Thursday, June 30, 2011

Foods That Help Lower Cholesterol

Here are some eating strategies to help lower cholesterol. The LDL is the "bad guy" that we need to lower and the HDL is the "good guy" that we need to maintain to prevent heart attack and stroke.
So, good choices in eating cholesterol-lowering foods and an exercise plan can help.

  1. Start your morning with a bowl of  oats that can lower LDL cholesterol that has beta glucan, a substance in oats that absorbs LDL, which your body then excretes. Recipe: Blueberry Almond Oatmeal
  2. Tempranillo red grapes are used to make certain red wines like Rioja, from certain studies shows that it can lower LDL levels. If red wine is something you don't drink, try eating red grapes. Recipe:Red Wine Chicken with Garlic
  3. Salmon and fatty fish like sardines and herring has omega-3 fats that can prevent heart disease and replacing saturated fats with omega-3 fats can raise good cholesterol to your benefit. Recipe:Penne w/salmon & roasted vegetables
  4. Certain nuts like walnuts, almonds and cashews can lower your LDL but they are high in calories, so practice portion control about 1.5 ounces of nuts a day. Recipe:Maple raisin yogurt w/walnuts
  5. Beans, such as black, kidney and pinto are good for your heart because of the fiber, which has been shown to slow the rate and amount of absorption of cholesterol in certain foods. Recipe:Black bean chili
  6. White tea is a great defense against LDL cholesterol levels and black tea can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Try drinking tea more often then coffee. Recipe:Tea frosty
  7. Ah, sweet chocolate is a powerful antioxidant that helps build HDL cholesterol levels. Remember to choose dark chocolate, it has 3 times more antioxidants then milk chocolate. Recipe:Chocolate dipped strawberries
  8. Butter is high in unhealthy fat, so you would need to switch to a margarine with plant sterols, such as Promise activ or Benecol, to help lower cholesterol. Plant sterols are compounds that reduce cholesterol absorption. Recipe:Whipped sweet potatoes
  9. Green leafy vegetable such as spinach contains lots of lutein which protects the eyes from macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness. Also, spinach guards against heart disease and keeps cholesterol levels normal. Recipe:Spinach orange salad
  10. Avocados are a good source of monounsaturated fat, a good fat that helps cholesterol. Since avocados are high in calories and good fat, use in moderation. Recipe:Mexican chicken avocado soup
  11. Garlic is found to lower cholesterol, prevent blood clots, reduces blood pressure and protect against infections. Try for 2 to 4 fresh cloves a day in recipes. Recipe:Ginger & garlic green beans w/red bell pepper
  12. Olive oil is full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, which lowers LDL bad cholesterol and it can trim belly fat.  Use it to make salad dressings, marinate chicken and fish, or roast vegetables. Recipe:Scallop asparagus linguine
All of this helpful info came from  Prevention Magazine and recipes that can get you started on a healthy lifestyle adapted from below website.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Muffins

Chocolate and peanut butter what a great combination. When I saw this recipe, I knew I had to get busy and bake some muffins. I used coconut palm sugar instead of sugar to prevent a spike in your blood sugar and all whole grain pastry flour for more fiber. This muffin would be tasty with coffee or latte for an afternoon break to give you a little pick-me-up. I found this recipe at:


1/2 cup whole grain organic pastry flour
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt, omit if using salted peanut butter
2 tablespoons organic canola oil
1/4 cup organic peanut butter
1/3 cup coconut palm sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup strongly brewed coffee, cooled

For topping:
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


Preheat oven 350 degrees F and line or grease six muffin tins.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt (omit if using salted peanut butter.
In a small bowl, mix together with a whisk oil, peanut butter, sugar. Then add the egg, vanilla, and coffee, whisk again to combine.
Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined.
Fill muffin cups 2/3 of the way full.
Combine the topping in a small bowl until incorporated.
Top each muffin with 1 teaspoon of this mixture.
Bake 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Allow to cool before removing from tin. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

Since it is blueberry season, I found a muffin recipe that really tastes moist and flavorful. It is made with whole grain pastry flour, applesauce, and oats which gives you quit a bit of fiber and heart healthy blueberries that are full of vitamin C and fiber. This muffin would be a great breakfast boost to get through the morning. I did make a few changes, I used more cinnamon and coconut palm sugar instead of brown sugar. I also added 1 cup blueberries to the 3/4 cup in the original recipe. The original recipe is found at website:


1 1/4 cups whole grain pastry flour
1 1/4 cups old fashion oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
2 tablespoons organic canola oil
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat oven 375 degrees F. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners.


In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, baking power, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In a medium bowl, combine applesauce, buttermilk, sugar, oil, and egg. Make a well in dry ingredients and add applesauce mixture. Stir just until combined. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Makes 12 to 15 muffins.
Bake 18-20 minutes. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Healthy Banana Muffins

This is muffin uses ripe bananas instead of eggs as the binder. They are moist, slightly sweet, and full of nutritious ingredients. I found this recipe at a website called Veganbaking .net where you can share your ideas, post desserts, get the latest vegan baking news, and find delicious foods. Of course I changed some of the ingredients but for the original recipe go to:


2 cups organic whole grain pastry flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar (great for diabetics has low glycemic index)
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1/2 cups walnuts, roughly chopped and toast in small pan on stove for 4 minutes until fragrant
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
1 1/4 cups vegan milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
1/4 cup organic canola oil


