Cardio Health = Egg Whites + Greens

Frittata Brand

With leftover eggs whites from making flourless chocolate cake earlier in the week, and CSA produce filling all the drawers and shelves in the fridge, the comforting solution to use these nutritious ingredients came to me: frittata! I had to purchase leeks, but they are usually available at any grocery store year-around. The egg whites last in the fridge for even more than a week, so when the night came for a fast, one-dish meal—or actually a great main plate with a seasonal side soup (Roasted Carrot and Tahini Soup with Spicy Chickpeas) in my case so I could indulge in even more homecooked masterpieces—this frittata was perfect for using my fresh produce and leftovers!

I always receive at least three bundles or bags of leafy greens in my CSA share, from bok choy to Russian kale. I also receive the whole beet and turnip plants, so I experiment cooking with these colorful and soft greens. I eat as much as possible, especially since leafy greens are an especially good source of magnesium. This mineral helps lower our risk of sudden heart failures and helps our heart maintain regular heart rhythm. At sufficient levels, blood vessel muscles relax, reducing risks of blood pressure build up. Magnesium also helps to prevent calcification in your arteries in case your intake of calcium is too high. Egg whites also help your cardio system by having zero cholesterol. So leafy greens, meet egg whites! The egg mixture for this frittata is a healthier alternative, lowering the fat content and cholesterol levels to zero.

Very Veggie Frittata

modified from: Carroll, John Phillip. “Summer savory spinach frittata.” The Mayo Clinic Williams-Sonoma CookbookMenlo Park: Oxmoor House, 2002.

  • 7 egg whites and 2 eggs from large organic eggs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as thyme, summer savory, or chives
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 5 ounces fresh greens, such as beet greens, turnip greens, collards, or spinach
  • 2 leeks, white parts thinly sliced (see picture below)
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 grated cheese, such as Swiss, Gruyère, or Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/4 cup bell pepper, any color
  1. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, fresh herbs, and water.
  2. In a large frying pan over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the greens, leeks, peas, and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the leeks are tender, about 10 minutes.
  3. Pat down vegetables into an even layer. Pour in the egg mixture. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally to keep the frittata from sticking. Running a rubber scrapper around the edges of the pan will help release the frittata from the pan as well. Cook for about one minutes, then cover. Turn down heat to low and cook for about another two minutes, or until the eggs are set around the edges but soft and runny in the center.
  4. Uncover and sprinkle with the cheese and bell pepper. Cover and cook until the eggs are completely set and the cheese is melted, about 4 minutes longer.
  5. To serve, cut into wedges and serve immediately.

Leeks Bowls Stirfry

Wine advice for a recipe is always a bonus, right? For this frittata, as it’s quite light and savory, I recommend Spanish Verdejo or White Bourdeaux for whites, or  Chilean Carmenere or Italian Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. So go to the wine shelf and uncork (or twist off) a bottle, to make a whole cardio package. Whole-wheat pita is another good heart healthy companion (and if you’re like me, bread is a non-negotiable with dinner). If you can’t finish the frittata during the first sitting, heat it up from breakfast the next day for a great start! Bon ap, to cardio health!

Cardio Health = Red Wine + Garlic

Red Grape bunches

I love Cornish hens! The meat is always so moist and flavorful. When cut in half, these poultry portions are perfect for a meal—complete with light and dark meat. Yum! There’s also plenty of crackled skin to chew on, and a cup-sized cavity to fill with stuffing, if desired. They are convenient to grab when grocery shopping; I often see them on sale, and Costco sells 4-packs, which fits perfectly for two meals for me and my guy!

I think rubbing a wet sauce right on the meat delivers a more enjoyable protein, making each bite smell and taste so intense. As I’m a fan of strong wines (red, white, and rosé), I like my food to be able to match the wine’s complex flavor profile. I drink red wine, in particular, sharing a tad with my stovetop meals, pouring a bit into sauces and stews, to add an extra punch of gusto. Red wine is a great ingredient to use for sauces as the alcohol and certain antioxidants (polyphenols) in red wine help our cardio systems by protecting against artery damage. Even when you cook wine, some of the alcohol still remains, as well as the polyphenols. What other ingredient has enough of an acute flavor and brawny aggressiveness to handle red wine? Ah, garlic! So red wine, meet garlic. Garlic is also keen on antioxidants—a fervent proponent of securing heart-friendly properties in our meals. Garlic and red wine also both have two other identical characteristics: zero fat and zero cholesterol. Let’s get these two to the stovetop!

