whole milk, pasteurized, but not ultra-pasteurized (remember the milk of the old days? Yum!!) and needed to finish it up before it spoiled. Note: I suggested to Tom that he buy the 2% organic milk in the future - that way he'd still have the taste he wants without the fat - he agreed.) Now, Tom's no sloucher in the size department sporting a six foot frame with a BMI within the normal range, but I suggested - in the future - he reduce the amount of cereal/milk and opt for a piece of toast with jam (and try to skip the butter and/or add some sliced fruit to his one cup serving size of cereal. He rolled his eyes. Tom doesn't like change and doesn't like to make a fuss for himself. I left it at that. He'll decide what he wants to do.
Later in the day I decided to make a bread Tom can pop in the toaster that'll take the edge off his hunger without ruining lunch. You see, Tom works an odd shift so regular meals don't always jive with his schedule. I altered a favorite recipe to include heart healthier options and he said it liked it! That's a start. He will probably 'need' to add some butter, but that'll be OK. He's aware that if what he eats had a pulse it has saturated fat - just knowing that helps him make better choices.
Beat eggs, oil, sugar, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Stir dry ingredients together in a medium bowl and add to egg and oil mixture, mixing well. Fold in zucchini, nuts, and dried fruits.
Spoon into loaf pans and bake for one hour, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool ten minutes, then remove from pans and continue cooling on rack.
This is a dense bread packed with nutrients. I like it plain but I put a very small amount of butter on Tom's. I kept one loaf out and sliced the other loaf, laid the slices on a cookie sheet and froze them. Once frozen, I put the slices into a bag. That way, we can take out a slice at a time to enjoy.
Now, onto lunch ...
The tables have turned ... my carnivore husband, Tom, has just been diagnosed with high cholesterol. His numbers aren't shocking or giving us any sense of urgency, but they do need to be addressed. Three questions come to mind ... 1.) since I have introduced him to many more vegetarian options, why are his numbers up? 2.) what kind of resistance should I expect from him about some lifestyle changes? and 3.) would he opt to take a statin drug and keep everything the same?
Well, I needn't have worried. He didn't opt to jump into taking a statin drug ... he's read my blog and realized he'll have to make lifestyle changes whether he takes statin drugs or not ... he's such a good boy!
Stay tuned and I'll let you in on how we got on the same page ... it's all about give a little ... take a little.
Need a way to increase your intake of vegetables ... fiber ... nutrition? Try stuffing it ... vegetables, that is! Nature has provided us with the most amazing bowls!
Rather than eating a baked potato dripping with butter, sour cream, salt and pepper, try ...
Twice Baked Potatoes
Scrub two large Idaho potatoes. Pop them into a 425 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour. They’ll be done when the potato ‘gives’ a little when you give it a squeeze. When cool enough to handle - I never wait long enough - cut it in half the long way and scoop out the potato into a large bowl leaving about a quarter inch inside the skin. Smash the potato gently. Add a bit of plain yogurt, a little butter and a little salt and pepper. While the potato is still quite warm, add:
Serves 4 people or 2 if you use the twice baked potatoes as a main dish ... which I often do!
There are endless variations to these potatoes ... what’s your favorite?
Cut a thin slice of the top of the zucchinis and scoop out the inside of the squash leaving the shell. Diced scooped out zucchini and place in a large bowl.
Drizzle the insides of the squash with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes. While the squash shells are in the oven, start browning your ground meat, when the meat is almost brown, add the onions, eggplant, and diced excess zucchini, and cook until the eggplant is soft.
Add the remaining ingredients and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Pull the shells out of the oven and stuff them all as full as possible with the meat (or meatless) mixture. Put the stuffed zucchinis back into the oven and bake for another 30-40 minutes. You may need less time for smaller zucchinis.
Bring the broth to a boil in a saucepan, add the couscous, cover the pan and remove it from the heat.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut the stems and top half inch off the bell peppers and scoop out the seeds and membranes. Boil trimmed peppers for 5 minutes, then drain them upside down (Note: I usually skip this step as I like my peppers a bit crunchy.)
Heat oil in a nonstick skillet. Add onion, zucchini, yellow squash, fennel seeds, oregano, and salt.
Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until vegetables are softened. Remove from heat and stir in the tomatoes and chickpeas.
Using a fork, scrape the couscous into the skillet and toss with the vegetables. Stir in the crumbled feta. Place peppers upright in the baking dish and fill them with couscous. Bake 15 minutes. Serve immediately.
Read more about this recipe.
Trim the stems from the eggplant, and cut them in half lengthwise. Cut the pulp from the center of each half, leaving about a half-inch shell.
If your eggplants are large, soak them in a quart of water with an added tablespoon of salt for 10 minutes to remove any bitter flavor.
Remove the eggplants from the brine and rinse off the salt then pat them dry.
Cube the pulp into a medium dice. Place a large saute pan over moderate heat, then add the oil.
Once the oil is hot, add the onion, garlic, zucchini, pepper, and cubed eggplant. Cook, stirring until very tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, tomatoes, olives and seasonings and heat through.
Lightly spray the cut edges of the eggplant with nonstick cooking spray, then spoon a quarter of the mixture into each shell. Top each eggplant with a quarter of the cheeses. Place in a baking pan coated with nonstick cooking spray.
You can add other vegetables like mushrooms, hot peppers, shredded carrots if you've got them.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the eggplant is hot and the cheese is bubbly.
Stuff your favorite salad into a fresh tomato! Cut the top off a tomato, scoop out the pulp (you can save it for chili or spaghetti sauce) and fill with your favorite chicken salad ... or tuna salad ... or salmon salad ... or pasta salad! The variations are endless!
Recently a friend suggested I start taking a spoonful (or two) of unsulphured blackstrap molasses for health reasons, including reducing bad cholesterol (LDL) and increasing the good cholesterol (HDL) ... really? YES! My research netted some pretty good stats which you can read here. Allow me to summarize ...
So, what is blackstrap molasses? Blackstrap molasses is a sweetener that is actually good for you. Unlike refined white sugar and corn syrup (stripped of virtually all nutrients except simple carbohydrates) or artificial sweeteners like saccharine or aspartame (provide no useful nutrients and have been shown to cause health problems in sensitive individuals), blackstrap molasses is a healthful sweetener that contains significant amounts of a variety of minerals that promote your health.
And, just where does blackstrap molasses come from? No secret ingredients here, molasses is a by-product from the process that turns sugar beet or cane into sugar. Be sure you use the unsulphured type!
So what can blackstrap molasses do for you? It’s jammed-packed with iron and calcium, for starters, but also offers copper, manganese, potassium, and magnesium!
If you are like me and like the slightly bitter taste of blackstrap molasses, go ahead and eat it right out of the spoon!
If you’re not really feeling downing a couple spoonfuls of this very sweet powerhouse, here are a couple recipes to increase your intake ...
If you're worried about low iron levels, here's a suggestion: Add a wide variety of iron rich foods to your diet. Don't rely on just one iron rich food item.
And if you follow this blog you know you can expect a recipe or two ... so, here you go ... a couple recipes to utilize this powerhouse food ...
If you’re not really feeling downing a couple spoonfuls of this very sweet powerhouse, here are a couple recipes to increase your intake ...
Pumpkin, Raisin, and Spice Muffins with Molasses Glaze
Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and salt.
In a separate large bowl, beat together the sugar and the oil, with either a hand whisk or an electric beater.
Then, add the eggs one at a time, beating after the addition of each egg until the egg is completely combined. Once all the eggs have been added, add the ginger juice, pumpkin, buttermilk, molasses and raisins to the bowl and whisk/beat thoroughly.
Next whisk in the dry, sifted ingredients, added 1/4 at a time. Be sure to whisk the flour mixture just enough to combine - the more you beat the flour, the tougher the muffins will be.
Fill the muffin tins to about a centimeter from the top with the batter.
Bake in the upper 2/3 of the oven for about 40 minutes if you're using the large tins, and about 30 minutes if you're using the regular sized tins, or until a toothpick stuck in the middle of a muffin comes out mostly clean.
Removed the finished muffins from the oven and set the tins on a rack to cool.
