Read The Everyday DASH Diet Cookbook Online

Authors: Marla Heller

Tags: #Cooking / Health & Healing - Heart

The Everyday DASH Diet Cookbook

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Introduction

I have been cooking the DASH way (that is, according to the nutritional guidelines found in the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) every day for many years. I could be the poster girl for the diet! Not because I have written two books on the subject (
The DASH Diet Action Plan
and
The DASH Diet Weight Loss Solution
), but because I have lived the DASH lifestyle and experienced firsthand how delicious and easy the diet can be. And now
The Everyday DASH Diet Cookbook
shares my favorite recipes.

The DASH plan has positively affected the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. (For three years in a row, it was ranked #1 in Best Diets Overall by
U.S. News & World Report
, which is quite a distinction. I am also proud that the
Huffington Post
cited
The DASH Diet Action Plan
as one of the top fifty most life-changing health books.) I have talked to countless DASH fans at personal appearances, book signings, lectures, and the like, as well as in e-mails via my website. And in our conversations, recipes are a constant topic. My first two books contained just enough recipes to whet your appetite for the wonderful variety offered by DASH. I knew that cooking the DASH way was a big subject that deserved its own book. And here it is.

A few years ago at a writers’ conference, I met Rick Rodgers, a prolific cookbook writer and recipe developer for many food producers. When I realized how helpful a complete cookbook would be to DASH fans, I enlisted Rick to help me put the recipes on paper. What you now see is the result of our work together—fresh, flavorful recipes for the entire family, designed for the busy home cook.

With the over 150 recipes in
The Everyday DASH Diet Cookbook
, you can put my favorite DASH recipes into action. Energize yourself for the entire day with a quick breakfast sandwich or smoothie. (You’ll find some special weekend brunch treats for lingering over the Sunday paper, too.) At lunchtime, dig into a big main-course salad, topped with one of the many light salad dressings I’ve provided. Serve a hearty, vegetable-packed dinner with a sensible amount of meat, poultry, or seafood (or choose one of my meatless main courses). I’ve given you new ways to make your favorite comfort foods. Do you crave pasta? Go ahead,
but serve zesty tomato sauce on a smaller amount of whole-grain pasta bulked up with lots of vegetables. You’ll find a long list of simple side dishes to round out the meal, as well as DASH-friendly desserts to satisfy your sweet tooth. And to help you see how the recipes fit into your plan, I’ve provided a nutritional analysis for each one to help you stay on track.

Although this isn’t a “fast and easy” cookbook, the recipes were created with everyday cooking in mind, made with ingredients that you are likely to have on hand or can easily find at the supermarket. The foundation of the DASH diet is plant-based foods and heart-healthy vegetable fats such as olive oil, along with low-fat and nonfat dairy, fish and seafood, lean meats, and poultry. That is a huge variety! And I make the most of it with recipes from around the world.

The Everyday DASH Diet Cookbook
is loaded with dishes that you can and will make on a weeknight, without fuss but with lots of flavor. There are also “company-worthy” recipes and those to cook when you want to splurge. With this cookbook by your side in the kitchen, you will never have to worry about how to make a fabulous, good-for-you meal for the entire family.

—Marla Heller

Cooking the DASH Way

The Everyday DASH Diet Cookbook
will become your go-to book for healthful, delicious food. The DASH diet is rich in plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and heart-healthy vegetable fats. To this foundation, add low-fat and nonfat dairy (a key DASH diet food) and protein (fish and seafood, lean beef, pork, and poultry). With this huge range of options for cooking terrific meals, you will no longer have to choose between the foods you like and eating more healthfully. Based on the enormously popular DASH diet,
The Everyday DASH Diet Cookbook
is designed to make living a DASH lifestyle as simple and delicious as possible. The easier the dish is to make, the more likely you are to make it a part of your regular rotation of favorite recipes. You will, as I often do, discard the idea of a “diet,” because cooking the DASH way will become a way of life, as natural as breathing… or eating!

So, what is the DASH diet? This revolutionary outlook on healthful eating was originally developed as part of a study to find ways to lower blood pressure without medication. DASH is an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, which was the name of the original study. The study organizers wanted to take the best elements of vegetarian diets, which were known to be associated with lower blood pressure, and design a plan that would be flexible enough to appeal to the vast majority of Americans, who are dedicated meat eaters. They developed what they believed was the healthiest omnivore diet plan.

And the research has borne out this hope. The DASH diet helps lower blood pressure as well as the first-line medication for hypertension. It also lowers cholesterol. When evaluated over very long periods of time, the DASH eating pattern has been shown to help lower the risk for many diseases and life-threatening medical conditions or events, including stroke, heart attack, heart failure, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, kidney stones, and some types of cancer. Not only is DASH recommended for people who have these conditions or are at risk for them, but it is recommended for everyone in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. And the DASH diet is fabulous for weight loss, since it is loaded with bulky, filling fruits and vegetables and has plenty of protein to provide satiety. In fact, the plan is so rich in healthy foods that people find it easy to follow without being tempted to “cheat.” The DASH
diet was ranked the “#1 Best Overall Diet” in 2011, 2012, and 2013 by
U.S. News & World Report.
It is widely hailed by doctors and nutritionists as the best and healthiest diet plan.

