Did you notice that there’s beef on the cover of my heart-healthy cookbook? 🤔 Here’s how that came to be…
While we wanted the recipes to feature plant-based foods like veggies, whole grains, and legumes, we wanted this to be a book for everyone with heart concerns. Not just people who like tofu and salmon, but meat-loving folks too.
So we aimed for at least ten meat-based entrees, and if you know me, you know that’s not my forte. I rarely eat meat and I almost never cook it.
My sister Tracy and cousin Tara, meat lovers and serious cooks, stepped up to help. Near the end, when I told Tara I was struggling to come up with a tenth recipe, she texted back, “just cook a damn steak and lay it on greens.”
That got the wheels turning. I had learned about the “seven Alberta signature foods” from Karen Anderson on one of her Alberta Food Tours Inc. tours. Beef was one, of course. Could we use more of them and make an Alberta-themed salad?
I rounded the salad out with chickpeas (Alberta is one of the world’s leading growers of pulses), cucumbers, beets, and mustard (in the dressing). According to Karen, Alberta and Saskatchewan grow 80% of the world’s mustard!
And voila, the “Alberta Steak Salad with Roasted Baby Potatoes” was born. (And thank you to dietitian friend Kristyn Hall who patiently taught me how to properly cook the beef!)
Imagine my surprise when the publisher told me they’d like to feature it on the cover. At first I hesitated — beef on a heart-healthy cookbook? But then I realized it would be a signal that you don’t have to give up your favourite foods in your effort to improve your cardiovascular health.
You might want to shift the emphasis, and you’ll see that in the meat recipes – the meat portions are relatively small and accompanied by plant-based protein sources like black beans and cashews as well as vegetables.
And you might not want to have meat every day, which is why there are 20 vegetarian and vegan entrees, 14 fish/seafood, and 12 using poultry.
But “all or nothing” thinking tends to be short-lived, so I tend to promote an “all foods fit” approach to eating. Besides beef you’ll find a bit of cheese, soy sauce (reduced-sodium), chocolate and even salt in there with all of the vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts, etc.
Instead of thinking of particular foods as “healthy” or “unhealthy,” (and definitely not good or bad), it’s your overall pattern of eating and your overall lifestyle in general that shapes your cardiovascular health, year after year (in addition to the many factors beyond our control).
Heart health is for life, right?