When you’re young and healthy, it’s hard to get hung up on taking care of your ticker. But when cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States—and risk factors, like high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, diabetes and obesity, are tied to what you eat—it’s never too early to adopt some heart-healthy eating habits. But that doesn’t mean you need to down a bowl of oatmeal at every meal. We asked Richard Collins, MD, a.k.a. The Cooking Cardiologist to hook us up with some heart-healthy recipes that actually taste good. These four are packed with cardiac-conscious ingredients, like lean meats, antioxidants, healthy fats and low-fat dairy.

> Buffalo Blues Sliders
> Guiltless Potato Chips with No-Cook Walnut Pesto
> Green Tea-Poached Halibut with Blueberry Salsa
> Heart-Healthy Chocolate Almond Truffles

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BUFFALO BLUES SLIDERS

A Note from The Cooking Cardiologist: Buffalo or bison is relatively lean and rich in omega-3 fats, as the meat is traditionally grass-fed. Worth noting: Leaner meat requires moisture or else the outside will char and the inside will be raw. The secret is to keep the grill hydrated. Using a marinade brush, coat the grill’s surface with organic vegetable broth.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds choice lean ground buffalo
  • 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup organic vegetable broth
  • 4 oz. of Maytag blue cheese
  • 10 toasted whole-wheat mini slider buns

Instructions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground buffalo, Worcestershire sauce, pepper and salt. Form 10 mini burger patties.
  2. Prepare an open grill for moderate direct-heat grilling. Grill the patties over medium-hot coals, keeping the patties moist with the organic spray bottle of vegetable broth. Cook to 160 degrees F.
  3. On each buffalo patty, place blue cheese, divided equally over the 10 patties. During the last minute of grilling, close the lid on the grill. Allow cheese to melt for approximately one minute.
  4. Place the opened burger buns on the grill and toast until warm and browned. Place patties on the toasted buns.

Serves: 10
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GUILTLESS POTATO CHIPS

A Note from The Cooking Cardiologist: Fried potato chips have a whopping 150 calories per ounce, while the potato chips in this recipe have only 30 calories per ounce.

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 medium russet potatoes, unpeeled
  • Sea salt or dried herbs

Instructions:

  1. Wash and thinly slice each potato. A mandoline slicer works best for paper-thin slices. If you don’t have one, you can easily get the same effect by using a sharp knife.
  2. Clean the glass turntable plate in your microwave and lightly spray it with non-fat cooking spray. Place the sliced potatoes in a single layer directly onto the glass microwave plate and season with a bit of sea salt or dried herbs such as rosemary or chives.
  3. Microwave on high for 4 to 6 minutes, but watch them closely as microwaves differ. The chips should be lightly golden brown. Cool and serve.

Serves: 5

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NO-COOK WALNUT PESTO

A Note from The Cooking Cardiologist: Walnuts are rich in protein and omega-3 fats. This is a quick and easy dip or sauce to make for an appetizer or to accompany pasta.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup toasted walnuts
  • 2 tbsp. walnut oil
  • 2 tbsp. Smart Balance Butter and Canola Blend or Benecol
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • ½ cup Italian parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup parmesan-reggiano cheese, grated

Instructions:

  1. Place walnuts in dry sauté pan and toast for approximately 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Cool and coarsely chop.
  3. Combine with walnut oil, margarine, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper and parmesan.
  4. Serve with pasta or as a dip.

Serves: 4
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GREEN TEA-POACHED HALIBUT WITH BLUEBERRY SALSA

A Note from The Cooking Cardiologist: This recipe is loaded with antioxidants, thanks to the heart-healthy compounds found in green tea and blueberries.

Ingredients:

For the fish:

  • 6 cups prepared green tea (use 1 tea bag per 2 cups of water)
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • ½ tsp. fresh ginger root, grated
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 4 4-oz. fresh halibut fillets

For the blueberry salsa:

  • ½ cup pomegranate/blueberry juice
  • 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries, washed and sorted
  • 2 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • Fresh blueberries for garnish

Salsa Instructions:

  1. Heat a medium non-stick skillet with the pomegranate or blueberry juice, balsamic vinegar and sugar. Simmer until thickened, approximately 10 minutes.
  2. Add the blueberries, jalapenos, red onion, garlic and red pepper.
  3. Simmer until onions are softened, approximately 5-7 minutes. Set aside.

Fish Instructions:

  1. Prepare the green tea as directed above. The tea should be brewed to a weak consistency, as the green tea flavors will concentrate while poaching.
  2. In a medium skillet with 2-inch sides or a saucepan, add the tea, peppercorns, ginger and green onions. Bring to a boil.
  3. Add the halibut to the boiling tea bath with a slotted spatula. Each halibut fillet should be fully immersed in poaching liquid.
  4. Bring to a boil and remove from heat and cover. Allow the halibut to poach slowly, off the heat, for approximately 10 minutes.
  5. Carefully remove the halibut with a slotted spatula and place on a serving plate.
  6. Top the fish with blueberry salsa and garnish with fresh blueberries.

Serves: 4

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HEART-HEALTHY CHOCOLATE ALMOND TRUFFLES

A Note from The Cooking Cardiologist: Dark chocolate’s antioxidant properties make this a heart-healthy treat. This recipe also uses agave syrup, which is about 90 percent fructose. Its sweeter than sugar, so you can use approximately 25 percent less.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup fat-free half-and-half
  • 10 oz. bittersweet chocolate (at least 70% cacao)
  • 2 tbsp. Smart Balance Butter and Canola Blend or Benecol
  • ½ cup agave nectar
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • ½ cup crushed toasted almonds
  • Optional: ½ cup shredded coconut to coat the truffle

Instructions:

  1. Place the half-and-half in a heavy saucepan at low heat.
  2. Break the chocolate into pieces and add to the half-and-half. Add the agave nectar, vanilla and Smart Balance. Continue heating until the chocolate is melted, smooth and thickened.
  3. Place the mixture into an 8-inch square pan and chill in the refrigerator for about an hour to firm.
  4. Toast the almonds and coarse crush in a food processor, short pulses (1 cup will equal ½ cup of crushed, chopped almonds).
  5. When the chocolate is firm, remove from refrigerator and using a teaspoon form a ½ inch to ¾ inch ball. Roll each in the almonds and the other side in coconut if desired.

Makes: 40 (serving size = one ½” truffle, 68 calories)

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