The Everyday DASH Diet Cookbook

Over 150 Fresh and Delicious Recipes to Speed Weight Loss, Lower Blood Pressure, and Prevent Diabetes


By Marla Heller

With Rick Rodgers

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New York Times bestselling author Marla Heller, in collaboration with bestselling cookbook writer Rick Rodgers, provides simple, home-cooked, DASH-approved meals to help promote weight loss and increased health benefits.

A healthy diet is only as good as the food it provides in its plan. Now in The Everyday DASH Diet Cookbook, bestselling author and foremost DASH expert Marla Heller, together with bestselling cookbook writer Rick Rodgers, makes it easy to prepare home-cooked meals that are fresh, fabulous, and DASH-approved.

The DASH diet is a required medical recommendation for patients diagnosed with hypertension or pre-hypertension, a group of almost 130 million people, and this ultimate guide to cooking the DASH way serves up everything necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle. With recipes such as Cinnamon French Toast with Raspberry Sauce, Filet Mignon au Poivre, Yankee Clam Chowder, and Chocolate Fondue with Strawberries, eating health has never been so easy and delicious.


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I have been cooking the DASH way (that is, according to the nutritional guidelines found in the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) every day for many years. I could be the poster girl for the diet! Not because I have written two books on the subject (The DASH Diet Action Plan and The DASH Diet Weight Loss Solution), but because I have lived the DASH lifestyle and experienced firsthand how delicious and easy the diet can be. And now The Everyday DASH Diet Cookbook shares my favorite recipes.

The DASH plan has positively affected the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. (For three years in a row, it was ranked #1 in Best Diets Overall by U.S. News & World Report, which is quite a distinction. I am also proud that the Huffington Post cited The DASH Diet Action Plan as one of the top fifty most life-changing health books.) I have talked to countless DASH fans at personal appearances, book signings, lectures, and the like, as well as in e-mails via my website. And in our conversations, recipes are a constant topic. My first two books contained just enough recipes to whet your appetite for the wonderful variety offered by DASH. I knew that cooking the DASH way was a big subject that deserved its own book. And here it is.

A few years ago at a writers' conference, I met Rick Rodgers, a prolific cookbook writer and recipe developer for many food producers. When I realized how helpful a complete cookbook would be to DASH fans, I enlisted Rick to help me put the recipes on paper. What you now see is the result of our work together—fresh, flavorful recipes for the entire family, designed for the busy home cook.

With the over 150 recipes in The Everyday DASH Diet Cookbook, you can put my favorite DASH recipes into action. Energize yourself for the entire day with a quick breakfast sandwich or smoothie. (You'll find some special weekend brunch treats for lingering over the Sunday paper, too.) At lunchtime, dig into a big main-course salad, topped with one of the many light salad dressings I've provided. Serve a hearty, vegetable-packed dinner with a sensible amount of meat, poultry, or seafood (or choose one of my meatless main courses). I've given you new ways to make your favorite comfort foods. Do you crave pasta? Go ahead, but serve zesty tomato sauce on a smaller amount of whole-grain pasta bulked up with lots of vegetables. You'll find a long list of simple side dishes to round out the meal, as well as DASH-friendly desserts to satisfy your sweet tooth. And to help you see how the recipes fit into your plan, I've provided a nutritional analysis for each one to help you stay on track.

Although this isn't a "fast and easy" cookbook, the recipes were created with everyday cooking in mind, made with ingredients that you are likely to have on hand or can easily find at the supermarket. The foundation of the DASH diet is plant-based foods and heart-healthy vegetable fats such as olive oil, along with low-fat and nonfat dairy, fish and seafood, lean meats, and poultry. That is a huge variety! And I make the most of it with recipes from around the world.

The Everyday DASH Diet Cookbook is loaded with dishes that you can and will make on a weeknight, without fuss but with lots of flavor. There are also "company-worthy" recipes and those to cook when you want to splurge. With this cookbook by your side in the kitchen, you will never have to worry about how to make a fabulous, good-for-you meal for the entire family.

—Marla Heller

Cooking the DASH Way

The Everyday DASH Diet Cookbook will become your go-to book for healthful, delicious food. The DASH diet is rich in plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and heart-healthy vegetable fats. To this foundation, add low-fat and nonfat dairy (a key DASH diet food) and protein (fish and seafood, lean beef, pork, and poultry). With this huge range of options for cooking terrific meals, you will no longer have to choose between the foods you like and eating more healthfully. Based on the enormously popular DASH diet, The Everyday DASH Diet Cookbook is designed to make living a DASH lifestyle as simple and delicious as possible. The easier the dish is to make, the more likely you are to make it a part of your regular rotation of favorite recipes. You will, as I often do, discard the idea of a "diet," because cooking the DASH way will become a way of life, as natural as breathing… or eating!