Cornish Hens with Garlic Red Wine Reduction

modified to serve two people; from Rosemary-Scented Cornish Hens with Red Wine Reduction.” Cooking Light. Sept 2007.

  • 2 Cornish hens (about 1¼-1½ pounds each)
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard (or any other favorite mustard you have; there are so many out there!)
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced, divided (try to get local!)
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • juice from one lemon
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  1. Remove and discard giblets and necks from hens. Rinse chickens and pat dry. Save the giblets for making more chicken stock later. If you don’t think you’ll be making stock in the next 2-3 days, then bag up the goods and leave in the freezer for later. No need to throw these parts out as they are mighty good flavoring agents!
  2. Place hens on a cutting board, back side up. Split hens in half lengthwise using a very sharp, strong knife. Turn over chickens, breast side up. Loosen skin from hens by inserting fingers, gently pushing between skin and meat, around the breast and legs.
  3. Combine mustard, rosemary, salt, pepper, and 3 garlic cloves to form a paste; rub mustard mixture under loosened skin. Place hen halves, breast side up, on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Chill 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  5. Bake hens for 30 minutes or until a thermometer registers 165°F. Place hens on a platter; keep warm.
  6. Pour drippings from pan into a cup and put into the refrigerator. Meanwhile, pour wine into a small frying pan and heat on medium heat.
  7. After about 5 minutes, take out the cup from the refrigerator and skim off the fat. Discard fat. I usually end up with somewhere between 1/8 cup and 1/4 cup of drippings left.
  8. Pour drippings in with the wine and raise heat to medium-high. Cook until reduced to 1/4 cup (about 5 minutes). Stir in broth, wine, honey, and 2 garlic cloves; cook until reduced to 1/4 cup (about 8-10 minutes). Remove from heat.
  9. Drizzle each hen portion evenly with wine mixture. Serve immediately.

Whole HensHalved HensStuffed Hens

For the wine, I suggest using a wine loaded with tannins, and preferably unfiltered. I like using wines Bordeaux, Portugal, or Washington State, as the reds coming from these locations are often made using grapes with thick skins and gritty seeds to give the wine added color, texture, and gum-sticking flavor! If you have any red wine that went bad because nobody finished the bottle, then save that wine! Although this wine doesn’t taste good, it’s fine for our bodies to digest. So add this tired wine to this recipe, or your tomato-based sauces or meat stews! Bam!

Serve with hummus and pita for a very low cholesterol meal. And bon ap, to cardio health!

Cooked Hen

Photo courtesy of Flickr member mhall209; “wine grapes”

Cardio Health = Granola + Oranges

Ester's Granola

I’m on a quest to ease my breathing; I’ve noticed I can breathe heavily after walking up a few flights of stairs, once I get off the treadmill, or jumping back on the bench after a shift on the ice. I know that more exercise will help, strengthening my cardiovascular system and muscular system. The solution is never a single shot, though. I know my nutrition has to help, too. Will this sitch be a tough nut to crack?

Nope! The second prong to my solution ended up greeting me at the Gaithersburg Farmers’ Market, held every Thursday afternoon. This visit wasn’t my first to this location, but I was delighted to finally see a vendor who was selling something different than just farm produce. Rather, she had 14 oz. containers, 2 oz. packets, and variety packs of homemade granola! She even had muffins and cookies using her granola for sale. I tried the Tropical Rum variety, crunching into the whole grain rolled oats, saturated with potent aromas and simple flavors. Ester, the founder of the company Ester’s Granola LLC, based in Silver Spring, MD, kindly told me about all of the advantages of her granola over commercial varieties, which I had steered away from due to their high caloric and sugar content.

In a nut shell, why should you buy Ester’s granola:

  • Founder Ester Nae focuses on nutrition and taste in her creations
  • No added sugar (organic honey is used as a sweetener) → less calories than other granolas
  • No preservatives
  • No trans fat
  • No cholesterol
  • Whole grain
  • Five varieties (with fruit and nuts; peanut butter; maple pecans; citrus almond; tropical rum) and one gluten-free variety (with fruit and nuts) → look for other varieties to come out to highlight seasonal ingredients!

