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Delicious Heart-Healthy Recipes to try this Winter (hooilo)

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Palm trees wrapped in Christmas lights

As winter (hooilo) approaches and the moist trade winds begin to roll in, you may begin to crave the sugary sweets and bakes of the season. In moderation, these foods can not only be perfectly acceptable, but can add to the joy of the season. 

As you gather with your ‘ohana this winter, our Queen’s Heart team wants you to know that you can embrace a heart-healthy diet while you are making those special memories. That’s why we’re sharing three of our favorite recipes. Each one will be a treat for your tastebuds and kind to your heart – all with a Hawaiian flare. 

Things to keep in mind when planning your meals

“Heart-healthy eating is not only important, it can also be really tasty,” says Dr. Dipanjan Banerjee. Dr. Banerjee is passionate about helping all of us better understand and embrace a heart-healthy diet. “At Queen’s, not only do we diagnose and treat our patient’s health concerns, but we also try to help them make lifestyle adjustments that can help improve their health and well-being.” 

Dr. Banerjee’s suggests you should look for a few key things to have a more heart-healthy diet:

  • Lots of fruits and vegetables. Vegetables and fruits are excellent sources of vitamins and minerals, are low in calories, rich in dietary fiber, and contain substances that may help prevent cardiovascular disease. Look for recipes that incorporate fresh or frozen vegetables, low-sodium canned vegetables, and canned fruit packed in juice or water. Avoid recipes that call for creamy sauces, fried or breaded vegetables, canned fruit with heavy syrup, or frozen fruit with sugar added. 
  • Whole grains. Whole grains are rich in fiber and other nutrients that can help regulate blood pressure and heart health. Choose recipes that call for whole-wheat flour, whole-grain bread, high-fiber cereal, whole grains (brown rice, barley, buckwheat), whole-grain pasta, and oatmeal. Avoid recipes that contain white flour and white bread.  
  • Healthy fats. Seek recipes that call for olive oil, canola, and nut oils. While they’re very tasty, it’s best to avoid recipes that call for too much butter, lard, bacon fat, gravy, and cream sauces. 
  • Low-fat protein sources. Choose recipes with low-fat dairy products (such as skim or low-fat (1%) milk, yogurt, and cheese), eggs, fish, skinless poultry, legumes, soybeans, and lean ground meats. Avoid recipes that ask for full-fat milk and other dairy products, hot dogs, sausages, bacon, fried or breaded meats, organ meats such as liver, and spareribs. 
  • Limited salt (sodium). Limiting your salt intake is very important to a heart-healthy diet as too much salt can increase blood pressure. 

While the above dietary suggestions may sound restrictive at first, never fear! There are many mouth-watering heart-healthy recipes that can grace your dining table this winter. All it takes is a little practice to research your recipes with the parameters above in mind. 

We’re inspired by HealthyHawaii.com’s recipe archive, which incorporates meal ideas from the Kapiolani Community College, Culinary Arts Program. Here are three recipes we encourage you to try this winter!

Hawaiian Power Bars

  • 2 cups cooked Okinawan sweet potatoes
  • 1 1/4 cups Macadamia nuts, chopped fine
  • 1 1/4 cups coconut, shredded fine
  • 1/2 cups cranberries*, chopped
  • 1/2 cups dates*, chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/8 tsp Salt

Instructions

  • Bake sweet potatoes whole, skin on at 350°F for 45 min. Chill in a refrigerator overnight.
  • Process macadamia nuts and shredded coconut in a food processor till fine.
  • Mix together, then add chopped cranberries, chopped dates, minced ginger and salt, mix well.
  • Mix into cooked potatoes (peeled, cut or torn into small chunks).
  • Lightly oil bottom of a sheet pan.
  • Pat down a ½ inch layer on the pan.
  • Cover with plastic wrap or parchment paper.
  • Roll with rolling pin to pack.
  • Cover the whole pan well with plastic wrap.
  • Chill in a refrigerator until firm, then cut into squares.

Choi Sum, Chicken & Mushroom Stir Fry

Enjoy this recipe for its sweet and earthy taste! Pair with your favorite meat, rice, or noodle dishes. 

Ingredients

  • 1 lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch strips
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground white pepper
  • 4 Tbsp peanut oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 lbs choi sum, washed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 lb fresh shiitake mushrooms, cut into 2-inch strips (1/8 inch thin)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 Tbsp sherry wine
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp water

Instructions

  • Season chicken with salt and pepper and set aside.
  • Heat 2 Tbsp peanut oil in a large skillet using medium high heat.
  • Sauté or quickly cook ginger and garlic for about 30 seconds, do not brown.
  • Add chicken and sauté for two minutes.
  • Remove chicken and set aside.
  • Remove leftover oil, garlic, and ginger from the skillet.
  • Heat 2 Tbsp peanut oil in large skillet.
  • Add choi sum and mushrooms and sauté for two minutes.
  • Add chicken broth, oyster sauce, sherry wine, and salt.
  • Simmer for one minute.
  • Add chicken and continue to simmer until chicken and choi sum is cooked through, about two minutes.
  • In a bowl, mix the cornstarch and water to make a slurry mixture, add to the skillet.
  • Cook for one minute. Serve hot.

Lentil Tacos

Lentils make a fantastic substitute for ground meat in this delicious recipe below. Not only is this recipe tasty and healthy for your heart, it’s also healthy for your wallet. Lentils are much less expensive than typical taco ground meats. 

  • 3/4 cup lentils, rinsed
  • 3/4 cup brown rice, rinsed and drained
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cup vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • (Optional toppings): shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, guacamole, sour cream, shredded lettuce, hot sauce or salsa.

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F degrees.
  • Fill large bowl with lentils and cover with water.
  • Rinse and sort lentils to remove any floaters or rocks.
  • Place lentils, rice, onion and garlic in 8×8 baking dish.
  • Sprinkle with chili powder, cumin and black pepper.
  • Pour in vegetable or chicken broth and mix together.
  • Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 2 hours or until liquid is absorbed, stirring after one hour.
  • Serve in tortillas with desired toppings.

We hope you and your ‘ohana enjoy these recipes and make many special memories this winter!  

We are committed to being your lifetime partner in health. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Hawai‘i, disproportionately affecting Native Hawaiians. We are on a mission to support you and to improve the heart heath of everyone in our beautiful state – and that mission starts with the food on your plate. 

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