Cholesterol Down: Ten Simple Steps to Lower Your Cholesterol in Four Weeks--Without Prescription Drugs by Janet Bond Brill, Ph.D., R.D., LDN
316 pages; Softcover PhotographyNone
Three Rivers Press, New York, 2006
Reviewed by, Chef John V., April 2007

The review---Cholesterol Down; Ten Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol in 4 Weeks without Prescription Drugs.

How is your cholesterol, low, average or high? You wouldn't read this book if you didn't have high cholesterol, however it might be a good idea to read it because it gives a good explanation of medical terms associated with this topic.

Janet Bond Brill, Ph.D., R.D., LDN, walks us through the basics of HDL, LDL and triglycerides in the section called Cholesterol 101. Here you will get a straight and easy to understand description of what it all means. After reading the first 2 chapters of this 300 page or so book you feel that you actually know what your doctor has been saying all along. Immediate suggestions are made of some very easy steps you can take to improve your cholesterol ratio.

It is all about oatmeal and almonds so the oatmeal ads are not just a bunch of hype! Tests prove that oatmeal contains beta-glucan, a string of glucose molecules that the human body is not equipped to break apart or digest. It acts as an intestinal sponge, soaking up the excess cholesterol and driving it out of the system, Almonds work in a similar way and because they are high in fiber, and contain antioxidants and phytosterols, (a plant substance know to effectually cut cholesterol when consumed in large quantities), they are another good item to eat. Other items like flax seed, Metamucil, beans, apples, margarine with phytosterols, soy protein, garlic (although recently disputed) and walking are suggested ways of attacking a regimen that will help you, to a better you.

Now let's look at some of the recipes: of the 100 or so in the book, you will find some very tasty dishes. Beware that this isn't a meat eater's cookbookno animal fats, buttery sauce or heavy cream, (after all this is how you came to this book). Healthy cooking, with Canola oil, whole wheat pasta, skim milk cheese, beans, vegetables and fruits. Do you like olive oil? There is plenty of that! All in all you will be satisfied with the recipes.

Spinach Salad on page 255 is crisp and tasty, Linguini with garlicky Clam Sauce on page 277 is a s good as any Italian restaurant would make, and the Bean Brownies on page 253 were better than what I expected.

The choice is now up to you. If you have a cholesterol problem or know someone who does, then this is a good book for you. It's easy to understand, interesting to read and makes sense.

Good Cooking recommends this book!
The following is an excerpt from the book Cholesterol Down
by Janet Bond Brill, Ph.D., R.D., LDN
Published by Three Rivers Press; December 2006;$13.95US/$17.95CAN; 978-0-307-33911-9
2006 Janet Brill, Ph.D.

Mia’s Veggie Omelet

This recipe is named for my daughter Mia, who often makes this colorful and nutritious omelet. Serve with two soy sausages, whole-wheat toast, and margarine with plant sterols.

Yield: 1 serving

1 cup asparagus, chopped
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 cup jarred sweet red peppers (found in the condiment section of most supermarkets)
1 medium Vidalia onion, chopped
6 egg whites
1 ounce soy cheddar cheese, shredded
Salt and pepper to taste, optional

Cut tough stems off asparagus. Chop the tender portions of the spears into small pieces. Microwave in microwave-safe bowl with water until soft, about 2 minutes. Heat oil in frying pan. Add vegetables and saute over medium-high heat until cooked (onion is transparent). Whisk egg whites together until a froth forms. Add in egg whites and fry until omelet has reached desired consistency. Top with shredded cheese, cover, and continue heating until cheese has just melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper if desired and serve warm.

Nutritional information per serving (1 omelet):
Calories: 261, Fat: 13 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 840 mg, Carbohydrate: 8 g, Dietary Fiber: 2 g, Sugars: 2 g, Protein: 29 g

Four-Mushroom Barley Soup
Warm and comforting, this soup is just the thing for a cold winter’s day.
Yield: 10 servings

9 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms
1/4 cup canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
8-ounce package baby bella or cremini mushrooms, stemmed, cleaned, and diced
12-ounce package white button mushrooms, stemmed, cleaned, and quartered
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 carrots, peeled and chopped into small pieces
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup whole-grain barley
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Shredded soy or regular part-skim mozzarella cheese, optional

