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Heart-healthy recipes --particularly snacks, red-meat-makeovers & low-sodium marinades/sauces?

Per my recent posting on the cookware board (looking for suggestions for cooking tools) my Dad recently had a heart atttack scare. He's active but a big fan of snacking & while he eats a lot of fish, he's also a fan of red meat and gets a lot of high-sodium marinades and frozen vegetables, as well as cookies with too much saturated fat.

So any suggestions/favorite recipes for: snacks, flavorful vegetables prepared with minimal sodium, marinades, red meat makeovers (i.e turkey burgers, etc)... ok, basically anything :) would be welcome and MUCH appreciated! (as would recommendations for tasty pre-packaged/store bought foods that fit the bill) Thanks!

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  1. There's so much in this question it's hard to think of where to begin. History of heart disease and weight problems in my family, so we are careful eaters.

    There's a magazine - Cooking Light - that might be helpful; also (really) Vegetarian Times, if you can still find it - used to be available at food co-ops.

    Snacks - fresh fruit of course - keep it permanently on top of the grocery list but try some different fruits every week to keep up the variety - also, dried fruit (good apricots if you can find them; figs) but be aware it has lots of sugar so it's a "sometimes" treat - TLC granola bars (less sugar and fat and artificial stuff than other brands, and they're available at Costco as well as grocery stores) - Fig Newtons or lowfat Snackwells (we like the Devils Food kind) or lowfat Pop Tarts instead of other cookies - baked chips instead of fried (compare the calories and fat on the nutrition labels when purchasing everything), or low-fat Cheez-Its (although they might be high on salt; I haven't checked that). A really good dip with cut-up raw veggies can actually be pretty satisfying. It's easy to make Lipton soup mix onion dip for one person - a few tablespoons of low-fat sour cream mixed with the same amount of low-fat yogurt, mixed with a small amount of the dried soup mix - yum. Fold over the soup mix envelope and keep the rest of it for another time.

    Vegetables.
    - Green beans. Wash and cut into pieces. Put in a bowl with a little water and microwave 3 minutes. Heat one or two tablespoons of olive oil in a pan. (They sell olive oil at Costco too. I use the "light" olive oil, which is pretty tasteless and reasonably heart-healthy, in place of all vegetable oils.) Add a clove or two of crushed or minced garlic to the pan. Saute for a minute on medium heat. Add the beans. Saute another minute. Take off heat. Optional: add a very small shake of salt or, better, a little pepper.
    - A can of black beans. Chop half an onion - a red onion or shallot if you've got one; otherwise whatever you have. Mince some garlic. Heat one or two tablespoons of olive oil in a pan. Wait a minute then add the onion. Saute three minutes over medium heat. Add the garlic to the pan. Saute for a minute more. Drain your beans in a colander. Put them in the pan. Stir. Add more oil if it seems too dry. If you have any cilantro or spinach, or a chopped tomato, could be nice to add at this point, but optional. If he likes things spicy, he can add some red pepper (any type - cayenne; paprika; red pepper flakes - go easy) at this point. Can add some cumin if he wants it to taste like Mexican food (optional). Take off heat; serve.
    - Spinach. Put a box of frozen spinach in the fridge overnight. The next day, put two tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Chop some red onion or shallot and mince two cloves of garlic and add to pan in the order stated above. Make two cuts along the length of the box, but don't remove the spinach. Hold the box over the sink and wring out all the water. Add the spinach to the pan. Pull it apart and flip it over occasionally. Add more oil if it seems necessary. Add two tablespoons of good red vinegar - such as balsamic or sherry vinegar. When it seems done (the onions will have been in the pan about five or ten minutes; the spinach maybe five to seven minutes), put in a bowl. Optional - top with a very, very small amount of feta or parmesan.
    - squash is easy. Cut acorn squash in half. Pour a little water - maybe half a cup - in the bottom of a microwave-proof (such as Pyrex) bowl. Put the squash in the bowl, cut sides down towards the water. Put Saran wrap tight on the top of the bowl. Using a knife, poke four holes in the Saran wrap. Microwave about 15 minutes. Carefully remove the Saran wrap (it's hot under there!!!). Put squash on a plate (remove the skin beforehand if you like). Serve!

    Ground turkey can be used just like ground beef, for burgers or meatballs or meatloaf, etc. But we usually add more spices (not salt, but whatever other add-ins you usually add, such as powdered garlic or onion, herbs, pepper). And this is a funny one, but my kids love this variation on burgers: curryburgers! I mix up ground turkey with an egg and wrung-dry bread, but put in very little garlic and onion, and instead put in a lot of curry powder and some golden raisins, and a very little sugar or brown sugar. It's delicious.

    I'm fond of microwave Amy's bean and vegetable burritos. Not her other ones. Even the bean-and-veg has a little too much carbohydrate for my liking and not enough green peppers. But it's still convenient. Can unwrap, microwave two and a half minutes, and it's ready. Good with a little lowfat sour cream or even a glass of skim milk, to cut the heat.

