Improve heart and brain health with basic principles

Summer’s over, which means the health- and diet-busting holidays are right around the corner.

Most of us know by now that diet can affect the health of our hearts and brains, but knowing how to make positive changes may be a little more elusive. To provide some help, about two dozen local chefs will participate in the seventh annual Flavors of the Heart Brain & Heart Healthy Epicurean Event Saturday at the World Market Center.

Kathryn Spada, a clinical dietitian at University Medical Center, said eating to improve heart and brain health comes down to some simple fundamentals.

“In terms of heart health, the main things we really encourage is that people decrease their sodium intake,” Spada said. “Stay away from the salt shaker at the dinner table.”

Lowering your consumption of saturated fats also is important, she said. Saturated fats are solid fats, primarily from animals. Those would include butter and the fat in red meat, which is why lean cuts are encouraged. Vegetable fats, Spada said, tend to have heart-healthy aspects.

It’s also important to stay away from trans fats, which are found in many commercial baked goods, she said — “prepackaged cookies and doughnuts and little fun cakes and things like that.” To avoid them, look for products that are labeled “trans fat free.”

And increasing fiber intake is important, she said, because it carries cholesterol out of the body.

“In terms of brain health, the biggest thing I would encourage is have a lot of fish like salmon that have a lot of Omega-3 fatty acids,” Spada said. “Those tend to be good for brain health and brain function.” She advises 3 to 4 ounces of salmon two to three times as week, or “as often as possible. Even once a week would be beneficial.”


■ What: Flavors of the Heart Brain & Heart Healthy Culinary Expo

■ Who: A benefit for the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association Las Vegas Teens Cook with Heart Program

■ When: 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday

■ Where: World View on 16, Building B, World Market Center, 475 Grand Central Parkway

■ Tickets: $75, with discounts for two or more.

Wondering what to cook?

Here are some recipes from Flavors of the Heart chefs.

Chutney Chicken Salad

Kosher salt and pepper to taste

4 extra-lean bone-in chicken breasts (10 ounces each)

1/3 cup fat-free sour cream

1 tablespoon honey mustard

3 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise

3 tablespoons prepared mango chutney

2 thinly sliced scallions

1/2 cup golden raisins

Season chicken breasts and place in a large skillet with ½ inch water. Simmer, covered, over medium-low heat until chicken is opaque throughout, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove chicken. Shred meat with fingers, discarding skin and bones. Let cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, whisk together sour cream, honey mustard, mayonnaise and chutney. Add chicken, scallions and raisins. Season with salt and pepper.

Serves 8.

Dalton Wilson, DW Bistro

Per serving: 203 calories, 2 g total fat, 0 saturated fat, 0 trans fat, 14 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 11 g sugars, 34 g protein, 199 mg sodium, 94 mg cholesterol.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin And Mediterranean Chickpea-Artichoke Salad

Marinated pork tenderloin:

2 tablespoons chopped sage

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 teaspoon chopped rosemary

1 teaspoon chopped thyme

1/2 teaspoon chopped capers

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

12 ounce pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Chickpea salad:

1 cup cooked chickpeas

1/2 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning

1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh mint

1 tablespoon fresh basil, torn into ½-inch pieces

1 tablespoon small diced red onion

1/4 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced sun-dried tomato

1 tablespoon small diced fresh tomato

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Spicy romesco puree:

1 red bell pepper (6 ounces)

2 cloves roasted garlic

1/8 cup toasted pine nuts

3/4 tablespoon garlic olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper


3 tablespoons chopped parsley

1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano

4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon red chili flakes

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

3/4 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon white vinegar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1/4 teaspoon sugar


1 1/2 cups chickpea salad

3 ounces roasted artichoke hearts

1/4 cup diced cucumber

2 cups baby arugula

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

For marinated pork tenderloin, combine all herbs, capers, garlic and oil. Season the pork with the salt and pepper and then coat with the herb mixture. Cook the pork over a grill until it reaches an internal temperature of 135 degrees. Set aside to allow to rest.

For the chickpea salad, drain the chickpeas in a colander and rinse to remove any starchy liquid. Put into a large bowl and add remaining ingredients. Fold together gently so the peas do not break. Refrigerate until ready to use.

For the spicy romesco puree, roast the pepper on a grill until all sides are charred; place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 10 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove and discard charred skin and all seeds. Place pepper and remaining ingredients in a blender and puree until very smooth.

For chimichurri sauce, combine all ingredients and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

To assemble, place 2 tablespoons of puree down center of each of four plates. Arrange one-fourth of chickpea salad on top of puree. Slice pork into medallions and then cut each medallion in half and place on top of salad. Top with 1 tablespoon chimichurri.

Serves 4.

Bryan Forgione, Buddy V’s Ristorante

Per serving: 360 calories, 15 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 0 trans fat, 23 g carbohydrate, 7 g fiber, 6 g sugars, 25 g protein, 600 mg sodium, 48 mg cholesterol.

Vegan Lasagna

3 large zucchini

Tofu ricotta:

9 ounces firm tofu

1/8 cup apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon garlic salt

3 teaspoons onion powder

1 teaspoon ground pepper

4 teaspoons nutritional yeast

Spinach filling:

4 cups spinach

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

5 ounces olive oil

Romesco sauce:

1 large red bell pepper, deseeded

3 large tomatoes

6 cloves garlic, peeled

1 shallot, peeled

1 cup water

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons dried dill

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/4cup olive oil

Fresh basil

Almond Parm:

1/4cup almonds

2 teaspoons nutritional yeast

Chopped fresh basil for garnish

Cut tips off zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch-thick strips and grill (or put on parchment paper and bake in oven) until soft.

For tofu ricotta, combine all ingredients in mixing bowl and mix until incorporated.

For spinach filling, combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss until well mixed.

For romesco, combine all ingredients in medium saucepan and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes. Place in blender and blend until smooth.

For almond Parm, place almonds and yeast in food processor and chop until coarse.

To prepare, take a strip of zucchini and put 1 teaspoon of the ricotta mixture and 1 pinch of the spinach filling toward the end of the strip. Starting with that end, roll until tight. Repeat six more times and top with romesco sauce.

Sprinkle with almond Parm and chopped basil.

Serves 4.

Vince Upperman, Portion Control

Per serving: 220 calories, 10 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 trans fat, 19 g carbohydrate, 7 g fiber, 9 g sugars, 12 g protein, 445 mg sodium, 0 cholesterol.

Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at or 702-383-0474. Follow @HKRinella on Twitter.

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