Should You Go Vegetarian to Support Your Health Goals?
RDs Incorporate Vegetarian Dishes into Cancer Support Community Atlanta Healthy Cooking Demos
According to the American Heart Association, by age 80 over 80 percent of both men and women will have some form of cardiovascular disease. Deaths have declined from heart disease in the past 20 years, but despite advances in treating heart disease, it still takes more lives than any other other illness.
February was Heart Month, so GMM Culinary Dietitian Ashley Ritchie and I decided this would be a great theme for our monthly cooking demos at the Cancer Support Community Atlanta. Since diets high in saturated fat (typically from animals) are linked to high cholesterol and heart disease, we decided to talk about a few interesting ways to incorporate some vegetarian meals.
One such meal is our Green Curry Broccoli, Potato & Tofu Stir Fry. It’s a relatively simple recipe full of health benefits. The delicious flavors incorporated into the dish aside, check out the key nutrition facts about some of the ingredients:
First of all, broccoli is full of folate, potassium, magnesium, vitamin K, vitamin C and fiber. A 3/4 cup of cooked broccoli contains only 40 calories. Diets rich in fiber can lower cholesterol to reduce your risk of heart disease.
This stir fry is also full of turmeric — a spice native to Asia commonly used in curry dishes. It’s active ingredient, curcumin (not related to cumin) is an antioxidant. Turmeric has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects in the body, which could help reduce the risk of heart disease.
Although rich in saturated fat, 1/2 of this fat comes from lauric acid, a compound that the body turns into monolaurin, an antiviral, antibacterial compound. In addition, the saturated fat in coconut milk is mostly in the form of medium-chain fatty acids, which are not broken down by the body the same way that long-chain fatty acids found in animal products are. According to the Coconut Research Center, people with diets high in coconut oil have lower cholesterol levels and lower rates of heart disease, and properties in the coconut oil may actually reduce your risk of heart disease. More research is needed in this area, so as with most foods rich in fat – use in moderation.
Give this recipe a try, and if you find that you just aren’t up to cooking your own vegetarian meals, give our Good Measure Meals™ vegetarian meals a try!
Green Curry Broccoli, Potato & Tofu Stir Fry
4-5 cups of broccoli florets, 1 medium head
1/2 lb fingerling or red potatoes, sliced 1/3 inch thick
Salt for water
3/4 cup green onions, sliced, about 1 bunch
1/2 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
1-2 Serrano chiles, coarsely chopped
3 1/2 tbsp peanut oil
1/2 lb of firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, drained and pressed
1/4 tsp salt
1 15-oz can unsweetened coconut milk
1 bunch of Swiss chard, sliced, stems removed
Bring about 6 cups of salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli and potatoes. Boil until tender, about 7-10 minutes, drain and set aside. Place cilantro, turmeric, chiles, and 1.5 tablespoons of peanut oil in a food chopper or processor; puree, scrapping down the sides until it becomes a smooth paste. Heat the remaining oil over medium heat in a large skillet or wok. Sauté green onion for 1 minute. Add the tofu and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the Swiss chard and sauté until wilted and tender, about 5 minutes. Add the pureed mixture and sauté for several minutes. Add the cooked broccoli and potatoes, season with salt and sauté until heated through. Pour in the coconut milk and stir to combine, bringing to a simmer for about 2 minutes. Serve with brown basmati or jasmine rice.
Contributed by: Bethany Smith, RD, GMM & OH Community Wellness Representative
Bethany, a Registered Dietitian, spent the first part of her career as a diabetes educator. Ultimately, she transitioned to medical oncology, where she spent the past nine years leading a team of dietitians and social workers, and counseling cancer patients on eating well to manage the side effects of cancer therapies during and after treatment. Now, as our Community Wellness Representative, Bethany’s role is to build collaborative partnerships and educate the local medical community on the many benefits of Open Hand and Good Measure Meals™ services.