Colorado Springs has access to new cookbooks for healthy heart-friendly, plant-based recipes

Two new cookbooks offer recipes for getting more veggies in your diet, which can support heart health.

We’ve long been told to eat more veggies and less meat, a diet that’s especially important for those with cardiovascular disease. Two cookbooks to help accomplish this move to a plant-based diet recently came to my attention.

“The Heart Protection Kitchen,” by dietitian Tracy Severson and Dr. Sergio Fazio, explains in layman’s terms the science behind eating a vegetable-rich diet. The authors work at the Center for Protective Cardiology at the Oregon Health and Science University, and the book’s recipes are from classes they teach to cardiovascular patients. They’re based on “My Heart-Healthy Plate,” a simple way of visualizing foods to select and their quantities to reach the goal of a plant-based diet. The authors developed it for use in their classes.

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In the book’s introduction, the authors get right to the point about why we need to pay attention to protecting our heart: “Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and women in the United States, accounting for one in every four deaths annually.” The most common cause is the buildup of plaque in the arteries, called atherosclerosis. When plaque builds up, it narrows the artery, which can lead to the formation of a blood clot. That can trigger a heart attack.

“Some people are born with heart problems,” they write, “but the vast majority of heart disease occurs because of atherosclerosis.”

The main risk factors for developing atherosclerosis are high cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, body weight, inactive lifestyle and diabetes. To reduce these risk factors, the authors came up with 10 protective steps:

• Eat whole plant foods, mainly nonstarchy vegetables and fruits. This is key to the “My Heart-Healthy Plate,” which can be used as a guide for meals.

• Eat home-cooked meals, so you know exactly what’s in them and can control portions.

• Eat plant-based snacks.

• Replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats.

• Replace refined grains with whole grains.

• Reduce added sugars, particularly sweet drinks.

• Reduce sodium (from salt shaker and from processed foods).

• Include 10 grams of soluble fiber every day (from whole grains, beans, fruit, vegetables and psyllium husk powder supplement).

• Include fish twice a week.

• Practice mindful (rather than mindless) eating.

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The book goes deeper into details for accomplishing these steps and includes a two-week dinner plan with recipes. For instance, Meatless Monday might be a dinner of Southwestern quinoa skillet; watermelon and summer berry salad; tofu lettuce wraps, with pickled onions and spicy green sauce; and/or spring pea soup. There are 100 quick, affordable recipes with nutritional analysis to assure you that you’re meeting the goal of a heart protection diet.

The cookbook costs $24.99 at amazon.com or at bookstores.

The second cookbook addresses easy ways to switch out animal protein and replace it with veggies. It’s by JL Fields, Colorado Springs-based vegan chef, health coach, founder and culinary director of the Colorado Springs Vegan Cooking Academy, and a vegan dining reviewer for The Gazette. “The Complete Plant-Based Diet” is the sixth cookbook Fields has written (she has co-authored two other books) and features 115 recipes she developed with global flavors that will keep your vegetable menu exciting. She also created an easy-to-follow 21-day meal plan based on the recipes.

“I want you to fall in love with leafy greens, fragrant fruit, protein-packed legumes, nutrient-rich grains and all the nuts and seeds that fall in between,” she writes in the introduction. “I want you to have fun in the kitchen and to feel like a culinary rock star (with as little effort as possible). And I think you will.”

Start your rock star journey with Moroccan Eggplant Stew, a mélange of leeks, eggplant, mushrooms, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, tomatoes and chickpeas. It’s a delicious one-pot, hearty meal.

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Then try your hand at rolling spring rolls filled with crunchy cucumbers and carrots. Dip them in a spicy serrano pepper-pistachio sauce, which is a snap to make in a food processor and can be used as a salad dressing too.

Fields even has a veggie option for beef lettuce wraps: Say hello to yellow dal collard wraps. The thick dal (yellow split peas) is packed with protein and makes a filling dish when wrapped in steamed collard green leaves.

Fields’ cookbook costs $19.99 at amazon.com or at bookstores.

Contact the writer: 636-0271.

contact the writer: 636-0271.

Food editor

Food writer for features life section and columnist for Go! Entertainment - Table Talk column

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