'heart health' posts

Year-Round Gingersnap Pumpkin Custard

This simple, delicious dessert is what autumn tastes like. But it’s so good, you’ll want to enjoy it any time of the year (serves 8).


  • 1 cup broken pieces, low-fat gingersnap cookies (12 small cookies)
  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin purée
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 cup fat-free evaporated milk
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Spray 8 ramekins with canola oil and divide the cookie pieces evenly in the bottoms of the bowls.
  3. Place the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and mix with an electric mixer.
  4. Ladle the pumpkin mixture over the cookies, sprinkle with nuts, and place ramekins in a deep pan filled with water to about halfway up the ramekins. Bake for 20 minutes. Test for doneness.
  5. Let rest 10 minutes and serve.

Per serving: 168 calories, 7g protein, 42g carbohydrate, 3g fat, 0g sat fat, 0g mono fat, 32mg cholesterol, 2g fiber, 149mg sodium

THE SEASONED COOK If cooking as a pie, spray a 9" pie pan and proceed as above without the water-filled pan; cook for one hour. Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator for several days.

Traditional Hot and Sour Soup

Several Asian culinary traditions include hot and sour soups, so ingredients vary widely. One common feature, however, is red peppers or white pepper for heat, and vinegar for sour. Our simpler version (serves 4) is long on flavor and promises to become one of your own family’s traditions. (And expect guests to think you purchased it from a restaurant!)


  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ small onion, cut lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick slices
  • 2 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Pinch cayenne pepper or chili garlic sauce
  • 1½ tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 large whole egg, beaten
  • 2 large scallions, trimmed and cut crosswise into ¼ inch-thick slices
  • 6 ounces firm tofu, cut into ½ inch cubes


  1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-low heat. Add garlic and onion, cover and stir occasionally, until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add mushrooms and sauté about 4 minutes.
  2. Add broth, carrots, ginger, black pepper and cayenne; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until carrots are tender, about 3 minutes.
  3. Place cornstarch in a small bowl and whisk in soy sauce and vinegar. Slowly whisk cornstarch mixture into soup. Simmer until soup has thickened and clear, 2 minutes. Turn off heat.
  4. While stirring in one direction, pour in beaten egg. Add tofu, cover soup, and let stand 1 minute. Remove the cover and add scallions. Serve hot.

Per serving: 152 calories, 12g protein, 14g carbohydrate, 7g fat, 1g sat fat, 4g mono fat, 53mg cholesterol, 2g fiber, 410mg sodium

The Seasoned Cook For some heft as well as extra protein, add 4 ounces of cooked chicken, shrimp or pork. Additional vinegar will increase sourness. To keep tofu fresh for a week, cover with water and refrigerate, changing water daily. Chili garlic sauce is found in the Asian foods aisle of most grocery stores.

Oven Fried Chicken

At the next picnic, you don’t have to give up your beloved fried chicken; just bake it instead using this recipe and enjoy! Serves 4.

Try this with: Green beans and mashed sweet potato.


  • 4 4-oz chicken breasts, boneless, skin removed
  • ⅔ cup low-fat buttermilk
  • ⅓ cup bread crumbs
  • ½ teaspoon marjoram
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon thyme


  1. Preheat oven to 350º.
  2. Pour buttermilk into bowl.
  3. Mix together crumbs and spices in a second bowl.
  4. Dip chicken in buttermilk, dredge in mixture and place on lightly oil sprayed cookie sheet.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Per serving: 363 calories, 30 gm protein, 22 gm carbohydrate, 16 gm fat, 1 gm saturated fat, 58 mg cholesterol, 1 gm fiber, 633 mg sodium

THE SEASONED COOK For kids, try cutting the chicken into bite-size pieces and serving as nuggets. Prepare separate low-fat dipping sauces for a fun party idea.

Nouvelle Salad Nicoise

À votre santé! It means “to your health”, and that’s what this French-inspired salad is all about. We’ve improved it by using a lighter dressing and substituting sweet potatoes, an excellent source of phytochemicals and beta carotene. Try salmon or sardines for extra Omega-3 fatty acids. Serves 4.

Salad dressing


  • ½ teaspoon Dijon or favorite mustard
  • 1 tablespoon nonfat yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 1 squeeze fresh lemon juice
  • ⅛ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce


  1. Mix all ingredients in small jar.



  • 1 sweet potato (½ pound) cooked but still firm, skinned and cubed into bite size pieces
  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • 1½ cups green beans
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 red or yellow sweet pepper, halved, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced into bite size pieces
  • 6 ounce can tuna in water
  • 2 tomatoes, halved, and each half cut into at least 3 wedges each
  • 3 artichoke hearts, quartered (canned, packed in water)
  • Salad greens, assorted and washed
  • Black olives, pitted and seeded


  1. Peel eggs, remove yolks from eggs, and slice whites
  2. In olive oil spray, sauté green beans, red onions, and peppers. Refrigerate for 15 minutes

Options for assembly

  • Place greens on each plate, and arrange ingredients in pinwheel fashion around the plate. Sprinkle olives randomly and offer dressing on the side.
  • Offer a salad bar with people assembling their own plates.

