Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Tasty Dieting

A few weeks ago my fiance, who is only 42 years old, had a heart attack. I know, right? He's awfully young to be having a heart attack! Well, we figured it was coming one day, his father had his heart attack at the same age, and three bi-passes. I've been a terrible nag for six years trying to get him into the doctor, but he just won't hear of it. I think Brian just figured maybe he'd see if he'd get lucky.

Well, in a sense, he did, he didn't die of the heart attack.

Now we are on a low fat, low sodium, low cholesterol diet. That with medications and exercise is supposed to keep him from repeating the attack. I say "we" because even though I did not have a heart attack, I feel that not only will the diet be good for me, but it will help me to see what he's going through in a culinary sense and spur me to work harder to cook good foods.

And how.

It has been a terrible struggle. I am a salt addict, and no slouch when it comes to consuming fat-filled yummies. Try making a meatloaf that's low in fat and sodium and tastes good. I tried, it is not easy.

Chicken and fish are easier, but he gets so tired of those things. Never much of a vegetable person he is now exchanging his 80% red meat diet for veggies when I cook them, more whole grains, more white meats. Even the "Healthy Choice" foods are too high in sodium most the time. Pre-made meals and fast food are for the most part a thing of the past.

The other night I made a wonderful soup however, and I thought I'd share it with you. Even my kids, who hate asparagus and broccoli came back for seconds and thirds.

Heart Healthy Creamy Asparagus/ Broccoli Soup (serves approximately 8)

2 cups tender Asparagus
2 cups broccoli (with stems)
1/4 cup white or yellow onion
3 cups sliced mushrooms (any kind, I used baby portobello)
1 sweet potato (baked or microwaved until soft)
1 1/2 cup spinach
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp lemon crystals (available at the grocery in spice section)
2 tbsp virgin olive oil
16 oz low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp flour

Chop fine the asparagus, broccoli and onion, put in a frying pan with the olive oil until bubbling, then simmer until all pieces are tender, add black pepper, thyme, lemon crystals, and 1/2 of the wine. stir 3 minutes and add mushrooms, stir thoroughly and cover. Simmer, stirring occasionally until mushrooms begin to soften.

Scrape insides of sweet potato into a blender or food processor with the spinach, add 1 cup of the chicken broth and blend until smooth. Add vegetable mixture to blender and mix, adding broth when needed to keep it moving, until smooth. Pour into a large soup pot with the remaining broth and simmer on low until hot, add yogurt and stir well.

Add one or two tablespoons of flour to the skim milk (while cold) depending on how thick you'd like your soup. Whisk until there are no lumps, and add slowly to simmering soup, stirring constantly for about two minutes.

Serve immediately. Can be garnished with fresh chopped green onion, a dollop of low fat or fat free sour cream, and a dash of red chili powder if you'd like to add a spicy kick. (These items are not included in the nutritional information.)

Vegetarians can substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth to make it vegetarian.

Hope you like it as much as we did. Feel free to make changes that suit you and your family, let me know what you come up with if you do :)

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