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Heart Healthy Meals: DASH Eating and White Chili Recipe

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Here's a challenge: Can you name two foods you should not eat? So often, health stories focus more on foods to avoid, and that can leave you with a heavy heart. February is American Heart Month, so let’s focus on foods that are great to eat for your heart and your health. As a registered dietitian and mom, I'm going to share with you how to make meals that taste great and focus on the positive.

DASH Eating

U.S. News & World Report recently rated the DASH eating pattern the healthiest eating plan in America. Balanced meals that follow DASH principals help parents and children develop an affinity for foods rich in nutrients.

DASH meals are:

  • Plentiful in fruits and vegetables.
  • Filled with low-fat and fat-free milk for kids and adults.
  • High in fiber.
  • Lower in salt.

I like to think of DASH as:

  • Don’t skimp on fruits and vegetables.
  • Allow for three servings of low-fat or fat-free milk every day if you're over eight years old.
  • Skip highly processed foods. Most dietary sodium comes from foods that do not taste salty like bread.
  • High in fiber. Aim for at least three servings of whole grains each day.

Many people try to cut out foods to lower their sodium intake. Instead, including foods that are rich in potassium, a powerful nutrient that the DASH diet encourages, is more beneficial than merely reducing the salt in your diet. Potassium-rich foods include milk and yogurt, vegetables, (think baked potato rather than fried) and fruits like bananas. Adding potassium-rich foods is a much better-tasting way to good health than switching to a low sodium diet.

Add a DASH of flavor and heart health to your family’s menu this month with White Chili. This recipe is an excellent source of fiber and is a good source of calcium; both are important for heart health. You can find more heart-healthy recipes in the DASH cookbook on MealsMatter.org.

White Chili Recipe

Try this tasty, "lightened up" version of traditional chili that's made with milk, chicken and hominy. It's thickened with corn tortillas, which also contribute a rich corn flavor.

Servings: 8 servings; Preparation time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 6 Corn tortillas
  • 1 tbsp Olive or canola oil
  • 3/4 lb Boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
  •  Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 Small red bell peppers, seeded and diced
  • 1 Large onion, chopped
  • 1 4-oz Can chopped green chilies, drained
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp Chili powder
  • 1 tsp Ground cumin
  • 1 tsp Dried oregano
  • 1 14-oz Can reduced-sodium chicken broth, defatted
  • 2 cup Fat free skim or 1% low-fat milk
  • 2 15-oz Cans white hominy, drained and rinsed OR white beans
  •  Lime wedges for garnish
  • 1/2 cup Chopped fresh cilantro

Preparation:

  1. Place a tortilla directly on stove top burner (gas or electric), set at medium-low, and toast, turning frequently with tongs, until light golden and fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat with 3 more tortillas. Cut toasted tortillas into 1-inch-wide strips and set aside.
  2. Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a deep sauté pan or Dutch oven, heat 1/2 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  3. Add remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil to the pan. Add bell peppers and onion; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add chopped green chilies, garlic, chili powder, cumin, and oregano; cook stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add broth and milk to the pan and bring to a simmer, stirring. Stir in hominy, toasted tortilla strips and browned chicken.
  4. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through and sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, toast remaining 2 tortillas as directed in step 1 for garnish.
  5. Stir in 1/4 cup of the cilantro into chili. Taste and adjust seasonings. Ladle the chili into bowls and garnish with remaining chopped cilantro, lime wedges if desired. Serve immediately.

Nutrition:

240 calories; 4 g fat; 0.5 saturated fat; 25 mg cholesterol; 16 g protein; 34 g carbohydrates; 5 g fiber; 460 mg sodium; 105 mg calcium.

What is your favorite heart healthy recipe?

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Trina Robertson, MS, RD is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition. As a HealthyEating.org Mom she shares her positive approach to healthy eating with the goal of inspiring others to prepare and enjoy foods from each of the food groups. As a Project Manager with the Dairy Council of California, Trina develops, evaluates, and promotes nutrition education materials for students and adults. At home she enjoys cooking and sharing meals with her family. Her most rewarding accomplishment is that her boys are good eaters and are learning to cook. Follow Trina on Twitter @TrinaR_RD and find more Healthy Eating ideas on Facebook.

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Meals Matter Mom Trina Robertson is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in sports nutrition. As a Project Manager with the Dairy Council of California, Trina develops, evaluates and promotes nutrition education materials for students and adults. Trina Robertson, MS, RD is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition. As a HealthyEating.org Mom she shares her positive approach to healthy eating with the goal of inspiring others to prepare and enjoy foods from all the food groups. As a Project Manager with the Dairy Council of California, Trina develops, evaluates and promotes nutrition education materials for students and adults. At home she enjoys cooking and sharing meals with her family. Her most rewarding accomplishment is that her boys are good eaters and are learning to cook. Follow Trina on Twitter @TrinaR_RD and find more Healthy Eating ideas on Facebook and Pinterest.

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