Even children get a health benefit, since studies have shown that kids who follow a DASH eating pattern are more likely to be at a healthy weight and to have healthier blood pressure. This makes DASH a wonderful plan for the whole family.

The DASH plan has its base in fresh fruits and vegetables. In this book, I use them in many ways that will make your everyday cooking look beautiful, taste wonderful, and generally be more satisfying than ever before, because you know the food is so good for you. (This does not mean that meat, poultry, and seafood are neglected.) This cookbook makes staying on track with the DASH plan as easy as can be. And by focusing on the foods to include, instead of “foods to avoid,” you will develop a positive outlook on fantastic eating. Here are the tips for cooking recipes to keep you thinking positive—and looking and feeling great.

The Pantry

Have you heard the (true) advice that you should join a gym that is close to your house so its proximity negates the excuse of “It’s too far to go”? You can apply the same idea to healthful cooking. If you have most of the ingredients on hand and have to shop at the market for only a few fresh items, you will find it easier to cook the DASH way. To get started, you’ll want to stock some basic items in your pantry and kitchen so that you can be prepared to whip up healthy DASH recipes at any time. And I have some helpful tips that will make life easier and cooking the DASH way a breeze.

Canned, Bottled, and Dry Foods

Be a label reader! Those “Nutrition Facts” numbers on a food label can be your best buddy when shopping for pantry items. Innocent-looking foods are not always so benign. It pays to comparison shop, not just for price, but also for those numbers on the labels.

One of the most important concepts to understand is the differences among the various “reduced sodium” products. This is especially helpful for people on a sodium-restricted hypertension diet, with daily sodium intake limited to 1,500 milligrams (mg). Sometimes, a reduced-sodium or lower-sodium product might not be as healthy as you would like. A product labeled “reduced sodium” or “lower sodium” needs to have only 25 percent less sodium than the average amount found in the regular (full-sodium) version. A low-sodium
product can have only 140 mg per serving. A very low-sodium food cannot have more than 35 mg per serving, and a no-sodium or no-salt product must contain just 5 mg or less.

Food products offer standardized serving sizes determined by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help you compare products. For example, the standard serving size for low-sodium chicken broth is 1 cup (8 fluid ounces). A quick check of various reduced-sodium chicken broths revealed two brands with sodium contents of 679 mg and 570 mg. A low-sodium broth came in at 140 mg for an entire can (10 fluid ounces). Even with the additional 2 ounces of broth, it is easy to choose the one with the lowest sodium. With the first two brands, a cup of broth (which is not hard to consume in a meal-sized bowl of soup at lunch or dinner) would contain at least a third of your daily sodium intake! And this is with a “reduced sodium” product!

With this in mind, here are some useful items to keep in your pantry for everyday cooking:

Diced tomatoes, no salt added
Crushed tomatoes, no salt added
Tomato sauce, no salt added
Tomato paste, no salt added
Garbanzo beans, reduced-sodium
Cannellini beans, no salt added
Black beans, reduced-sodium
Lentils, dried
Canned tuna, in water, low-salt
Canned salmon, low-salt
Canned chicken, low-salt
Extra-virgin olive oil
Canola oil
Oats, old-fashioned or rolled
Chicken broth, low-sodium

The Spice Cabinet

Spices and herbs are derived from fragrant, edible plants and used as flavorings. Herbs are the leaves, and spices are the other parts of the plant, including the bark, roots, berries, flower pods, or seeds. In premodern times, spices were very expensive and rare, and then, as now,
they traveled thousands of miles to get to the marketplace. These days, we literally have an entire world of seasonings to flavor our food. Make use of them! Especially in a low-salt diet, herbs and spices play an important role in the “yum factor” in cooking.

Dried herbs and spices are very convenient, and with just a shake or a sprinkle, they can add zest to your meal. Store them in airtight containers in a cool, dark, dry place. Warmth and light speed the evaporation of the essential oils in the herbs and spices, so a closed cabinet away from the stove is ideal. Even under the best conditions, opened jars of herbs and spices keep their flavor for only about six months. To keep track of the “use by” period, when you open the jar, write the date on the label.

Fresh herbs give their lively flavor to many dishes. When the weather is right, grow them outdoors, or if you have a green thumb with houseplants, try your hand at growing them in a windowsill planter. Store-bought herbs can seem pricey, but the flavor benefits are worth the price. When you have a fresh herb, plan your meals around it so it doesn’t go to waste. If you end up with leftover herbs, just stick them into a bottle of red vinegar saved for the purpose to make a flavored vinegar for salads. The flavor will change constantly with the various additions, but that’s the fun.

Some tender herbs, such as basil, should be stored at room temperature with their stems in a glass of water (like a bouquet); if you leave them in the refrigerator, the cold will turn their leaves black. Refrigerate sturdier herbs in their plastic containers, or if they lack containers, wrap them in moist paper towels and store them in the vegetable crisper. Before using, rinse the herbs and dry them well. Remove the leaves from the stem and chop the leaves with a large, sharp knife.

Dried basil
Dried oregano
Dried rosemary

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