So, what is the DASH diet? This revolutionary outlook on healthful eating was originally developed as part of a study to find ways to lower blood pressure without medication. DASH is an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, which was the name of the original study. The study organizers wanted to take the best elements of vegetarian diets, which were known to be associated with lower blood pressure, and design a plan that would be flexible enough to appeal to the vast majority of Americans, who are dedicated meat eaters. They developed what they believed was the healthiest omnivore diet plan.

And the research has borne out this hope. The DASH diet helps lower blood pressure as well as the first-line medication for hypertension. It also lowers cholesterol. When evaluated over very long periods of time, the DASH eating pattern has been shown to help lower the risk for many diseases and life-threatening medical conditions or events, including stroke, heart attack, heart failure, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, kidney stones, and some types of cancer. Not only is DASH recommended for people who have these conditions or are at risk for them, but it is recommended for everyone in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. And the DASH diet is fabulous for weight loss, since it is loaded with bulky, filling fruits and vegetables and has plenty of protein to provide satiety. In fact, the plan is so rich in healthy foods that people find it easy to follow without being tempted to "cheat." The DASH diet was ranked the "#1 Best Overall Diet" in 2011, 2012, and 2013 by U.S. News & World Report. It is widely hailed by doctors and nutritionists as the best and healthiest diet plan.

Even children get a health benefit, since studies have shown that kids who follow a DASH eating pattern are more likely to be at a healthy weight and to have healthier blood pressure. This makes DASH a wonderful plan for the whole family.

The DASH plan has its base in fresh fruits and vegetables. In this book, I use them in many ways that will make your everyday cooking look beautiful, taste wonderful, and generally be more satisfying than ever before, because you know the food is so good for you. (This does not mean that meat, poultry, and seafood are neglected.) This cookbook makes staying on track with the DASH plan as easy as can be. And by focusing on the foods to include, instead of "foods to avoid," you will develop a positive outlook on fantastic eating. Here are the tips for cooking recipes to keep you thinking positive—and looking and feeling great.

The Pantry

Have you heard the (true) advice that you should join a gym that is close to your house so its proximity negates the excuse of "It's too far to go"? You can apply the same idea to healthful cooking. If you have most of the ingredients on hand and have to shop at the market for only a few fresh items, you will find it easier to cook the DASH way. To get started, you'll want to stock some basic items in your pantry and kitchen so that you can be prepared to whip up healthy DASH recipes at any time. And I have some helpful tips that will make life easier and cooking the DASH way a breeze.

Canned, Bottled, and Dry Foods

Be a label reader! Those "Nutrition Facts" numbers on a food label can be your best buddy when shopping for pantry items. Innocent-looking foods are not always so benign. It pays to comparison shop, not just for price, but also for those numbers on the labels.

One of the most important concepts to understand is the differences among the various "reduced sodium" products. This is especially helpful for people on a sodium-restricted hypertension diet, with daily sodium intake limited to 1,500 milligrams (mg). Sometimes, a reduced-sodium or lower-sodium product might not be as healthy as you would like. A product labeled "reduced sodium" or "lower sodium" needs to have only 25 percent less sodium than the average amount found in the regular (full-sodium) version. A low-sodium product can have only 140 mg per serving. A very low-sodium food cannot have more than 35 mg per serving, and a no-sodium or no-salt product must contain just 5 mg or less.

Food products offer standardized serving sizes determined by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help you compare products. For example, the standard serving size for low-sodium chicken broth is 1 cup (8 fluid ounces). A quick check of various reduced-sodium chicken broths revealed two brands with sodium contents of 679 mg and 570 mg. A low-sodium broth came in at 140 mg for an entire can (10 fluid ounces). Even with the additional 2 ounces of broth, it is easy to choose the one with the lowest sodium. With the first two brands, a cup of broth (which is not hard to consume in a meal-sized bowl of soup at lunch or dinner) would contain at least a third of your daily sodium intake! And this is with a "reduced sodium" product!