After about an hour the muffins will be cool enough to remove from the pan.
After removing the muffins from the pan, make the glaze. Sift the powdered sugar and salt into a medium sized bowl. Add 1½ tbsp molasses and 1½ tbsp water. Whisk. If the glaze seems too thick, add a little more water, if it seems too thin, add more sifted powdered sugar.
Dip the tops of the cooled muffins into the glaze, which will drizzle down the sizes. Allow the glaze to set for about an hour before serving. Enjoy!
Whisk flour, ginger and cinnamon.
Beat butter and brown sugar.
Whisk molasses and boiling water, add baking soda.
Add flour and molasses mixtures to butter mix.
Beat in eggs until smooth and thin. Add to glass baking dish.
Bake 55-65 minutes.
Cool 10 minutes. Can be prepared as muffins - bake for 20-25 minutes.
To make this cake more heart-healthy, use Earth Balance margarine, egg whites and a mix of flours to include oat flour and/or whole wheat flour ... you’ll have to test it to see what you like best.
MOLASSES AND RAISIN MUFFINS
Stir together vegetable oil, blackstrap molasses, milk and egg.
Mix together dry ingredients with liquid ingredients; add raisins.
Bake in a preheated 350̊F oven in well greased or paper-lined muffin pans until a toothpick inserted
in center of a muffin comes out clean (about 20-25 minutes).
WHOLE - WHEAT BANANA BREAD
Blend with as few strokes as possible. Put in oiled loaf pan. Bake in 325 degree oven for about 1 hour or until firm throughout.
APPLE BRAN MUFFINS
Pour juice of orange into 2-cup measure and add buttermilk to make 2 cups.
Add to egg, molasses, and oil, and stir thoroughly.
Stir liquid ingredients into dry ingredients with a few swift strokes.
Pour into greased muffin tins, filling them 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Makes 24 muffins.
Spicy Pumpkin Muffins
Preheat oven to 350̊F.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, 1½ teaspoons baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
In a large bowl, combine applesauce with ¾ teaspoon baking powder.
Add oil, molasses, agave nectar, vanilla, and pumpkin to applesauce mixture. Stir to combine.
Slowly add dry ingredients to wet.
Spoon into oiled muffin pan.
Bake 25–30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
It’s been a tough week for me ... OK, no whining, I promise ... I did, however, find myself in ER for what I could not even imagine. I was achy from head to toe, was vomiting a little, had a massive headache with a low grade fever and felt just crashing on the couch for a bit would do. By late evening, my husband packed me into the car and took me in. The rest of somewhat of a blur, and I won’t bore you with all the details but the diagnosis? Strep throat. My throat didn’t even hurt ... really ... only after vomiting. What’s the deal with that? So, writing a blog to reduce cholesterol naturally may not be the place to share this, but wait ... maybe it is.
As I pulled myself out of a Demerol/Phenergran stupor in time for dinner on the third day of hospitalization, my meal was placed in front of me. I cringed at its presence. Cautiously lifting the cover from the warmed plate I found a dollop of sticky stuffing, deli thin slice of turkey - both covered in what I can only assume was canned gravy, a cup of peas and carrots (soaking in muddied water from the can, I’m guessing/hoping), a half of a canned peach with a tablespoon of small curd cottage cheese and a maraschinos cherry parked lopsided at the crest of the cottage cheese, a mug of sweet tea and for dessert ... pecan pie that was so sweet even my sweet tooth rebelled. I was starving. I picked up my fork and attacked the peach and cottage cheese, pushing the cherry aside (I just don’t like them - the color is a bit creepy) and continue to poke around. Scooping some of the stuffing out from under the gravy I tasted it. It sure didn’t need any salt and I found it dry and depressing. I dab a bit of it into the gravy and made it pass for food. I ate slowly and methodically. When my stomach stopped growling, I stopped eating. By midnight I was hungry again and asked a nurse if she could find me something to eat. With the kitchen closed (small town, what can I say?) she slipped into ICU and found some chicken and rice soup, saltines and a ginger ale. Kudos for her efforts and I did manage to eat the chicken broth and rice pushing away the gristly chicken cubes. The ginger ale went down well. I like ginger ale. I was feeling better and wondered what breakfast would bring.
