There are some serious nutrition trends out there. Here’s one that I can wholeheartedly embrace… no pun intended… Heart Healthy Eating.
Let’s do this.
Let’s get on the bandwagon.
Let’s treat out hearts well.
And, at the same time, let’s feed ourselves and our loved ones a delicious dinner.
You in? I am.
Let’s start with some soup. A creamy, dreamy, super simple butternut squash soup.
The squash is halved, seeds scooped out (and saved for another time – they will be seasoned and roasted), drizzled with olive oil, and roasted.
The sweet roasted flesh is scooped out. We will need about 3-4 cups for our soup.
This is a simple recipe. You won’t be stuck in the kitchen all day. Squash is the main ingredient, and it’s accented by honey, thyme, coconut milk, and some spices.
Trust me. This is a good one.
After the soup comes together on the stove for a few minutes, lemon juice is added. It brightens the soup and gives it a bit of a tang… just a bit.
The soup is puréed with a hand blender (or your favorite countertop blender – be sure to remove the plug in the lid and cover with a clean tea towel). It’s the smoothest, creamiest soup I think I’ve ever made.
I’m ready for seconds.
This soup is so wonderfully good for you. Why?
Let’s look at the color. We’re told to eat a rainbow of colors (um, we’re talking fruits and veggies though, sorry Froot Loops, you are not included here). I’ve read that these colorful fruits and veggies are not just pretty, they contain bioflavonoids that are shown to “have anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, antiviral, and anti-cancer properties” (4).
This bright orange vegetable is suuuuper high in vitamin A, it’s a great source of vitamin C, and a good source of folic acid, magnesium, potassium, vitamins B6 and E.
For the heart, it’s got Omega-3 fatty acids, (the heart relies on fatty acids for fuel – two that are essential are omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (4)) it’s very low in fat, and has no cholesterol. (1) (2) (3) It’s a good source of dietary fiber. Diets that are low in fat (especially saturated fats) and high in fiber are a great way to lower cholesterol, which in turn can improve your heart’s health. (4)
Niacin, also found in butternut squash, can help lower LDL cholesterol (the bad one) and raise HDL cholesterol (the good one – it “is a fat that campaigns for free-flowing blood, and never sticks around to cause trouble in the arteries” (4)). Niacin can also help lower “fibrinogen, a blood protein that causes clot formation”. (4)
I’ve mentioned cholesterol quite a bit. Should we talk about why it’s bad? Easy, it’s a killer. It can lead to heart disease, or coronary artery disease. Let’s get off that road and on to a road to good heart health.
For your heart healthy Valentine’s Day dinner (or any dinner, really), I’ve come up with a four course menu that’s full of delicious goodness.
Vegan Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Warm Arugula and Orange Salad
Oven Roasted Chicken
Chard Wraps with Quinoa and Walnuts
Honey Roasted Carrots
Ginger Squash Cake with White Chocolate Frosting
Happy Heart Healthy Eating!
Vegan Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Recipe Type: Healthy, Dinners, Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Starters, Soups, Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Easy Meals
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 75 mins
Total time: 1 hour 35 mins
A heart healthy and delicious soup. Perfect to start a meal or to star as the main dish.
- 4 small butternut squash (about 3-4 C when cooked), halved, seeds removed
- 2 t olive oil
- 1/8 t allspice
- pinch cayenne
- pinch nutmeg
- 1/2 t dried thyme, crumbled (or 1/2 T fresh thyme, chopped)
- 1 T honey
- to taste, salt
- 1 to 1 1/2 C coconut milk
- 2 C water (or more if desired)
- 1 T lemon juice
- olive oil, for serving
- Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
- Drizzle the cut side of the squash with olive oil. Place oil side down on a baking sheet. Bake at 350F for 45-60 minutes, or until flesh pierces easily with a fork.
- Scoop flesh out of skin and place in a soup pot. Add seasonings, honey, coconut milk, and water. Cover and bring to a boil. Uncover, and reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat. Add lemon juice. Blend to desired consistency (with a hand blender or a countertop blender). Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Serve with a drizzle of good olive oil.
(1) Nutrition Almanac, Mc Graw-Hill 2001, Fifth Edition, Lavon J. Dunne
(3) Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture
(4) Nature’s Medicines, Rodale Inc. 1999, Gale Maleskey