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Recipes For a Heart-Healthy Christmas

With Christmas around the corner, it’s the most delightful time of the year and that calls for a delightful spread of all your favourite treats.  But if we had to ask what the first thing is that comes to mind when we use the word “treats”, you’d probably guess something that doesn’t rank too high on the health meter.  Maintaining a good balance between foods that are high in nutritional value but also those that satisfy your cravings is possible by choosing the right ingredients. We have the tendency to overindulge during the holiday season. However, overindulging in foods that are high in salt, saturated fat,and sugar can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases Let’s be clear, though. Eating healthy this Christmas season doesn’t have to mean giving up on a delicious feast altogether. Both can go together if we make a conscious effort to include heart-healthy ingredients in our meals.  As your Santa, we’re presenting you with a full course of a heart-healthy foods list and recipes to make your Christmas even merrier: Appetizer: Spinach Caesar Salad Nutrient Metre: Romaine lettuce contains potassium and packed with antioxidants that can help maintain heart health. Spinach, too, contains antioxidants and potassium which helps manage heart-related problems such as blood pressure and diabetes  Ingredients: 
  • 1 romaine lettuce, shredded
  • 4 cups (1 L) spinach rinsed, shredded
  • 2 cups (500 mL) bread, shredded
  • 1 cup (250 mL) grated low-fat cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) white vinegar
  • Salt as per taste
  • Pepper, freshly ground
  • 2/3 cup (160 mL) Saffola Gold Oil 
Preparation:  Caesar Salad Dressing:   
  • Combine egg, garlic, Dijon mustard, vinegar, and lemon juice in a mixer and keep going until you have a smooth, running liquid. Add a touch of salt and pepper to taste. Top with Saffola Gold Oil and churn in the mixer on low speed. Set aside.
  Caesar Salad: 
  • Set the oven to 350 °F (180 °C) and allow it to preheat.
  • Gather lettuce and spinach. Shred them into smaller pieces and toss them together in a salad bowl. 
  • Add grated low-fat cheese to the salad and lightly pour some Caesar dressing on it. 
  • Toss everything gently together and garnish with a final sprinkle of dressing. 
  • Brush a cookie sheet with Saffola Gold Oil and spread the split up bread pieces neatly on it. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown and let it rest.
Entrée: Baked Stuffed Mushrooms            Nutrient Metre: Mushrooms, such as shiitake, are another great food source that has proven benefits in managing blood pressure and lowering bad cholesterol which can otherwise lead to the development of heart disease. Ingredients: 
  • 400 grams shiitake mushroom
  • ⅓ onions, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, chopped/ground into a paste
  • ¾ teaspoon black pepper, crushed
  • ½ basil, dried
  • ¼ oregano, dried
  • Low-fat cheese per taste 
  • Parsley or coriander for garnish 
  • Salt 
  • 1 tablespoon Saffola Gold Oil 
Preparation:  Mushroom Base: 
  • Rinse and clean mushrooms well. 
  • Chop off the bottom of the stalks and keep aside, along with the mushroom caps. 
  • Slice every stalk into fine little pieces.
Mushroom Stuffing: 
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of Saffola Gold Oil in a pan and let the chopped garlic or garlic paste simmer in it for a few seconds on low flame. 
  • Add chopped onions and saute the mix on a low/medium flame until lightly golden or golden.
  • Next, throw in the finely chopped mushroom stalks. Stir the mix together and saute on a medium flame, until the moisture or water from the mushrooms is completely dried out. 
  • Now, season with crushed black pepper, dried basil, dried oregano, and salt.
  • Mix well and set aside to cool down. 
Combining the Two: 
  • Preheat the oven at 180 degrees celsius for 15 to 20 minutes. 
  • Using a small spoon, stuff each mushroom cap with the mixture and add some cheese.
  • Brush some Saffola Gold Oil on a baking tray and place the mushroom caps on it.
  • Bake at 180 degrees celsius for 15 to 20 minutes, until the mushrooms shrink and water starts to release from them. 
  • Let the cheese melt and allow the mushrooms to turn darker in colour.
  • Serve hot and garnish with parsley or coriander.
Entrée: Sweet Potato Casserole  &nbsp:       Nutrient Metre: Sweet potato contains antioxidants which helps to lower the risk of heart disease. Whereas pecans replace saturated fats with healthier fats and have essential nutrients. Ingredients:
  • 4 cups sweet potato, cubed
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup low-fat milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • ½ cup pecans, chopped
  • Saffola Gold Oil 
Preparation: 
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). 
  • Cover a medium frying pan with water and place the sweet potatoes in it. Cook over medium-high heat until soft, then drain and mash the potatoes.
  • Take a large bowl and mix together the sweet potatoes, white sugar, eggs, salt, butter, milk and vanilla extract until smooth. 
  • In another bowl, mix brown sugar, flour, and butter until the mixture is coarse. Top off with the pecans. 
  • Add this mixture to the sweet potato mixture, and spread in a baking dish.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until the topping is slightly brown.
Dessert: Christmas Fruitcake with Chocolate        Nutrient Metre: Dark chocolate contains flavonoids that help lower risk of heart diseases. Berries and almonds are beneficial to heart health too. Blueberries contain nutrients that can help reduce cardiovascular diseases, whereas  almonds not only add the good omega 3 fatty acids but also help reduce bad cholesterol which is a key risk factor for coronary heart ailments. This makes for a recipe that’s not only a tasty delicacy but is also one of the more heart healthy cake recipes. Ingredients:
  • 200g dark brown soft sugar or Jaggery
  • 100g unsweetend dark chocolate, chopped 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g raisins
  • 250g blueberries
  • 100g dried cranberries
  • 100g dried sour cherries
  • 100g mixed peel
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 3 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 3 eggs, beaten 
  • 1 tbsp Saffola Gold Oil 
Preparation: 
  • In a frying pan, add the Saffola Gold Oil, jaggery, chocolate, vanilla and dried fruits and heat gently until the mixture becomes a smooth sauce.
  • Preheat oven to 150C. 
  • Spread a double layer of baking parchment in a baking tin and cover the outside of the tin with a few layers of newspaper and hold in place with a string.
  • Add the flour, almonds, cocoa and spice together in a bowl. 
  • Beat eggs and mix into the slightly cooled chocolate mixture from the pan, followed by the flour mixture. 
  • Pour out into the baking tin and bake for 1.5 hrs to 1 hr 45 mins. 
  • Keep aside to cool and serve when ready. 
‘Tis the season for indulgent, heart healthy winter recipes and Christmas cheer. Here’s hoping you and your family enjoy a lavish meal together that warms your heart! References:  https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319725#possible-health-benefits  https://www.bmj.com/content/346/bmj.f1378  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21666939/  https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270609#benefits  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0367326X10001358  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11520942/  https://lacanadacarecenter.com/15-health-benefits-of-sweet-potatoes-according-to-science/  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11533266/  https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/dark-chocolate  https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/JAHA.116.005162  https://www.banglajol.info/index.php/BJMB/article/view/13428 https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/05/190530101221.htm  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5946253/  https://www.ajol.info/index.php/tjpr/article/download/149912/139441