'heart health' posts

Delectable Gingerbread with Strawberry Sauce

Strawberries in season take center stage in this delightful and delicious dessert (serves 8). Raspberries are equally yummy.

For gingerbread

  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 egg whites
  • ½ cup apple sauce
  • ½ cup light molasses
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Spray and flour 10- to 11-inch round cake pan.
  2. Beat canola oil and sugar until well blended, add the egg whites. Mix in apple sauce and molasses, blend.
  3. Add dry ingredients and mix.
  4. Pour batter into pan and bake for 35-45 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Top with fruit puree.

Per serving: 274 calories, 5 gm protein, 50 gm carbohydrate, 7 gm fat, 1 gm sat fat, 4 gm mono fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 1 gm fiber, 305 gm sodium

For strawberries

  • ½ pound strawberries fresh or frozen and thawed
  • Optional 2 tablespoons water
  1. Puree strawberries (or other fruit) in food processor. Add water if too thick.
  2. Serve over gingerbread

Per serving: 17 calories, 0 gm protein, 4 gm carbohydrate, 0 gm fat, 0 gm sat fat, 0 gm mono fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 1 gm fiber, 9 gm sodium

THE SEASONED COOK Most nights, the heart-healthy dessert choice is fresh fruit, but this recipe is a treat! Dust lightly with powdered sugar for a festive appeal.

Indian Spiced Lentils and Squash

Invite a vegetarian for dinner! Little lentils are packed with heart-healthy fiber and folates and they’re a vegetarian staple because they’re so satisfying. This dish also features naturally sweet butternut squash, an excellent source of potassium and Vitamins A and C. Serves 4.


  • 1 cup lentils
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
  • 1 ripe tomato, diced, with juice
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder or to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons fresh or bottled
  • lemon juice
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • ¾ cup low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped, optional
  • ½ cup nonfat plain yogurt


  1. Simmer lentils, partially covered, in 3 cups of water with salt until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. While the lentils are cooking, heat olive oil in a large nonstick saucepan. Sauté onions and garlic until golden, then add squash, tomatoes, carrots, and celery. Sauté for 5 minutes.
  3. Add curry powder and bay leaf and sauté briefly, until fragrant. Add lemon juice, wine, and broth. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes.
  4. Add cooked and drained lentils and raisins to the pan and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes, until flavors are blended. Stir in chopped cilantro.
  5. Top each serving with a dollop of yogurt.

Per serving: 332 calories, 18 gm protein, 60 gm carbohydrate, 4 gm fat, 1 gm sat fat, 3 gm mono fat, 20 gm fiber, 279 mg sodium

THE SEASONED COOK Choose the small green French lentils called lentilles de Puy if you can find them, they hold their shape best and have a delicate flavor.

Homemade Dressings

The benefits of making your own dressings far outweigh the wee bit of time it takes to prepare them. Our versions are tastier, healthier, and allow you to control the calories—all for a fraction of the cost of store-bought.

Yogurt Curry Dressing (1 cup)


  • ¾ cup yogurt
  • ¼ cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • Pinch black pepper


  1. Whisk the yogurt and buttermilk. Add the rest of the ingredients; continue stirring until mixed well. For a thicker consistency that can be used for dips, refrigerate overnight.

Per 2 tablespoons: 20 calories, 1g protein, 2g carbohydrate, 0g fat, 0g sat fat, 0g mono fat, 0mg cholesterol, 0g fiber, 22mg sodium

Basic Vinaigrette Dressing (1 cup)


  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¾ cup balsamic or red wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon each dried basil, oregano and thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon sugar


  1. Shake all ingredients in a small glass jar.

Per 2 tablespoons: 65 calories, 1g protein, 2g carbohydrate, 6g fat, 1g sat fat, 5g mono fat, 0mg cholesterol, 0g fiber, 8mg sodium

Salsa Dressing (1 cup)


  • 3 tablespoons apple juice concentrate
  • ½ cup salsa (check label for low sodium)
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  1. Put all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until blended.

Per 2 tablespoons: 35 calories, 0g protein, 5g carbohydrate, 2g fat, 0g sat fat, 1g mono fat, 0g cholesterol, 0g fiber, 60mg sodium

The Seasoned Cook Homemade dressings do have a shorter life than store-bought, since they contain no preservatives. These recipes will keep in refrigerator for up to a week.

Cod with Orange Sauce

When your grocer has a sale on white fish, you’ll want to rely on this delicious menu. The presentation is as impressive as the flavors (serves 4).


  • Canola oil spray
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1½ pounds cod fillets
  • ½ teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 orange peeled and sliced in rings


  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Spray an oven-proof dish with oil.
  2. In a bowl mix together orange juice, honey, and garlic. Place fillets in dish, cover with orange juice mixture.
  3. Place dish on top shelf in oven and bake for 10-12 minutes depending on thickness.
  4. Remove fish to serving plates. Add cornstarch to remaining orange sauce. Cook and stir frequently until thickened. Pour over fish and garnish with orange slices.

Per serving: 282 calories, 32 gm protein, 23 gm carbohydrate, 7 gm fat, 2 gm sat fat, 3 gm mono fat, 74 mg cholesterol, 0 gm fiber, 550 gm sodium

THE SEASONED COOK: Cod, like other cold-water fish, is a source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which promotes heart health.