Aside from the incessant visits from the nursing staff for my blood pressure - which is perfect and my temperature - which was nearly perfect I slept like a rock. I was up and ready for breakfast at five and at five forty-five breakfast was served. My disappointment continued. A wannabe butter soaked biscuit, two strips of bacon, one scrambled egg and a bowl of grits and yippee ... one half of a slice of a fresh orange! There was a plastic carton of orange juice that tasted like plastic, a carton of whole milk and a cup of coffee - a non-dairy creamer was offered. Seriously? I ate the orange ... the egg ... the inside of the biscuit ... I called for a nurse. When she arrived I asked her about the food. I don’t mean to complain, but really? Is this how hospitals keep you coming back? Is this food ‘good for business”? Is this what the people want? Am I alone out here?
After a hospital visit I was told I’d be receiving a survey. I was warned it was lengthy but was asked very nicely if I’d complete it. I will. And I will focus on the food. Perhaps, like the schools, Jamie Oliver needs to hit the hospital scene! Would they let him in? How can a hospital conscientiously offer foods that are just plain not heart healthy? EVERYONE, heart condition or not, needs to eat heart-healthy ... diabetes-friendly ... lives depend on it! Why are we the people allowing ourselves to be fed this way especially when we’re sick? When we’re on antibiotics we need probiotics to help rebuild the good bacteria the antibiotics has stripped from our bodies while fighting the bad bacteria! We need lean meats, fresh fruit and well-prepared vegetables! And, how about a salad? And, can’t we skip the desserts? Do we really need to pack our ailing body with sugar? Wouldn’t a bowl of fresh fruit do a body good? Is this all too much to ask?
When I returned home, I was craving fresh fruit and my husband was well-prepared! A quick trip to the store netted some unsweetened yogurt, fresh salmon, broccoli, Kashi cereal (my personal favorite), unsweetened soymilk and all the goodness my body was craving from a three day visit away from good and decent nutrition.
What are we to do?
As cooler weather pushes the summer heat aside, football season is all over the media and I found myself craving some tailgating favorites. In looking for some ways to make them heart healthier I happened on the Eating Well website which offered many options. What’s your favorite football food? Mine is chips and dip so that’s the first heart-healthier fare I looked for. And … I found one I’m anxious to try. As a young adult I got hooked on processed cheese combined with a can tomatoes with chilies and served with chips. Over the years, I purchased baked chips, which helped, but the processed cheese block just wasn’t cutting it for me. The I found a recipe that cut the fat and enhanced the flavor. On the Eating Well website they have a great recipe for an alternative to an old favorite:
Chile Con Queso
From EatingWell: January/February 2009
Our healthier version of chile con queso will have ooey-gooey-cheese lovers celebrating. Now you can enjoy this Tex-Mex dip without all the fat and calories. We replaced some of the cheese with a low-fat white sauce and used sharp Cheddar plus a splash of beer to boost the flavor. Our version cuts the calories in half and reduces total fat and saturated fat by nearly 60 percent.
4 cups | Active Time: 20 minutes | Total Time: 20 minutes
Per 1/4-cup serving:
From EatingWell: January/February 2007
Plenty of black beans, salsa and chopped fresh vegetables mean a healthy amount of dietary fiber in this Tex-Mex layered dip. We use reduced-fat sour cream along with full-fat (and full-flavored) cheese to make the dip lighter without compromising great taste. Be sure to have lots of baked tortilla chips on hand when you serve it.
12 servings, about 1/2 cup each | Active Time: 20 minutes | Total Time: 20 minutes
Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 1, cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.
To serve, continue with Steps 2 & 3.
Love nachos? Pizza? Try this dynamic combo I found on Eating Well’s website!
Black Bean Nacho Pizza
From EatingWell: July/August 2008
Break out the napkins! This pie is an over-the-top, vegetarian concoction with black-bean spread, Jack cheese, tomatoes, scallions, olives and pickled jalapenos; it's part nacho, part pizza. For an even more decadent treat, serve with low-fat sour cream. Beer pairing: Spicy foods need spicy beers—go for an India Pale Ale (IPA). If you're not a hop-head, the malty sweetness of brown ales work well with the sweeter elements on the pizza.
