Five years ago, before Pauline Price had quadruple bypass surgery, she wouldn't even walk a block for better health. Now, she participates in an exercise program four times a week and has changed to a healthier eating regimen--even during the holiday season.
"I'm doing this for the rest of my life, for my life," she said last week at a tasting of healthy holiday dishes, sponsored by the American Heart Assn. The recipes are included in the organization's free "Holidays a la Heart" brochure, a compilation of menu suggestions that are easy to prepare and have less fat, sodium and cholesterol, but are high in taste.
Price, like the other samplers, who included cardiac rehabilitation patients, dietitians and the media, found the appetizer, beverage, entree and dessert recipes to be good tasting and not lacking the flavor and texture traditionally associated with holiday season menus.
The event was designed, according to the organization, to demonstrate that holiday foods don't have to be calorie-laden and unhealthful to be enjoyable--a fact upon which participants whole-heartedly agreed.
"If I had served this to friends not on the program," Price explained, "they would think it was some kind of gourmet food. You couldn't accuse it of being health food. I had seconds."
Mary Felando, one of the registered dietitians who prepared the dishes, and who conducts the risk factor management classes Price participates in, said that the freedom to have guilt-free seconds is among the benefits of serving items such as those included in the "Holidays a la Heart" booklet for Thanksgiving--a holiday with a reputation for encouraging overeating.
During this time of year, rich creamy dishes and fatty desserts are traditions, but they wreak havoc on a heart-healthy diet. By incorporating slender versions of these items, such as a zucchini toast appetizer or Bean Dip With Fat-Free Corn Chips, (both were the favorites at the event) it is possible to "eat a lot of food and still lose a few pounds here and there," Felando said. And the recipes (which follow) sampled by The Times, really did taste good.
To receive a copy of the booklet, send a self-addressed, 25 cent stamped business-size envelope marked, "Attention: Holidays a la Heart" to the American Heart Assn./Greater Los Angeles Affiliate, 3550 Wilshire Blvd., 5th Floor, Los Angeles 90010.
2 cups shredded zucchini
1/4 cup reduced calorie mayonnaise
1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 to 4 green onions, minced
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
Sliced party rye
Combine zucchini, mayonnaise, yogurt, cheese, green onions, Worcestershire, garlic powder and hot pepper sauce. Place scant tablespoon mixture on each slice rye and place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees 10 to 12 minutes. Makes 24 appetizers.
BEAN DIP WITH FAT-FREE CORN CHIPS
1 (29-ounce) can pinto beans
2 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup prepared chunky salsa
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans
1 dozen corn tortillas
Rinse and drain large can pinto beans. Place in blender or food processor with green onions, salsa, cumin and garlic powder. Blend until smooth. Add small can beans and blend lightly. Spoon into baking dish and heat until hot and bubbly.
Meanwhile, cut tortillas into eighths and place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees 5 to 10 minutes until crisp. Watch carefully to prevent overcooking. Serve chips with dip. Makes 16 servings.
STUFFED ACORN SQUASH
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
3/4 cup cracker crumbs
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon sage
2 teaspoons parsley, chopped
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 acorn squash, cut into halves, seeds removed
Combine rice, nuts, crumbs, onion, egg whites, sage, parsley and black pepper. Loosely fill squash halves with mixture, then place squash in baking pan and cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees 1 hour or until squash is tender. Makes 6 servings.
APRICOT NUT BREAD
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
3 tablespoons oil
1/2 cup nonfat milk
2 egg whites
1/4 cup orange juice
4 teaspoons grated orange zest
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
10 large dried apricot halves, chopped
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, oil, milk, egg whites, orange juice and zest, pecans and apricots. Beat 30 seconds, scraping sides and bottom of bowl constantly. Pour into lightly oiled and floured 9x5-inch inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees 35 to 45 minutes or until wood pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes and remove from pan. Cool thoroughly before slicing. Makes 16 servings.