On a Roll (hold the butter)!

Day Four (4) of my Low Cholesterol Meal Plan is going well.  The three areas of concern are cholesterol, sodium and carbohydrate, in that order.  Fortunately, I’m finding many foods which can be easily prepared, depending on specific criteria.  My biggest challenge is hiding the leftover Halloween candy which looks so pretty in its festive holiday bowl.  I try to reiterate, “A minute on the lips; a lifetime on the hips” each time a Snickers catches my eye.  Damn willpower!

I’ve discovered it’s more challenging to prepare a low cholesterol meal that is also low carbohydrate than one with merely lower fat and sodium.  Last night, I prepared Sea Scallops with Broccoli Rabe, Sautéed Mushrooms and Garlic.  The dish was served over brown rice. 

It was a quick meal to prepare and only required a few ingredients.  Recipe follows:

Sautéed Scallops with Broccoli Rabe and Mushrooms


  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe
  • 1 8 oz. pkg. sliced fresh mushrooms (baby bella or button)
  • 2 tablespoons rice bran oil (or extra virgin olive oil)
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Hot cooked brown rice


  1. Bring several quarts of water to boiling. Remove any tough or damaged outer leaves of broccoli rabe and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Peel thick, lower stems and tear into large pieces.
  2. Blanch broccoli rabe by pouring boiling water over it while it is in a colander.  Drain well and set aside.  Meanwhile, heat oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add garlic and crushed red pepper.  Sauté garlic about 30 seconds, being careful it doesn’t burn.  Add mushrooms and broccoli rabe to the pan and toss to coat with garlic/pepper mixture.   Heat thoroughly, about 3-4 minutes until vegetables are crisp-tender.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper, if desired.
  3. In a separate pan, heat about a tablespoon of rice bran or extra virgin olive oil.  Meanwhile, season scallops with black pepper and a pinch of salt.  When oil is hot, add scallops and sear 2-3 minutes on each side, being careful not to overcook.  Watch carefully.  When nicely seared (browned) on each side, remove from pan and serve over mushroom/broccoli blend and hot cooked brown rice.

This was a tasty meal.  Although the directions I posted call for searing scallops in a separate skillet, last night I cooked them in the same one as the vegetables.  (See Photo)  I do not recommend this as they were a little overcooked and slightly dry and the vegetables were a little too tender for my liking.  Separate pans are the better way to go with this dish.  That being said, it was a very tasty, satisfying meal and I would definitely make it again.

Tonight I made sautéed chicken breasts, seasoned with lemon and garlic, served over a garden salad with homemade raspberry vinaigrette dressing.

The salad dressing recipe follows:

 Low Sodium, Low Cholesterol Salad Dressing (I adjusted basic recipe from Cooks.com)

  • 1/2 c. oil (I used rice bran but you can use olive, canola, etc.)
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice or vinegar (I used raspberry wine vinegar)
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1/8 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tsp. sugar (or equivalent sugar substitute such as Truvia®)

Combine all ingredients and whisk well. Refrigerate in covered jar. Shake well before use. I added 1/8 tsp. dill and marjoram for added flavor.  Yield: 3/4 cup.

For dessert, I had a small bowl of cantaloupe chunks with fresh blueberries and several walnut pieces.  Delicious! 

Breakfast and lunch have been pretty much the same since I began this meal plan:  oat cereal or light English muffin with fruit and coffee or tea for breakfast; yogurt with fruit or salad with hard-boiled egg white or tuna for lunch.  Snacks are low cholesterol, low carb chips, fruit, nuts or the occasional piece of dark chocolate (am I bad!)

Remember to drink at least six glasses of water daily.  Buon Appetito!

 “Our bodies are our gardens – our wills are our gardeners.”  ~William Shakespeare


Low Cholesterol Cooking with Rice Bran Oil

My latest research into low cholesterol meal plans led me to a new type of cooking oil.  I first heard of rice bran oil from a Dr. Oz show earlier in the year.  He again mentioned its benefit at a health symposium I attended this past June.  After further study, I discovered rice bran oil is especially versatile.  My own personal decision to use it comes from my desire to reduce cholesterol.  After using it in the preparation of several meals, I enthusiastically endorse it.

 Everyone should realize our body needs a certain amount of dietary fat for optimum health.  However, the most beneficial ones are mono and polyunsaturated fats.  Most popular cooking oils or fats, including butter, are high in saturated and trans fats.  They are also higher in calories; an important consideration if you are seeking to lose weight.  Rice bran oil contains phylosterols which help reduce cholesterol absorption, is rich in gamma oryzanol, Omega-6 fatty acids, Vitamin E and antioxidants, all of which have been shown in clinical research to help lower cholesterol and benefit overall health.

 One of the reasons I consider rice bran oil a new favorite is its high smoke point; another is its slightly nutty (almond) flavor.  I enjoy using it when stir-frying which is now becoming one of my “go to” choices for cooking.  Stir-frying enables me to pack more punch into a one-dish dinner than broiling, baking or grilling. 

 The other night, I made chicken stir-fry using rice bran oil, with a pepper, onion, carrots and broccoli.  If I had mushrooms, I would have added those too!  I chose reduced sodium chicken broth and soy sauce.  Next time, I may try the reduced sodium Worcestershire sauce to see if it makes a noticeable difference in overall flavor.  As a note, in the reduced sodium varieties, the Worcestershire has only 135 mg of sodium per tablespoon compared to 575 mg in the soy sauce (Lea & Perrins vs. Kikkoman).

My husband said he enjoyed the dish, which is important.  The basic recipe is easy.  Feel free to pick and choose a veggie or two of your own to add.


1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth 2 cups broccoli florets  
2 tbsp. reduced sodium soy sauce 1 green pepper (thinly sliced)  
2 tbsp. water 1/2 onion (thinly slice)  
1 tbsp. cornstarch 2 peeled carrots (thinly sliced, not shredded)  
2-3 tbsp. rice bran oil 1 pinch red pepper (dried crushed, optional)  
2 garlic cloves (chopped or diced)1/8 tsp. ground ginger or 1 TBSP grated fresh    
2-3 boneless skinless chicken breast halves(cut crosswise into 1/2 inch wide strips or chunks) Brown rice (hot cooked)  


  • If desired, season chicken with a salt substitute such as Nu-Salt® and pepper.
  • Whisk broth, soy sauce, water and cornstarch together until smooth.  Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat.  Add garlic and ginger and stir about 30 seconds. Add chicken and stir-fry until white, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add broccoli florets, pepper, onion, carrots and red pepper and continue stir-frying until vegetables are crisp-tender and chicken is just cooked through, about 3-5 minutes.  Push chicken & veggies to sides of pan and add cornstarch mixture to center.  Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Blend with chicken & veggies until sauce thickens, about 1 minute. Serve over rice.

Some people have also used rice bran oil in baking as a substitute for vegetable oil.  If I want to eliminate fat in baking, I generally do so with applesauce.  But it would be fun to experiment with the rice bran oil next time.  I’m trying to watch my carbohydrate intake as well, so sweets and other high carb foods may be off my list for a while (except on Thanksgiving…and then, only in moderation!)

I hope you consider trying rice bran oil in the future.  The cold-pressed varieties are best.  If you do, good luck and Bon Appetit!  I’m looking forward to creating lots of new recipes for my upcoming low cholesterol dietary adventure; my husband, not so much…he’ll miss his C’s…chocolate and cheese!

“Tout est question d’équilibre” ~ Mireille Guiliano