What I Cooked This Week

Hi. It’s been a while. Bloggers who explain their long absences annoy me, so I’ll just start writing instead.

It was Valentine’s Day this week, and after 21 years of marriage and a husband who really doesn’t want more things, I decided instead to make a heart healthy Mediterranean inspired dinner. It consisted of this roasted salmon, this marinated lentils and butternut squash, this broccolini, a quick caprese salad (throw in baby tomatoes, mozzarella pearls, fresh basil, and season with olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette. Toss with s+p), and this apple crumble with a bit of Haagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream. I like HD because there are minimal, real ingredients (the vanilla contains only cream, skim milk, egg yolk, sugar, vanilla). Pictured here is everything besides the apple crumble. It took me several hours of cooking on and off to make this. A true labor of love.

My husband’s cholesterol is *high* recently thanks to genetics, and mine isn’t ideal either, so we have been more focused than ever on eating more heart healthy dishes. How can you, a nutritionist who loves to eat healthy, have *high* cholesterol, you might ask. Well first of all, there was a whole pandemic that upended everything. We were not immune to comfort eating (and drinking), high levels of stress, and all the things. Also, sometimes it’s just what happens. You can eat almost all the right things and still have high cholesterol.

One way to address high cholesterol through your diet is to read up on the Mediterranean Diet (when I say “diet” in this sense, it’s a way of eating and not a calorie restriction plan). Full of whole foods, lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains, moderate amounts of lean meats and fish, tons of herbs and spices, and healthy fats like olive oil and avocados, the Med diet is recommended and prescribed by doctors and nutritionists the world over for its heart healthy benefits. And there’s a saying that what’s good for the heart is also good for the brain, so if you have Alzheimer’s or dementia concerns, this diet is also probably a really good one to look into.

There’s a website called Oldways that has tons of free resources, including the Med Diet pyramid. There are also cookbooks galore out there. I just treated myself to this one by America’s Test Kitchen. I can’t wait to start making some recipes this weekend. I like American’s Test Kitchen because they explain to you the “why’s” behind everything.

If you’re looking to make some quick and simple Med inspired meals, you do not need to cook all day. Two nights ago for dinner I whipped up a very quick marinated white bean salad to serve over grilled sourdough. We had a Zoom meeting to attend at dinnertime so it was a pretty minimal meal that we ate in front of the computer. Into two cans of rinsed cannellini beans, I threw in some red wine vinegar and olive oil to taste. Chopped some marinated cherry peppers and threw those in, minced some garlic and parsley, and sprinkled some dried oregano. Seasoned with s+p and called it a day. It was so delicious (although I think five cloves of garlic was probably a bit much 🤣). It took all of 5-10 minutes to make.

This weekend I plan to make a chopped salad with garbanzo beans as well as an asparagus, red bell pepper, and goat cheese salad. Inflation is doing a number on all of our grocery purchases, but because I rarely buy meat I’m able to offset a little bit on cost. I’ll circle back next week with those recipes if they are any good!

Until then…