6 servings | Active Time: 40 minutes | Total Time: 40 minutes
Tip: To roll out pizza dough: When you're ready to get your pizzas on the grill, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Dust the top with flour; dimple with your fingertips to shape into a thick, flattened circle—don't worry if it's not perfectly symmetrical. Then use a rolling pin to roll into a circle about 14 inches in diameter.
Rocco’s Buffalo and Blue Chicken Tenders
Enjoy the KICK OFF without the guilt!
Each day whether the chirping of the birds or the interruption of a buzzing alarm clock announce the new day to me I have a choice. Sometimes I choose well all day … sometimes part of the day … or sometimes I don’t choose well at all. I am, after all, human.Today was no different. It’s Labor Day and since I didn’t have to work, I delayed my usual weekend activity until today … menus, shopping lists, cooking and baking for the week. It is not a burden for me at all as I love to do it, but trying to keep my cholesterol numbers within the normal range does take a bit of planning just like any other medical condition. Opting to bypass the prescription solution, adjusting my diet and lifestyle was the way to go for me besides I hate the side effects of medications. To date, removing saturated fats, high sugar foods, and other foods was a better choice for me. So here is a list of what I’ll be eating this week - in no particular order … (recipes and links included!):My Favorite Sandwich
A large, fat slice of tomato with plenty of fresh spinach and a bit of olive oil mayo, salt and pepper on whole wheat bread. And a good, crisp dill pickle. No chips. No fuss. A simply delightful sandwich.
MorningStar Hickory BBQ Riblets with smashed red potato with fresh chopped spinach and a side of steamed broccoli.
Smashed Red Potatoes with Spinach
Salad in a Pita
My Favorite Salad
Breakfast Oatmeal (I eat this three times a week, plus twice a week for a snack)
* to roast your own, purchase raw nuts and in a heavy pan, like cast iron, cook them over medium heat, shaking the pan so they don’t burn, until they become aromatic.
Eggs My Way
This is good for lunch or dinner, too.
So, there you have it … of course, I eat more than what is listed above but honestly, those are my staples … rarely does a week go by without eating the majority on these foods.
Got a recipe you love and want to transform it into a more heart-healthy dish? Let me know … maybe I can help you make some adjustments.
As the French would say, Bon appétit! (Enjoy your meal.)
So, you’ve made the decision to eat healthier, exercise more, lose a few pounds around your middle along the way, so, what’s next? I thought I’d do a “this” not “that” list for you. Personally, I’ve found it quite helpful … I hope you do, too.
Instead of downing some chips … try some edamame beans sprinkled with freshly ground sea salt or other coarse salt. Need an easy way to fix some edamane beans? Here’s a quick way to fix a snack of edamame beans:
Yogurt is another wonderfully healthy food, but manufacturers have made it unhealthy with all the additive, sugars, and other nasties. I buy (I used to make my own and perhaps I need to go back to doing that!) plain, unadulterated yogurt - watch the ingredients to make sure you know what you’re getting. I scoop the whole container into a larger bowl, add a few drops of pure vanilla and a few drops of liquid Stevia (available at health food stores and you have a wonderful vanilla yogurt. Cut up some fresh fruit, or canned if that’s all you have, return it to it’s container … or two and enjoy.
Granola … again, manufacturers have played into the health craze by providing us with the wonders of granola. But wait … oats, as a rule are rather bitter and the only way to make it palatable is to add sugar … and lots of it. I found a great granola at my local grocery. It’s called Bear Naked Fit Vanilla Almond Crunch and it sports a mere 4g of sugar, only 2.5g of fat, no saturated fat, 2g of fiber, 4g of protein and no artificial flavors, no cholesterol, ho hydrogenated oils, no high fructose corn syrup, no artificial preservatives and no trans fat … a great way to top your yogurt!
So, there you have it … little ways to make a huge difference in your heart’s health.
I am ...
... a former blogger for a health site, which means eating healthy aka heart smart
which has become a passion for me. I will start at the beginning when I first
discovered I had high cholesterol.