It’s February. What does that mean? Most would answer Valentines Day, but it’s also Heart Month! There’s no better time than now to re-evaluate our habits, and make needed changes to keep ourselves healthy. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, 8 in 10 cases of premature heart disease & stroke are preventable through healthy lifestyle behaviours. In a busy world, sometimes this task can seem daunting, but there are lots of little changes we can make that have a big impact.
One of the easiest ways to stay heart-healthy is in how we prepare our daily meals. We teamed up with Chef Trevor Randle to talk about how to stay heart-healthy in the kitchen. As the Celebrity Chef for the BC Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation’s Take a Bite of BC program and the Culinary Instructor at Maple Ridge Secondary School, Chef Randle is passionate about healthy living and local B.C. agriculture.
Chefs are constantly changing with the landscape of what, and how, the public wants to eat. Chef Randle recognizes the importance of heart-healthy eating, knowing that on a whole people are looking for the same tasty food they’re used to, but healthier. Gone are the days of throwing salt, cream and butter into a dish, so the challenge becomes finding different ways to create amazing dishes with healthier – but still delicious – ingredients.
Chef Randle recommends a few tips maintaining a heart-healthy diet year-round. His advice? Stick to common sense by keeping things simple and thinking light – use extra virgin vegetable or nut oils instead of butter and acids like vinegars or citrus juices (lime, lemon, orange) instead of salt. Cook with fresh local vegetables and lean proteins such as fresh B.C. salmon, which is available every day of the year. With so many different ways to prepare meals, there are endless possibilities at your fingertips.
Chef Randle recognizes that after a long day at work the last thing anyone wants to do is start heavy meal preparation. “The last thing I want to do after work is start marinating my dinner,” he says with a laugh. Instead, he suggests an easy, healthy dinner idea, starting with a piece of B.C. salmon. Drizzle it with olive oil, lemon juice and fresh cracked pepper, and then grill it under the broiler. Once the salmon is ready, place it on fresh greens or rice, and you have a quick, easy, heart-healthy meal that is ready in just a few minutes.
Our province offers amazing local seafood every month of the year, and it is very high in lean protein, which is a must for heart-healthy eating. It is quick and easy to make a delicious stir-fry by adding spot prawns or scallops to your favourite veggies – creating a new dinner favourite.
Chef Randle also recommends cooking to how you’re feeling. Often we can get caught up in meal planning, and get stuck in a rut. He recommends shopping with a meal idea in mind and looking for protein and vegetables that are in season. This way you get to have creative dinners while expanding your palette. In addition, local and in-season produce, fish and meats are normally better priced than their imported cousins, decreasing your carbon footprint and leaving you with extra money in the bank.
All these heart-healthy tips are implemented in the classroom as well. “My students are not the stereotypical kids who want pre-packages cheeseburgers and deep-fried goodies”, he says. Like their instructor, they want healthy choices as well. Through the culinary arts program, students are learning the skills they need to be creative cooks in the kitchen by staying on top of the trends, adjusting their cooking styles, and always learning about new foods they can integrate into their diets.
To put their skills into practice, Chef Randle and his students run a weekly community dinner program – highlighting the students’ culinary talents. To kick-off heart month, a special heart-healthy dinner is being held Thursday, February 2, featuring fresh farm-raised B.C. salmon. Doors open at 4:30 pm, and the cost is $12 per adult and $7 for children under 10. More information can be found on Maple Ridge Secondary School’s website.
To get you started on the right path this month, Chef Randle has provided us with his heart-healthy recipe – Grilled B.C. Salmon with Local Chimichurri Sauce!