Recipe adopted by Shanta Nimbark Shacharoff from her new book: Cooking Together: A vegetarian Co-op Cookbook, (Nimbarka Press 2018)
The month of February is coined as the “American Heart Month” by the Congress since 1963, to raise public awareness regarding heart health as coronary heart diseases are one of the major causes of death in the United States. The risk factors associated with heart disease can be due to internal and external factors. Family history of heart illness and genetics are some of the internal risk factors whereas sedentary life style, stress, smoking and poor diet with excessive fats and refined food are the external risk factors. The internal factors are difficult to control, but the external factors such as the diet can be modified. Heart disease tends to progress with the elderly, but the young people too need to educate themselves regarding a heart healthy life style as youth obesity correlates with coronary illnesses later in the life. Stress management, regular exercise and a heart healthy diet are important factors in keeping your heart happy.
A common form of heart disease in the US is arteriosclerosis in which the arteries are hardened partially due to high levels of undesirable Law-Density Lipoproteins. Medical research shows that one’s LDL level can be greatly influenced by his/her diet, although other factors affect its elevation. Saturated fat found in animal fat (include dairy) and trans-fats raise the LDL whereas antioxidant properties of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts and their oils reduce LDL. Research has indicated that most vegan population (those who refrain from all animal products) have lower LDL than their omnivore counterparts. Vegetarians may be unaware that even a meatless diet containing too much dairy and fat can be unhealthy resulting in increased LDL.
Here is a partial list of foods available here at Other Avenues that good for your coronary health;.
- All fresh fruits particularly citrus, berries and pomegranate
- All fresh vegetables with their skins as much as possible
- Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, chard, parsley, kale, mustard greens, collard etc.
- Beans and lentils (daals too)
- Whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, oats, and their brans containing fiber
- Other foods with soluble fibers such as carrots, celery, chia seeds and flax seeds
- Foods contain healthy fats such as olives, avocados, nuts and seeds including hemp seeds
- Polyunsaturated oils such as olive oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil and soy lecithin
- Fresh coconut meal, coconut water, coconut milk and coconut oil
- Some spices such as turmeric and ginger
Here are two healthy heart recipes using some of these ingredients. Bon appetite!!
Malabari Red Curry with Beets and Coconut sauce
The Malabar coastal region of South India (which includes the state of Kerala and Karnataka) represents an interesting mix of people: the Christian and Muslim settlers who blended their cultures and cuisines with the Hindus. In Malabari cuisine you can find the traditional, crepe-like dish made with fermented rice and beans fermented served with a Syrian or Moghul dish. And you will witness a variety of seasonal vegetables cooked with an array of locally grown spices and ever -so-present fresh coconut milk.
Here is one of my favorite Malabari “Valentine’s Day Curry”. It is uniquely red because of the predominant beets instead of the usual yellow curry.
1 bunch of red beets, reserving a cup of beet leaves
3 medium size beets with a cup of any leafy greens such as spinach
1 large or two small red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into halves
2 carrot, cleaned and cut into thin slices
3 tablespoons freshly made tamarind sauce using 3 to 4 fresh pods, following the direction below
Juice of ½ lemon combined with a tablespoon of water and a teaspoon of sugar
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped finely
2 or 3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, minced or finely shredded
1 fresh green chili, minced (after removing seeds and inside veins)
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ cup coconut milk, freshly made or canned
¼ teaspoon finely ground cardamom seeds
Salt and cayenne pepper to taste
Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish
First, cut off the stems from the bunch of beets reserving one cup of the green portion of leaves. Rinse, drain and chop the leaves into bite- size portions and set them aside. Discard rest of the stems and leaves or save them for a soup stock. Clean the beet roots and peel them gently to remove dirt but not too much of the exterior. Cut the beets and potatoes into halves.
Place 2 quarts of water in a sauce pan with the beets. Boil them for 15 minutes and then add the potatoes. Keep boiling the two roots for another 10 to 15 minutes until cooked but not too soft. Add the carrots and boil for 5 minutes. Remove the boiled roots from water, discard the water and set aside and cooked roots.
While the roots are boiling, prepare the tamarind sauce. Remove and discard the brittle outer shells and the stingy fibers of tamarind. Rinse the pods and place them in a small bowl. Add a cup of warm water and allow the tamarind to soak for 20 minutes. After soaking, rub the pods with your fingers to extract as much of the pulp into the water as possible. When the water becomes a thick sauce, strain the mixture through a colander with large holes into a bowl. Discard the seeds and the membranes that will end up in the colander. Set the tamarind sauce aside. (If you do not have tamarind, simply mix the lemon juice with sugar and set aside.)
Cut the beets and potatoes into bite size chunks and mix with the carrots. Heat the olive oil over a moderate flame in a shallow pan or a wok and sauté the onion for five minutes. Add the garlic and ginger root and sauté for another minutes until fragrant. Add the chili and stir fry for two minutes. Then sprinkle the cumin seeds a roast them for a minute. Next, add the chopped leaves and stir fry the ingredients for another minute. Next, add all the boiled roots and lower the heat. Stir fry the mixture for five minutes. Then add the coconut milk, the prepared tamarind sauce (or lemon juice, water and sugar mixture), cardamom and salt. Gently mix all the ingredients while they simmer. Taste and adjust saltiness and hotness. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve with the rice/quinoa pilaf, recipe to follow.
Makes six to servings
Basmati Rice and Quinoa Pilaf
In the pilaf method of cooking grains, the rice (or other grains) is first stir-fried briefly in a small amount of oil or butter (and sometimes with herbs, spices and nuts) and then hot water or stock is poured over the sautéed mixture. This technique of cooking grains obtains a fluffy and delicate texture in the final product.
2 cups water
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup slivered almonds
½ cup white Basmati rice, rinsed and drained
½ cup white quinoa, rinsed and drained
½ teaspoon cumin
Juice of ½ lime or lemon
Boil the water and salt in a stock pot with a tightly fitting lid. While the water is boiling, heat the oil in a skillet and stir-fry the nuts for 2 -3 minutes. Next, add cumin seeds and continue to sautee for a few more minutes; don’t brown. Add the content of the skillet to the boiling water. Bring the mixture to a second boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer the grains at a low/moderate heat for 10 minutes until all liquid is absorbed. Turn the heat off and keep the pot cover for a few minutes. Then uncover and gently fluff the grains with a fork and serve with the Malabari Curry (recipe above) or any curry.
Makes Six Servings