Steps to taking the high out of blood pressure, plus recipe for cauliflower macaroni and cheese

March 16, 2018

What do you do when your doctor says your blood pressure is higher than it needs to be?  You go home and think about different things and you realize that maybe you could make some small changes in your eating habits to help.  But where to start without being totally overwhelmed?

picture of cauliflower mac and cheese for recipeTry these tips for good health:

  1. Cut down on salt…try not to pick up the salt shaker or season with salt. (read the labels of those seasonings, in many salt is the first ingredient)
  2. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. Keep your choices as close to natural as possible.
  3. Lose weight, a small change (as little as 5-10% of your total weight), can make a HUGE difference. This could mean the difference in how much medicine you have to take or even if you have to take medicine – an Under-utilized Tool!
  4. Be active every day (check with your doctor before you start an exercise program).  Guidelines suggest that 150 minutes of being active each week can make a difference. (This can also aid in weight loss).
  5. Talk with a dietitian, especially about the DASH eating plan (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension).  Research shows this eating plan can really make a difference in managing elevated blood pressure.  This diet was recently ranked as the Best Overall Diet for Healthy Eating by U.S. News. Check out The DASH Diet Action Plan by Marla Heller, MS, RD for a great resource in starting the DASH program!

Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese Recipe


  • 1 head cauliflower, trimmed and broken into bite-size florets
  • 1-1/4 cups elbow macaroni
  • Canola oil in a pump sprayer
  • 2 cups low-fat (1%) milk
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 4 ounces (1 cup) shredded reduced-sodium mild Cheddar cheese
  • 4 ounces (1 cup) shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup panko (Japanese-style breadcrumbs), preferably whole-wheat panko


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the cauliflower and cook just until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Using a wire sieve or a skimmer, transfer the cauliflower to a colander; leave the water boiling. Drain well. Pat the cauliflower dry with paper towels.
  2. Add the macaroni to the boiling water and cook according to the package directions until it is almost tender, about 7 minutes. Drain well.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with oil.
  4. Pour the milk into a medium saucepan. Sprinkle in the cornstarch and mustard and whisk to dissolve the cornstarch. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking often to avoid scorching; the sauce will thicken when it comes to a boil. Remove from the heat, add the cheeses and pepper, and whisk until smooth. Add the cauliflower and macaroni and mix well. Spread in the baking dish and sprinkle with the panko.
  5. Bake until the sauce is bubbling, about 20 minutes. Let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes, then serve hot.

Nutritional Analysis (1 serving): 234 calories, 13 g protein, 23 g carbohydrates, 10 g fat, 2 g fiber, 30 mg cholesterol, 88 mg sodium, 405 mg potassium. Food groups: 1 grain, 1 dairy, 1 vegetable.

Recipe from The Everyday DASH Diet Cookbook By Marla Heller, MS, RD and Rick Rodgers


This is another in a weekly series of healthy recipes from Kay MacInnis, registered dietitian at Providence Health in Columbia, S.C.

Kay promotes health and wellness, helping cardiac and diabetes patients eat their way to healthier lives. She works in consultation with the trained chefs at Providence, combining her nutrition knowledge with their food prep know-how to create delicious, healthy dishes for patients and the public. She also conducts a number of health and wellness events for the public, including the monthly Providence Cooks! classes.

"She doesn't just give you the fish, she teaches you how to cook it."

 – a Kay MacInnis fan and Providence Cooks! regular.