How to Throw a Heart-Healthy Cocktail Party

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On Thursday, June 14th, I’m delighted to be hosting the Westport Library’s Cookbook Club. The topic will be how to lower cholesterol with diet and exercise and I’ll be demonstrating a heart-healthy side dish/appetizer from my book, The Low Cholesterol Cookbook and Action Plan: 4 Weeks to Cut Cholesterol and Improve Heart Health .

As my husband and I are then hosting a book-launch party immediately following the event, I needed to plan a heart-healthy cocktail party. Clearly, two hors d’oeuvres mainstays—a cheese board and charcuterie platter—are off limits as both are very high in saturated fat.

It took a little time to plan,

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Slow Cooker Coconut Chicken

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Last weekend I made Dana White’s Slow Cooker Coconut Chicken and even my husband—who does not care for any slow cooker recipes—LOVED it. Which is remarkable given the rather large cooking error I made (it cooks for 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high setting—if you accidentally set it 4 hours on low and don’t notice until 3 hours in, you can save it by pouring into a large saute pan and setting it on a medium flame for about 45 minutes!)

Two lo-co adjustments I made:

  • As I do not cook with coconut oil,

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Green Sauce!

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If a healthy, easy-to-make sauce that is delicious on just about everything sounds appealing, you must try the ‘Green Sauce’ created by nutrition expert Dana White. (Dana is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and author with a specialty in culinary nutrition, recipe development and sports nutrition. She is the nutrition expert for Food Network.com and founding contributor for Food Network’s Healthy Eats blog.)

Dana miraculously reverse-engineered my absolutely favorite food item at a local Venezuelan restaurant, and I have now made this three times since she posted THE Green Sauce recipe on her blog, Dana White Nutrition.

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Blistered Shishito Peppers Instead of Cheese and Crackers

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A heart-healthy, delicious hot appetizer, Blistered Shishito Peppers are often on restaurant menus—but did you know they are a cinch to make at home? (And if you’re like me and don’t care for bell peppers, know that shishitos are delightfully different: a mild, ‘sweet’ pepper, their flavor is not at all like bell peppers.)

At your next dinner party (or just for fun on a weeknight—they are that easy) serve blistered Shishitos as an amazingly easy, delicious, and far heart-healthier alternative to high-fat cheese and crackers.

Available at local farmers markets, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s,

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Overnight No-Cook Refrigerator Oatmeal

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Oatmeal is one of the heart-healthiest ways to start your day, but I’ve failed for years to make it my go-to breakfast because even when it’s hot, oatmeal just leaves me cold.

Until now.

Anna Stockwell’s excellent post on epicurious.com’s, How To Make Overnight Oats Without a Recipe (aka in a jar) inspired me to try oatmeal again. Her recipe involved NO cooking, no cleaning, cute mason jars, and she said the healthy chia seeds lend it a tapioca-like texture.

Intriguing.

Especially the chia seeds. First of all, I found it fascinating that they change texture;

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