Heart Healthy Cooking in a Heart Beat 

A healthful eating plan means more than choosing healthy foods. Some ways of cooking are better than others when it comes to cutting cholesterol, fat and calories. At the same time, you want to get as much nutritional value as possible. You don’t have to give up taste or the things you love. Just learn some heart healthy cooking techniques. The following tips are heart healthy ways to cook:

  • Bake, broil, microwave, poach, or roast instead of frying.
  • When you roast meat or make meatloaf, place the meat on a rack so the fat can drip away.
  • Trim fat from meat; remove the skin from poultry.
  • Stir-fry in a Chinese wok with a tiny bit of peanut oil.
  • Use herbs and spices instead of salt.
  • Substitute reduced fat and fat-free products in all kinds of recipes.
  • Cook vegetables by steaming, stir-frying, simmering, or microwaving.
  • Instead of gravy and rich sauces, enhance the flavors of foods with fat-free ingredients such as broth or wine.
  • Skim fat from pan juices, soups, and stews.
  • Use a cholesterol-free liquid egg product in place of whole eggs.
  • Cook with olive, corn, canola, sesame, peanut and sunflower oils.
  • When making casseroles, use fresh, frozen, or dried fruits, raw vegetables and low-fat cheeses.

Heart Healthy Recipes

Using low-fat, low-calorie, low-cholesterol recipes makes it easier to prepare heart-healthy meals. You can modify your favorite recipes or everyday meals to control the amount of fat and cholesterol you eat. It’s a great way to have your cake and eat it too! The American Heart Association (AHA) has several healthy cookbooks with delicious, heart-healthy recipes for your whole family. The recipes are usually simple, quick to prepare and economical. These recipes are reprinted with permission from AHA cookbooks. They are available in bookstores, libraries and online.

Turkey Breast with Cranberry Sage Stuffing

Serves 6; 3 oz. turkey and ¼ C gravy per serving



1 rib celery, diced (about ½ C)
1 leek (white part only) or ½ small onion, diced
½ 6-inch whole-wheat pita, torn into small pieces
½ C dried cranberries
¼ C low sodium chicken broth
1 tsp. rubbed or crumbled sage
1/8  tsp. pepper


1 ½ lb. boneless, skinless turkey breast, all visible fat removed
1 T acceptable vegetable oil
2 C low sodium chicken broth
½ C water
¼ C all-purpose flour

In a medium bowl, combine all stuffing ingredients. Rinse turkey and pat dry with paper towels. Butterfly turkey by cutting it lengthwise down the center, almost in half; don’t cut completely through. Lay out flat and lightly cover with plastic wrap. Using flat side of a meat mallet, pound turkey to flatten slightly.  Place stuffing down middle of turkey. Roll turkey around stuffing and tie at 2-inch intervals with kitchen twine.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil and swirl to coat bottom of pot. Brown turkey for 2 minutes on each side.  Pour 2 C broth over turkey. Bake, covered, for 45 to 50 minutes, or until turkey is no longer pink and internal temperature reaches 170 degrees F. Transfer turkey to a carving board; set aside.  Bring liquid in Dutch oven to a boil over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together water and flour. Whisk into boiling broth mixture and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until gravy is thick and bubbly.  To serve, ladle ¼ C gravy onto each of six plates. Place 1 slice turkey on each serving of gravy.

Nutrient Analysis:
Calories: 233
Protein: 29 g
Carbohydrates: 19 g
Total fat: 4 g
Saturated 1 g
Polyunsaturated: 2 g
Monounsaturated: 1 g
Cholesterol: 74 mg
Sodium: 130 mg
Fiber 2 g

Source: Reprinted with permission from the American Heart Association Meals in Minutes Cookbook, Copyright 2000 by the American Heart Association. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers.

Pineapple Sweet Potatoes

Serves 6


4 medium sweet potatoes, unpeeled (about 1 pound)
Vegetable oil spray
¼ cup unsweetened pineapple juice
2 tablespoons acceptable vegetable oil
1 tablespoon no-sugar-added crushed pineapple, canned in natural juices
Pinch each cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice
1 tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon acceptable margarine


  • Boil potatoes until tender (about 30 minutes). Remove skins and discard.
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly spray a 1-quart baking dish with vegetable oil.
  • Mash pulp. Add fruit juice and oil and whip until fluffy. Add pineapple and spices.
  • Turn into prepared baking dish. Spread molasses over the top, dot with margarine and bake, uncovered, 15 minutes, or until thoroughly heated.

Nutrient Analysis:
Calories: 139 kcal
Protein: 1 gm
Carbohydrates: 22 gm
Total fat: 5 gm
Saturated 1 gm
Polyunsaturated: 3 gm
Monounsaturated: 1 gm
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 16 mg

Source: Reprinted with permission from the American Heart Association Cookbook 5th Edition: New and Revised, Copyright 1991 by the American Heart Association. Published by Times Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House or Canada Limited, Toronto.

Oven-Fried Okra

Serves 6; ½ cup per serving

Canola oil cooking spray
1 20-ounce bag frozen sliced okra, thawed
1 half-teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups yellow corn meal (only 1/2 cup adheres to the okra)

Preheat oven to 475°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray the foil generously with cooking spray. Set aside. Spray the inside of a gallon-sized food storage bag with cooking spray. Add the okra, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the pepper. Close the bag and shake to blend everything well. Let the okra rest for 10 minutes to extract juice from the okra. Add the cornmeal to the bag and shake vigorously to coat the okra. Let the bag sit for 10 minutes; shake it up again. Using a wide mesh strainer or a colander over a large bowl, remove the okra in batches and shake off excess cornmeal into the bowl, discarding the leftover meal.

Place the coated okra on the sheet pan and continue the process until all the okra is on the pan and the pieces are not touching each other. Spray the okra well with cooking spray. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and stir the okra, trying to turn over as many pieces as possible. Lightly spray them again. Return to the oven for another 20 minutes. Remove from oven and lightly spray the pieces again.

Nutrient Analysis:
Calories: 70 kcal
Protein: 3 gm
Carbohydrates: 16 gm
Total fat: .5 gm
Saturated 0 gm
Polyunsaturated: 0 gm
Monounsaturated: 0 gm
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 197 mg
Dietary Exchanges: 1/2 starch, 1 vegetable

Pumpkin Pie

Serves 8


2/3 cup sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
1 ½ cups canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups evaporated skim milk
½ teaspoon grated orange rind
3 egg whites, slightly beaten
¼ cup brandy
1 9-inch pie shell, unbaked


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Add pumpkin and stir to mix well. Add vanilla, evaporated milk, orange rind and egg whites. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Pour in brandy.
Pour into unbaked pie shell and bake 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 degrees F and bake 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the filling comes out clean.

Nutrient Analysis:
Calories: 233 kcal
Protein: 7 gm
Carbohydrates: 37 gm
Total fat: 5 gm
Saturated 1 gm
Polyunsaturated: 3 gm
Monounsaturated: 1 gm
Cholesterol: 2 mg
Sodium: 245 mg
Source: Reprinted with permission from the American Heart Association Cookbook 5th Edition: New and Revised, Copyright 1991 by the American Heart Association. Published by Times Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House or Canada Limited, Toronto.