Tag Archives: healthy recipes

DASH Diet for Lowering Blood Pressure

18 Apr

DASH Diet

 [Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension]

In addition to following the American Heart Association’s (AHA) heart healthy diet recommendations (low-fat, high fiber diet with fruits and vegetables and plant-based protein), the DASH diet emphasizes a low sodium diet with adequate amounts of calcium, potassium and magnesium. This plan has been shown to lower blood pressure in as quickly as two weeks. Following this plan may also lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.

The Guidelines:

    • 1500mg sodium [The AHA recommends this amount of sodium for ALL individuals]
    • 4700mg potassium
    • 1250mg calcium
    • 500mg magnesium

How to lower sodium intake:

  • Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables for snacks
  • Cook from scratch and freeze leftovers
  • Don’t add salt to your food
  • Eat out less often; ask servers how the food is prepared and ask for sauce on the side and/or no salt added
  • Go easy on the condiments
  • Rinse canned beans well
  • Choose frozen/fresh over canned vegetables
  • Limit frozen dinners or if you do have one on occasion, look for ones with less than 600mg sodium
  • Read labels: aim for foods with no more than 300mg per serving (less than 150mg is even better)

Reducing your sodium intake is extremely important to lowering blood pressure, but the following nutrients have also been shown to play a role. Focus on eating a variety of fruits and vegetables daily (5 to 9 servings per day) as well as the other nutrient-dense foods below.

 Potassium rich foods: potatoes, banana, soybeans, apricots, sweet potato, lentils, spinach, zucchini, almonds, kidney beans, oranges, fat-free milk, low-fat yogurt, fish, wheat germ

 

Photo source

 

Magnesium rich foods: halibut, almonds, cashews, soybeans, spinach, whole wheat products, shredded wheat cereal, oatmeal, potatoes, peanuts, wheat bran, pumpkin seeds, low-fat yogurt, brown rice, lentils, avocado, kidney beans, wheat germ, banana, sunflower seeds, flaxseed

 Calcium rich foods: fat-free milk, low-fat yogurt, collard greens, black strap molasses, calcium-fortified orange juice, turnip greens, tofu, tempeh, kale, soybeans, okra, bok choy, broccoli, tahini, almonds, fortified soy milk, wheat germ

For more information visit the DASH Diet.

DASH Yogurt Parfait

Yield: 1 parfait

Time: 5 minutes

 Ingredients:

  • ½ cup wheat bran cereal
  • 1 6oz container of vanilla non-fat Greek yogurt [better yet, plain yogurt – lower in sugar]
  • ½ medium banana, sliced
  • 1/8 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 Tbsp chopped dried apricots

 Place ¼ cup cereal in a small bowl; layer 3oz yogurt, ¼ banana, 1/16 cup almonds, ½ Tbsp apricots. Repeat.

 Nutrition Stats: 300 calories, 5gm fat, 0.6gm saturated, 66mg sodium, 47gm carbohydrate, 9.5gm fiber, 27gm sugar, 22gm protein

 Other ways to lower your blood pressure:

  • Exercise at least 30-60 minutes 3-6 days per week
  • Weight loss, if needed
  • Caffeinated beverages can increase blood pressure, consume sparingly
  • Quit smoking
  • Practice stress management
  • Increase fiber intake [fruits, vegetables, whole grains]

Chocolate Cinnamon Date Balls

16 Mar

My mom asked for a healthy dessert for her birthday this year, and being short on time and looking for something she could also take home for snacks, this is what ended up happening. These no-bake cookie balls are delicious and totally customizable to your own taste!

Makes: 12 balls

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup raw unsalted almonds
  • 16 dates
  • 1 Tbsp flaxseed meal
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (at least 60% cocoa), chopped

Grind almonds in food processor until it is a coarse flour-like texture, not too fine. Place in a bowl and set aside. Place the dates in the food processor and blend until chopped well. Add cinnamon, flaxseed, cinnamon and ground almonds and blend until well combined. Mix in chopped chocolate chips by hand. Using a tablespoon measuring spoon, scoop the “dough” and form into a firm ball in your hand. Store in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Stats (per ball): 75 calories, 3.5gm fat, 0gm cholesterol, 0mg sodium, 10gm carbs, 2gm fiber, 2gm protein

Nutrition bonus: Almonds contain heart healthy monounsaturated fat and vitamin E, an antioxidant (also look here for more information about how to get more antioxidants in your diet). Dates contain fiber, antioxidants, potassium [helpful for lowering blood pressure] and iron for energy boosting. Dark chocolate and cinnamon also contain antioxidants and cinnamon helps to stablize blood sugars as well [important for everyone, not only diabetics]. Flaxseed is a source of ALA, an omega-3 fatty acid, and also adds fiber to your diet and contains lignans – more antioxidants!

