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A Healthier You (and Me) in 2010

January 4, 2010 by Joan Nova in Low Calorie, Vegetables | 17 Comments

Maybe you can help me. Maybe I can help you.

I recently had a unexpected cholesterol reading. Although my good-to-bad ratio remained good, my LDL number was high. The doctor even suggested medicine. (I declined and am going to try to reduce it on my own (along with a few lbs. if I can).

This was quite a surprise to me, and those that eat with me, because I pretty much eat all the right foods for health and weight maintenance. I rarely eat red meat, ice cream or desserts. I don’t bake cakes, cookies or pies. I don’t deep fry. Nor do I eat fast or processed foods. I don’t even snack on cheese or keep mayo or butter in the refrigerator. Moderation is the queen of my kitchen and table. So, what gives?

Determined to identify the culprit(s), I pondered  what changed in my diet. I’d eaten more meals at home this past year than any other in my adult life so there was less ‘hidden’ fat or temptation from restaurant bread baskets and dipping oils, creamy sauces or desserts. This should have been a good thing. After some thought, I identified 4 things…all of which are touted to be good for your health!

  1. I’d started to eat more eggs believing they were a good source of protein and low calories. I’ve since read that you should only eat Omega-3 eggs and limit them to 2 per week (though I don’t think I was eating more than 2 or 3 any given week).
  2. Nuts (almonds + walnuts) made a greater presence in meals and as a snack. Isn’t a small amount (like 6) supposed to be a good source of protein and heart-healthy? I bought them raw and toasted them myself with little or no oil. The jury is out on the nuts. Everything I read says they are good for cholesterol.
  3. Olive oil (“the healthy fat”). I admit I have been using it a lot more in meal preparations (without measuring teaspoons). And, in the European fashion, I also took to finishing a lot of dishes with a drizzle. I’m going to try to be more mindful of quantity here.
  4. Beans. I’ve been incorporating them into more meals. Again, I thought this was a good thing. Can’t find anything to indicate they would be cholesterol-raising.

So…while nothing  jumps out at me as the culprit, I’ve taken to eating oatmeal for breakfast most days and I’m watching my intake of eggs, nuts and oil for the next 3 months, at which point I’m going to be tested again.

That’s my story. Now here’s something for you.

Eat Your Veggies!

At this time of year, I’m not the only one taking a good look at diet and food choices. Everyone’s making a resolution to eat healthier. And, no matter what plan you look at, plant-based meals are always recommended. I’m fortunate because I already love my veggies. I know they’re more than peas + carrots. And I know there are many interesting ways to prepare them so that they are the star of the plate — or worthy of standing alone. They do in the FOODalogue kitchen!

Here’s a few:

Baked Stuffed-Eggplant Parm with Anchovy

Halved baked eggplant, fresh tomato, basil, dressed with 1 oz fresh mozzarella, 2 anchovy fillets.

Baked Eggplant Stuffed with Escarole + Garbanzos

Halved baked eggplant, escarole cooked in chicken broth, onion, garlic, garbanzos dressed with a sprinkle of parmesan.

Escarole ‘Stoup’

Escarole, chicken broth, garbanzos, onion, garlic, 1/4 boiled potato diced, small piece of leftover chicken shredded.

Israeli Couscous Veggie Paella on a Portabella Mushroom

Portabella mushroom cap base, artichokes, garbanzos, fennel, hearts of palm, red + yellow peppers, stuffed olives, capers with Israeli couscous served with avocado and parsley salad.

Squash + Poblano Salad

Roasted butternut squash, roasted poblano pepper, toasted pumpkin seeds, chopped cilantro, grape tomatoes, chipolte powder and a vinaigrette made with fresh lime juice and drizzles of olive oil and honey to taste.

Cauliflower Crudo

Raw cauliflower, grape tomatoes, artichokes, parsley, basil, black olives tossed with a vinaigrette of fresh lemon juice, lemon zest and a drizzle of olive oil.

Pear + Veggie Salad

Pears, red cabbage, radish, red onion, carrots, red pepper, garbanzos, celery, slivered almonds, parsley. Dressed with a little parmesan, salt, lots of black pepper and a vinaigrette of fresh lemon juice with a drizzle of olive oil.

Ensalada de Bacalao (Codfish Salad)

Dried codfish (de-salted overnight, boiled for a few minutes + cooled), minced carrots, tomatoes, chopped boiled egg, a couple of pieces of cubed boiled potato, avocado, onions, parsley, garlic, splash of hot sauce, lemon juice + drizzle of olive oil.

Veggie + Fruit Compote

Stewed fruits + vegetables (dried dates, dried plums, carrots, baby pearl onions, green olives, mini sweet peppers, capers), plus chicken broth and a splash of Sweet Vermouth. [photo taken before cooking]

Note: All of these dishes are heavily-weighted to vegetables, other ingredients are minimal in quantity and all of the dishes have little-to-no fat.

Parting Thought. I hope this gives you some inspiration to create some interesting vegetable-based dishes in your kitchen. And if you have any cholesterol-lowering advice for me, I’d be happy to hear from you.

NOTE: Some recipes found on FOODalogue are offered without ingredient quantities. They're meant as a guide to food pairings and techniques to be experimented with … in your own kitchen … to your own spice and taste levels … to your preferred portion sizes … and to however many people you’re cooking for. A perfect meal has multiple levels of flavor and textures, bright colors and tastes, and healthy(ish) choices. It's all about enjoyment. Enjoy the process, the presentation and the just rewards...eating!

