Make vegetables and fruits the foundation of your diet. There are endless varieties of fruits and vegetables and they provide the body with essential nutrients and fiber. With their bright colors and diverse flavors, they are the most interesting of any food group.
As always, start with what you already love and build from there. If you love broccoli, check out the smaller broccolini often in groceries. Or instead of always buying onions, try leeks sometimes. They are huge green onions and have a milder flavor and are really fun to slice. Visit your local farmers market and talk to farmers about the unusual varieties they are growing.
Make vegetables and leafy greens the main course of every meal, with grains, meat and dairy (if you choose) as condiments.
Enjoy whole grains and legumes as a daily part of your diet. Both of these groups provide important micronutrients and fiber. Because of their high fiber content, they slow down blood sugar and help you stay full longer. When choosing bread, make sure the first ingredient is whole wheat and choose brands with minimal ingredients. Portion sizes are crucial with grains and legumes; think of keeping each serving to around 1/2 cup. Remember to buy whole grains. Refined grains are processed like sugar in the body. Experiment with varieties like quinoa, millet, buckwheat and other ancient grains for a change in flavor and texture. With beans and legumes, the varieties are endless. Lentils alone come in several different colors; each one with a unique texture and flavor.
Nuts and seeds provide protein and texture. Some cardiologists prefer that their patients avoid nuts completely, so please check with your doctor if you have a heart condition. Otherwise, nuts do have many health benefits that make them a perfect complement to a plant-centric diet. They......add to this....
Include here a pdf of all the variety of nuts and ways to soak them
Maybe a video on dry roasting
Eat a green salad at least once a day. Keeping clean lettuces ready to grab in the frig along with an easy low fat vinaigrette that you love is key to salad success. Also keep a variety of other raw vegetables cut and ready to go and add as many as you want to your salad. Experiment with vegetables like radishes, leeks, cucumbers and bell peppers to add variety of flavor as well as nutrients. Practice your knife skills and try slicing the vegetables super thin to see how the way a vegetable is cut affects its texture in the mouth!
Prep vegetables in bulk to have readily available. Keep baked sweet potatoes or a big batch of lentils in the refrigerator to make easy meals by adding a green salad or low fat protein. Simple meals that are easy to throw together are key to preventing you from resorting to highly processed fast foods.
Keep your favorite fruits around and eat them when the craving for sugar hits you. A few fresh berries or half a banana is a great substitute for a high fat sugary snack and you get the bonus of beneficial nutrients!
When it comes to your choice for the healthiest cooking oils, olive oil is one thing everyone can agree on. Make it your go-to oil. For high heat cooking, organic expeller pressed canola oil is the best choice. Limit its’ use to methods like stir-frying or searing. Otherwise, a lighter bodied olive oil is good for cooking at lower temperatures. The darker, extra virgin olive oil should be savored in salad dressings or drizzled over a piece of fish after it’s cooked. Butter, vegetable and tropical oils should not be included in a heart healthy diet.
Fall in love with olive oil. A friend recently gave me a bottle of a really nice olive oil from Italy. I keep it on my counter and use it for finishing a salad …just a little drizzle.....on top of hummus.....
Since you will be using these oils very sparingly... You can treat yourself to a really nice bottle. You will need a lighter version for cooking with heat and that is not where you want to spend the most money.
Although these days we hear a lot about how the olive oils on the market are not 100 percent olive oil. Just make sure to check your labels for 100 percent and the bottles should always tell you which country they are imported from.
And if you want a real treat...seek out truffle oil that is made with 100 percent olive oil. It’s not cheap but it has powerful flavor....it is a unique flavor that is really special: almost a mild horseradish earthy flavor. This would be used as a little flavoring at the finish of a food.
Replace sweetened beverages with drinks like unsweetened iced tea (green has even more nutrients than black and less caffeine!). For an alternative to soda, try sparkling mineral water over ice with a squeeze of citrus. It’s very refreshing.
Watch your intake of sodium while amping up the flavor of your food through endless sources of (non sodium) seasonings:
To give you an idea of how much sodium you should be consuming for a heart healthy diet, remember that only one teaspoon of salt has about 2 grams of sodium. That’s not much.
But don’t be discouraged. This course will teach you how to replace the salt in your diet with a world of diverse spices, herbs and other seasonings. And once you become conscious of reading labels and simply choosing the low sodium choices at the grocery store, you will soon transition your diet away from being dependent on salt for flavor.
We will talk about ways to “acquire a taste” for new flavors later on. But learning to reduce your dependency on salt for flavoring foods is what will feel like acquiring a “distaste”. As you reduce the amount of salt in your diet, you will be amazed over time how you will start to find the flavor too strong.
Salt truly becomes a crutch in cooking. In Chapter 3, we are going to show you ways to flavor food without it. You will be amazed at how quickly you adjust.