Heat 1 cup chicken broth. Add porcini and shiitake mushrooms to broth and soak, covered, until soft, about 30 minutes. Remove mushrooms from broth and chop into small pieces; set aside. Strain soaking liquid and set aside. Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add onions and shallots and cook until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the baby bella and button mushrooms and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are tender, about 10 minutes. Add carrots and garlic, stir, and cook an additional minute. Add remaining chicken broth, porcini and shiitake soaking liquid, porcini and shiitake mushrooms, barley, bay leaf, and thyme. Bring to a boil, stir, and cover; reduce heat and simmer about 1 hour. Remove and discard bay leaf before serving. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese before serving, if desired.

Nutritional information per serving (1⁄10 of recipe, 351 grams or approximately 1
cups soup):
Calories: 157, Fat: 6 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 744 mg, Carbohydrate: 20 g, Dietary Fiber: 5 g, Sugars: 2 g, Protein: 7 g

Deli Club Sandwich
Yield: 1 serving

2 slices 100% whole-wheat bread
4 slices Smart Deli roast-turkey-style soy deli slices
1 ounce Lifetime cholesterol-reducing cheddar cheese
1 avocado, peeled and sliced
1 cup chopped spinach
2 slices tomato
1 slice red onion
Mustard to taste

Toast whole-wheat bread. Combine all ingredients into sandwich and add condiments to taste.

Nutritional information per serving (1 sandwich):
Calories: 353, Fat: 10 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 1134 mg, Carbohydrate: 40 g, Dietary Fiber: 10 g, Sugars: 14 g, Protein: 29 g

Spinach Salad with Grilled Portobello Mushrooms

Yield: 2 servings

4 cups washed spinach leaves, preferably organically grown
2 large ripe tomatoes, diced
2 large portobello mushrooms
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
Juice of 1 fresh lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Balsamic glaze (available commercially such as Gia Russa from Italy)

Heat grill to medium-high heat. Chop spinach into small pieces and divide spinach between two salad plates. Top each with chopped tomatoes. Wash and dry mushrooms, removing stems. In a small pot, heat olive oil and saute garlic with lemon juice, salt, and pepper until garlic is browned. Brush mushroom caps (both sides) generously with olive oil mixture. Grill mushrooms over medium heat, stem side down, for about 8 minutes. Turn and grill tops for 6 to 8 minutes more. The mushrooms should be browned and tender. Remove from grill, cut into quarters, and arrange over spinach salad. Add seasoning to taste. Drizzle salad with balsamic glaze and serve.

Nutritional information per serving (of recipe):
Calories: 220, Fat: 15 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 236 mg, Carbohydrate: 21 g, Dietary Fiber: 5 g, Sugars: 7 g, Protein: 5 g

Soy Chicken Patties
Yield: 1 serving

2 frozen soy-based chicken patties (such as Morningstar Farms), defrosted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried dill
Commercial gravy, optional

Preheat broiler. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil. Place chicken patties on foil, drizzle with lemon juice, and sprinkle with dill. Broil about 2 minutes each side, until no longer pink. Serve with commercial gravy if desired.

Nutritional information per serving (2 patties):
Calories: 308, Fat: 13 g, Cholesterol: 1 mg, Sodium: 1028 mg, Carbohydrate: 19 g, Dietary Fiber: 7 g, Sugars: 5 g, Protein: 19 g

Mashed Potatoes with Chickpeas
Yield: 6 servings

2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 can (15.5 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup light soy milk
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup Take Control Light margarine
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Commercial gravy, optional

Place potatoes in large saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain and return potatoes to pan. Add chickpeas and mash using a potato masher. Add soy milk, chicken broth, margarine, and salt and pepper and stir. Cook an additional 2 minutes, until heated, stirring constantly. Serve warm. Top with commercial gravy if desired.

Nutritional information per serving (1⁄6 of recipe, 293 grams or approximately 1 cup):
Calories: 255, Fat: 5 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 751 mg, Carbohydrate: 46 g, Dietary Fiber: 5 g, Sugars: 3 g, Protein: 7 g

Garlicky Broccoli
Yield: 2 servings

2 cups broccoli florets
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Fresh parsley, for garnish, optional

Place broccoli in a microwave safe bowl, add water, and cook in microwave on high until tender, about 5 minutes (I like it very well done, about 10 minutes). In a saucepan, combine olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice and cook over low heat for approximately 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until garlic is golden brown. Pour garlic sauce over drained broccoli, toss, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired.

