It's no secret that Washington isn't good for the heart. Stress and bad diet have hurt many an official heart, notably Vice President Dick Cheney and former President Bill Clinton. "If I just look at C-SPAN I think, 'Oh, my goodness,' " says Susan Levin, the staff dietitian for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. To help, she and her group staged a diet and cooking demonstration on Capitol Hill this week to show staffers how easy it is to eat healthfully. Choose a diet high in fiber and low in fat, she says. "It's the opposite of the average American diet," she told our Nikki Schwab. Levin would have Cheney consume about 40 grams of fiber a day and stuff the veep full of veggies, fruits, legumes, and whole grains. "When we say the 'anti-Dick Cheney diet,' you have to remember Bill Clinton with his bypass, too," Levin says.
To raise awareness on the Hill of preventing heart disease, Levin and her cohorts from PCRM showed about 40 staffers some quick, easy, and healthful recipes yesterday as part of the "In the Kitchen on the Hill" cooking class. However, there was apparently some resistance, perhaps accidental, to the healthful treats. The group's rental car, carrying all of the ingredients, was held up for an hour after several of the U.S. Capitol Police's canines whiffed something suspicious in the car. Once all clear, Levin and PCRM certified health counselor Jill Eckart whipped together a few recipes for the crowd to try. "I think the Capitol Police may have confiscated our measuring cups," said Eckart.
So which members of Congress could stand to trim their belt? "Who couldn't?" Levin says. "Fifty percent of adults die of heart disease." Ouch. Here are some of their recipes:
Chocolate Cherry Nirvana Smoothie
2 cups of frozen cherries
1½ cups of chocolate rice or soy milk
Put all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth consistency
1 cup drained and rinsed canned green peas, or 1 cup fresh or
frozen green peas
1 ripe avocado, peeled
½ cup mild salsa
1 garlic clove, finely chopped, or 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 green onion, chopped (optional)
juice of 1 lemon
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
Salt and black pepper, to taste
If using fresh or frozen peas, blanch peas in boiling water for two minutes, then cool with cold water and drain. Cut avocado into large chunks. Mash avocado and peas together using a potato masher or fork, or, if a very creamy texture is desired, a food processor. Mix in salsa, garlic, green onion (if using), lemon juice, cumin, and cilantro (if using). Add salt and black pepper to taste.
Makes 2½ cups (10 ¼-cup servings)
Black Bean Dip
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup salsa
½ teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
Combine beans and salsa in a food processor or blender, and process until smooth. Add cumin, if using.
Makes 6 servings
4-Day 4-Way Beans and Rice
2 cups of brown rice, cooked
15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
15-ounce can corn, drained and rinsed
1 tomato, chopped
1 onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
Heat 2 tablespoons of water or vegetable broth in a medium-size skillet. Add diced onion and green pepper, and sauté until onion is translucent. Add chili powder, corn, and black beans until heated through. Combine bean and corn mixture to the warm rice; top with fresh tomato and cilantro.
Moroccan Chickpea Salad
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 cup pitted dates, diced
2 carrots, diced or shredded
¼ cup black olives
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon agave nectar
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
Combine the chickpeas with the dates, carrots, and olives. Whisk together the dressing ingredients, and pour over the salad. Mix well.
Recipe by Chef Robyn Webb of Pinch of Thyme in Alexandria , V a.