Preheat oven 375 degrees and put cupcake liners in a 12-cup muffin tin and set aside.
In a med bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, flax seed, walnuts, and cinnamon.
In a large bowl, take a fork and mash the bananas, add the milk and oil. Next, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, with a large spoon stir to incorporate. Do not over mix. Use an ice scream scoop to put the batter in each cupcake liner. This will ensure each muffin will be the same size. Bake for 20 minutes and test with a toothpick to see if done. Remove from oven and place on wire rack and cool in muffin tin for 5 minutes, then remove from tin and place muffins on wire rack to finish cooling. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Pecan Sandie Cookies

Pecan sandies are one of my favorite cookies and I found a recipe at that satisfied my sweet tooth. I used almond meal flour to her almond flour because that is all I had and I used unsalted butter to her salted butter. I do like to control my salt intake. It was an easy recipe. You can get her recipe at:
Elana's Pantry


2 1/2 cups almond meal flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
5 tablespoons agave nectar or honey
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract


Prepare 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl combine flour, salt, baking soda and pecans. In a smaller bowl, mix together agave or honey, butter and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into dry. 
Place dough in the center of one of the lined baking sheets and form into a large log approximately 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Cover log with plastic wrap and put in freezer for 1 hour or until firm, unwrap and cut into 1/8 inch thick slices. Place slices on the lined baking sheets.
Bake at 350 degrees until golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool about 5 minutes then remove from baking sheet and place on rack to finish cooling. Enjoy!

Eating Habits, Then and Now

In my  profile, I only explained how I changed my eating habits 30 years ago, but here is a little history of my background growing up in an Italian family that every time you turn around you were eating some kind of delicious food, laden with high fat. Boy, it was good stuff!

Above is a picture of my Mom holding my grandbaby, Callie. This picture was taken back in Apirl, 2011, when we visited my family in West Virginia. Callie is the 4th generation born to our family, she is 6 months in this picture and my Mom just turned 83 years old.

When I was growing up my Grandma lived with us and she was always in the kitchen baking or cooking something that was tasty. The best dinner was on Sunday, after church my Mom and Grandma would start making our Italian supper that consisted of meatballs and meat sauce, pasta, fried chicken, Italian bread and salad. The meatballs were unbelievable scrumptious because of the ingredients which included ground chuck, homemade breadcrumbs, soaked Italian bread in milk, eggs, garlic, fresh basil, fresh grated Romano cheese, salt, and pepper. She would mix the ingredients altogether and roll into meatballs and fry in about two inches of Crisco vegetable shortening. Next, she'd drop the meatballs into the meat sauce, she had prepared before church. The sauce was simmering on the stove with oil floating on top of the meat sauce and the aroma from the garlic and fresh basil was heavenly. My Grandma use to say, " the oil flavored the sauce, so don't skim it off with a spoon" and boy did it. I use to love Sundays at our house!

Of course, my Grandma handed down all her recipes to my Mom and now my sister that leaves in Virginia and me have the recipes. I am going to try and put together a keepsake recipe book of all the family recipes, so we can hand them down to our children. Hopefully, they will use the recipes only at holiday time, because they will be full of fat and high calories. Yum!

This is just an example of how I ate then. Now that I am older and my metabolism has slowed down. I had to improve my eating habits to healthy foods such as whole grains, vegetables and chicken or fish. I know routines are difficult to alter, yet one's quality of life can improve with better eating habits.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Magic Cookies

I am always looking for new cookie recipes and I found one at a website called Sweet Potato Soul. The cook is Jenne` Claiborne and she loves sweet potatoes. Of course, I will be changing a few things in the recipe but if you want the original recipe got to the link:
Sweet Potato Soul

This recipe has a little bit of everything from bananas, coconut, oats, pecans, and of course a sweet potato. This cookie has a variety of flavors that you will want to make more then once. Jenne` cooks vegetarian and healthy and offers gluten free recipes. So, check out her website.


2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup maple syrup

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
2/3 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
1/2 cup pecans, chopped and toasted
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 cup sweet potato packed tightly, peeled and shredded
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips (add up to 1/2 cup if you like)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl mash the bananas. Add vanilla, butter, and maple syrup, mix well.
In a separate bowl, combine oats, coconut, pecans, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and combine. Slowing stir the sweet potato into oat mixture making sure to break up all of the clumps.

Stir this mixture into the wet mixture, then fold in the chocolate chips. Dampen your hands and spoon 2 tablespoons of the batter into your palm. Shape into balls and place on cookie sheet and press them to flatten a little. Bake for 15 minutes and remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes before moving the cookies to a wire rack.  Enjoy!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Orange-Pistachio Wild Rice Salad

Since it has been so warm, I am always looking for cool summer salads to eat. I found an easy salad from Ellie Kriger on the Cooking Channel. It has brown and wild rice which is full of fiber and nutrition. This salad has orange slices for your Vitamin C and crunchy pistachios that is one of the lower calorie nuts.
The fresh basil leaves and the red onion together with the orange really brought out the flavor of the salad.
Her dressing had to much red wine vinegar, so I cut back on the vinegar and added more orange juice, which definitely helped the dressing. This recipe makes 6 servings.


2/3 cup brown rice
2/3 cup wild rice
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 orange, peel and pith removed, segmented and sliced (about 2/3 cup)
10 large basil leaves, sliced into ribbons (about 1/3 cup)
1/4 cup minced red onion
4 tablespoons chopped pistachios, lightly toasted
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

For the dressing:

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 teaspoon salt


Combine brown rice, wild rice and broth in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until all water is evaporated and the rice is fully cooked, about 45 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.

When rice is cool, add orange slices, basil, red onion, pistachios, and orange zest, mix to combine.

Combine the red wine vinegar, olive oil, orange juice, mustard, honey, and salt in a bowl and whisk to incorporate.

Pour over rice mixture and toss. Enjoy!