Cholesterol Lowering Menu.

The Portfolio Diet is a diet designed to lower cholesterol levels without pharmaceutical intervention. The diet includes eating a "portfolio" of foods that are all hypothesized to lower cholesterol. The diet is vegetarian (and is almost vegan), as cholesterol is only found in animal products, and thus when aiming to reduce cholesterol, animal products are out. Some of the "portfolio" foods are typically high in viscous fiber (e.g. slimy veggies), which has been shown to bind to cholesterol. Also, the diet includes lots of foods with insoluble fiber (e.g. oats). Red wine is included in this diet as it has been thought to increase HDL levels (i.e. good cholesterol levels, and by increasing good cholesterol, you can actually decrease the bad). These two recipes are perfect for lowering cholesterol as they both include foods from the Portfolio Diet. Lastly, in 2007 Health Canada approved the claim that plant sterols reduce cholesterol. Hooray for natural foods being officially toted as medicinal!

Vegan Gumbo This gumbo is full of cholesterol lowering foods: soy, okra and eggplant (think slimy veggies), and fiber (from the veggies and brown rice).

1/2 dried brown rice
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups okra, chopped
2 cups eggplant, chopped
1 onion, chopped
700 mL jar of tomato/pasta sauce
"Sausage": 1 small package of seasoned/flavored tempeh or tofu, cubed, OR 2 veggie prepared sausages (such as Tofurky or Yves brands), sliced.
Seasonings (to taste): cayenne pepper, dried thyme, oregano, basil, black pepper, salt, and/or hot sauce.

Prepare the rice. In a pan or wok, saute the eggplant and okra in one inch-deep water for 10 minutes or until they are gooey and soft. In another pan, saute onions until soft. Add the cooked onions to the eggplant and okra. When the rice is finished, add-in the tomato sauce and "sausage" (I used roasted red pepper tempeh). Finally, combine all ingredients (in whichever pot is bigger!) and season to your liking. Makes 2 large or 4 medium-sized servings.

Maple-Walnut Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies
For dessert serve oatmeal cookies with the addition of omega-3 fatty acid-rich walnuts. The insoluble fiber found in oats can also help lower cholesterol.

1 cup flour of choice
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon each baking powder and soda
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup raisins

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. In a second bowl, mix wet ingredients. Combine wet and dry. Add in the nuts and fruits. Form into cookie shapes with hands (you can roll the dough into balls) and press slightly onto a greased or parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350F for 15 minutes. The recipe made me 20 small cookies, but it will depend on how large you make them. Note: I used spelt flour, so the recipe may be dryer or wetter depending on the flour used. If too dry, add more maple syrup and if too wet, add more flour. As these cookies are not too too sweet, adding more maple syrup won't hurt the recipe.


  1. Sounds good; But I have a confession. Although I have eaten eggplant--I have never cooked it. Does it just get washed or do you peel it before cooking? If cooked with peel, do you eat same or remove after cooking.
    And how do you tell a good/ripe one?
    Mama M

  2. I think I may give the gumbo a try... But what does okra look like? I keep hearing of its existence, but have never been able to identify one in the grocery store!

  3. I've found okra in the produce section only in Toronto (I've never seen it in major grocery stores outside this big and diverse city). However, it is easy to find in the frozen vegetable section. McCain sells a bag of frozen okra pieces.

    Okra is the color and texture of zucchini. It is about double the size of green beans, and about their length. One end is nubby (sort of like zucchini) and the other end is pointed. When you cook it, it should get very "gooey". If it stays crunchy, it won't be as flavorful in my opinion.

  4. Eggplant is cooked like a zucchini or a bell pepper. Give it a wash, leave it peeled, slice finely or cube it (don't remove the seeds, they are edible and will soften with cooking), and saute with some oil in a pan. It takes a long time to cook (it will taste gross unless it is very soft!), so let it cook a long time and then taste-test the texture and taste.

    You can also slice eggplant in rings and bake it on a baking sheet for 30 minutes or so. Or, you can bake it halved for about an hour and then scrape out its pulp to make Baba ghanoush (a Middle Eastern dip).

    A good eggplant is quite firm on the outside. It will be tricky to slice due to its spongyness (it will be white and very spongy on the inside). Medium sized eggplants are best (in my opinion) as they have a higher skin to pulp ratio.

  5. All in all, aren't the anti-cholesterol (LDL) ingredients only an issue if you are taking in cholesterol to begin with?

    Meaning going vegan means no worries---no more thinking required?

  6. Right. Vegan diet = cholesterol free diet, meaning no excess or bad cholesterol in the body, only the cholesterol made by the body. That's why the Portfolio Diet is so effective as it contains virtually no cholesterol so the body can use up the excess cholesterol in the body. Make sense?

  7. We just ate the gumbo for supper, and it was fabulous!

  8. Excellent. So happy to hear that it turned out!


Thanks for your comment!