Cooking with Cardiology

Earlier this semester, I attended the South Denver Women’s Wellness Expo at the Denver University Neumann Center.  I got to listen to several key note speakers including Dr. Richard Collins, a Cardiologist, who shared a presentation on losing your belly fat while helping your heart and then he provided a cooking demonstration, starting with grapefruit quinoa salad, followed by a fish and bean dish, followed by dark chocolate almond truffles.

Dr. Collins introduced himself as the cooking cardiologist, indicating that he is both a chef and a cardiologist.  I really liked his stethoscope that had a wire whisk at the end of it, it was a nice touch that made him seem more approachable to the audience.  The first part of the presentation talked about eating healthy and talked about subcutaneous (visible) fat vs. visceral fat (fat around vital organs, such as heart lungs, digestive tract, and liver), which is far worse because it causes serious health problems including heart disease.   We need some visceral fat to provide necessary cushioning around organs, but too much is not healthy.  High carbohydrate intake = high insulin release, high refined carbohydrate intake = very high insulin release, higher insulin release = higher fat storage (belly fat).  For best health, waist size should be less than 35” for women and less than 40” for men.  We all should eat 10 grams of soluble fiber per day – example is 2 small apples, a cup of green peas, and ½ cup pinto beans.  We should eliminate sugary drinks.  Consuming an extra 100 calories a day will equal a 10 pound weight gain in one year.  Stress promotes overeating, fat storage, and belly fat.  Belly fat elevates cortisol, which triggers appetite, craving for sugar and fat, and weight gain.  To lose belly fat, we need to eat breakfast, low glycemic carbs, and balance protein fat and carbs.  We also need to increase intake of fiber, drink plenty of water, and slow down when we eat (eat mindfully).  In addition, we need to exercise, get enough sleep, and limit alcohol consumption.  All of this information was presented in a PowerPoint presentation which served as a useful visual tool.

After this, Dr. Collins proceeded with the cooking demonstration.  I was impressed with the his use of induction heating that uses an induction coil to heat a ferromagnetic pan from an oscillating electromagnetic field.  Induction is faster and significantly more efficient than gas or electric cooking.  It also provides very precise temperature control.   I was also intrigued by the African cooking pot called a tagine.  A tagine has a wide shallow base and tall conical lid design (looks like a funnel but it’s closed at the top) which recirculates moisture to keep flavor intact during slow cooking.

The first dish was a grapefruit quinoa salad.  Quinoa is a grain-like seed that is high in protein and fiber.  As he prepared the salad, he discussed the vitamin content and anti-oxidant properties of all ingredients as well as the immunity fighting properties of kale.  He also prepared a salad dressing that used agave.  Since Agave is about 90% fructose, it is sweeter than sugar allowing the recipe to require less of it to sweeten the dressing.

The second dish was a Mediterranean fish entrée that was cooked in the tagine.  An interesting tip was using vermouth to reduce the fishy taste.

The last dish was dessert.  He prepared dark chocolate almond truffles.   Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants and therefore healthy for the heart.  This recipe also uses agave to sweeten the chocolate.  Since it’s sweeter than sugar, we can use approximately 25% less in a recipe that calls for sugar.

It was very helpful and interesting for him to do a cooking demonstration after the PowerPoint presentation because it allowed the audience to learn some tips about cooking healthy and it served as a nice break from him simply lecturing the audience the entire time.  Overall I thought that Dr. Richard Collins was an extremely talented public speaker and his presentation did everything that a presentation should do.



One thought on “Cooking with Cardiology

  1. What an interesting, weird presentation! I guess it makes sense, but a cooking cardiologist is definitely out of the box. Nice description and evaluation.

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