5 heart healthy and nutrient-rich recipes

Whatever your health goals are, our 5 healthy recipes have got you covered.

Eating well and getting the right nutrients is important for everyone. In the UK, there are certain times of year (mainly the winter months) when it becomes especially important to up your levels of vitamin D, while we could all benefit from being aware of the foods that can impact our risk of lifestyle-related diseases like diabetes and cholesterol. 

We've put together five nutritious recipes that can help lower cholesterol (looking after your heart health) and boost your intake of vitamins like B12 and vitamin 4.

What should I be eating in winter?

In winter, the sunlight we usually rely on to produce vitamin D is poor, so dietary vitamin D sources become more important. The best food sources of vitamin D include liver, oily fish, and eggs. Plants, such as mushrooms, also contain a less active vitamin D - but you can boost the quantity by exposing them to sunlight. Wild salmon also has about 75% more vitamin D compared to farmed [1]. 

Wintertime also typically makes us feel sluggish, meaning the gym, our workouts and our usual day-to-day activities take twice the effort! Optimal iron intake through food is essential for energy production in our bodies. Haem iron (found in meat) is the most efficiently absorbed type of iron. But, plant foods also contain iron, so the vegetarian athletes among us need not fear! Seeds and nuts are excellent sources of plant-based iron, and what’s more, vitamin C in fruit can supercharge our absorption of iron. So, pair them both together – you’re already winning.

Vitamin B12 is one of them, as it is only present naturally in animal foods. Fortified nutritional yeast is an excellent vegan source of vitamin B12 and can even add a cheesy, savoury flavour to food dishes. What is more comforting in winter than a mac’n’(vegan)cheese pasta bake? This version is rich in B vitamins, as the broccoli and peas will give you a boost of folate (vitamin B9) too.

Which foods have a low GI?

Some carbohydrate-containing foods, such as lentils, have a low glycaemic index (GI). This means that, compared to simple carbohydrates such as white bread, your body digests them more slowly and sugar is released into your bloodstream gradually, leading to a lower blood-sugar spike*.

Not only are low-GI foods good for avoiding high blood sugar highs and lows, but it means your blood sugar will be maintained over time, meaning you may feel ‘fuller for longer’ and could have fewer cravings for sweet snacks. Our low-GI recipe uses low-GI lentils instead of beef mince, so it is lower in saturated fat and suitable for vegans. In addition, it contains some tips and tricks to further reduce the GI rating of the meal, meaning you will stay satisfied for hours after eating it.

*It is important for people with diabetes to know that the total amount of carbohydrates has a larger influence on blood sugar levels, compared to glycaemic index - read more about this here [4].

Heart-healthy foods

Cholesterol is a fatty substance in our blood. High levels of LDL-cholesterol (the bad stuff) are a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease and stroke. There are certain ingredients in our diet which, when eaten regularly over a long period, can work to actively lower cholesterol from within our bodies – how amazing is that!

For example, foods containing soy, such as tofu, can actively lower cholesterol [3]. Soluble fibre found in aubergines and lentils can block your body from re-cycling cholesterol, leading to a natural decrease in your blood. Plant sterols (special compounds found in plant foods) can also reduce the reabsorption of cholesterol, actively lowering it [4].

Rapeseed oil has been found to have the highest plant-sterol-containing oil, and it has a higher smoke point compared to other oils, so perfect for high-temperature cooking.


5 healthy Winter Recipes

1. Vitamin D-rich winter parcels

Suitable for: pescatarians,omnivores.

Serves: 2

Salmon 1


  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 125g shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • handful fresh dill
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 10 asparagus shoots
  • 2 wild salmon fillets, skin on

1) Place mushrooms on a windowsill on a sunny day - an hour or two should be enough. The closer you do this to your chosen cooking time the better. You can store them in the fridge until you're ready to cook.

2) Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius/gas mark 6.

3) Heat a frying pan containing a little rapeseed oil until hot. Just before the oil begins to gently smoke, fry the salmon, skin side down. Your salmon should sizzle. If it doesn't sizzle, your pan isn't quite hot enough. You don't want to fry the salmon for too long, 1-2 minutes should be enough.

4) Put mushrooms, lemon slices, dill pieces, garlic cloves and asparagus shoots into a baking paper parcel along with the semi-fried salmon (if you don't have baking paper, foil will do). Wrap tightly to ensure all the delicious flavours and nutrients don't escape.

6) Bake the parcel in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

7) Unwrap the parcel and serve.

You can test your blood levels of vitamin D using our Medichecks Vitamin D (25 OH) Blood Test.

2. Iron-rich energiser salad

Suitable for: vegetarians, pescatarians, omnivores.

Serves: 2



  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 3 figs, sliced (you could also use pears)
  • 300g kale
  • 100g walnuts
  • 30g sunflower seeds
  • 140g stilton (or any other leftover Christmas cheese will do!)
  • 150g rocket
  • balsamic dressing

1) Heat a pan with a little oil and lightly fry your chosen fruit for 2 minutes. Your fruit should become a little browned on the edges, which means they have caramelised.

2) Set your fruit aside. Now transfer your kale, walnuts and seeds to the pan. You only want to warm these through, so 2 minutes is enough.

3) Place your kale, nuts and seeds into your serving bowl along with the rocket. Put the warmed fruit on top and scatter with any leftover seeds.