With this in mind, here are some useful items to keep in your pantry for everyday cooking:

Diced tomatoes, no salt added

Crushed tomatoes, no salt added

Tomato sauce, no salt added

Tomato paste, no salt added

Garbanzo beans, reduced-sodium

Cannellini beans, no salt added

Black beans, reduced-sodium

Lentils, dried

Canned tuna, in water, low-salt

Canned salmon, low-salt

Canned chicken, low-salt

Extra-virgin olive oil

Canola oil

Oats, old-fashioned or rolled

Chicken broth, low-sodium

The Spice Cabinet

Spices and herbs are derived from fragrant, edible plants and used as flavorings. Herbs are the leaves, and spices are the other parts of the plant, including the bark, roots, berries, flower pods, or seeds. In premodern times, spices were very expensive and rare, and then, as now, they traveled thousands of miles to get to the marketplace. These days, we literally have an entire world of seasonings to flavor our food. Make use of them! Especially in a low-salt diet, herbs and spices play an important role in the "yum factor" in cooking.

Dried herbs and spices are very convenient, and with just a shake or a sprinkle, they can add zest to your meal. Store them in airtight containers in a cool, dark, dry place. Warmth and light speed the evaporation of the essential oils in the herbs and spices, so a closed cabinet away from the stove is ideal. Even under the best conditions, opened jars of herbs and spices keep their flavor for only about six months. To keep track of the "use by" period, when you open the jar, write the date on the label.

Fresh herbs give their lively flavor to many dishes. When the weather is right, grow them outdoors, or if you have a green thumb with houseplants, try your hand at growing them in a windowsill planter. Store-bought herbs can seem pricey, but the flavor benefits are worth the price. When you have a fresh herb, plan your meals around it so it doesn't go to waste. If you end up with leftover herbs, just stick them into a bottle of red vinegar saved for the purpose to make a flavored vinegar for salads. The flavor will change constantly with the various additions, but that's the fun.

Some tender herbs, such as basil, should be stored at room temperature with their stems in a glass of water (like a bouquet); if you leave them in the refrigerator, the cold will turn their leaves black. Refrigerate sturdier herbs in their plastic containers, or if they lack containers, wrap them in moist paper towels and store them in the vegetable crisper. Before using, rinse the herbs and dry them well. Remove the leaves from the stem and chop the leaves with a large, sharp knife.

Dried basil

Dried oregano

Dried rosemary

Dried thyme

Sweet paprika (Spanish and Hungarian have the most flavor)

Ground cinnamon

Ground ginger

Granulated garlic or garlic powder

Granulated onion or onion powder

Black peppercorns

Cayenne pepper

Chili powder

Curry powder

Herb-based salt substitutes, such as lemon-pepper

Salt and Other Seasonings

The Everyday DASH Diet Cookbook is based on foods you will find in your regular grocery store, not obscure foods that you will find only at specialty stores or online sites. For those few items we recommend that may be more difficult to find, we have included a Resource Guide here.

You will find that some of the recipes require a few extra spices or other flavorings than most ultrasimple recipes. In order to moderate the sodium content, we have taken a creative approach to seasoning for satisfying flavor that won't leave you missing the salt. If you have been told to severely restrict sodium, you can reduce or eliminate the added salt in most of these recipes. Because of the "flavor building" provided by the herbs and spices, you will still find the dishes to be very tasty.

You can purchase seasoning blends at the supermarket, but many of them have salt as their main ingredient. It is an easy matter to make your own at home. Just mix them up and store them in a covered container in a cool, dark place away from the heat of the stove for up to six months. They all use granulated garlic and granulated onion, which are dehydrated and ground versions of these vegetables. These have a more granular texture and stronger flavor than garlic or onion powder, but some brands of powders are actually granulated.

Cajun Seasoning

For down-home spicy flavor, use this seasoning.


1 tablespoon sweet paprika, preferably Hungarian or Spanish

2 teaspoons dried thyme

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder

1 teaspoon granulated onion or onion powder

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Combine all of the ingredients in a small covered container.

Italian Seasoning

This all-purpose seasoning is a fine way to spice up traditional Italian dishes.


1 tablespoon dried basil

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried rosemary

1 teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon crushed hot red pepper

½ teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder

½ teaspoon granulated onion or onion powder

Combine all of the ingredients in a small covered container.

Mexican Seasoning

Here is a not-too-spicy blend that will add a Mexican flavor to your cooking.


2 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder

1 teaspoon granulated onion or onion powder

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all of the ingredients in a small covered container.