Visit her website (and blog!) for more information and to find locations, such as Rodman’s and Dawson’s Market, where you can buy her products: estersgranola.com

Before leaving, I purchased two packets, and now I am absolutely nuts for Ester’s Citrus Almond Granola. I eat some daily for the cardio benefits. Oats contain avenanthramides, antioxidant compounds that actively function in many ways to improve your cardiovascular system. Let’s pair these oats with a friend to really get your body digesting a bundle of antioxidants! So oats, meet oranges. This fruit has the antioxidant hesperidin, which improves blood vessel function and reduce problems for cardiovascular disease. The oats and orange duo should help me conquer my quest for better cardio health.

Here’s a recipe Ester provided us from her creative repertoire of recipes for the O&O combo!

Ester’s Citrus Almonds Granola Salad

  • 8 ounces spring mixed greens
  • 2 oranges
  • 1/2 cup gorgonzola cheese
  • 1/2 cup Ester’s Citrus Almond Granola
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Orange Segments

  1. Cut away the peels from oranges, leaving no white pith. Segment the oranges. See picture above. Cut around the skins of the orange segments, leaving them attached to the orange core, and taking away only triangles of fruit.
  2. In a large bowl combine the spring mixed greens, orange segments, Gorgonzola cheese, and Ester’s Citrus Almond Granola.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the oil, vinegar, zest, orange juice, honey, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine.
  4. Drizzle the dressing over the salad, toss, and serve immediately.

Oats

I’m looking forward to better control of my breathing as I incorporate these ingredients in my diet. Watch out stairs and gym! Bon ap, to cardio health!

Photo courtesy of Flickr member drinkerthinker; “segmenting an orange”

Photo courtesy of Flickr member Amy McRae; “sea oats”

Anti-Inflammatory = Red Onions + Cayenne

Image

As a runner and typical young professional trying to keep an active lifestyle post-school years of team sports and post-city lifestyle, I know that I need to have a diet that includes foods to help my cardiovascular health. Otherwise, my restless legs will give me those guilty aches, reminding me that I’m not taking good care of myself physically.

So I went to the Rockville Farmers Market **http://bit.ly/18wfyyn** (yes!) to pick up some red onions. Parking is never an easy task here, garage or street parking. After circling three times and almost giving up to just take care of my Staples run, I finally found a spot on the street by the library with some time still left on the meter. Hurray! Cloth bag, keys, doors locked, phone with grocery list on it… um, okay, go! Past the passersby and couples doing lunch on the sidewalks, we all kept to our activities hiding behind our sunglasses, but curiously glancing secretly at what the others town dwellers are up to. I kept to my mission: market fresh product. After crossing the street, hearing little girls asking their mom what fruit was in their bag for home, I made it up to the closed street where four tents stood for the Wednesday market. I saw a crate of onions… bam!! I grabbed the red ones, and then the green beans and apples that were looking too good to pass up. I’ll enjoy those later.

Late lunch back at home at the apartment. My boyfriend confessed that there was a recipe his father would make back in South Africa, and he could basically just live off this spread/dip/mix as it was so delicious and healthy! The textures and tastes hit on all the complexity that our senses yearn for, yet there was only a few ingredients to make it all.

I took my avocado from the bamboo table bowl, where I’ve left the avocado out for two days at room temperature, and replaced it with another avocado from the fridge…

  • I ran my chef’s knife around the avocado to cut it in half, pitted the fruit, and then spooned out the inside.
  • I chopped about a quarter of my new red onion and mixed it in with the avocado.
  • Next is the real star: sardines. We can discuss the benefits of sardines another day, but the olive oil from the tin and sharp wild-caught fish flavors truly add to the tantalizing texture and make every bite truly tasting different, which is a hallmark of French cuisine, if that’s your style (as I’ve been accused of!).
  • Lastly, add some salt and pepper to taste (I suggest more salt than pepper), and some fresh lime juice, or lemon, if available to you. Add some cayenne pepper (about 1/4 tsp or double it if that heat is what you want) and mix to complete this thick and versatile bowl of goodness.

Serve with multigrain chips, rye toast, pita chips, celery, cherry tomatoes, or other vegetables. (For a South African touch, have some banana slices as well!)

Stop… I suggest you showoff at this moment to your friends and family using your iPhone camera .

Nutrition: both RED ONION and CAYENNE have anti-inflammatory benefits and improve oxygen consumption. Our muscles need these ingredients so that we can continue to be active, boost our metabolism, and make choices in a proactive way to help decrease our chances of having cancer.

This delicious duo in this recipe is an easy way to use local produce and throw in other leftovers that you may have, such as parsley, cilantro, shaved carrot, or flavored oil. Share your suggestions, too! Bon ap to cardio benefits!

Photo courtesy of Flickr member Market Manager; “Red Onions”