Nutritional information per serving (of recipe):
Calories: 88, Fat: 7 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 20 mg, Carbohydrate: 5 g, Dietary Fiber: 2 g, Sugars: 0 g, Protein: 2 g

2006 Janet Brill, PH.D.

Janet Bond Brill, Ph.D., R.D., LDN, is a registered and licensed dietitian/nutritionist, exercise physiologist, and certified wellness coach. She has been published in the International Journal of Obesity and the International Journal of Sport Nutrition, as well as in the popular press.

Recipes tested---

Linguini with Garlicky Clam Sauce
Yield: 6 servings

Clam sauce:

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium onions, chopped
8 large garlic cloves, sliced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 dozen littleneck clams, washed and scrubbed
1 cup white wine

1 box (16 ounces) 100% whole-wheat pasta (I use Gia Russa brand imported Italian pasta)
Freshly shredded Parmesan cheese to taste .

Cook pasta according to package directions Heat olive oil in a large skillet, over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook over high heat for 2 minutes. Reduce heat, add garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and simmer covered for 45 minutes, stirring frequently. Add parsley, stir and cook uncovered for 5 minutes and then set aside. In a large stockpot, add clams and white wine. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and steam until clams are fully open (approximately 15 minutes). Remove clams from broth and twist off and discard the top shell, leaving the clam nestled in the bottom shell. Place clams and cooked pasta in a large serving platter. Strain clam broth through a fine sieve to remove any particles. Add clam broth to onion mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce the broth and onion mixture by 1/4, stirring frequently. Pour broth over pasta and stir. Serve warm, each serving sprinkled with 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese.

Nutritional information per serving (serving size: 1/6 of recipe, 308 grams or approximately 11/2 cups):Calories: 588, Fat: 23 g, Cholesterol: 33 mg, Sodium: 396 mg, Carbohydrate: 72 g, Dietary Fiber: 8 g, Sugars: 5 g, Protein: 26 g

Bean Brownies
Now here's a great way to help youget your daily beans in! Adding in a handful of mini chocolate chips adds loads of flavor for a relatively small amount of unhealthy fat (saturated).
Yield: 12 servings

1 can (15 ounces) black beans, unseasoned
1 box prepared brownie mix (I use Krusteaz brand of fat-free fudge brownie mix-because it contains no traps fat or saturated fat)
1 cup (4 ounces) unsweetened applesauce
1/a cup Nestle Toll House semi-sweet chocolate mini morsels

Preheat oven to 300 F. Spray a 9 x 13 baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a food processor, puree black beans (use entire can, liquid and all). In a large mixing bowl, add brownie mix, applesauce, mini morsels, and bean puree and blend well until smooth. Spread mix into baking pan and bake for 35 minutes or until brownie springs back when lightly touched. Cool and serve with fat-free whipped topping, if desired.

Spinach Salad
This nutritious salad makes It'simple to get some apples and nuts into your day.
Yield: 4 servings

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon balsamic vinegar Juice from 1 lemon
Dash pepper
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup 100 percent pure maple syrup
1/4 cup canola oil

In a food processor, process all ingredients except oil until blended. Slowly pour oil into food processor, pulsing until well blended. Chill until serving salad.

1/2 cup chopped walnuts
6 cups organic baby spinach leaves
1 green apple, cored and thinly sliced
1 ripe pear, cored and thinly sliced
4 teaspoons gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

Preheat a toaster oven to, 350 F. Spread walnuts on an aluminum foil-covered baking pan. Toast walnuts for approximately 3 minutes, shaking pan occasionally to prevent scorching. Place spinach, apple and pear slices, and walnuts in a salad bowl and toss. Serve salad in salad bowls and sprinkle each with 1 teaspoon gorgonzola cheese and 1 tablespoon dressing and serve.

Nutritional information per serving (1/a of salad plus 1 tablespoon of salad dressing):
Calories: 208, Fat: 15 g, Cholesterol: 2 mg, Sodium: 155 mg, Carbohydrate: 21 g, Dietary Fiber: 5 g, Sugars: 11 g, Protein: 4 g