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DASH Up Your Diet With Cindy Kleckner, RDN, LD, FAND

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The DASH diet, or otherwise known as The Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension diet, was created in the late 1990's by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to focus on the recent increases in hypertension. In fact, the DASH diet has been at the very top of the list of US News & World Report’s Best Diet list year after year. The DASH diet focuses on increasing nutritious foods to decrease blood pressure and the use of blood pressure medication. The DASH diet focuses on three nutrients that are shown to help manage blood pressure: calcium and magnesium. Not only does this eating regimen lower blood pressure, but it also has secondary reductions in things such as cholesterol, blood sugar averages, and cardiovascular disease risk. Recently, Lemond Nutrition dietitian Meredith Link sat down with one of the authors from DASH Diet for Dummies, registered dietitian Cindy Kleckner.

Cindy has been a friend of Lemond nutrition for a long time and a registered dietitian in the Dallas, TX area for over 30 years. She became passionate about nutrition through her love for cooking and food. In her internship and time living in Sydney, Australia she fine-tuned her cooking skills then came back to the US to continue pursuing this passion for food and nutrition. Currently, she serves as an adjunct culinary professor at Collin College, a home health dietitian, a dietitian for Enterhealth Life Recovery Center, and an author and recipe developer. The DASH diet is important to Cindy because close family members had heart complications.

In the DASH diet Cindy says, “instead of focusing on what you have to give up, the diet is really focusing on what you can add to make your diet more nutritious to prevent hypertension”. The key concepts of the DASH diet include exercise, increasing colorful vegetables and whole grains, and limiting red meats and highly processed foods. Cindy explains, “because the diet is abundant in plants, it has a wealth of nutrients, health-boosting vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber which also helps keep our blood vessels strong and healthy”.

Cindy’s Tips to DASH Up Your Diet:
  • Cindy describes the DASH diet as timely, sustainable, and relevant. The DASH is based on science and has been validated. There are no gimmicks here, just specific guidelines.
  • She focuses on the foods and flavors that are local to the region where she is. Cindy's best advice “when you want to learn about a culture, dive in mouth first”.
  • Focus on flavor she uses herbs, spices, aromatic veggies instead of salt instead of focusing on calories.
  • Questions she asks herself when she is making a meal:
    • How can I add flavor?
    • What can I do to advance the calcium, magnesium, potassium, and fiber of the meal?
  • Cindy encourages you to use baby steps because, in the long run, you are going to make big improvements. She uses the phrase “slow and steady wins the race”.

Cindy’s Favorite Recipe From the Book:
  • Grilled Shrimp Salad with Creamy Mango-Lime Dressing on page 267.
  • Cindy was inspired to recreate this recipe of a salad she had when she lived in Australia.

Key Components of the DASH Diet:
  • Cindy encourages people to think of DASH as a lifestyle, not a diet. She wants to get people back to eating real food by increasing colorful veggies, lean proteins, whole grains, and exercise.
  • The main nutrients the DASH diet focuses on increasing are calcium, potassium, and magnesium to decrease hypertension.

About the Book:
  • This book gives you science and practical applications like meal planning, shopping list, and recipes. Cindy encourages any level of cooking skills to check out this book.
  • You can purchase Cindy’s new book on Amazon.

Curry-Crusted Salmon & Bok Choy Stir-Fry: 

Curry-Crusted Roasted Salmon (page 276):

- Two 4-ounces salmon fillets, with skin

- 2 teaspoon mayonnaise

- 1 ½ teaspoon curry powder

- ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs

- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

-1 green onion, sliced

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Dry the fish with a paper towel. Place the fish on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. In a small cup, combine the mayonnaise and the curry powder. Spread the mayonnaise mixture over the salmon. Top with the breadcrumbs and press gently so that the crumbs adhere to the fish. Lightly drizzle with olive oil.
  3. Place the pan in the oven and roast 10 to 12 minutes or until browned and cooked through. Remove the oven and garnish with onions.

Bok Choy Stir-Fry (similar recipe on page 292):

- 1 Tablespoon peanut oil

- 2 Tablespoons minced or grated ginger root

- 1 red bell pepper, cut lengthwise into thin strips

- 1 cup chopped portabella mushrooms

- 2 large green onions, thinly sliced on a sharp diagonal

- 1 head bok choy, thinly sliced, green leaf tops only

- ½ teaspoon sesame oil

- Optional sesame seeds

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Lay the bell pepper, bok choy, and mushrooms on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. Drizzle the peanut oil and sprinkle ginger root over the vegetables.
  3. Bake 8-10 minutes or until done to the desired doneness.
  4. Drizzle sesame oil, sprinkle sesame seeds, and green onions on top of the vegetables.

How to find more about Cindy:

You can contact and stay up to date with Cindy through her LinkedIn page.

Know someone with high blood pressure? Have them give us a call to meet with one of our wellness dietitians that can help them start the DASH eating plan for an improvement of many health issues. Give us a call at 888-877-8070. Insurance often covers your visits!

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