    Talk about easy, he can buy a whole rotisserie chicken. Take off the skin and throw it away when you have willpower. Then enjoy! You can make the leftovers any way you like - cube and toss in a pan with garlic and onion as described above, or add a ton of fresh herbs, or spinach (dried as explained above) with a little cheese, or low-sodium soy sauce and a little toasted sesame oil.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Julia_T

      you've got a lot of great ideas here, but i feel compelled to point out that a mere teaspoon of the Lipton soup mix contains more than 200mg of sodium...add to that the naturally-occurring sodium in the dairy products you mix it with, and you're looking at 300+ mg for a few tablespoons of dip. store-bought rotisserie chicken is also *loaded* with sodium, as are those Amy's burritos. basically, unless it's specifically labeled as salt-free or low sodium, prepared food (fresh or frozen) is usually a no-go for someone on a sodium-restricted diet.

      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        Sorry. My knowledge is more on the low-fat end of things more than low-sodium.

        1. re: Julia_T

          no need to apologize, i just wanted to be sure we weren't steering the OP in the wrong direction.

    2. Wine.

      1. Here is a few links to products with low salt and recipes

        http://www.edenfoods.com/store/index....
        These beans can be found at organic and health food stores.
        http://www.lowsodiumcooking.com/free/...

        This site is where you can order low or not salt products to be shipped to you.
        there are in Minnesota so if you live around the Twin Cities you can pick up your order.
        They have Herb ox sodium free chicken or beef instant broth it is very good.
        Some of there products are available at local stores.
        http://healthyheartmarket.com/absolut...

        Lipton onion soup mix is loaded with salt. Here is a copy cat recipe
        http://www.food.com/recipe/copycat-li...

        I've gone through the heart attack due to high cholesterol and blood pressure
        So I have searched for recipes on line low in saturated fat and sodium. To many to list
        here. If you have something specific in mind post it. I don't do snacks so I don't have
        any in that area.
        I have a good sub for ground beef but you have to grind your own meat to make it.
        Example tonight I'm having Pizza with hot Italian sausage and onions. with very very low sodium
        and 1 gram saturated fat. But i have to make everything from scratch,from dough to toppings.
        If you have a meat grinder here is the hot sausage recipe (I also use this for gr. beef) this sausage
        is very hot so you might want to experiment with smaller amounts at first.
        2 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin
        2 TBS hot paprika
        2 TBS dried hot pepper flakes
        1/2 cup dice onions ( a must or meat with dry out when cooked
        )2 TBS fennel seeds
        2 TBS garlic powder
        1/3 cup red wine
        I only occasionally use them in casing,so I make them into patties and rap individually with glad freezer press and seal.

        12 Replies
        1. re: becks1

          On the topic of magazines, good ideas can be found in Eating Well and Clean Eating, though I personally find the recipes extremely basic and lacking in seasonings. But, there are very good ideas, simple recipes that non-foodies can follow easily, ingredients are accessible to pretty much everyone, and the articles and features are informative.

          The simplest way to make swift and positive changes in one's diet is to move away from processed foods of all kinds, wherever possible.

          1. re: 1sweetpea

            Thank you for those links. I had a heart attack on Nov. 30, they put a stent in. The list of "NO's" they gave me is unbelievable. Processed foods are very high in sodium, and I usually have avoided them but now we'll have to make everything from scratch around here, low sodium, no fat, etc. The Dr. said today I can have Morton's Salt Substitute in moderation, it doesn't taste bad. Also Kirkland's seasoning from Costco is good. I love vegetables so that's a help. I'm not crazy about boneless skinless chicken. It just has no taste to me no matter what I put on it. We had a pork tenderloin last night with the Kirkland's on it and even my 6 year old granddaughter loved it.

            1. re: joan828

              Have you tried boneless/skinless thighs? Much more flavorful than the breasts.

              1. re: wyogal

                Good idea! I love dark meat on chicken and turkey. Maybe I could eat a half of one. Right now I am very restricted as to saturated fats, so I really have to watch it. Even with the skin off, dark meat is fattier than white meat.

                1. re: joan828

                  joan828 avoid the thighs the worst part of the chicken Sat fat
                  http://www.porkbeinspired.com/Nutriti...
                  I to had stent in one vein other one to clogged had to have major surgery,heart stopped in ICU. I'm sure wyogal means well but flavor over health you decide.
                  No chicken thighs. No steaks,livers,fried foods,dairy products,no beer "just kidding"
                  read labels no "polyunsaturated oils"no,no.no. they make trans fats. If you must have beef us top round roast trim all fat and cook in oven like a pot roast .
                  I could go on for hours but I would bore you I think.

