Heart-Healthy Recipes to Incorporate Your Favorites in Your Meal
by CAROL CORLEY
Eating nuts is a healthy and tasty way to increase protein while remaining heart-healthy.
Even the peanut, which is technically a legume that often gets grouped in with the others, is very high in protein, antioxidants, and flavonoids.
While the American Heart Association says most people get too much protein, the problem more often is that many people choose meat options with saturated fats, which increase LDL, or “bad” cholesterol. Nuts, on the other hand, do not have that bad cholesterol. Business Insider reports a multi-year study with 81,000 people showed 10-14 mixed nuts daily helped lower bad cholesterol, especially in young people.
Eating nuts is encouraged as a protein source. Still, you can’t replace the meat with nuts ounce-for-ounce. A lean 4-ounce chicken breast has about 100 calories, but a 4-ounce serving of walnuts has 740 calories.
A mix of nuts is recommended since each has its own unique nutritional benefits. Almonds are loaded with antioxidants, while walnuts are high in alpha-linolenic acid and can increase the protein content in meat-based dishes. Pistachios are high in essential amino acids, pine nuts are anti-inflammatory, and peanuts are high in biotin.
Plus, they all taste pretty good!
Walnut- and Dijon-Crusted Halibut
(Adapted from cookinglight.com)
Halibut filets, 4 (6 oz), no tail
Walnut halves, 2/3 cup crushed gently into small pieces
Thyme, 1-1/2 tablespoons fresh chopped
Flour, 2 tablespoons all-purpose
Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon or to taste
Egg white, 1 lightly beaten
Olive oil, 1-1/2 tablespoon
Salt and pepper to taste
Lemon wedges, 4 for decoration
Place chopped walnut pieces with thyme in a shallow dish. In another shallow dish combine Dijon mustard and egg white. Place flour in a third shallow dish and press filet tops in flour, shake off excess, dip floured tops in egg mixture, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and finally dip the egg side into the walnut mixture, pressing to adhere.
Briefly place the walnut side of fish in oil in a large ovenproof non-stick skillet, cooking for 3-4 minutes until the nuts are toasted. Then turn the fish and place the skillet in the oven preheated to 400F, baking for 4-5 minutes until the fish flakes easily. Serve with lemon wedges.
Pistachio French Toast
(Adapted from tasteofhome.com)
French baguette bread, 16 slices 1/2” thick
White baking chips, 1 cup chopped
Cream cheese, 8 oz softened
Half-and-half 1-1/4 cups
Milk of choice, 3/4 cup
Honey, 1/3 cup
Almond extract, 1-1/2 teaspoons
Cinnamon, ground, to taste
Butter, 1/2 cup melted
Brown sugar, 1/2 cup packed
Honey, 4 tablespoons
Cinnamon, ground, to taste
Pistachios, 1 cup toasted, finely chopped
Using a greased 13×9-inch baking dish, arrange bread slices in two shingled rows. Combine half-and-half and baking chips in a microwave-safe dish and microwave until melted, stirring occasionally. About 4 minutes. Meanwhile, beat cream cheese and milk until smooth in a large bowl, and whisk in eggs, honey, and flavorings. Blend in the cream mixture and pour over the bread. Hold overnight in the refrigerator, covered.
When ready to cook, remove from the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 350F. While the oven is heating and the bread is coming to room temperature, blend the topping of butter, brown sugar, honey, and cinnamon. Stir in pistachios and baking chips and sprinkle over bread slices. Bake covered for about 40 minutes. A knife inserted in the center should come out clean. Uncover and bake for another 10 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Pizza with Spinach, Pine Nut Pesto and Pecans
(Adapted from fishernuts.com)
Spinach and arugula blend, 3 cups
Pine nuts, 1/4 cup toasted
Pecan halves, 1 cup
Olive oil of choice, 1/4 cup
Lemon juice, 1 tablespoon
Parmesan cheese, 1/3 cup
Basil leaves, 1/3 cup
Ricotta cheese, 1-1/2 cup
Red pepper flakes crushed, 1/4 cup or to taste if desired
Salt to taste
Pizza dough, store-bought, 1 pound
Flour for rolling out dough
Prepare the dough by pressing it gently and turning on a lightly floured surface, rolling it out to about 12 inches. Sprinkle the dough with 1/2 cup of pecans chopped and continue rolling until the dough is about 14 inches in diameter. Place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven preheated to 350 F for about 16 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven.
Meanwhile, in a food processor, mix together 2-1/2 cups of spinach-arugula blend, pine nuts, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt to taste, using a pulse setting. Put the mixture in a bowl and stir in 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, basil, and the remaining spinach-arugula blend.
Finally, spread ricotta cheese on top of the pizza crust, sprinkle with red pepper flakes if desired, place back in the oven now cooled to 300F, and leave for 8-10 minutes. Remove the pizza from the oven and place it on a serving platter. Spoon pesto mixture on top until evenly covered. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of pecans and a bit more Parmesan cheese and serve.