Cholesterol-Lowering = Cinnamon + Pumpkin

Pumpkin Brand

Cinnamon is an aphrodisiac for men. This fact is by far the most interesting piece of information that I’ve learned about cinnamon through my research. You might have known, and that’s fine, but it’s new to me, and I’m going to take advantage of my new found knowledge! So while making this recipe, scents of cinnamon slowly swarmed around my kitchen and beyond. Success. I felt like a witch stirring her cauldron, waiting for her prey to come forth. Within a few minutes, my man was up off the couch and coming over to see what potion I was brewing. Success: part deux. Captured.

Not only should our our homes (or lip balms or eau de pumpkin) seduce us with the smell of cinnamon, but our cooking should entice our senses with the taste of cinnamon. We should all crave for this spice, as there are so many health benefits that cinnamon has to offer: preventing diseases, muscle spasms, digestive problems, etc. What I want you to know is that if you want to reduce your total cholesterol levels, cinnamon should be a staple spice in your diet. Put a container of cinnamon where you eat most frequently—on your dining table, by your work desk, in your breakfast nook, etc. Another seasonal joy that can help you lower your cholesterol levels is pumpkin. So cinnamon, meet pumpkin. Sprinkling the spice into a pot holding the pulp of the gourd makes for a powerful mash to spook away your bad cholesterol. Pumpkin is famed for its high fiber content, especially since this vegetable is a starchy one.

So round up your small pumpkins! Rather than staggering them on the front porch, sit them on the kitchen counter until you’re ready to use them in your recipes!

Cinnamon Pumpkin Mash

modified from: Eldridge, Lahla. “Langebaan Cinnamon Pumpkin.” The South African Illustrated CookbookCape Town: Struick Publisher, 2002.

  • 1 1 1/2 pound pumpkin, peeled and cubed into small chunks
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup cream or whole milk (optional)

Peeling PumpkinChopping Pumpkin

  1. Place pumpkin in a large saucepan. Pour water into the saucepan, stopping once you start to see the top of the water raise enough that you can tell what the waterlevel is (so just enough so as to not cover all the pumpkin). Place on the stovetop and cook over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the honey and cinnamon. Stir well. Bring to a boil until the pumpkin is soft, about 20 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat. Add butter and salt. Mash with a masher or fork. Serve hot or at room temperature in small bowl with 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of the cream or milk drizzled on top, if desired.

Serve with roasted or grilled meats, fried chicken, turkey meatballs, rice pilaf, warm apples, or anything else seasonal.

I recommend using a tomato peeler to peel off the pumpkin rind. This serrated peeler will make preparation fast, easy, and simple. Remember to save your seeds! Just wash off, mix with salt and spices, bake on a jellyroll pan at 400°F for about 10 minutes, more or less, and eat them all up! Bon ap, to lower cholesterol!

Final Pumpkin

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Cholesterol-Lowering = Lemon + Tahini

Final Hummus

Hummus is the perfect crowd-pleaser, any time of year. Whether you’re going to a picnic or potluck, hosting a baby shower or fantasy football draft party, or you just want to use up those lemons before they turn to mush, hummus is the answer! My guests have to try it: no exceptions. Vegans, vegetarians, carnivores, locavores, paleos, kiddos, grandpas, business students, hockey players—everyone digs in, everyone is pleasantly surprised. “This hummus is really good!” You’ll hear it over and over again, so make sure you stash some aside for yourself before serving!

There are times when you need to spoil yourself, right? Not everything has to be shared, especially when you are watching your cholesterol levels. So I say, hog the tahini! Tahini is an ingredient crossing all borders; homes all over the world serve dishes with tahini in bowls, leaves, bread shreds, and roasted meats with neighbors, coworkers, royalty, family members, friends, etc. In fact, you might have been eating tahini without knowing it! This sesame paste is sometimes found in the Szechuan dish dan dan noodles and middle eastern baba ganoush. I especially like tahini sauce with grilled chicken—the sharp flavors are just so invigorating. For today, let’s introduce tahini to a partner that helps with lowering cholesterol. So tahini, meet lemon. Lemons have a lot of compounds called limonoids, and a particular limonoid called limonin, gives lemons their cholesterol-lowering effects (say that five-times fast!). Sesame seeds that make up tahini do not have limonin, but since they have fats that are plant-based (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated), tahini has absolutely no cholesterol! We have to get these two together… now!