4) Add the cheese and drizzle over your balsamic dressing. If you don't have any dressing, a 50:50 mixture of balsamic vinegar and olive oil will do.

5) Serve and enjoy.

You can take an in-depth look at your body's iron levels with our Iron Deficiency Blood Test.

3. Heart-healthy noodles

Suitable for: vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians, omnivores.

Serves: 2



  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 large aubergine, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 100g dried noodles (choose lentils if possible)
  • 200g firm tofu, diced
  • 200g soya beans (edamame beans)
  • 3cm cube of ginger, sliced
  • 100g peanuts
  • half a red chilli, chopped and deseeded
  • 200ml soy sauce
  • 3 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 lime

1) Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius/gas mark 6.

2) First, prepare the aubergines. Place aubergine cubes on a baking tray and drizzle with rapeseed oil. Rub the garlic into the aubergine. Put the baking tray in the middle of the oven, uncovered, to bake.

3) Prepare a pan of boiling water, then add the noodles. Cook for the required time on the packet.

4) Whilst the noodles are cooking, heat a pan with a little rapeseed oil. Heat half of the soy sauce in the pan, along with the chilli and ginger, for 2 minutes.

5) Add the tofu cubes, soya beans and peanuts to the pan, and gently heat through.

6) After 15 minutes, check the aubergine. You will know that the aubergine is ready as soon as the flesh is soft and browned.

7) After draining, combine the cooked noodles with the tofu mixture and aubergine in the pan.

8) Add the remaining soy sauce and the syrup and heat through.

9) Remove from the heat and separate into bowls. To season, add the spring onions along with a wedge of lime.

10) Serve and enjoy.

Test whether your blood cholesterol profile is healthy with our at-home Cholesterol Blood Test or look for more heart-healthy recipes in our eat to beat heart disease blog

4. B vitamin-boost pasta bake

Suitable for: vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians, omnivores.

Serves: 4


It can sometimes be tricky to ensure you have enough of some nutrients in a vegan diet. Treat your taste buds (and your health) with our vitamin-B-rich pasta bake.


  • 1tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 200g cashew nuts
  • 500ml water
  • 200g broccoli florets
  • 100g frozen peas
  • 200g wholemeal pasta - any shape will do
  • 2tbsp fortified nutritional yeast
  • 1tbsp English mustard
  • 1tsp powdered garlic
  • 200ml oat milk
  • 100g seed mixture, such as pumpkin and sunflower

1) Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius/gas mark 6

2) Bring a pan containing 500ml water to the boil and boil cashew nuts for 20 minutes.

3) Put broccoli florets on a baking tray and bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes - this will remove excess water.

4) In a separate pan, cook pasta in boiling water (containing a little oil) for half of the allocated time on the packet.

5) Once pasta and broccoli florets are ready, place them in a suitable baking dish along with the frozen peas. Make sure you save the water which you used to cook your pasta - you will need this later.

6) Once cashew nuts are cooked through, add to a blending along with the nutritional yeast, garlic powder and mustard. Add 300ml of starch-water left over from cooking your pasta, along with the oat milk.

7) Blend all ingredients until it is smooth and creamy. If your sauce seems dry, lumpy or thick, add a little more water until you reach the desired consistency.

8) Combine sauce with broccoli, peas and pasta in your baking dish. Sprinkle the seeds over the top - this will give your dish a nutty flavour and crumbly texture.

9) Bake for 15 minutes, serve and enjoy.

Curious to know whether your diet contains enough vitamin B12 to stay healthy? Test your blood levels with our Medichecks Vitamin B12 (Active) Blood Test.

5. Blood sugar balanced chilli

Suitable for: vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians, omnivores.

Serves: 6



  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly chopped
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cube vegetable stock
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2x 400g canlentils, we used black beluga lentils
  • 1 can of kidney beans
  • 300g rice - choose brown basmati or wild rice, these have a lower GI rating
  • coriander
  • lime

1) Heat the oil in a pan with the chopped onions, garlic and carrots, and lightly fry until browned.

2) Add the chopped tinned tomatoes and heat through before adding the cumin and vegetable stock.

3) One thoroughly incorporated, add in the lentils. Cook through for 15 minutes. Add in the kidney beans.

4) Whilst your chilli is cooking, boil the rice for the allocated time on the packet.

5) Once the rice is ready, you can serve your chilli. Garnish with springs of coriander and a squeeze of lime.

HbA1c is a long-term assessment of your body’s ability to control blood sugar and can therefore help you to understand your risk of developing diabetes. If you already have a diagnosis of diabetes, HbA1c can also inform you about how well your blood sugar is being controlled.

You can test your long-term blood sugar levels with our Diabetes (HbA1c) Blood Test.

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[1] Lu, Z., Chen, T.C., Zhang, A., Persons, K.S., Kohn, N., Berkowitz, R., Martinello, S. and Holick, M.F., 2007. An evaluation of the vitamin D3 content in fish: Is the vitamin D content adequate to satisfy the dietary requirement for vitamin D?. The Journal of steroid biochemistry and molecular biology, 103(3-5), pp.642-644.

[2] Taku, K., Umegaki, K., Sato, Y., Taki, Y., Endoh, K. and Watanabe, S., 2007. Soy isoflavones lower serum total and LDL cholesterol in humans: a meta-analysis of 11 randomized controlled trials. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 85(4), pp.1148-1156.

[3] https://www.bda.uk.com/resource/food-facts-plant-stanols-and-sterols.html