Chocolate Walnut Pear Tart

This dessert combines all the tastes we love: rich chocolate, crunchy nuts, and the fresh taste of fruit. Fortunately it all comes together in a recipe that’s heart-healthy and as easy to make as it is to enjoy.


  • Non-stick pan spray
  • 2 tablespoons margarine spread
  • 1 cup whole roasted walnuts
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • ⅔ cup egg white (3 egg whites)
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 firm, ripe Bartlett pears
  • ½ lemon
  • 2 tablespoons apple or passion fruit jelly


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 8-inch removable-bottom tart pan; set aside.
  2. In a food processor, combine nuts and sugar; process until very finely ground. Add margarine, egg whites, cocoa, vanilla, salt, and vanilla extract and process until combined. Spread mixture evenly in prepared pan.
  3. Peel, halve, and core pears; cut lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick slices, rubbing them with lemon as you work (to prevent discoloration). Arrange slices on chocolate mixture, slightly overlapping, without pressing in.
  4. Place pan on a baking sheet; bake until top is puffed and a toothpick inserted in center of chocolate mixture comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool completely in pan.
  5. Heat jelly in the microwave or on the stove until liquefied. Gently brush pears with jelly; let set, at least 20 minutes. Remove tart from pan, and serve.

Per serving (1/8): 219 calories, 4g protein, 32g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 9g fat, 1g saturated fat, 2g mono fat, 0mg cholesterol, 114mg sodium

THE SEASONED COOK: Instead of walnuts, substitute hazelnuts or almonds and various fruits in season. Using Demerara sugar (a type of unrefined cane sugar) adds a pleasant molasses flavor.

Chipotle Black Bean Chili

For our Chipotle Black Bean Chili, we found the beans on sale for 79 cents a pound. In terms of nutrition, black beans are rich in protein and calcium as well as fiber. We used water instead of more expensive chicken stock, because the spicy chipotle will heat up the taste as much as you want. Start with just a little; more chipotle can always be added. So, ask your friends over for a game night and know that you’re serving up a winning menu! Serve with green salad and baked tortilla chips (serves 12).


  • 3 cups dried black beans (turtle beans)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large green bell pepper, cored, seeded, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped (about 6 cups)
  • 8 cloves garlic, finely minced (about 1/3 cup)
  • 2 large carrots finely chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, seeds discarded, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano leaves
  • 1 28-ounce can low-sodium crushed or diced tomatoes
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • Suggested garnish: finely chopped red or green onion or cilantro with a dollop of nonfat sour cream or Greek yogurt.


  1. Rinse beans 2 or 3 times. Then, place in a very large pot, add half each of the green pepper and garlic and cover with 3 quarts of hot water. Cover the pot and bring to a gentle boil; simmer for 90 minutes or until beans are tender, but still firm.
  2. Place olive oil in another large skillet and sauté remaining green pepper, garlic, onions, and carrots until very tender, 20-30 minutes.
  3. Add cumin, oregano, tomatoes, vinegar and chipotle to sautéed vegetables, and simmer 10 more minutes.
  4. Add vegetables to the beans and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until beans can be mashed with a spoon, 10-20 minutes.
  5. Use a blender or food processor to puree 3-4 cups of chowder and add back into pot, mixing it all together. Dish up, garnish, and serve.

Per 1 cup serving: 256 calories,13g protein, 47g carbohydrate, 3g fat, 1g sat fat, 2g mono fat, 1mg cholesterol, 16g fiber, 128mg sodium.

Tip: This recipe can be made in advance. It holds in the refrigerator for up to a week and in the freezer for up to 2 months. Time constraints? Use 6 cans of low-sodium black beans, rinsed. And grab a bag of baked tortilla chips instead of making your own.

Heavenly Pancakes with Cherry Compote

We decided to update the traditional pancake breakfast to heart-healthy status. By substituting farina you instantly get a richer tasting pancake. And, the fruit and nuts add a special surprise. Serves 6 (2 each).


  • ½ cup uncooked instant farina (such as Cream of Wheat or whole wheat farina)
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¾ cup nonfat milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 ripe medium banana, mashed
  • ¼ cup toasted chopped walnuts
  • Cherry Pomegranate Compote


  1. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. In a separate bowl combine milk, egg, banana and oil. Stir into dry ingredients just until blended and batter is lumpy. Let stand 10 minute and then stir in walnuts.
  2. Heat lightly greased griddle or skillet over medium-high heat. Pour batter by scant ¼ cupfuls onto pan. Turn when first bubbles break; cook until second side is golden brown. Serve with warm Cherry Pomegranate Compote.

Cherry Compote


  • 1 (16 oz.) pkg. frozen pitted sweet cherries
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • Dash of salt
  • ½ cup pomegranate cherry Juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


  1. In a medium saucepan, combine cornstarch, sugar, and salt. Blend in cold juice and mix well. Add cherries and heat over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat, add lemon juice and serve over pancakes.

Per serving: 285 calories, 7g protein, 52g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 7g fat, 1g saturated fat, 1g mono fat, 32 mg cholesterol, 299mg sodium

THE SEASONED COOK Use any seasonal fresh fruit in season or frozen from the freezer to add color, antioxidants and fiber. For high fiber and nutty texture, use Bob’s Red Mill Whole Wheat Farina, delicious!

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