The Freezer

Your freezer should be a treasure trove of ingredients for making meals. Too often it is the receptacle for bits and pieces of food that are forgotten and suffer freezer burn before they get a chance to be eaten. It might help to keep a list of what you have stored in the freezer as a reminder. Be sure to store the food in sturdy freezer bags and mark the date of freezing clearly on the package. Most frozen foods are best if consumed within three months of freezing.

Keep bags of frozen vegetables to add color and nutrients to your meals. Purchase them in bags so you can use the amount you need, and reseal either with a clamp or in a zipper bag. Avoid the ones that are laden with caloric sauces. I like the convenience of chopped onions and peppers, so I use them in my cooking when pressed for time. If you are handy with a knife, then use fresh.

Lean meat, chicken, and seafood could also be frozen so that you have a source of protein ready to turn into a meal. However, before you buy individually pre-frozen chicken breasts, check the labels: Most frozen poultry (and much fresh and frozen pork) is injected with a sodium mixture to add moisture, as the defrosted meat tends to dry out when cooked. I recently compared individually frozen chicken breasts (4 ounces each) and found sodium contents ranging from 180 to 425 mg. The solution is easy: Buy fresh chicken breasts without any additional seasonings and freeze them yourself, individually wrapped in plastic with an overwrap of aluminum foil.

Ground meat and poultry freeze well, but again, checking the labels can be helpful. Ground turkey breast, processed without any skin, is 99 percent fat-free, but it can be very dry when cooked, and I don't use it much. I would rather use standard ground turkey with 7 percent fat for moist, juicy results. (Frozen ground turkey, at an average of 15 percent fat, can have the same fat content as ground round beef, so avoid it.) Frozen shrimp, available in two-pound bags at supermarkets, are convenient and easy to defrost for a fast meal, but because they are naturally high in sodium, don't serve them more often than once every week or so.

For a treat, keep some frozen yogurt in the freezer, but be sure it's a low-sugar brand. Also, store bags of frozen fruit (such as sliced peaches or frozen berries) for tasty smoothies that can be served for breakfast or as a nutritious cold dessert.

Individual and mixed frozen vegetables, without sauces

Frozen sliced pepper and onion mix

Frozen diced onions

Frozen diced green peppers

Frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Frozen 95 percent extra-lean ground sirloin (and patties)

Frozen IQF (individually quick frozen) shrimp

Frozen nonfat yogurt, with no added sugar

Frozen fruit, such as berries

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

This is where the DASH diet really struts its stuff, letting you take advantage of the cornucopia of fresh produce available at your local market. Please—get adventuresome with your produce. I never thought that I would eat a raw kale salad (see Kale, Pear, and Bulgur Salad here), but how wrong I was.

Seasoning Vegetables and Fruits

Be sure to have plenty of seasoning vegetables and fruits on hand. Onions and garlic are familiar, but shallots, a staple in French cuisine, are equally versatile and useful. Lemon juice and lime juice are fantastic flavorings and have long been used to perk up food where salt is kept at a minimum. For the best flavor, use fresh lemons and limes. To make juicing easy, use a wooden reamer or purchase an inexpensive electric juicer to keep on the kitchen counter.

Yellow onions



Lemons and limes

Good Keepers

These are the produce items that I always have in my kitchen, thanks to their long shelf life (at least a week, or a bit less for the romaine). Often, when I think I have nothing to cook for dinner, I am happy to find a bag of broccoli slaw in the crisper. (It can be put into service for a main course, too, as with the "Moo Shu" Chicken and Vegetable Wraps here.) Baby carrots can be nibbled as a snack or cooked as a side dish. You'll find many uses for these reliable ingredients:

Baby carrots

Grape or cherry tomatoes or other high-flavor tomatoes

Romaine hearts

Coleslaw mix

Broccoli slaw

Your Personal Salad Bar

Vegetables are the centerpiece of a DASH meal. Load up your plate with vegetables, as they will fill you up and keep those hunger pangs at bay. (Although, as I often hear, people who eat the DASH plan's daily recommended amount of produce are never hungry.) These are the vegetables that I buy as needed, often for specific recipes, but also to have handy for snacking and impromptu meals:



Carrots (whole, sliced, or shredded)





Lettuce (The dark varieties have the most nutrients.)


