Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Low Salt DASH Dinners

I SHOULD watch my salt intake, but somehow, when looking at cookbooks, I typically quickly bypass those that have "low salt" or "how to lower your blood pressure" in the title. They seem so... bland?

Now I have to eat my words... pardon the pun. Recently I was sent a copy of Low-Salt DASH Dinners to review. The Heading "The proven drug-free way to lower your blood pressure" had me doing a quick " Uh Oh" and at first I thought DASH stood for quick meals but it really stands for "Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension" and is endorsed and recommended by the likes of American Heart Association, Mayo Clinic, Women's Heart Foundation and more leading health organizations in North America.

Needless to say, I was leery. It's times like these that the old adage "don't judge a book by its cover" definitely rings true. Although the photo of the Barbecued Beef Sirloin & Black Bean Burger with tomato & avocado slices had me drooling... those words "hypertension", "lower your blood pressure" had me questioning it. Then I opened the book... and I now have just about every recipe ear marked to try.

When I see a new cookbook I have a ritual... open to any page, somewhere in the middle and check out the first recipe I see.... this time it was for Richard's Four Taste Pasta (I used shrimp instead of scallops this time because the shrimps were in the freezer and I had everything else on hand - which is my code for "I can't wait to give it a try!"). So much for the notion that heart healthy food has to be bland and boring! Lots of garlic, red chili pepper flakes, fresh parsley & freshly grated Parmesan cheese pack quite the flavorful punch.

One could just make the recipes for the easy to follow instructions and easy to find ingredients. I love her intros and tips (like "... recommend using Catelli Smart Linguine, which is white pasta with more fibre and better texture than most whole wheat varieties"); a little "clock" at the top of each recipe that tells you prep & cooking time - this dish... 7 minutes prep & 10 minutes to cook; plus the nutritional value which is perfect for those serious about what they put into their bodies.

The photos of most of the dishes are taken by Jen Partridge and they are truly stunning. I don't normally mention the photographer, but hers are so droolingly gorgeous, I had to. And the recipes... well they are all pretty spectacular. Many of them are provided by chefs across the country - Here's a list of some I'll be making soon...
  • From Quaco Inn, St Martins, NB an easy blueberry creme brulee... I wonder if I can use my frozen blueberries to go with low fat sour cream, fat free yoghurt and brown sugar;
  • Chicken Breasst Charlotte Lane (a fabulous cafe in Shelbourne NS that has people happily driving the 2 hours from Halifax to eat) curry powder, paprika, ground rosemary and ground black pepper coat the boneless breasts and the sauce of fresh orange juice, grated ginger, honey, cranberries and orange hardly sounds bland;
  • Whistler Crab Cakes from Rim Rock Cafe, Whistler, BC - the photo alone is worth the purchase of the book!
There are recipes for brunch, quick skillet dishes, slow & savoury dishes, soups, pastas, salads, desserts... and all sound and look amazing. So even if you're not on the look out for a "heart healthy" book, this is one book to add to your list.

Next up for me... a take on the Beef Tenderloin with Stilton & Mixed Greens from Pickerel Lake Lodge, Burk's Falls, ON. I'll be using the hanger steak I just bought from Getaway Farm and some Dragon's Breath Blue cheese - a local NS delicacy from That Dutchman's Cheese. Normally I'd wait for summer and local mixed greens, but... I just can't wait that long!

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