When I read this week that former President Bill Clinton had two stents inserted into a clogged coronary artery, I thought of my own family. I’ve been focused on eating a heart-healthy diet for more than 20 years and I’m only 34. Why? When I was in junior high my dad was diagnosed with high cholesterol and Mom announced we were going to start eating more heart-healthy meals.
We’re finally getting a little snow here in Vermont, but it’s nothing like the dumping the mid-Atlantic states have been getting (and will continue to see, according to the latest news reports). I have family in Virginia, Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania and while the snow is hitting them hard and keeping them home from work, they’re hitting the kitchen to cook some warming winter meals during their extra time stuck in the house.
If my house ever caught on fire, I wouldn’t be scrambling for my wedding album or my jewelry box. Of course I’d rescue my husband and pets, but the one item I’d fight to save is my enamel-coated cast-iron Dutch oven. I can’t imagine my life without it. It’s the perfect vessel for cooking up a warming winter supper. It conducts heat evenly, which is perfect for braising. It goes from stovetop to oven with ease and the enamel surface makes it a breeze to clean.
My husband was first told he had high cholesterol at 30 and since then he’s become acutely conscious of his heart health—particularly which foods are heart-healthy. I thought for sure when I pulled together a list of “surprising” foods that promote heart health, he’d look at me and say, “Duh!” Instead he surprised me by raising his eyebrows and smiling (probably because he could now add more foods to his “good for your heart” list).
I’ve been cooking dinners from our new book EatingWell 500 Calorie Dinners five nights a week for a few weeks now as part of our 500-Calorie Dinner challenge. I’ve also talked with people about the book a lot, and one of the questions that keeps coming up is about cost. People wonder (or perhaps assume) that if you’re going to cook these great dinners every night it’s going to cost a lot of money.
Let’s face it: Americans eat too much sugar. Me included! When I think about it, I have a decent-sized list of foods that I deliberately add sugar to: my 2 cups of coffee, the maple syrup I add to my morning oatmeal, that piece of chocolate I nibbled on after lunch today and, oh yeah, the sugar-laden piece of cheesecake I had for dessert last night. Then there are the foods where I unconsciously consume sugar...
My husband, Jon, can be awake for hours before he wants to eat breakfast. (Coffee—now that’s another story.) I, on the other hand, want food first thing in the morning—and so does our 1 1/2-year-old son, Julian, who literally wakes up saying, “Juice! ’Nana! [banana].” We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day (click here for healthy breakfast ideas) and, as a nutritionist, I believe that’s true.
If you read my blogs regularly, you may remember that my husband has high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease. (He was diagnosed when he was in his early twenties.)
For the past few weeks I’ve been challenging myself to eat 500-calorie dinners 5 nights a week from our new book EatingWell 500-Calorie Dinners. I have a small confession to make: I haven’t been sticking to the menus...exactly. I have been keeping my dinners to 500 calories, but I’ve also been making a few substitutions here and there. Check out my menu for this week here.
I wasn’t a big fish eater until my mid-20s. My mom always cooked dinner but hated fish, so it was never on our menu when I was a kid. As I got older, I started to sample friends’ fish dishes when we were out to eat and occasionally bought a piece of fish to cook at home. I quickly became a fan.