Per serving with dressing: 265 calories, 22 gm protein, 33 gm carbohydrate, 7 gm fat, 2 gm sat, 3 gm mono, 121 mg cholesterol, 9gm fiber, 225 mg sodium

THE SEASONED COOK Feel free to substitute sardines or canned salmon for tuna. Or, instead of tuna, grill a piece of fresh fish or chicken and serve on the side.

Stormy Weather Chowder

Some days just feel like soup days, so it’s good to have a recipe that you can make without much effort. This hearty (but not heavy) chowder can be on the table in less than 20 minutes (and serves 4-6). Our secret ingredient is the sweet potato, but other potatoes work just as well. Nonfat milk gives a creamy texture without the added calories. Serve with hearty grain roll and hard cheddar cheese wedge.


  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1½ cups broccoli, chopped
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups nonfat milk
  • 1 15-ounce can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 cup green beans
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon basil
  • ½ teaspoon salt, optional
  • Dash black pepper


  1. In a large soup pot bring broth, broccoli, and sweet potato to boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Do not drain. Set aside uncovered.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat olive oil, add mushrooms and onions, cook until tender, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Whisk flour into milk and add all at once to mushrooms. Turn heat to low and stir with a whisk until bubbly.
  4. Pour mushroom mixture into soup pot with broccoli, broth, and sweet potato.
  5. Add corn, green beans, red pepper, and basil. Heat through 2-3 minutes. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

Per serving: 245 calories, 12 gm protein, 42 gm carbohydrate, 5 gm fat, 1 gm sat fat, 3 gm mono fat, 2 mg cholesterol, 5 gm fiber, 503 mg sodium (253 mg without salt)

THE SEASONED COOK The green beans and red pepper add a pleasant crunchiness to this soup. Use whatever fresh vegetables may be in season. Experiment with the vegetables you have on hand.
One ounce of low-fat cheddar cheese adds only 48 calories and 2 grams of fat. 

Moroccan Chicken

If you relish an explosion of flavors, you’ll love this savory blend of spices, olives, and chicken. And it’s as heart-healthy as it is delicious. Spices offer a wealth of antioxidants, which contribute to healthy arteries. Ginger and turmeric are known to help circulation, similar to aspirin. Serves 4.

Try this with: Festive Bulgur Salad


  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 pound boneless skinless fryer chicken breast, cut into bite-size chunks
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 12 pitted large green olives, halved
  • 1 lemon, sliced into rounds
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Combine paprika, cumin, turmeric, ginger, garlic, and flour. Toss with chicken pieces.
  3. Place chicken and mixture in small baking dish. Combine broth and lemon juice and pour over chicken. Add olives and lemon slices.
  4. Cover dish and bake for 20 minutes. Remove cover and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
  5. Garnish with cilantro if desired and serve.

Per serving: 243 calories, 37 gm protein, 11 gm carbohydrates, 6 gm fat, 1 gm sat fat, 2 gm mono fat, 96 mg cholesterol, 3 gm fiber, 286 mg sodium

THE SEASONED COOK Turmeric gives food a beautiful golden color and cumin adds a spicy note that you’ll recognize from your favorite Mexican dishes.

Pork Dijon with Chutney

This is a perfect and heart-friendly meal for company without being too fussy or labor intensive. And, if you prepare plenty, you’ll have leftovers for your family the next day. You’ll be amazed at how much better homemade chutney is—and less expensive! With cancer-fighting sautéed Swiss chard and whipped winter squash, you’ve prepared a flavorful—and memorable—meal. Serves 4.

Fruit chutney (serves 6)


  • Canola oil spray
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • 1 apple, peeled and chopped
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. Spray saucepan with oil. Sauté onions 2-3 minutes until translucent.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender, 6-10 minutes.
  4. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Per serving (1 tablespoon): 71 calories, 0 gm protein, 19 gm carbohydrate, 0 gm fat, 0 gm sat fat, 0 gm mono fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 gm fiber, 4.9 mg sodium



  • 1 pound pork tenderloin
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon tarragon


  1. Preheat oven to broil.
  2. Combine the Dijon mustard, vinegar, water, and tarragon.
  3. Place pork on broiler pan. Spread half of Dijon mixture on top.
  4. Broil 7 minutes. Turn and spread with remaining mixture. Broil 7 more minutes or until done. Slice and serve with fruit chutney, squash, and Swiss chard.

Per serving: 180 calories, 26 gm protein, 1 gm carbohydrate, 7 gm fat, 3 gm sat fat, 3 gm mono fat, 80 mg cholesterol, 0 gm fiber, 152 mg sodium

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