Sunday, April 27, 2008

An Excellent Heart Healthy Cookbook

A few weeks ago I received a new cookbook with a very long healthful title...WomenHeart's ALL HEART Family Cookbook. I know the saying goes.."Don't judge a book by its cover", but I can never pass up a book with a photo of pasta, especially if it has shrimp. This time I wasn't disappointed. It's a great book!

My usual way with cookbooks is to quickly flip through and the tag the recipes that jump out at me. Eventually I did that, but not before reading the fantastic first chapter: The 40 Heart Healthy Foods.

Before I share any of the good stuff...a few scary statistics...

Heart disease is the NUMBER ONE killer of women in America

Two thirds of women have no symptoms prior to a heart attack

Now that I've got your attention...some better stats...

"Studies have shown that women can lower their risk of heart disease by 82% by leading a healthy lifestyle"

Heart healthy food choices: dark chocolate covered cherries, creamy avocado dishes, and luscious fruits. Seriously, who wouldn't want to eat those?

In the first part of the book, put together by Kathy Kastan, Suzanne Banfield, Wendy Leonard and members of WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease we learn about 40 different heart healthy foods. It begins with a few pages of nutrient super stars (and what they do) that I feel I MUST share.

Omega-3 superstars: flaxseed, salmon, walnuts; runners up: bell peppers, quinoa, sea veggies, soy products, spinach, winter squash.

Fibre superstars: beans, berries, bran, flax, lentils, oats, quinoa, soy & whole grains; runners up: apples, asparagus, bananas, bell peppers, carrots, cruciferous vegetables, dark leafy greens, ....this one has a huge list.

Antioxidants like...

Carotenoid superstars: carrots, dark leafy greens, sweet potato, tomato, winter squash; runners up: cherries & tropical fruit.

Flavenoid superstars: apples blueberries, onions, oranges, red wine, tea; runners up: asparagus, cherries, grapes, dark chocolate, kiwi.

Vitamin C superstars: bell peppers, broccoli, chile peppers, kiwi, lemon, lime, oranges; runners up: berries, dark leafy greens, grapes, onions, cherries...another long list

Folate (and other B vitamins):
asparagus, beans, bell peppers, berries, bran, cruciferous veggies, dark leafy greens, garlic, lentils, onions, oranges, quinoa, seeds, soy spinach, tropical fruit, yoghurt.

Potassium superstars: bananas, broccoli, cantaloupe, chile peppers, kiwi, tomatoes, sweet potatoes; runners up: asparagus, avocado, beans,....

The rest of the first chapter gives more interesting facts on everything from Apples to Yoghurt - in alphabetical order - with recipes (and their page numbers) and heart health benefits. Like dark chocolate...did you know that chocolate is a fruit? "Cocoa beans are actually the seeds of the cacao tree. Weighing in at about 1 pound when ripe, your average cacao pod contains 20-60 seeds. So technically speaking, chocolate is a fruit". Heart health benefits of chocolate....lowers "bad" LDL cholesterol, lowers triglycerides, raises "good" HDL cholesterol, lowers blood pressure, inhibits blood clot formation, reduces inflammation, reduces plaque build up and improves insulin sensitivity. And I only thought it tasted great!

All that is good to know and, since I do have slightly high blood pressure and not very nice LDL cholesterol levels (I just went for my annual physical), this book is more than timely.

But are the recipes good...that's the $1,000,000 question. I have bought many a book that sits dusty on my shelves because the recipes are ...well...less than appetizing.

Whenever I write about a cookbook, I always start with some superstar recipe but I was sick...three days of high fever from the flu, followed by pneumonia. That energy for fancy cooking, actually that means zero energy for even most boring cooking. Still, a girl has to eat and what I discovered was fantastic...the recipes in this book are quick, easy to prepare and absolutely delicious...even for a sicky! So I thought I'd share a few...

Simple Salmon with Almonds

None of these took more than 5 minutes to "throw together" and each tasted delicious. This is definitely one healthy cookbook that won't be gathering dust!


Andrea Meyers said...

This looks like a great cookbook, one I could definitely use!

Anonymous said...

Hi Ruth,
Thanks for your kind words about our WomenHeart cookbook! I'm so glad you're enjoying the recipes and the information we put together. Our goal is to help women and their families eat heart-healthy while enjoying every bite.

You're a terrific example of how it's working! And your pictures are just wonderful.

Warm regards,
Suzanne Banfield