Deliciously Healthy Dinners

keepthebeat coverTo me, a sign of a good cookbook is when you immediately find at least five recipes you can’t wait to try.  A sign of a good “healthy” cookbook is when you don’t know it’s “healthy.”

You don’t get the feel of “diet foods” or see a heavy reliance on artificial sweeteners or fat-free ingredients.  I want to see flavor emphasized as much as fat grams.  I want to see all types of foods included, not a narrow range of “acceptable” items.

I found all of the above with Keep the Beat Recipes:  Deliciously Healthy Dinners, a tremendous new cookbook from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute — one of the divisions of the National Institutes of Health.


Yes, this heart-healthy cookbook is published by the government, but don’t let that taint your opinion.  This is truly an outstanding collection of recipes that was developed by chef David Kamen, an instructor at the Culinary Institute of America and Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian and nutrition journalist.

And best of all…this cookbook, with 75 recipes and beautiful full-color photographs, is only $5.00.  Can you believe that?  You can order your own copy by visiting the NHLBI Web site.

You’ll find delicious and nutritious recipes for family dinners that feature beef (Cocoa-Spiced Beef Tenderloin with Pineapple Salsa), pork (Pork Chops with Warm Cherry Sauce), poultry (Moroccan Chicken Stew With Couscous) and seafood (Red Snapper Provencal).  But there are plenty of meatless main-dishes if that’s what you’re looking for.  Here are a couple that I think you’ll like.

Whole-Wheat Bow Tie Pasta With Puttanesca Sauce

Capers, olives and anchovy paste will make this quick, but rich, sauce a weeknight favorite  bowtie pasta

8    oz. whole-wheat bow tie pasta (farfalle)
2    tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cup onion, diced
2    tablespoons garlic, minced or pressed (about 5 cloves)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2    teaspoons anchovy paste (optional)
1   can (35 oz.) no-salt added whole peeled tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1   tablespoon capers
8   pitted black olives, each sliced lengthwise into 6 pieces
4   fresh parsley sprigs, rinsed and dried (optional)

In a 4-quart saucepan, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil over high heat.  Add pasta, and cook according to package directions for the shortest recommended time, about 10 minutes.  Drain.

Meanwhile, in a large nonstick pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion.  Cook and stir for 5 minutes, until onion begins to soften.  Add garlic, cayenne pepper and anchovy paste.  Cook and stir another 5 minutes.

Add chopped tomatoes, capers and olives.  Cook and stir until heated through.

Divide pasta among four dinner plates (about 1 1/2 cups each).  Spoon sauce over pasta.  Garnish with parsley if desired.

Nutrition facts per serving (4 servings).  Calories: 342.  Fat: 8 g. Sat. Fat: 1 g. Cholesterol: 9 mg. Sodium: 455 mg. Fiber: 12 g. Protein: 11 g. Carb: 62 g. Potassium: 537 mg.

Edamame Stew

This spicy stew can be frozen for later use, serve over brown rice for a complete meal. edamame stew

1 bag  (16 oz.) frozen shelled edamame
1 can (35 oz.) no-salt-added Italian whole peeled tomatoes with basil, diced into small chunks
2 cups  zucchini, rinsed, quartered and sliced
1 cup yellow onion, diced
1  tablespoon olive oil
1  tablespoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon  ground allspice (or cinnamon)
2 tablespoons garlic, minced or pressed (about 5 cloves)
1 cup  frozen yellow corn
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice (or 1 large lemon, freshly juiced)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Place frozen edamame in a deep saucepan with just enough water to cover.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium and cover.  Cook for 5 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

While soybeans cook, chop tomatoes, zucchini and onion.  In a large nonstick saute pan, cook onion in olive oil over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes.  Stir in cumin, cayenne pepper and allspice.  Cook and stir for about 2 minutes.  Add garlic.  Cook and stir for 1 minute.

Stir in the drained edamame, tomatoes, zucchini, corn and salt.  Cover.  Simmer until zucchini is tender, about 15 minutes.  Stir in lemon juice and oregano.  Serve immediately.

Nutrition facts per serving (4 servings). Calories: 285. Fat: 10 g. Sat. Fat: 1 g. Cholesterol: 0 mg. Sodium: 303 mg. Fiber: 14 g. Protein: 16 g. Carb: 40 g. Potassium: 1,227 mg.

Remember, February is American Heart Month.  So it’s a good time to think about your heart.  But these heart-healthy recipes will be no sacrifice.  And that’s how it should be.

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  • Looks like a great cookbook to me!

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  • Can’t beat the value you get for the price! I am also glad to see vegetarian recipes like the edamame stew. The list of ingredients is long and may intimidate the occasional cook. It would be nice to indicate which of these ingredients could be optional.

    I am curious – how do you get nutrition facts per serving for recipes? Is it a calculation based on the ingredients or is it a real tested value?

  • Janet

    Hey TwinToddlersDad,
    Thanks for visiting. Yes, great deal on the cookbook, and it’s really outstanding — lot of great recipes. It took me by surprise.
    I didn’t think there was too many ingredients in the edamame stew, many of them are spices. I liked the cookbook because the recipes tended to be simple, with few ingredients. I do think that matters for today’s home cook.
    The book included full nutrition information for all the recipes, I didn’t calculate myself. I’m sure the analysis was completed using a database, that’s how most nutrition analysis would be calculated, vs. lab testing (which is expensive). But the analysis of ingredients per serving should be sufficient.
    Thanks for the RT.
    Best, Janet

  • Wow! LOVE your blog! All of the recipes look absolutely wonderful! I’ll be coming back for more lots more!

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