Lemony Hummus

  • 29 ounces (about) canned chickpeas
  • 4-5 tablespoons tahini (depending on your taste), stir well before adding
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced (local if possible)
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • paprika
  • olive oil
  1. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the liquid from the canned chickpeas. Drain chickpeas. Set a handful of chickpeas aside.
  2. In a blender or food processor, combine chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon, lemon zest, and salt. Puree until smooth. The mixture should look like a lighter peanut butter, as the mixture should move around the machine slowly, but easily. Little chunks still in the mixture is fine. Add some of the reserved chickpea liquid as needed to achieve the right texture. Taste to add any more salt or tahini, as desired.
  3. Scrap hummus into bowl (and save some separately for you!). Sprinkle with the handful of chickpeas that you kept aside. Sprinkle generously with paprika, and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil.

Hummus Ingredients

Serve the lemony hummus with whatever is in season (carrots, cucumbers, cauliflower, etc.), dipping vegetables (celery, lettuce leaves, cherry tomatoes), pita bread, or thin crackers. I’ve recently visited Costco to get the perfect ingredients: the biggest can of chickpeas you’ve ever seen (for only $3 here… unbelievable, I know) and za’atar crackers from Firehook Bakery. What finds! Spread hummus on sammies, add to chili, or thin with water and drizzle over roasted vegetables if you are running out of ideas for leftovers.

Bon ap, to lower cholesterol!

Cholesterol-Lowering = Buttermilk + Flaxseed Oil

With all of the tomatoes, lettuces, cucumbers, bell peppers, and fresh herbs on the farmers’ markets tables this season, how can we not crave salads, right? Tomatoes are flourishing with all the rain we’ve seen (sorry carrots!); we find ourselves impulsively snacking on the grape tomatoes, spread out like red carpets attracting all the passersby to walk on up and enter the fresh food fortress. If you grab up these tomatoes, be sure to make my energizing Tomato and Walnut snack!

If you fill up with salad ingredients, too, then the following recipe for Buttermilk Basil Salad Dressing can serve as the perfect addition to deliver even more beneficial nutritional properties to your dish. The consistency of this dressing is slightly creamy, which is definitely desirable to balance out all the light vegetables. First, keep flaxseed oil on hand for this recipe and to add to your oatmeal, smoothies, other dressings, and baked goods. This oil stays refrigerated, so make sure you store it inside the door so it’s easily accessible. Flaxseed oil is loaded with omegas and polyunsaturated fatty acids to help prevent inflammation, arthritis, and several health-related diseases. This amazing oil also is a good choice to use when trying to lower your cholesterol. Buttermilk is another good alternative to most dairy options as this product has a lower fat content and retains a high calcium makeup. So flaxseed oil, meet buttermilk. To build onto this strong commonality, basil also has oils that contribute lowering cholesterol, among other desirable abilities. So the threesome of all these ingredients is truly great for your body! Basil is flowering now, too, so you can use up those green leaves right now!

To make your scrumptious dressing, put all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender:

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/8 sour cream (low-fat or regular)
  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup basil (more or less)
  • sea salt
  • pepper

Dressing Ingredients

Please make sure you taste and adjust to fit what your taste buds tell you is best, and make sure the dressing is salted well. I use leftover buttermilk from making butter at home, which you can do yourself as well (just read this!). And the sour cream can be substituted with the whey leftover from making mascarpone. I hope that this recipe lets the locavore in you get their kicks on, the health-conscious voice in you feel satisfied, and the thrifty side of you feel valued as you use up ingredients that otherwise would have been discarded. Bon ap, to good cholesterol!

BFB in Bottle