Eating heart healthy

Life doesn’t have to be a choice between eating to live and living to eat. There are lots of delicious ways to cook meals that are healthy for you too. With little effort, you can make much healthier meals from scratch.

Open your pocketbook in the produce store, at the Farmers’ Market or in the produce section of your supermarket instead of buying the more expensive and less healthy prepared, processed, canned or frozen foods.

Try reducing the quantity of bread and buns in your daily diet, and buy only whole grains rather than white, and right away, you’ve made another healthy change in how you eat by reducing the empty calories you take in.

All our best chefs are convinced of the importance of eating fresh foods, made from scratch, and we now just have to convince them to reduce the fats and salt in what they create—or we can choose to eat such creations only occasionally.

Incidentally the country’s best chefs will be meeting here in Kelowna Feb. 18 and 19 for the Gold Medal Plates’ Canadian Culinary Championships. It’s a fund-raising event for the Canadian Olympic Foundation, to support our athletes’ training.

Events will begin on Thursday for the chefs when they receive a mystery bottle of wine to create a dish that pairs perfectly with it for Friday night’s mystery wine pairing competition at the Hotel Eldorado.

Saturday is the black box competition at Okanagan College in the morning, and the Grande Finale competition in the evening at the Delta Grand Okanagan, concluding with Canada’s best chef being named.

For details, go to www.goldmedalplates.com or call 1-877-255-0707.

Incidentally, you should pick up one of the yummy-looking18-month food calendars featuring several local young chefs’ creations. This is a project coordinated by chef Jon Garratt of the Delta Grand, who is on the Canadian Culinary Federation board, to raise money for the hungry in South Africa. They’re gorgeous and available at Codfathers, Chefs’ Edge, Canadian Restaurant Supply or online at: www.shopccfcc.ca

Giving the gift of a cooking course might make a good gift for the love of your life and Sandrine is offering French pastry classes at Sandrine’s French Pastry on Dilworth Drive. Go to the website for details at: www.Sandrinepastry.com

If you’ve enjoyed this food column over the years, you may also enjoy my upcoming book called Jude’s Kitchen. To reserve your copy, go to: www.judiesteeves.com

Burgers with Peppercorn Sauce

This is a delicious recipe from the B.C. Heart and Stroke Foundation, who remind us that it’s heart month, as well as being the month in which we celebrate affairs of the heart with Valentine’s Day. This dish then, serves two purposes: provides a heart-healthy special meal for your favourite valentine. These peppy and peppery burger patties drizzled with a shallot-yogurt sauce turn the ordinary into extraordinary.

1 lb. (500 g) extra-lean ground beef

2 tsp. (10 ml) peppercorns

1 tsp. (5 ml) olive oil

1 tbsp. (15 ml) shallots

1 tbsp. (15 ml) red wine vinegar

1 tsp. (5 ml) flour

1/4 c. (60 ml) low-fat plain yogurt

1 tbsp. (15 ml) fresh parsley

Divide meat into four and shape into hamburger patties. I made mine heart-shaped for Valentine’s day. Finely chop the shallots and the parsley and set both aside.

Put peppercorns on wax paper, foil or a plastic bag and use the bottom of a heavy pan or the side of a cleaver to crack them coarsely. Spread them out and press the patties into them, turning them over to imbed pepper into both sides.

In a non-stick frypan, heat oil over high heat. Add patties and cook for two or three minutes or until browned. Turn over and cook for a minute or two longer, or until no longer pink inside, reducing the heat slightly to avoid burning.

Transfer to a plate and keep warm.

Pour off any fat that has accumulated and reduce the heat to medium. Add the shallots and cook for a minute. Add vinegar and cook for another minute, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

Remove from the heat. Mix the flour with the yogurt and stir it into the shallot mixture in the frypan, mixing well.

Stir in fresh parsley and spoon the sauce over the patties.

Serves 4.

Bulgur Pilaf

Since bulgur is a whole grain that contains no cholesterol and is high in fibre, it’s a good choice in a heart-healthy diet and it’s simple and quick to make. Add a few vegetables and it’s a side dish that’s full of colour and nutrition too.

1 c. (250 ml) bulgur

1 1/2 c. (375 ml) chicken stock

1 tsp. (5 ml) dried thyme

1 tsp. (5 ml) rosemary

1/2 tsp. (2 ml) black pepper

1 onion

1 c. (250 ml) chopped mushrooms

1 c. (250 ml) beans or asparagus

1/2 c. (125 ml) minced carrots

1 minced garlic clove

1/4 c. (60 ml) fresh parsley

Combine bulgur and chicken stock, thyme, rosemary and pepper in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover with a lid and let cook for about 15 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed.

Meanwhile, dice the onion and mushrooms; cut the beans or asparagus into one-inch pieces and cut the carrots into small dice.

Drizzle a little oil in a frypan and cook the vegetables over medium heat until softened, stirring occasionally. Add minced garlic near the end.

Combine the bulgur and vegetables and toss together lightly, adding the minced fresh parsley at the end.

Serves 4-6.

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