Commentary: Heart Healthy Recipes
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When I want to reduce the fat content in a favorite recipe, I want to boost the flavors and lighten the taste, so the extra fat isn’t missed.  Sometimes it’s as simple as adding more fresh herbs and spices, maybe a little garlic, maybe something spicy.  It just depends on the recipe. 

The following  heart healthier menu has been adapted to reduce the amount of fats used to make them. Included with each recipe are a couple of tips to assist you in reducing fats in your favorite recipes  (for a few more tips see archive show Aug. 29, 2005):

Menu:  Fresh Greens w/Creamy Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
            Pesto Stuffed Chicken Roulades with a light Veloute Sauce
            Rice Pilaf

1.  Replacing/substituting mayonnaise:

  • Mayo based salads (tuna, egg, potato, etc.)- replace ½ the mayo with plain nonfat yogurt,  add fresh parsley and chives
  • Guacamole- replace all of the mayo with plain nonfat yogurt, add fresh minced garlic, chopped fresh cilantro, salt, black pepper and diced tomatoes
  • Purchased salad dressings- most are very thick and oily.  Creamy dressings can be lightly thinned with milk and vinegar based dressings can be thinned with water.  Better yet, try making your own.  My Creamy Buttermilk Ranch Dressing is very tasty and super easy to make!

Fresh greens with Creamy Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

(serves 4 w/leftover dressing)

 4 c torn salad greens- romaine, spinach, leaf lettuce (pre-packaged ok)
1 orange, peeled, sectioned and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 slices red onion, rings separated
¼ c toasted walnut pieces (bake at 350 degrees for 10 min. Cool.)

opt.: halved cherry tomatoes, radish slices, pepper slices

 ¼ c Creamy Ranch Dressing (recipe follows)

 Toss salad greens with dressing and divide between 4 individual plates.  Top with orange pieces, red onion rings and walnut pieces.  Serve.

Creamy Ranch Dressing** 

½ c nonfat buttermilk (plain, nonfat yogurt will work but the dressing will be very thick)
½ c low or non fat mayonnaise
1/3- ½ c low or non fat milk
1 tsp dried Italian seasonings
1 clove fresh garlic
¾ tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
a small handful of fresh herbs- chives, parsley, basil (opt)

 Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth.  The dressing will thicken once chilled, so thinning with little extra milk is alright.
 **The dressing can be made 5 days in advance.


2. Reduce fats in entrees:

  • by using bold flavored ingredients (parmesan, basil, toasted walnuts)
  • searing in just a little olive oil, finish off in oven
  • creating a very light flavorful sauce with just a little olive oil - omitting the traditional thickener: roux (butter and flour) and replacing it with cornstarch as the thickener


Pesto Stuffed Chicken Roulades with a light Veloute Sauce-

 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, trimmed of all fat and tenderloin removed
4 T pesto  (see archived show Aug 29, 2005 for recipe)
2 T olive oil 

8 toothpicks 

2 c veloute sauce (recipe follows) 

Place one half chicken breast in zipper bag with a light splash of water.  Seal bag and pound gently with a mallet or rolling pin until an even thickness is produced. Repeat with the other 3 breast halves.  Spread 1 tablespoon of pesto on each of the flattened breasts and roll tightly starting at the smallest point.  Secure chicken roll with 2 two picks per breast. 

In a skillet over medium heat, warm oil to hot, but not smoking, and sear all of the sides of the chicken roll.  Look for a nice golden brown color before turning.  If the roll sticks to the pan, assist the turning of the meat with a straight ended spatula.  Place is a small pan and finish cooking in a 350 degree oven (approx. 15 min). 

 While the chicken is in the oven, make the sauce. 

 Veloute Sauce

 2 c chicken stock
2 T cornstarch
2 T water
TT salt and pepper

 Place the empty skillet with the fond (all of the chicken/pesto bits and pieces that are stuck to the bottom) over medium heat.  Once it starts to sizzle, add the chicken stock and scrape up the fond. Make slurry (a mix) with the cornstarch and water.  Once the stock has come to a boil, whisking all the while, add the cornstarch slurry and cook until lightly thickened.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Serve over Pesto Stuffed Chicken Breasts, toothpicks removed and sliced on an angle.


3. Reduce fat and sodium in rice dishes:

  • boost the flavor by using a blend of rices
  • cook the rice in no fat chicken stock (beef if serving with other than poultry)
  • add the flavor enhancers to the rice as it cooks, omitting fats from sautéing
  • add lots of flavor with fresh vegetables and garlic
  • add even more flavor with fresh herbs


Rice Pilaf

1 c wild rice blend
2 c water or no/low sodium chicken stock (beef stock if serving with other meats)
1/4 c chopped onion
1/4 c chopped carrot
1/4 c chopped celery
1/2 tsp dried thyme, sage or poultry seasoning
TT salt and pepper

Cook rice according to package directions in the water or stock, usually about 40-45 minutes.  In the last 5 minutes of cooking time add the rest of the ingredients.  Remove from heat and taste and adjust seasonings.  Rice can sit in a covered pan for 5-10 minutes before being served.










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