From Z to A: Heart-Healthy Recipes That Don’t Skimp on Flavor

February is a great time to show love to others, but it’s also a great time to show yourself, especially your heart, some love as well. Self-care in the form of relaxing the mind and creating boundaries is one way, and eating foods good for your heart is another way. Because you know what they say: If you don’t make time for your wellness, you’ll have to make time for your illness.

Luckily I love the way salads, vegetables and other healthy foods taste, but others may not feel the same way. For many, the struggle to eat beneficial foods has a lot to do with cost, taste and the feeling other comfort foods provide. That’s why I wanted to come up with some recipes that are cost-effective, healthy and taste good, too!


Lemon Feta Pasta Salad


  • 1/2 lbs. cooked rotini pasta of choice (look into lentil or chickpea pasta)
  • handful of arugula
  • 1 1/2 cups roasted chickpeas 
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup olives, sliced
  • 1/4 cup red onions, sliced and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • juice of 1 small lemon
  • optional: add a filet of steamed salmon


  1. Preheat oven to 425, and on a sheet pan, add chickpeas, 2 tsp. olive oil and spices and roast until golden brown.

  2. Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl and add in crispy chickpeas. Serve as is or with steamed salmon.


Italian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls


  • 1 head of green cabbage, stalk removed
  • 1/2 lbs. ground turkey
  • 1 cup cooked black lentils
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 cup low-fat ricotta
  • 1.2 cups low-fat shredded mozzarella
  • 1 tbsp. garlic paste
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 2 tsp. turmeric
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil to saute
  • 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 -1/2 cup Italian parsley, chopped
  • fresh basil


  1. In a large pot, boil water and add in the cabbage head, then boil for 8-10 minutes. 

  2. Remove and allow to cool slightly before removing the individual leaves, then boil them again until tender and soft. Remove from water and set aside, using a paring knife to cut out all the hard segments in the leaves.

  3. In a bowl, mix together the meat, lentils, spices, herbs, salt and pepper. Cover and store in the fridge until ready to use.

  4. In a large skillet, heat up olive oil and saute the sliced onions until translucent. Add in the tomatoes and garlic and allow to cook together.

  5. When ready to assemble, in a large dish, ladle about a third to half of the tomatoes on the bottom of the dish. Use a clean cutting board to lay the cabbage leaves flat, then spoon in a tablespoon of ricotta, sprinkle with mozzarella, then top with the ground meat mixture. 

  6. Fold edges to the center and then roll up each cabbage roll. Place all the rolls in the dish and top with the remaining crushed tomatoes, more mozzarella and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour.

  7. Garnish with fresh parsley and basil.


From Z to A with Zara Abbasi

Zara Abbasi is the pastry chef and recipe developer behind Zara Made It. Follow her food adventures on Instagram at @zaramadeit and on Tiktok at @happiestfoodonearth.

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