It’s not hard to find statistics about, well, just about anything. But a few months ago one stopped me short. It was sobering because it affected me directly and the largest majority of my circle of friends, women. I learned that heart disease is the number one killer among women. In fact, in the time it took you to read that sentence, another woman died from heart disease. Yes, one woman per minute dies each year from heart disease, and since 1984 more women than men have died annually from heart disease. Statistics, indeed. And still, when you consider those staggering statements against a backdrop of the women you know – the women that work tirelessly and give endlessly of their time and talents – and the likelihood that one of them may not be alive next year, it gives you pause. At least it did me. And then it conflicted me. For everything I knew about living “heart healthy” was I consciously making the right choices in my recipes?
Historically we’ve learned to associate heart disease and heart attacks as a predominantly male health issue. And, unfortunately, like so many health-related studies, funding for understanding and treating heart disease was provided for a male-dominant population. In the end, we all bought into the over-simplified idea that heart disease is something that happens to men. The risk became distorted, at least for women. That’s why the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Campaign is committed to reducing death and disability from cardiovascular disease and strokes by 20% while improving the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20% by the year 2020.
It’s not hard. In fact, I am continued to be surprised how easy it was to make simple changes in both my cooking and my lifestyle. I already do a lot of things right. I’m active; I eat healthy. When I read or cook from recipes, I make a conscious effort to swap out high cholesterol/fatty foods and oils and replace them with smarter options. And, I take responsibility for my choices. I read a little bit so I know the difference between the hype and the reality. Coconut oil is a perfect example. There’s only one kind that works in the heart healthy world, yet the stores (including those healthy “organic” sections) are loaded with the processed and hydrogenated versions. (here’s a hint on the coconut oil: choose extra virgin or unrefined, only!).
The sobering truth is that when it comes to women, heart healthy isn’t really an option. It's a must. When we know that more women die from heart disease than from the next three causes of death combined, including all forms of cancer, then we simply must make the changes that ensure we are doing the very best job for ourselves, just like we do for everyone else.
I am proud to be one of the Capital Region’s Go Red for Women participants this year, and a proud sponsor of the Capital Region Heart Ball. Won’t you join me on February 25th at the Ball and in my ongoing commitment to make every day a heart healthy day? Go Red! See you at the Ball!
Recipe: Honey & Oat Quick Bread
Choosing egg whites over whole eggs and substituting Extra Virgin Coconut Oil for canola oil in this recipe helps retain all the deliciousness of this super-delicious bread.
If you do a little research on Extra Virgin Coconut Oil you will discover that this once controversial oil is now being considered as one of the healthiest and most versatile unprocessed dietary oils in the world. Unrefined (that is, those labeled “extra virgin” or “unrefined”) coconut oil has been proven to be a stable, healthy saturated fat that can help maintain cholesterol levels, support thyroid function, ease occasional digestive disorder symptoms, avert sugar cravings and provide other health benefits. The “fatty acids” contained in the extra virgin coconut oil are quickly metabolized and converted to energy in the body, rather than being stored as fat.
While you can make this in a large loaf pan, I like the flexibility that comes by baking four mini-loaves. Choose which ever method is appropriate for your use.
1 large loaf yields 12 slices; 4 mini-loaves yields 8 to 10 slices per loaf
2 tablespoons oat bran, plus additional for dusting top of loaf
1 1/3 cups white whole-wheat flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse (Kosher) salt
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, or quick-cooking (not instant) oats
Scant 1 cup (about 8 ounces) nonfat or low-fat Greek-style (plain) yogurt
2 egg whites (from 2 large eggs)
1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil (if in solid form, melted over gentle heat and allowed to cool slightly before using)
1/4 cup honey
3/4 cup 2% (low-fat) milk
Place your oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375°F. Generously spray a 9-by-5-inch- or a 4 mini loaf- pan with a non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle the oat bran in the pan(s). Tip the pan back and forth to coat the sides and bottom.
In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another mixing bowl combine the oats, yogurt, egg whites, extra virgin coconut oil, and honey. Mix until well combined. Add the milk and stir to incorporate. Add the yogurt mixture to the flour mixture and fold the ingredients together until thoroughly combined but not over mixed (Remember! this is a quick bread! Over mixing will result in a rubbery and overly dense loaf). Immediately spoon or scrape the batter into the pan (or divide between the mini pans). Using a wet spatula (to keep the dough/batter from sticking, spreading evenly. Sprinkle a bit more of the oat bran over the top.
Bake the loaf until well browned on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes for a large loaf (about 30 minutes for the mini loaf pan). Quick breads often form cracks in the tops of their crusts from the rapid rise of the batter; don’t be surprised if you get some cracking in the top of your loaf.
Remove from the oven and let stand in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a thin knife around the loaf to loosen it and carefully turn it out onto the rack. Upright the loaf (or loaves) and let cool until barely warm, about 45 minutes.
Per slice for one large loaf:
193 Calories; 6 g Fat; 1 g Sat; 3 g Mono; 18 mg Cholesterol; 31 g Carbohydrates; 6 g Protein;
3 g Fiber; 396 mg Sodium; 100 mg Potassium
Recipe: Carrot Ginger Soup
This rich, thick soup gets its creaminess from pureeing the vegetables used to season the stock. A dollop of fat free or low fat yogurt and a dusting of Meyer lemon zest add to the overall pleasure on the palate.
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup medium-diced onions
1/3 cup thinly sliced leeks
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped (choose inner stalks that are lighter in color)
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
Coarse (Kosher) salt
2 cups vegetable broth plus 2 to 3 cups filtered water
3 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice (from 1 large orange)
Generous 1-pound carrots (preferably organic) peeled, and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup Greek-styled low fat yogurt
Fresh lime juice, to season
Zest of Meyer lemon, to garnish
1/3 cup thinly sliced chives, to garnish
Place a large stock pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat and add the butter. When butter is bubbling but not browned add the onions, leeks, celery, ginger, garlic, and a pinch of kosher salt. Stir well, cover, and reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the aromatics are softened, 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the carrots, vegetable broth, water, and orange juice. Stir to combine and raise the heat to bring mixture to a simmer. Reduce the heat and simmer partially covered, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very tender and the soup is full-flavored, about 20 minutes.
Remove from heat and let the soup cool for about 10 minutes. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender (fill the jar no more than half full and vent the lid when processing hot liquids). Wipe the pan clean and put the soup back into the pan. Keep warm until ready to serve, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Gently reheat.
Gently reheat over low heat. Taste the soup and adjust the seasonings with more salt, pepper, or ginger, as needed.
Ladle into 8 soup bowls and garnish each serving with a dollop of yogurt, a bit of lemon zest and 1 to 2 teaspoons chopped chives.
Nutrition information (per ½ cup serving) (as calculated per OnTargetNutrition.com)
Calories 135; Fat (g): 7; Saturated Fat (g): 1.0; Protein (g): 1.5; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 1.5; Carbohydrates (g): 17; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 4; Cholesterol (mg): 0; Fiber (g): 2
Recipes and photo Copyright © 2012 by Donna Marie Desfor and There’s a Chef in My Kitchen LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Copyright © 2012 WITF, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Published in In witfs Kitchen with Chef Donna Desfor
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