Around my house there is a telltale sign I’ve “done something” or “added something” gross when my family hears me ask, “Was that good?” or “Did you like that?” Their immediate response is, “Why, what’s in there?” Then they wait to hear what atrocity I’ve forced upon them ... tofu, soybeans, whole wheat, wheat germ, or some concoction they’ve not liked in the past but I managed to “hide” better this time. OK, I”ll admit it ... I do sneak in the good stuff while I’m alone in my kitchen. But so far as “what’s in there?” ... more likely the question should be “what’s not in there?” ... saturated fats, white flour, white sugar, etc.
My husband recently learned his cholesterol is a bit elevated, nothing to really worry about, but good to be aware. My husband is a meat-eater, without a doubt. He could easily eat a 32-ounce ribeye, fat and all, without blinking an eye. He loves steak tartar (freshly ground raw beef) on white bread (or pumpernickel if we have it), slathered with butter, an whopping slice of onion, and plenty of salt and pepper. He grew up in the fifties where many of us made choices that are affecting our health today. We learn as we go and do the best we can with the knowledge we have ... if we’re one of the lucky ones. Every day I hear of someone who has had a heart attack, then continue to eat the way they always have. Change can be scary and many people have the attitude that they can have what they want when they want it. Of course, genetics plays a huge role, but I, for one, will look at my genetics and adjust what I can to be the best I can be.
As the primary meal planner/preparer, what are my options as I prepare meals for my family? It’s simple, really ... here’s a quick list of some easy things to do promote heart health for your family:
Pierce the spaghetti squash several times and place in microwave - five minutes per pound. Once you can press the squash and you feel it give a little, it’s done. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then cut in half lengthwise; remove the seeds, and with a fork, pull from top to bottom creating spaghetti-like strands. Put in an 8 x 8 inch square pan and set aside.
Put cherry tomatoes, onion, and zucchini on prepared baking sheet. Drizzle oil over all and sprinkle with thyme and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper, if desired, and toss mixture to coat with oil and seasonings.
Place vegetable mix on top rack of the oven. Bake a ½ hour at 325 degrees stirring to avoid scorching. Toss roasted vegetables with spaghetti squash and put into a warmed bowl.
This is really good with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled over all.
To make this a complete protein, add chickpeas or other bean of choice. The dish likely lends itself to many options, including tofu, fresh spinach, mushrooms, yellow squash, broccoli, etc. The options are endless!
Bottom line? Yes, I do sneak new or disliked foods into well-liked dishes I prepare for my family.
I had to be a bit more clever when it came to the switch from white rice to brown rice. It was a bit trickier, especially since white rice cooks so much faster than brown rice, but for the record, I put one-half cup of brown rice in a skillet (with a cover) and heated it (yes, without water), until I started to smell it, then I added three cups of water and a pinch of salt. About thirty minutes later, I added a cup of white rice and in fifteen minutes I had a brown rice/white rice mix ... I kept adjusting the brown/white ratio until my family accepted the brown rice by itself (OK, it took about a year, but it finally worked). Long cooking or steel-cut oatmeal was another time consuming swap. Eating the package type of oatmeal provides too much sugar and to make it quick cooking manufacturer’s rob the oatmeal of all redeeming qualities! A better option I’ve found is to put a cup of regular oatmeal (I haven’t tried this method with steel-cut oats yet) and put it into a 2-quart thermos. Add two cups of boiling water and a handful of raisins (dates, currents, dried cranberries, etc.) and put the on the top. Wrap the thermos in a large bath towel and place on the kitchen counter. In the morning you will have four servings of luscious oatmeal. Just add some local honey and a splash of soymilk (or whatever) and enjoy.
Now, go ahead ... get sneaky ... get creative ... take a chance. What’s the worse that can happen? OK, someone can say, “Yuk!” ... but it’s not like you haven’t heard THAT before!
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.