Meatless Monday:: Polenta Lasagna

28 Feb

In honor of Meatless Monday, I’m sharing a DE-LISH vegetarian recipe I’ve tried from Oxygen magazine – Polenta Lasagna. I love Oxygen! It always has great “clean” recipes, and good workout tips and motivational articles also. Even better, they have registered dietitians on staff!

 This was actually my first time using polenta, which is cornmeal simmered in water. Polenta is a (gluten-free) whole grain and is a good source of  protein and many vitamins and minerals including vitamin A [good for your eyes and cells], potassium [helps to lower blood pressure] and calcium [necessary for bone health and used in muscle contractions]. It was traditionally eaten at breakfast, but is very versatile and often used instead of pasta!

My own photos didn’t turn out too well – we were starving and dug in before it had much time to sit and cool so it pretty much just fell apart on the plate! As messy as it  looked, it tasted wonderful – enjoy.

[Click on to enlarge if you can’t read the directions]

Oats in Pancake Form

22 Feb

Instead of eating my oats from the usual bowl, today I ate my oats in pancake form!

They may look very similar to my oatmeal almond butter pancakes… well they are. 🙂 These were nice though because they were softer, like real pancakes, whereas the oatmeal pancakes are more like a bake.

Yields: two medium sized pancakes
1/3 cup oat bran
1 tsp cinnamon
2 egg whites
1 T unsweetened almond milk
1 scoop Genisoy vanilla soy protein powder
1 T flaxseed meal
1 T chia seeds mixed in a little water first
1/2 banana
1 t honey or agave nectar

Mix the first 7 ingredients together well. Pour into hot skillet sprayed with cooking spray. Flip pancake after it begins to bubble and cook until browned. Top with sliced banana and honey!

These were absolutely delicious, but not quite as filling as I was hoping they would be, but it does take a lot to satiate me.

Nutrition Stats ::  425 calories, 18gm fat, 7gm poly, 6gm mono, 1gm saturated, 0gm trans fat, 587mg potassium, 50gm carbs, 16gm fiber, 27gm protein

What is your go-to breakfast to keep you satisfied?

The Low-Down on Fats ://: “GORP”

25 Jan

Good fats, bad fats, skinny fats, fat fats . . . There is a lot of talk about fats these days. Let’s break it down. For most people, about 30% of your total calories for the day should be from fat, this is considered a low-fat diet. Of that, 20% should come from the heart healthy fats: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Monounsaturated Fats – – Lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol

  • Sources :: Olive oil, canola oil, avocados, nuts & seeds, peanut butter, sesame oil
  • Benefits ::
    • Reduces cholesterol when used in place of saturated and trans fats
    • Sources of monounsaturated fats also usually good source of vitamin E (antioxidant)

Polyunsaturated Fats

Lowers LDL (bad) and HDL (good) cholesterol

  • Omega-6 Fatty Acids
    • Sources: Vegetable oils (safflower, corn, sunflower, soy and cottonseed)
    • Abundant in American diet – used in processed foods, salad dressings
    • Pro-inflammatory
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids
    • Best sources: Salmon, trout, tuna, sardines
    • Plant sources: Flaxseed, wheat germ, canola oil, walnuts, pumpkin seeds
    • Anti-inflammatory
    • Benefits ::
      • Have been shown to reduce risk of heart disease
      • Lowers triglycerides at certain doses
      • May improve depression
      • May ease joint pain
      • Improves cognitive functioning

The ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3’s in the diet is 2 to 1 while the typical American diet is about a 15 to 1 ratio. Key message: decrease omega-6’s (found in many processed foods) and increase omega-3’s. In order to get the recommended amount of omega-3 fatty acids, you would need to eat 2-3 servings of the fish sources listed above.  If you’re taking a supplement, most people DO NOT need to supplement omega-6’s (or 9), just omega-3. The dose depends on what your goal is with supplementation, but quality is key with fish oil supplements – read the labels. If the label doesn’t show that EPA and DHA (two of the most beneficial types of omega-3’s) comprise most of the “fish oil” in the capsules, look for a different supplement.Hint: You’ll be paying a bit extra for EPA and DHA, but it’s worth it!If you need suggestions navigating supplementing fish oil, let me know!

