Keeping the Heart Healthy | Natural Gourmet Institute

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Recreational classes, certificate programs, and Friday Night Dinners will continue through March 2019 at NGI’s Flatiron location. We have a lot of exciting programs scheduled, which are sure to sell out! We look forward to having the NGI community be a part of the final programs on 21st Street.

Keeping the Heart Healthy

Posted February 1, 2019

February is American Heart Month, and according to a recent study by the American Heart Association, “Nearly half of all adults in the United States have some form of heart disease.”

While heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, it can often be prevented when people make healthy choices and manage their health condition. A common cause of poor heart health is high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, “High blood pressure is a common disease in which blood flows through blood vessels, or arteries, at higher than normal pressures.”

There are many ways to manage high blood pressure and keep the heart healthy, including reducing stress, managing weight, increasing physical activity, reducing alcohol, and lowering sodium.

And when it comes to eating habits, NGI was built on the principle that there is a connection between food and our state of health and is continuously promoting heart-healthy foods, such as chickpeas, potatoes, or salmon. Even Chef Elliott is always plugging his pantry staples, rooted in Macrobiotics, including the delicious, heart-healthy gomasio.

But, one the most recommended diets to lower blood pressure is the DASH diet, which is covered in NGI’s certificate programs and the Chef’s Training Program (plus, recently covered in our #WellnessWednesday series on Instagram). DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It’s an approach to healthy eating designed to help treat or prevent hypertension. The DASH diet encourages you to reduce the sodium in your diet and eat a variety of foods rich in nutrients that help lower blood pressure, such as potassium, calcium and magnesium.


  • May reduce systolic blood pressure 7-12 pts
  • Rich in fruits, vegetables, fat-free dairy, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, nuts
  • Increased potassium, magnesium, calcium, protein, fiber
  • Decreased salt, sweets, added sugars, fats, red meat, alcohol

In January 2018, DASH was named the number 1 for “Best Diets Overall”, “For Healthy Eating”, and “Best Heart-Healthy Diet”; and tied number 2 “For Diabetes” (out of 40 diets tested) in the U.S. News & World Report’s annual “Best Diets” rankings.

This chicken dish is the perfect combination of protein and vegetables with a dash of spiced yogurt dressing to give it a delicious boost of flavor.


Yield: 6 servings, approximately 2 cups each

(Yield: 6 servings, approximately 2 cups each)

For the Salad:

  • 1 small cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 small fennel bulb
  • 1 head red endive
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 container mesclun (5 ounces)


  1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Cut cauliflower into small florets and toss with oil, salt, and curry powder. Transfer mixture to parchment-lined half sheet pan. Roast for 20 minutes, or until golden and tender.
  2. In small pot, bring chicken stock to simmer. Add chicken, lower heat, cover pot, and poach 15 minutes or until chicken is tender and flesh is opaque and internal temperature reaches 165° F.  Remove, cool and cut chicken into thick slices.  (Optional: reduce stock on high heat for 10 minutes, or until thick (approximately ¼ cup).  Pour over cooked chicken slices, for added flavor.)
  3. Slice fennel, red onion and endive thinly and toss with mesclun.
  4. Zest and juice lime and place in a medium bowl.  Chop cilantro and place in same bowl.  Next, mince and stir in garlic clove.  Add Greek yogurt, maple syrup, Dijon mustard, curry powder, sea salt and olive oil and stir until combined.
  5. Toss mesclun with poached chicken slices and dressing right before serving.