Citrus Shrimp

Shrimp is a great protein option to keep on hand. They freeze well and cook fast, and their small size makes them a kid-friendly finger food—perfect for busy families. Shrimp gets a bit of a bad reputation for being a high cholesterol food, but overall it is a lean protein. Over many studies and analysis over many years, research has found that dietary cholesterol is not correlated with blood levels and for that reason does not pose a risk to our heart health. The thing to watch is your total fat intake, especially intake of saturated fats. These fats are typically animal-based and solid at room temperature. They are known to contribute to poor cholesterol levels and increase risk of plaque build up in the arteries, increasing risk for heart disease and stroke. However, notice shrimp is very high in sodium, like many other crustaceans and mollusks from the sea, and this may lead to temporary increase in blood pressure and edema. 

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Spinach Feta Quiche with Sweet Potato Crust

This recipe is a healthier—and, honestly, easier—twist on a classic dish. Quiche is typically a decadent, savory treat with a super buttery crust and a creamy egg filling.

Instead of using butter and white flour to make the crust, this version uses simple slices of sweet potato, a nutritious complex carbohydrate filled with fiber and nutrients. The addition of Greek yogurt, rather than cream, to the egg mix still produces a delightful creamy texture but with added protein and less saturated fat. This also works great with scrambled eggs or omelets. If you’re watching your cholesterol or fat intake, substitute half the eggs with their equivalent in liquid egg whites, or 4 whites from whole eggs.  

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Lucky Corned Beef with Horseradish Sauce

You may have heard how we need to cut back on red meats. The saturated fats in red meats are known for increasing our cholesterol, having a negative effect on our heart health. However, when we do have red meats, making sure that we keep to the leaner cuts is key.

The cooking method is one way you can tell if a cut is lean or not. When meats have less fat on them, they need more time at a lower temperature to turn out juicy and tender. Too hot and too fast will cause the protein to tighten rapidly, leading to a tough, chewy piece of meat. This cooking method is sometimes used for higher fat meats, such pork ribs, but it remains a helpful indication of leanness. You may notice the thick layer of fat on the brisket; you can trim some of it off, leaving behind the meat. For an even leaner option, choose a corned beef round, which has less fat within the meat (also known as marbling).  

Horseradish is the real star of this show; the perfect sharp accent to cut through the savory meat. It’s been used medicinally for hundreds of years for its anti-inflammatory effects. It has also been researched for its possible cardiovascular benefits and antibacterial properties.  

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One Pan Pomegranate Chicken and Squash

Pomegranate is a beautiful and delicious fruit packed with nutrients. One serving, or half a fruit, had almost 6g fiber, 2g protein, 26g carbohydrates and tons of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, including the powerful antioxidant, anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are chemicals that are responsible for red, blue and purple colors in many fruits and vegetables. This chemical has been getting a lot of attention as more and more research comes out on its health benefits. Anthocyanins, along with other antioxidant chemicals found in plant foods, help reduce chronic inflammation, which is thought to be an underlying condition of many chronic diseases such cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cancers.  This recipe features both pomegranate juice as the seeds (also called arils) and it’s easy to make, using a single sheet pan. 

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Mini Cheese Pancakes

This is the perfect breakfast treat to celebrate Valentine’s Day. This version of the classic pancake is fluffy and filling, thanks to the extra protein from the cottage cheese. To build a balanced meal, we should include all the macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates and fats. This way meals and snacks are more filling and satisfying. Make this dish even better by being playful; who doesn’t love a heart-shaped pancake, even if it’s just for you!

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Lovely Lentil Loaf

February is Heart Health Month, and this is just the recipe to kick it off! This savory loaf is made from lentils and is packed with plant-based protein, fiber and many other vitamins and minerals.

Typically, a loaf would be made from ground beef and can be high in saturated fat, which has been shown to increase our total cholesterol and LDL “bad” cholesterol. Cholesterol has an important role in our bodies, but too much can build up in our arteries causing plaques to form. The buildup plaque causes our arteries to stiffen and narrow, restricting blood flow.

Even small adjustments like switching from an 80/20 ground beef to the leaner 90/10 or 95/5 is beneficial. However, with plant-based recipes, not only is there the benefit of little to no saturated fat, but there is also a ton of fiber. Fiber binds to excess cholesterol and removes from our bodies, helping us maintain a healthy balance.  Lentils are also very high in iron, an important nutrient we often get from red meats. Iron is found in many plant-based foods, particularly lentils, beans, legumes and dark leafy greens.

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Sesame Tofu Vegetable Dumplings

The Lunar New year is coming soon, and what better way to celebrate than the age-old tradition of making dumplings! Dumplings filled with pork and cabbage have long been eaten as a tradition for the Lunar New Year in many East Asian cultures. These tasty little pouches are served as a representation of financial wealth. Some say this is because they look like an ancient Chinese coin, others say dumplings look like little bags of money. Really it depends on how you fold your dumplings. The more dumplings you eat, the more wealth for the upcoming year. This recipe is a vegetable version, made with a classic plant-based filling of tofu, carrots, cabbage and shiitake mushrooms rather than pork. If you want to spice things up and get some probiotics in your meal, swap out the cabbage for kimchi. These would pair well with a salad topped with ginger dressing and a tuna steak. 

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Sauerkraut Soup

This recipe has a secret ingredient you likely have never used before: juniper berry. Junipers are a common spice used throughout Scandinavia all the way down to Hungary. Junipers are currently being studied for their wide array of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Some research has even suggested that juniper may help raise HDL, the good cholesterol, and may assist in better regulating blood sugar. A word of warning though: not every juniper is safe for consumption, so please buy your junipers rather than collecting ones you may have in your yard. 

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Tomato Stewed Trout

Trout doesn’t always come to mind when we are looking for a healthy fish. Typically, we think of salmon when considering foods high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, but other cold-water fish are great sources too, including trout, halibut, sardines and anchovies. These omega-3 fatty acids help balance your cholesterol levels, lowering the risk of developing heart disease. You can try any mild fish in this recipe; check out this chart to see what other seafood options are high in omega-3s

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