Now for the bad:

Saturated Fats

Sources :: Animal products (such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy products, lard and butter), and coconut, palm and other tropical oils [Look for a post coming up about one of the newest fads – coconut oil]

  • Increases risk of heart disease by increasing total and LDL cholesterol
  • Aim for no more than 15-22 grams per day (7-10% of total daily calories)

Trans-Fats

Chemical process which changes a fat from a liquid (unsaturated fat) to a solid (saturated fat) that increases the shelf-life of products.

Sources :: Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, commercial baked goods (such as crackers, cookies and cakes), fried foods (such as doughnuts and french fries), shortening and margarine

  • Increases total and LDL cholesterol
  • Aim to consume no trans-fat!

GORP aka Trail Mix

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup whole almonds, unsalted
  • 1/4 cup unsalted walnuts
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pitted dates
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon dark chocolate chips

Nutrition Stats (Per serving): 209 calories; 15g fat (2 g sat, 6 g mono, 5gm poly); 0 mg cholesterol; 18 g carbohydrates; 12 g sugar; 5 g protein; 4 g fiber; 4 mg sodium; 190 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Potassium, magnesium, fiber, vitamins E and C, antioxidants

Homemade trail mix is an easy snack and it’s much better for you than store-bought. Store-bought trail mixes are always high in sodium and usually have M&M’s as opposed to dark chocolate. But because of the nuts in this recipe, it is a higher calorie snack, so watch your portions!

Granola & Grime

16 Jan

Thought //::// “The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it” — William James

Granola and grime, doesn’t sound like a very appetizing combination does it? Well don’t worry, two totally separate items 🙂 The grime is just my plans to start spring cleaning a bit early. The winter seems to create messes in places one wonders how it even got there. So slowly, starting with my kitchen, I plan to clean out, organize and put a little elbow grease our small apartment which happens to have many nooks and crannies.

Now to the good part, the granola. I’m on a baking kick I guess. But really, I wanted something crunchy in my beloved greek yogurt. Commercial granolas are not only high in calories and fat, but most often not gluten-free, so why not make my own? It’s just about the easiest recipe ever! This time, I made a fairly simple granola since I usually add fruit or my organic blackberry jam to my yogurt.

Simple Homemade Granola

Makes 8 servings

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup whole almonds, unsalted
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1 T blueberries, dried
  • 2 T. honey/agave nectar
  • 1 T. maple syrup
  • 2 T. unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 t. vanilla

Preheat oven to  325*. Mix dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Add wet ingredients and combine well. Pour onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper and spread well. Bake 10-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. The granola will still be soft when you take it out, just look for the oats to begin browning – it will harden once it’s cool. Store in airtight container.

Nutrition Stats (per serving) :: 140 calories // 7gm fat // <1gm saturated // 3gm polyunsaturated // 4gm monounsaturated // 0mg cholesterol // 30mg sodium // 190mg potassium // 23gm carbs // 4gm fiber // 6gm sugar // 4gm protein

Try out different combinations of fruit, nuts and seeds – pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts!

<> Last, I’ve been seeing a lot of blogs using coconut oil and coconut butter in their recipes… I’ll give you my tack on this new fad in a blog coming up! I’ve also been asked to write a guest blog this week – I’ll keep you updated! 🙂

Question :: Before I give my opinion, what have you heard about coconut??

Switching over…

10 Jan

All future posts will be on this site. 🙂

Links to my old posts:

Gluten-free Pumpkin Bread Recipe

Antioxidants & Heart Healthy Desserts

Veggie of the Month – Collard Green Soup

New Year’s Resolutions – How to Reach Your Goals


A Dietitian’s Breakfast – Almond Butter Pancakes

Workout of the Week – Supersets