Let’s set aside the beer, the brats, and all the cheese to highlight the delicious heart-healthy foods produced in the great state of Wisconsin!

If I asked you to think of a state with an assortment of heart-healthy options, would Wisconsin come to mind? It might not but maybe it should.

Why the focus on Wisconsin?

Because we’re headed to the Badger State for the annual AACVPR National conference next month! With the event around the corner and my in-booth cooking demonstration to plan for, I’ve taken a keen interest in local ingredients.

Chef Chris stands in front of white and blue pipe-and-drape at a long black table holding a sample of what looks like a fruit salad and smiling at the camera. On the table are prepared samples, menu cards, a basket, napkins, and tropical fruits.
During the 2022 AACVPR conference in Florida, I served up a tropically-inspired tasting menu.

When I learned where this year’s AACVPR conference was going to be, I started researching heart-healthy grown-in-Wisconsin ingredients as I like my tasting menus to be inspired by the area. When I first learned of this year’s venue, I’ll admit, I was rather hesitant. Thankfully, it didn’t take me long to realize that Wisconsin has quite a bit to offer health-conscious chefs.

Beyond dairy, the state offers a beautiful variety of fruits such as apples, blackberries, cherries, cranberries, pears, and strawberries. They grow an array of some of my favorite vegetables and beans/legumes like potatoes, peas, snap beans, soybeans, and squash. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the bounty of whole grains grown in this region – Barely, oats, sweet corn, and wild rice.

With such a wide selection, the possibilities for my menu seemed limitless! There are a number of heart-healthy recipes that can easily be developed simply using is locally produced ingredients. Here is what I came up with:

  • Apple Pie Oatmeal – This comforting breakfast dish is a healthy reflection of Wisconsin’s state pie: Apple Pie, but with a regional twist! A little-known (or enforced) WI state law states that food service operations must offer cheese with their apple pie. So, we swirled in some fat-free ricotta cheese into the oatmeal giving it a creamy finish, and a little cheesy “funk”.
  • Apple Pie Spice Blend – Certain to enhance the standard flavors of an All American Apple Pie, this blend would also add a delightful bit of fall flavor to freshly baked cookies and muffins, French toast, and even a warm apple cider.
  • Sweet Potato and Corn Chowder – This chowder is a celebration of comforting flavors and interesting textures. It's guaranteed to offer a warm hug from the inside!

You can give these Wisconsin-inspired recipes a try for yourself by following the recipes below. Better yet - if you plan to attend AACVPR’s Annual Conference in Milwaukee this September, stop by Pritikin ICR’s exhibitor’s booth to give them all a try!

Apple Pie Oatmeal

Serves 8 – ½ cup serving

2 cups water
1 cup unsweetened soy milk
1 cup steel-cut oats
2 tablespoons plus ¼ cup apple juice concentrate, undiluted, divided
2 tablespoon vanilla extract, divided
1 medium golden delicious apple, cored and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons golden raisins
1 ripe medium banana, peeled and diced
½ teaspoon Apple Pie Spice blend

Pie Crust Topping
1 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoon apple juice concentrate, undiluted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon Apple Pie Spice blend

1. Preheat oven to 425°F.

2. Mix all Pie Crust Topping ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl until well combined. Spread mixture evenly on a rimmed sheet pan and bake for approximately 15 minutes, stirring every five minutes to brown evenly. Once lightly toasted and crisp, set aside to cool.

3. In a medium saucepan, bring water and soymilk to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, add oats, and stir to combine.

4. Add in 2 tablespoons of apple juice concentrate and 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract. Stir often until all the water is absorbed, and the oats are tender and cooked through, about 20 to 25 minutes. Set aside.

5. Meanwhile, pre-heat a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add in apples, raisins, banana, ¼ cup apple juice concentrate, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, and Apple Pie Spice blend. Cook until heated through, about 3 to 5 minutes.

6. Stir warmed apple mixture into cooked oatmeal.

7. Serve oatmeal and top with 2 tablespoons of pie crust topping.

Pritikin Chef's Tips
Instant Steel-Cut Oats can be used to make oatmeal in under 5 minutes!

For a Wisconsin twist, swirl some fat-free ricotta cheese into the oatmeal to give it a creamy finish, and a little cheesy “funk”.

Apple Pie Spice

Serves 12 – 1 teaspoon per serving

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground allspice

1. Combine all ingredients and mix well.

2. Store in a cool dry place convenient shaker jar with a tight-fitting lid for easy use.

Pritikin Chef's Tips
This spice blend will bring together all your favorite Fall spices to make a warm and cozy mixture that's great for a variety of recipes! Not only is it perfect for a healthy apple pie, but it's also delicious in anything that has an apple flavor! Try it in whole grain muffins, cobblers, oatmeal, or even to spice a warm apple cider!

Sweet Potato Corn Chowder

Serves 10 – 1 cup servings

2 cups peeled and small cubed sweet potatoes
½ cup diced yellow onion
½ cup diced celery
½ cup sliced leeks, white parts only
2 cups frozen yellow corn kernels, thawed
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 to 3 teaspoons dry thyme
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
2 bay leaves
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups unsalted vegetable broth
3 cups unsweetened soymilk
Dash of low sodium hot sauce, optional
2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved with 2 tablespoons water (this is called a cornstarch slurry - see note!)

1. Lightly mist a large stock pot with canola oil cooking spray and warm over medium-high heat.

2. Add cubed sweet potatoes and cook until potatoes just begin to soften, 5 minutes.

3. Add onion, celery, leeks, corn, and minced garlic. Sauté for about 5 minutes more until onions are translucent.

4. Season with dry thyme, smoked paprika, white pepper, and bay leaves, then deglaze with white wine and let cook for an additional 5 minutes.

5. Add vegetable broth, soymilk and bring up to a light boil. Taste and add in hot sauce or re-season as desired.

6. Add in corn starch slurry* and continue to cook on medium-high heat until chowder has thickened to your liking.

Pritikin Chef's Tips
*When making the cornstarch slurry, be sure to completely dissolve the cornstarch into the water. When adding the slurry to the chowder, mix it well to avoid lumps in your chowder.