                  1. re: becks1

                    I was afraid of that. :(. I happen to love steak, liver, and beer. I can have some dairy products, no or low fat yogurt, skim milk, that vile alpine lace cheese. Anything with hydrogenated oil is out. You're not boring me at all! Fun times ahead. Thanks for the advice! :)

                    1. re: joan828

                      since you can have dairy, look for no-salt-added cottage cheese. you should be able to find the Friendship brand near you. it's a terrific source of lean protein & calcium, and you can gussy it up in tons of sweet & savory ways...
                      http://www.chow.com/search?query=%22c...

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        Thanks! They have it in Roche Brothers and Stop & Shop near me.

                    2. re: becks1

                      I don't know why I wrote "polyunsaturated oils" when I meant "partially hydrogenated oil"

                      1. re: becks1

                        sorry. But then, one should be consulting their doctor and dietician. This is what you get when you ask an online cooking forum.

                  2. re: joan828

                    Joan, try using lemon juice as a seasoning. You won't believe how it improves just about any green vegetable---you won't miss the salt. Dried dill is good on green beans. And you are right when you say "now we'll have to make everything from scratch"---processed food is Evil Incarnate if you are on a heart diet. You may find it useful to freeze more homemade stuff (in small ready-to-use portions) now that you aren't relying as much on prepared foods. Please see my post above for other points. Best of luck to you. You can do this. One more thing: try the b. sk. chicken breasts baked with a can of salt-free tomato sauce plus a can of water with generous seasoning of dill, mint, cinnamon, and lemon juice---add some quartered onions and maybe some green pepper--- and have this with rice (this is Persian seasoning).

                    1. re: Querencia

                      I think onions added to anything is good! I already make my own tomato sauce and chicken stock. I'll just have to be extra vigilant removing ALL the fat. And cut the sausage out of the sauce.

              2. I cooked for my heart-patient husband for 23 years so here are a few ideas: 1) Always read the nutrition information on a product before you buy it as prepared foods (like frozen items) are full of sodium and a sodium load can literally land you in the emergency room if cardiac insufficiency is a problem. 2) Trader Joe's Organic Marinara Sauce has 25 mg of sodium per half-cupful compared with as much as 700 mg in name brands. You can use this in a zillion ways. 3) Trader Joe's has a low-sodium chicken broth in cartons that you can use to make gravy. 4) If you are down to low-salt cheese, which is awful, process it in the Cuisinart with enough beer to make a spread and add some garlic: great improvement. 5) You asked for snacks, but often in the early days of heart situations there is weight to be lost or managed so be careful of snacks and make them more like celery sticks than high-calorie items. 6) Check with your dad's cardiologist or a registered dietitian regarding Potassium---depending on what diuretic drug he's on they may want you to keep up his Potassium using dietary sources. If so, know that chili con carne is your dish---make it yourself to control fat and salt, but the kidney beans, the tomatoes, the tomato paste, and the liquid that cooks out of the beans are all prime sources of Potassium while the beans are good fiber and the beef is good protein. Use a reasonable amount of the lowest-fat ground beef then after you saute it put it in a colander and run hot water over it. You will end up with chili that is downright health food and spicing it up won't add fat, calories, or sodium. 7) Air-popped popcorn makes a good snack. 8) Low-sodium V-8 is also a good snack and very low-calorie. 8) Be aware that baking powder and baking soda are huge sources of sodium, so you may want to try making yeast waffles (not much trouble, really). 9) Your best bet for cake is angelfood and, for cookies, meringues.

                1. Mr Sueatmo had quadruple bypass surgery 11 years ago. I had to make immediate changes in our diet.

                  My strategy was to take excess fat out of the normal cooking that I did. Now, I have actually added a bit more into our diet, because I now try to eat low carb, but the fat is usually a small amount of EVOO or canola oil. I do trim fatty meats, and skin chickens. I use egg substitute, even though I question limiting eggs. I don't bake nearly as much as before. We switched to Smart Balance Lite for everyday spread, and it tastes fine to me. I do use butter for seasoning, but in moderation.

                  One of the things that you should investigate is limiting carbs, especially from processed foods. And fresh veggies are very important in this diet. You can roast or grill them, or microsteam them, or eat them raw.

                  Fresh nuts are better for snacking that commercially baked goods. There are some decent snack bars. Look for lower carbs, as well as lower fat counts.

                  The sad truth is that most prepackaged foods are not good for anyone.

                  If he has a weight problem, then he needs to lose weight if possible, And he needs to get regular exercise. It isn't all about diet.

                  1. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Getting...

                    1. Hi there.

                      First time poster, long time lurker of CH.

                      I first started looking for low-salt dishes to assist a relative with meniere's disease. The best recipe I've found to date is a low-sodium, low-fat, whole-wheat chocolate cake from Eating Well.

                      The cake is moist and dark-chocolatey, without being overly sweet. It contains coffee. It's become a favorite in my own sodium-loving household, and we make it with regularity and enthusiasm (just baked another one this morning, in fact). We like it topped with a dollop of whipped cream and little raspberry jam.

                      The recipe calls for whole-wheat pastry flour, but I use one-half white cake flour and one half regular whole wheat flour.

                      Hope the link works (my first try): http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/one...