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Apr 9, 2010 01:00 AM

Dinner party recipes that are also heart healthy

A good friend has recently been put on an extremely restricted diet due to some pretty serious heart problems. It's all a bit depressing, and I want to cheer her up by cooking her a special dinner, which is also good for her! So I need some help, people, because I'm not used to considering these things when I cook for company!

She's not allowed:

dairy products (this is the worst thing for her - no cheese!)
red meat
coconut milk
brazil nuts
and a heap of other things - basically, no saturated fat.

Chicken and fish are the way to go, I guess. Mediterranean style. But what about dessert? Any ideas gratefully received.

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  1. Here's a menu idea:

    -homemade roasted almonds or walnuts, using this recipe:
    -crudite with bagna cauda (sans butter) or one of these dips:
    -chicken breast or fish fillets marinated in lemon juice, olive oil, and parsley and grilled
    -whole wheat pasta with homemade pesto, sans cheese
    -roasted haricot verts, Brussel sprouts, or asparagus tossed with garlic and olive oil
    -summer berries/strawberries macerated in Cointreau or other orange liqueur, or sliced strawberries sprinkled with balsamic. Serve with heart-healthy "butter"-style cookies or biscotti and coffee.

    It's really thoughtful you're doing this for your friend.

    1. Angel Food cake with a berry sauce is a heart-healthy dessert since there are no yolks in the cake (the cholesterol is in the yolks, not egg whites).

      1. I made tilapia over roasted fennel with black olive and cherry tomato salsa. Everyone loved it and it was simeple to prepare. You can serve that with a nice salad roasted potatoes.

        Are egg whites ok? If they are, you can do a meringue nest filled with berries for dessert.

        3 Replies
        1. re: cheesecake17

          Usually egg whites are okay. Can we put some brandied peaches in them? Or sprinkle a little Grand Marnier on the berries.

          1. re: cheesecake17

            I can't imagine meringues without whipped cream - would it be OK with just the berries?

            1. re: greedygirl

              My grandma used to serve meringues with berries macerated in a little sugar and lemon zest. It was a special treat... I always liked it.

              I've never had meringues with peaches... but why not?

          2. This is what I would make for her:
            --a Mediterranean fish stew like cioppino, using only different types of fish and maybe some clam juice to give it some shellfish flavor without the cholesterol
            --garlic bread made with good EVOO (I actually prefer this to butter on garlic bread)
            --a beautiful big salad or some sauteed greens

            --and for dessert, fruit cobbler. Apple, rhubarb, cherry, peach -- whatever fruit you like best. Delicious and easy. Instead of butter for the batter use oil, and instead of milk use Saco dried buttermilk, which contains only 4mg cholesterol for a cup's worth. If even this is verboten you could substitute soy milk, but the dried buttermilk is much better.

            1. Are you trying to follow the doctor's orders or actually make something that is healthy? Most of the "heart health" advice given by doctors is oversimplified, and in many cases it is incorrect. It has the benefit of being mostly correct and easy to follow.

              For example, there is nothing special about red meat. Grilled top round is better for her than grilled chicken thighs or wings.

              A fruit tart that substitutes oil for butter is still bad. Watching total fat intake is just as important as watching saturated fat intake.

              Most of the suggestions you have gotten are good. However, it is important to remember that following the doctor's blacklist does not equate to a healthy meal.

              7 Replies
              1. re: jeremyn

                One advantage of cobbler is that it doesn't use much fat. Much less than pie or tart, for example. I can make a cobbler for four or five people with only 2-3 T of oil. Though I do prefer to use butter, I have successfully substituted olive oil (not EV, of course). One trick is simply to use more fruit and less topping.

                1. re: jeremyn

                  And then again... there are studies that say fat, sat or not, is not the enemy. Carbs are. Carbs raise your triglycerides.

                  So may divergent opinions and studies out there. It a wonder anyone of us lives through the week.

                  1. re: Jennalynn

                    Fat is certainly not the only enemy. Americans grossly overeat. Yes, eating a pound of pasta for dinner should be avoided. My point is simply that most doctors are clueless when it comes to nutrition, and the advice they give you is often either:
                    1) wrong
                    2) oversimplified to make it easy to follow

                  2. re: jeremyn

                    I'm going by what her doctor has told her. I'm sure over time it will evolve, but at the moment she has to get her blood pressure and cholestorol under control quickly.

                    1. re: greedygirl

                      ok, but keep in mind that the average doctor takes zero to one nutrition class in med school.

                    2. re: jeremyn

                      An excellent point because often the patient needs to lose weight. Reducing overall calories is ultimately going to be more important than avoiding specific taboo foods!

                      That said, I would definitely make her some wild salmon, brussels sprouts, a beautiful fruit salad with lots of blueberries and a northern bean humus with vegetables as an hors d'oeuvres. Focus on soluble fiber, omega 3 and calorie reduction.