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Improve your health with 'The Spectrum'


Last updated 2/28/2008 at Noon

February is National Heart Month and the good news is that what you eat may save you from dying from the top three American killers: heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

And, eating well is probably the most pleasant, least expensive way to improve your health. Maybe now is the time to make some changes.

Were it not for personal experience, I’d be skeptical about the statements on the cover of Dr. Dean Ornish’s new book, “The Spectrum: A Scientifically Proven Program to Feel Better, Live Longer, Lose Weight, and Gain Health” (publisher: Ballantine Books).

It features recipes by Art Smith, Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef. After all, who wouldn’t want to feel better, live longer, gain health…and most want to lose weight, yes?

However, Dr. Ornish and I, as it is said, have history.

Thirteen years ago Dr. Treister, my husband’s cardiologist, recommended Dr. Ornish’s books as a lifestyle choice that might prevent further medical problems. The other predictable choice at that time was surgery…with no guarantees.

Soon after adopting the Ornish diet and lifestyle choices, I was fortunate enough to be a part of Ornish’s program as the teaching chef at the La Jolla facility.

Did it work? Bob’s cholesterol went from 239 to 170 in two months and down to 145 five months later. He also shed 20 pounds without extra exercising.

Today, it’s truth time: we had strayed from the path and needed to return.

My husband saw “Spectrum” bought it and read it. Then, he said, “Everyone needs to read this book!” I agree.

I’d go farther: read, and do, what it says if you want a “scientifically proven program” to be healthier.

Wisely, Dr. Ornish leaves the cooking to Smith, the recipient of the 2007 James Beard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year Award and The New York Times bestselling author of “Back to the Family” and “Kitchen Life.”

The recipes are simple and straightforward and cover menu needs from snacks through dessert.

Smith also provides explanations of kitchen tools, cooking lessons, shopping, healthful ingredients and a seasonality guide, plus pantry and kitchen equipment sources.


Most research demonstrates the value of eating a satisfying breakfast. This scramble is fast, tasty, colorful and healthy.

1-2-3 Tasty Morning Scramble

1 handful baby spinach

2 egg whites, beaten, or ¼-cup egg substitute

1 sprinkle granulated garlic

Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

¼-cup chopped tomato

Spray a nonstick pan with nonstick cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add the spinach. After the spinach begins to wilt, add the egg whites, garlic, salt and pepper. Continue stirring the egg until it is cooked. Top with the tomato. Serves 1.


Winter veggies teamed with pasta….a colorful main dish that’s good for you, too!

Whole Wheat Penne with Roasted Vegetables

2 cups coarsely chopped roasted vegetables (zucchini, red bell pepper, broccoli and tomatoes)

1 lb. whole wheat penne pasta

½ cup vegetable broth

2 tbsp. minced garlic

1 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)

2 tbsp. chopped parsley

2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil, mint or oregano

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place vegetables on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray and roast them for 20 minutes.

Salt a large pot of water (1 tablespoon salt) and bring it to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until it is al dente.

Place the broth, garlic and red pepper flakes, if using, in a large sauté pan. Cook over medium heat for a few minutes. Do not let the garlic get brown. Add the roasted vegetables and turn the heat down to low.

Drain the pasta (reserving ½ cup of the pasta water) after it is cooked, then place it back in the pot with the reserved water. Add the vegetable mixture and the herbs.

Season with salt and pepper. Serves 4-6.


Quinoa is considered a “super food.” It has all eight amino acids and the highest protein grain.

Quick Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

2 cups quinoa

4 cups water or low-sodium vegetable broth

½ tbsp. granulated garlic


¼-cup sun-dried tomatoes (not in oil)

1/3-cup lemon juice

2 tbsp. capers

1 cup shredded minced zucchini

1 cup celery stalk, minced

1 cup minced flat-leaf parsley

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Dry-toast the quinoa in a pan, then rinse it.

Bring the water to a boil with garlic, a pinch of salt and the sun-dried tomatoes. Add the quinoa and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and fold in the lemon juice, capers, zucchini, celery and parsley. Season with the pepper. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Serves 4-6.


Tofu has a firmer, meatier flavor if it is frozen, then thawed and the excess water pressed out. The adroit use of spices and herbs makes this a special choice.

Roasted Tofu with Pineapple and Cilantro Salsa

2 tbsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. ground turmeric

2 tsp. ground coriander


1 box extra-firm low-fat tofu, frozen, thawed, drained and cut into ½-inch slices

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Mix the dry spices and salt, then rub the mixture onto the tofu. Place the tofu on a boil-lined baking sheet. Roast for approximately 5 minutes.

Cilantro Salsa

1 ½ cups chopped pineapple (you may substitute mango or mix the two)

1 fresh pepper, such as jalapeño or Serrano, minced (without seeds for less spicy, with seed for spicier)

1 shallot, minced

Handful cilantro, roughly chopped

Juice of 1 or 2 limes

1 tsp. ground cumin

Chop pineapple into small pieces and toss with the pepper, shallot, cilantro, lime juice and cumin. Season with salt and serve over the Roasted Tofu or on the side.



Two weeks ago this beet recipe was published….however, it was the ingredients only, not the directions. Here is the complete recipe.

CIA Citrus Roasted Beets

6 small beets

Zest of 1 orange

1 tsp. salt, plus additional to taste

½ tsp. freshly ground pepper, add additional to taste

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. fresh orange juice

3 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro, flat-leaf parsley or mint

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Trim the stem ends of the beets, leaving about 1 inch intact. Leave the root ends untouched.

Place beets in a small baking dish with water to a depth of ¼-inch. Scatter with half of the orange zest. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the top. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake until the beets are tender enough to pierce easily with the tip of a paring knife, about 1 hour.

When the beets are cool enough to handle, trim the ends and slip off the skins. Quarter each beet lengthwise and cut each quarter into ½-inch slices.

Whisk together olive oil, remaining orange zest, orange juice and cilantro in a serving bowl. Add the roasted beets and toss well.

Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Serve warm. 4 servings.


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