17 Comments

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  1. Peter G says:

    Joan, have you thought that it might be hereditary? (I’m sure you know your family’s health history better than me!). I know of lots of people who eat right etc…but somehow have high LDL. Something I found that works are psyllium husks. I add them to my morning yogurt/oatmeal with a few berries. Just make sure you drink lots of water if you plan on using them…All your vegies suggestions are wonderful. I’m particularly fond of the Israeli cous cous.

  2. Happy New Year! These are some great looking and healthy dishes!

    A few years ago my husband got a high cholesterol reading and we basically went on a no red meat, egg-white, butter substitute, almost no cheese diet and literally two month later his cholesterol was back down to low. The doctor is still quite confused about this huge drop. I think the diet really did work.

  3. I just had mine taken too and my LDL is higher than I want it to be, so I hear you! I am on a kale kick these days – made some Kale Chips, Christmas Kale, Kale and Chicken Bake. (recipes on site). Eating Kale Chips is guilt-free way of snacking and sooooo good! Good luck to you – LOVE these photos and recipes and I’ll be on this journey with you!

  4. Ellen says:

    It sounds as though your cholesterol should be under control since you have done your research and know what not to eat. A close friend of mine recently lowered his cholesterol 80 points in 4 months. He also lost 40 pounds (on Weight Watchers) and the doctor not only took him off his cholesterol meds but his blood pressure medicine as well!

    I have also lowered my cholesterol 40 points by cutting out all fats with the exception of a small amount of olive oil, cheeses and red meat. I eat only the whites of the egg.

    Thanks for the Eat Your Veggies ideas. I am eager to try them all!

    Good luck with lowering your cholesterol and, I agree, try to do it on your own before you resort to medicine!

  5. Beautiful array of vegetable dishes. Several years ago I too was surprised with the cholesterol number thing. I also tried to fix it with what I ate, but soon realized that it was mother time that was my culprit and I also needed BP medicine.

    I’m sure that’s she’e not your problem and with your new diet you’ll be back to normal with your numbers in no time. Good luck and stay in touch. We’re on your side.
    Sam

  6. norma says:

    Joni:
    greens and beans…that’s the ticket. I just started going in that direction also. If I cook this for my clients and they love it…it’s going to be a new lifestyle for us. Good luck………….

  7. Arlene says:

    It must be in the water, Joan, because I, too, just had my annual physical and my LDL’s, which were great last year, were high. Interestingly enough, I’ve increased the number of eggs and nuts I eat weekly. I’ve always tried to include lots of legumes. I have taken off almost 20 pounds, so will be interested in the blood work he wants in 3 months. Since my skinny-minny sister has high cholesterol, I’m thinking it may be hereditary. I, too, am going the oatmeal route for breakfast most days. On another note, those veggie dishes, anything with escarole really, look soooooooooooo good.

  8. Lidia Lipstick says:

    Oftentimes I associate healthy meals with less tasteful meals. After looking at your choices, they look pretty delish to me. You make healthy eating look fabo so I will do my best in 2010 to eat healthier and then see if I can lower my cholesterol without medication. On to a healthier 2010!!!!!

  9. BEKKY says:

    IT’S HEREDITARY SOME THINGS YOU JUST CAN’T AVOID NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU TRY. MY BLOOD WORK CAME BACK AND THE DR.SAID IT COULDN’T HAVE BEEN ANY BETTER.WONDER HOW IT WOULD READ NOW AFTER WHAT I ATE DURING THE HOLIDAYS? GLAD I TOOK IT BEFORE! ANYWAY MY ROUTINE IS OATEMEAL,OMEGA3,AND CINNAMON GOOD LUCK.

  10. Peter says:

    Joan, I’m sure you’ll do fine. Perhaps you;re in the same predicament as Greeks…portion-control issues! lol

    Everything in moderation, an eye to whole-grain/wholeweat pasta & breads?

  11. Liz says:

    Great looking dishes. Good luck with getting the numbers under control.

  12. bunkycooks says:

    These dishes look great. We are on the same plan this year. Juicers and grain grinders are in my near future! I also agree with Bekky that some things are hereditary and are near impossible to change. Good luck getting things back to normal!

  13. SippitySup says:

    I agree with Peter. Heredity plays a huge factor in our body chemistry. Your line up of veggies is a great start, but if you still have trouble lowering the levels, I will say my partner finally succumbed to medication and his numbers are looking terrific after years of battling to get them down. GREG

  14. I am with the hereditary people – sometimes that is all it is. If you ratio is good, and your triglycerides are normal, that is what the culprit could be! However, I am sure you will enjoy those veggies that you posted – all those dishes look AMAZING! (FYI – I eat 6-10 eggs a week, nuts and olive oil and have low cholesterol)…

  15. wow, a great selection of healthy veg dishes! I really have to eat more veg.

  16. Paula says:

    Delicious looking veggies! Heredity really plays a large role in cholesterol and I’ve also been reading that unfiltered coffee can be a culprit as well. Hope you get better numbers next time!

  17. RobinSue says:

    Hi Joan,
    Great post with all those fab veggie shots. I know you can do it and improve your cholesterol. My total number was a bit high one year and I took it down with exercise and a good cleanse.

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