Heart-healthy recipes with restrictions
April 16, 2013 5:46 PM   Subscribe

I need recipe ideas with the following restrictions: No sodium, fat, dairy, or soy, and easy on the sugar.

My friend's husband had a massive heart attack last week. Thanks to the miracles of modern medicine, he survived and is at home now. Problem is, his poor wife has no idea what to cook for him. No dairy, no fat, no sodium, no soy, light on the sugar. Can you give her some recipe ideas to get them through these first few weeks? He's from Mexico so bonus points if it would be comforting Mexican food, although at this point I think she's willing to entertain any cuisine.
posted by IndigoRain to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I make a meal of roasted cauliflower all the time. It is soooooo good. I'm sure it would be awesome with Mexican spices.

Really though, beans, rice, lean meat, veggies, tortillas... It seems like lots of Mexican recipes would fill the bill. Just use spice instead of salt, and hold the cheese.
posted by Balonious Assault at 5:57 PM on April 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

Tasty salsa made with fresh veggies and garlic should be flavorful and loaded with great nutrients.

I do a wonderful chile relleno, it can be modified:

Chicken stewed with tomato sauce, chicken broth (salt-free) and chili powder
Roasted fresh Poblano Peppers with the charred skins rubbed off, opened to be filled
Brown rice
Fresh salsa

Enchilada sauce made with chicken broth,tomato sauce (a bit, I don't use any,) chili powder, a splash of vinegar, thickened with Wondra.

Mix the rice and chicken with the salsa, stuff into the peppers.

Separate the eggs and whip the egg whites nearly into merengue. Beat the yolks and gently fold into the merengue.

Use a non-stick pan. Scoop the egg into the pan. Gently set the stuffed pepper into the egg pillow. Cover with more egg. Cook until the egg is browned. Flip and cook (I usually do it in threes, you might need to do it in fours) Cover with enchilada sauce. Serve with fat-free beans.

It's a real magillah to make, but it's a labor of love.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:32 PM on April 16, 2013

If he likes beans, they will fit into his new diet well. But they will need to be dried beans cooked from scratch, because tinned beans have lots of sodium. Personally, I think black beans have the nicest flavour of all beans when unsalted. Here are a couple of recipes that either have no salt or can easily have the salt/fat omitted, by using dried beans instead of tinned, using no-sodium broth or water, substituting Mrs. Dash for salt.

Southwestern Black Bean Burgers
Black Bean Puree with Cilantro (Black Bean Puree is nice over rice or in tortillas.)
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 7:22 PM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Lentil soup
Oatmeal with lots of fruit & nut toppings
posted by honey badger at 7:45 PM on April 16, 2013

We like Fiesta Lime Quinoa at our house. Minus the salt, replace rice with quinoa. We also add avocado sometimes, but even this "good" fat is probably no go for your friend.

We also make our own corn tortilla chips from small yellow corn tortillas (commonly no fat):
Preheat oven to 425
Cut several tortillas into quarters
Arrange in single layer on cookie sheet
Cook for apx 4 minutes, but watch obsessively and remove as soon as they start to crisp. Burnt ones are gross.

Sweet Potato Fries are also great. You can omit the oil from this recipe and it still works if you use parchement paper to line your cookie sheet. These are good with cumin or chili powder.

Some encouragement can be found for your friend in the fact that his food preferences align with one of the best no-fat, high-protein, high-fiber foods: beans. Cooking without oil can be a challenge, but he can still sauté (onions, peppers for fajitas) if he attends closely to the pan and uses small amounts of water or broth to prevent burning or sticking. It is great that you are helping your friend; this kind of habit change is extremely hard to do by one's self, especially if it feels like deprivation, especially if he's the only one at home to make this change. I have some experience with this change in eating habit; feel free to MeMail me if you want anecdata and other suggestions that might help him.
posted by smuna at 8:20 PM on April 16, 2013

Check Amazon for a lot of Heart Healthy cook books.
posted by Cranberry at 11:11 PM on April 16, 2013

I would suggest buying a juicer, preferably a good quality macerating juicer although you can do this with a cheaper rotary style one too. Macerating juicers are better for juicing green leaves though.

It is early days on research into the effects of beetroot juice on heart health, and the results are not as sensational as vested interests or the media make out. But a mixed high iron green vegetable/cucumber/apple/beetroot juice is a fantastic, low fat, healthy way to start the morning.

There are lots of juice "recipe" books out there but really half the fun is trying stuff out yourself. Grapefruits are probably out because of how they react with medicines your friend's husband will be on, and your friend would want to go easy on high sugar fruits like apples and melons. But I thoroughly recommend fresh juice made with available fresh fruit and green vegetables each morning as the main component of his breakfast.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:39 AM on April 17, 2013

This sweet potato pinto bean dish is quite good and, unlike with a lot of Mexican dishes, you don't miss the cheese or sour cream. It definitely needs more spice (I added cinnamon, cumin, cayenne once. Another time I threw in some chipotles), but it's quite good.
posted by crush-onastick at 6:42 AM on April 17, 2013

You can make stir-fry without soy sauce. Fajitas are virtually the same, just with different spices.
posted by vignettist at 7:47 AM on April 17, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! Keep them coming if you have more!
posted by IndigoRain at 11:28 AM on April 17, 2013

Here are a few others that reliably appear on our menu. I omit oils and any dairy. Salt is usually per taste and can be eliminated or reduced. Most vegan recipes can be modified to meet your friend's requirements, but try to avoid the faux dairy products and meat substitutes since the oil and sodium percentages are usually kind of high.
Baked Lentil BBQ
Curried Lentils and Sweet Potato
Vegan Chilaquiles and Pepitas
Best Vegan Chili
(J Kenji Lopez-Alt's entire vegan experience is a great resource as well)
Barley White Bean Spinach Stew is great to make on Monday and eat all week.

When I made this change, I started with the Engine 2 recipes and the Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease recipes. The authors are son and father, so you might see some overlap. Both should be readily available at libraries, and many recipes are already online.
posted by smuna at 5:49 PM on April 17, 2013

One trick for making "creamy" soups without fat or dairy is to use a potato base. I did this all the time when I was vegan, and it was surprising how tasty and creamy the soups turned out.


Vegan "cream" of broccoli soup--omit olive oil and use no-sodium broth.

Your friend can get more mileage out of this recipe by using the potato base with a variety of vegetables, not just broccoli. Mushrooms are particularly tasty and help add back some of the umami you'd lose by omitting salt. Frozen peas work well, especially when spiced with nutmeg and ginger (sounds odd but is good, I swear).

I just remembered a tip for boosting flavour when you have to omit salt: Laurie Colwin, the food writer, had to cut salt out of her diet for health reasons (heart, I believe, also). She was very sad as she was a self-confessed salt fiend. One of the tricks she learned was to replace salt in recipes with lemon juice (use half as much lemon juice as salt required).
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 6:06 PM on April 17, 2013

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