Nutrition Science alumna’s new cookbook battles heart disease through plant-based recipes

Katie Reines

Katie Reines (BS nutrition sciences ’15). Photo provided

A new cookbook by a Purdue University College of Health and Human Sciences alumna aims to eradicate heart disease using tasty ingredients straight from the garden.

Registered dietitian and author Katie Reines (BS nutrition science ’15) released “Heart Disease Cookbook” on May 25.  A vegan for 10 years and counting, Reines utilized her double major in nutrition and dietetics and nutrition, fitness, and health from Purdue to help inform the new book that concentrates on easy plant-based, heart-healthy recipes.

“What we eat directly affects the makeup of our blood and our artery function,” said Reines, who lives in Los Angeles and works as a plant-based registered dietitian, certified vegan chef, yoga instructor, food freedom and body image coach. “Too much processed meat and sodium creates a lot of extra work for our hearts because they lead to our delicate blood cells becoming sticky and blood vessels becoming stiff, not able to effectively transport oxygen.”

Most of Reines’ work as a dietitian concentrates on young women who are working through eating disorders and other unfavorable relationships with food. “Heart Disease Cookbook” expands her audience to include older adults and anyone else looking to make a healthy change through fresh and delicious meals.

What are some aspects of your time at Purdue that you’ve taken with you into your career?

Although I unfortunately couldn’t take the France A. Cordova Recreational Sports Center demonstration kitchen with me, I definitely took a lot of experience from there. I was the first student there to lead her own series of plant-based cooking demonstrations. Whenever I am asked about something I’m most proud of, it’s creating those cooking classes. They took a lot of planning, practice, preparation and performing in front of people. All the challenges and fears made those classes even more rewarding. Thanks to giving those cooking classes, I was able to provide farm-to-table cooking classes at a farm in Hawaii, and now, I look forward to providing cooking classes at the Create Cures Foundation in Santa Monica, California.

What are some go-to garden ingredients that can be found in your recipes?

The tomato and corn salad is a summer must, with fresh farmer’s market tomatoes, zucchini and jalapenos. I lay awake at night worrying people will make that salad with store-bought tomatoes that have been on the shelf for over a week. Sweet, ripe, garden-picked and in-season tomatoes taste completely different.

What are some recipes for readers who may be on the fence about plant-based meals?

These recipes are designed for newbies. A few personal faves are the vibrancy smoothie, mushroom and bean chili, buffalo cauliflower mac, miso ginger brussels and the walnut brownie bites. I also recommend the creamy sweet potato and pea curry, which I just made for my family using leftover veggies from the fridge last night. My parents, my meat-loving brother and my picky-stomach sister all absolutely loved it.

Heart Disease Cookbook

Now that you’ve been a vegan for 10 years, how is the plant-based diet looked at today compared to 2011?

My plant-based journey has come a long way. I remember when the first four vegan Ben & Jerry’s flavors came out in 2016, and I bought them all! Ice cream was always my favorite, and when I first went vegan, there were definitely not many options up to my ice cream snob standards. Ten years ago, there was also not a whole vegetarian section at the grocery store. In some ways it has gotten easier to be plant-based for these reasons and in some ways more difficult because now there are so many vegan junk foods.

Why should someone study nutrition science at Purdue?

It is a great, well-rounded program. There are so many types of work a dietitian or nutritionist could do, so it is up to the student to put themselves out there, say yes to everything, and from there, decide what type of work feels best for them. Personally, I was surprised at how much I disliked learning about medical nutrition therapy and how much I enjoyed our nutrition communication and counseling classes. These discoveries allowed me to step further into entrepreneurship with cooking classes and one-on-one counseling, which I do today.

Heart Disease Cookbook: Easy Plant-Based, Heart-Healthy Recipes is available for purchase online at most book outlets, including Barnes and NobleTarget and Amazon.