Red and green peppers

Red onions

Red cabbage

The Fruit Stand

Remember, fruits and vegetables are the foundation of the DASH diet. Fruit in season is always going to be the best and most flavorful, but there are some items available year-round that you should always have on hand for snacks and desserts, and for adding to salads. Fruits are often overlooked as salad ingredients, but their natural sweetness can serve to balance the dressing's tartness, and they add bulk to the greens.







Fruit in season, such as berries, peaches, and plums

Dairy and Egg Products

Milk-based products are rich and satisfying but can also be high in fat and sodium. As you have surely seen in the supermarket, milk has fat-free (also called skim) and low-fat (1 percent fat) versions, as well as the common whole milk and (2 percent) reduced-fat varieties. Fat-free milk, which obviously has the least amount of calories and fat, is good for drinking and general use, but the slightly richer low-fat milk is better for cooking (making sauces and the like), so you may want to buy the milk that best fits your needs.

As for cheese, look for brands with reduced fat and sodium. The amounts of these nutrients will never be very low, because cheese requires some fat and sodium in the fermenting process to achieve proper flavor and texture. For snacking (or to build upon with fruit, vegetables, and nuts), nonfat yogurt and low-fat cheese are invaluable.

Eggs are another item that can be enjoyed in moderation in a balanced diet. It is the cholesterol in the egg yolk that can wreak havoc with heart health. However, most of the vitamins and minerals in eggs are in the yolks. Even the American Heart Association is now saying that most people can enjoy one whole egg per day. Many people solve the problem by using egg whites alone, but they can look unappetizing when cooked. A liquid egg substitute such as Egg Beaters can be a good alternative. If you prefer whole eggs, use eggs that are rich in omega-3 fats and lower in cholesterol.

Milk (fat-free and/or low-fat, as desired)

Unsalted butter (store in the freezer for using in small amounts)

Yogurt (nonfat)

Cottage cheese (low-fat or nonfat, and low-sodium)

Cheddar cheese, reduced-fat and reduced-sodium (Organic Valley is a good brand.)

Swiss cheese (reduced-fat)

Mozzarella (reduced-fat)

Parmesan cheese (Use in smaller amounts, since it is very high in sodium.)

Liquid egg substitute, such as Egg Beaters

Whole eggs, preferably rich in omega-3 fats

Take It Easy

Since so many DASH fans choose the plan because of problems with hypertension, I use few high-sodium foods. I've said it before: Concentrate on the foods you can have and do not worry about the few that you want to limit. There are lower-sodium versions of most of these foods, but unfortunately, supermarkets don't always carry them. (See here for a list of online shopping sources.) You can occasionally indulge in these foods, but for the most part, limit the following:

Olives, green and black

Anchovies (oil-packed or salt-packed) and anchovy paste

Asian condiments, such as soy sauce, oyster sauce, and hoisin sauce

Prepared mustards

Pickles and relishes

Delicatessen meats

Essential Equipment

Some people enjoy cooking, and others have never learned to love it. I'll bet the ones who are happiest in the kitchen have the best pots, pans, and knives and the ones who hate cooking are frustrated by bad tools. I'm not saying that you have to go out and spend thousands of dollars on new pots and pans and expensive appliances. But a few well-chosen kitchen items will make your time in the kitchen easier and more fun. These are the things that I can't do without.

Kitchen Scales

I have put this at the top of the list because too many people consider it optional. But when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, a kitchen scale is indispensable because portion size is usually measured by weight. In the DASH diet, it is especially important to weigh your meat portions. Protein is important to help keep you feeling full, but too much will load on the calories. (There is an old trick you can use, equating the size of a 3-ounce portion of cooked meat, poultry, or seafood to the size of the palm of a woman's hand—but that may seem pretty antiquated in the digital age.) In fact, in some recipes, I have given nutritional analyses for the regular portion as well as a smaller serving for times when you are reducing calories for weight loss, or if you just have a smaller appetite.


On Sale
Dec 19, 2017
Page Count
240 pages

Marla Heller

About the Author

Marla Heller is a Registered Dietitian, and holds a Master of Science in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She was trained in DASH by one of the original architects of the original NIH research and has been working for more than fifteen years to help her patients put DASH into practice. Heller has been the featured nutrition expert for the Chicago Tribune and Washington Post and she is a spokesperson for the Greater Midwest Affiliate of the American Heart Association. She is the author of New York Times bestsellers The DASH Diet Younger You, The DASH Diet Action Plan, and The Everyday DASH Diet Cookbook.

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