It seems like everyone is talking about lowering their cholesterol these days. What's more, they seem really stressed about it, worried about the onset of heart disease and complaining they'll have to give up creamy desserts forever.
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance transported around the body in the bloodstream. It can build up inside our arteries as a result of eating too much saturated fat, much of which comes from animal products. There's plenty of evidence to show that increasing our intake of fresh fruit and vegetables and cutting out meat, eggs and dairy products as well as processed foods can reduce cholesterol levels considerably.
Drugs that are prescribed for lowering cholesterol often have side effects such as kidney and liver damage. Lowering cholesterol naturally seems a far safer option and has so many more life-enhancing benefits too, such as weightloss and added vitality. What's more, there's evidence to show that, in the long run, dietary change is far more effective.
In addition to eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, other foods low in fat include soya milk, olive oil and pulses. So, instead of cheese or eggs for lunch, why not try this deliciously smooth pate made with a can of chickpeas and red peppers. Serve it with warm ciabatta or toasted pitta bread and salad for a tasty well-balanced meal. It's also good served as a dip with crudites e.g. strips of carrot, celery, cucumber and red pepper.
You can either use two red peppers or, for extra quickness, use ready roasted ones from a jar or a combination of the two as I've done here. I buy peppers marinated in olive oil and herbs but if you find yours contain vinegar, I would leave out the lemon juice in the recipe.
This keeps really well in the fridge for a week and definitely improves in flavour a day or two after being made, if you can wait that long!
I red pepper
1 400g can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
About 60g roasted red peppers in oil
2 - 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
First prepare the red pepper if using. Quarter and remove the core and seeds from the pepper. Place on a baking sheet skin side up and brush with a little olive oil.
Grill for 5 to 10 mins on a high heat until charred.
Chop the skinned pepper into small pieces, place in a bowl and set aside whilst you make the hummus.
Drain the chickpeas and place in a food processor with the crushed garlic and lemon juice.
Blend until smooth, stopping frequently to stir around the side of the bowl with a spatula to make sure everything has blended.
Spoon into a bowl with the skinned and chopped red pepper and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.
Before serving, drizzle with a little olive oil and garnish with red pepper pieces or a light dusting of paprika.