Heart-Healthy Cooking Secrets from Top Chefs

11 culinary wizards share their tips for preparing gourmet meals that boost heart health, protect against diabetes and more (12 Photos)

Maura Rhodes on Mar 5, 2012 at 10:19AM

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Heart-Healthy Cooking Secrets from Top Chefs

Courtesy of Kristi Ritchey

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Kristi Ritchey

Chef Kristi Ritchey was so exhausted and out of shape six years ago that she wound up in the hospital for 12 hours. She was just 25 years old -- and weighed 260 pounds. It was a wake-up call that inspired her to sign up for Barry’s Bootcamp, a fitness program in West Hollywood, and to replace her erratic eating style with a more heart-healthy approach. Her reward: a weight loss of 110 pounds. Now, instead of midnight Jack in the Box runs, Ritchey, executive chef of Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop (with locations in Beverly Hills and Century City, Calif.), eats three meals and two high-protein snacks per day. Lunch is typically a salad with four ounces of protein; dinner might be a multicourse gourmet meal, but she won’t clean her plate. She hasn’t had a soda in two years, and instead of sweets sips chocolate, almond and banana protein shakes. Although Ritchey’s focus hasn’t been on heart-healthy fare, many of her recipes qualify, including this avocado pesto, delicious as a sandwich spread or tossed with pasta.

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