Cooking for Heart Health

I started to cook with no oil, added fats or animal products and I improved my heart health in 14 days!

The first three days were a challenge and then the light shone through.. it was possible to enjoy food even after eliminating olives, nuts, butter, eggs, coconut and olive oil to roast vegetables and so many things I loved.

This has been my health quest for over two months now and the positive outcomes are so worth the effort.

I lost ten pounds, my cholesterol is 40 points lower and LDL is 20 points lower.

I thank Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn for his amazing book “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease” providing my nutrition guidelines and his family for their amazing cookbooks making life without added oils, fats or animal products wonderful again.

I believe the plant-based food with no added fats or oils or animal products were the dramatic catalysts that improved my health. The practice of exercise, yoga, meditation, and of course art, my major creative passion, are lifestyle choices contributing to my improved good health.

So, because of my stellar results, Dr. Caldwell’s blueprint about how to prevent and reverse heart disease (written in the 80’s!), and the distressing fact there is so much heart disease in the US, I decided to pivot, from finishing my book “Art, Health and Happiness” to write about my amazing experience of improving my heart health quickly, easily and inexpensively.
I started cooking without animal products or adding oil by modifying an amazing-sounding recipe I found in a beautiful New Mexico cookbook, Harmon Houghton’s “Red or Green Chili Bible – Love at First Bite.”

I left out the meat and oil, adding more vegetables and beans, zucchini and corn in keeping with the healthy and charming New Mexico tradition of the “three sisters” of beans, squash and corn.
I’m proud to say every single ingredient in this recipe delivers health benefits.

I truly believe the ingredients plus some fresh salad vegetables I had on the side delivered anti-inflammatory and nutritive benefits. Oh, and my homemade salad dressing with fresh lime juice, fresh ginger, pomegranate juice and apple cider vinegar.

No oil or meat and not missed at all.

These were my healthy dietary contributions for healing and repair as I slept, and beyond into the next several days during the digestive process..always the goal..

I’m excited to share my first “Cooking for the Heart” video, Ep.1 Sweet Potato Chili. It’s even more special to me because the creative directors and producers were my daughter and her friend, both very talented artists. They met and studied at M.I.C.A., Maryland Institute, College of Art, where I graduated from many years ago.

They’ve turned my “Cooking for My Heart Health” video into an art form – I hope you enjoy it.

Sweet Potato Chili

I recommend pre-cooking prep of having all ingredients ready – chopped, measured, ready to go.

Ingredients (in order of appearance and organic whenever possible):

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2-3 Tablespoons vegetable stock for sautéing onion
  • 3-5 cloves garlic, about 1/2 head
  • 1-2 teaspoons chopped ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • Sprinkle of cayenne pepper
  • Fresh-ground black pepper
  • 3 cups cubed raw sweet potatoes, wash well and keep skins on if organic
  • 4 carrots, sliced, wash well and keep skins on if organic
  • 3-4 cups vegetable stock for chili
  • 1 container chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 can cooked and rinsed black beans
  • 1 can cooked and rinsed cannellini beans
  • 2-3 ears fresh or 1-2 cups frozen corn (I love corn – this is a personal decision.. 🙂)
  • 1 jalapeño or poblano pepper, chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


Heat stainless steel pot to medium heat
Add vegetable stock (2-3 Tablespoons, add more as needed)
Add chopped onions and stir frequently, lowering heat when starting to stick, cook til softened, checking often to see if sticking to bottom. A little of this is okay cause it kind of caramelizes, but keep an eye on it – it was amazing to me cooking without oil had this effect – I expected the opposite!). I add vegetable stock as needed.
Add all spices, garlic and ginger and toss til onions are coated.
Cook on low heat for 3-4 minutes.
Add sweet potatoes and carrots and coat with onion-spice mixture.
Cook on low heat for 3-4minutes.
Add 3 cups vegetable stock, container of chopped tomatoes and honey.
Stir and bring to boil.
Lower heat and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until potatoes and carrots are near tender.
I keep the lid on top, mostly covering the pot, not tightly closed.
Add beans, zucchini and jalapeño or poblano pepper.
Cook for 20-30 minutes more until zucchini is tender.
Add corn and cook on low heat for 5 minutes.
Serve in bowls with fresh cilantro sprinkled on top.