A diet is the penalty we pay for exceeding the feed limit.Unknown
Now that the holidays are long past us and those easy excuses for meals consisting completely of cakes and cookies are no more, the time for reevaluating our weekly menus has come.
February is officially Heart Disease Awareness Month, and in that spirit the following will be a complete breakdown of all the most cardiac-friendly meals gracing my kitchen table (and my stomach)!
Not simply healthy, but heavenly, these recipes will inspire you to look after your heart beyond those annual binges of Bridget Jones’ Diary (which are as vital to heart-health as any antioxidants, I’m sure good doctors everywhere would agree).
So get out that grocery list because it’s time to add some hearty essentials!
It’s the most important meal of the day, they say, and personally my very favorite. Sweet or savory, breakfast meals truly have options for everyone’s taste palettes, but certain choices are less appetizing for heart-conscious dieters.
Popular breakfast spreads here in America usually feature piles of fatty bacon, butter-slathered bread and sugary juices. Delicious though these may be, consuming them consistently can lead to heart disease and many other health complications.
One of my favorite breakfasts is avocado toast. Well, in fact, I love anything and everything about an avocado. It all starts with a crispy toast of Dave’s 21 Grains & Seeds Bread. Coarsely mash an avocado with a squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper. Then top it as you wish. A few of my favorite toppings are:
- Halved cherry tomatoes with a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar and minced basil
- Finely chop some radish, jalapeno and green onions. Toss in some salted pepitas (or sunflower seeds).
- A drizzle of quality EVOO, a healthy sprinkle of red pepper flakes, and sea salt
Tomorrow, try starting your day off right with one of these wholesome and hearty breakfast options. What they lack in harmful ingredients they pack full of in flavor.
- Peanut Butter Oatmeal with Apples
- Two Ingredient Breakfast Pancakes
- Non-Fat Yogurt Parfait
- Heart Healthy Berry Smoothie
Our second meal of the day is a pillar of our daily calendars; almost every job entitles you to an hour long lunch-break and this midday time frame is commonly utilized to catch up on socializing with peers and unplugging from the daily rigours of life.
It’s no secret that we eat three meals a day to keep our metabolism up and running and aid in providing our body the necessary nutrients for success, but we also eat because it’s fun. One major mistake folks make when on any kind of health & wellness journey is to restrict pleasure in eating. Be wary of this my friends; those late night grumblies come for us all and will always win. To avoid them, remember to fill your fridge with nutritious and delicious lunch options that you actually look forward to eating!
Not too long ago, I was wandering past the deli counter at Whole Foods and saw this delicious looking Curry Chicken Salad (vegan) and took some home. It was fabulous and you’d never know it was vegan, just like some of my friends didn’t know when they ate it. It took a couple of tries, and I managed to replicate it. Start with some rotisserie chicken pieces or Lightlife Smart Tenders (from Trader Joes). To it, I added chopped celery and green onions, raw cashews and raisins (or currants) along with mayonnaise, Trader Joe’s mango chutney and curry powder, to taste. Top it on some toast or butter lettuce leaves. Folks, it’s so flavorful!
Some additional favorites include:
- Mediterranean Pasta Salad
- The Ultimate Veggie Sandwich
- Shrimp Scampi Zoodles
- Pico de Gallo Quinoa Bowl
I’ve heard it’s best to eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper, but just because it should be your smallest meal, doesn’t mean dinner can’t be the most heart-healthy, yummy part of your day!
Dinner is, after all, the fare we are most likely to share with our family and loved ones; it’s not just a meal, it’s a moment for memory-making. Finding recipes you can recreate and enjoy with your special ones will not only feed your stomach, but your soul.
A recent addition to my recipe compendium is this Shrimp Risotto with Asparagus & Snap Peas. Make any risotto recipe of your liking, and add some asparagus and snap peas as the risotto is finishing cooking. Take off heat and add some parmesan cheese. Grill or pan-saute some shrimp with garlic and lemon and add to the top of the risotto. Garnish with some additional parmesan and lemon. This is going to be one of my favorites come Spring!
Give your heart a break and your mouth something to savor with one of these additional sumptuous dinner ideas:
- Homemade Chicken Tenders with Everything Bagel Seasoning over Salad
- Turkey Burger with Pumpkin See Pesto
- Cod with Crispy Green Beans
- Mediterranean Vegetable Minestrone Soup
There’s a common misconception that dessert is not in fact a meal, but I am here to bust that myth! Here’s my theory: if you don’t give your body the sweetness it craves at least once a day, you’ll have to pay the troll toll eventually (i.e late night binges).
I don’t mean to say you should be implementing a bowl of ice cream or slice of cake into your daily diet; there are plenty of healthy and natural sugar sources out there to satisfy those cravings!
A great dessert any time is a parfait with fresh berries. And this one is super easy. Take some fat-free vanilla pudding, and add to it fat-free yogurt, a drizzle of vanilla and 2 tablespoons of Dickinson’s lemon curd. To your favorite berries, add some lemon zest, honey and lemon juice. Mix together gently. Layer both the pudding and berries in your favorite dessert dish. It’s a Spring fling in your mouth with every bite!
Get ready to have your cake and eat it too with more heart- conscious dessert choices.
- Stovetop Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
- Heart Healthy Carrot Cake
- Banana “Ice Cream”
- Apple Berry Cobbler
Food is fuel for our minds, bodies, souls, and hearts. It’s always important to eat well, be it for cardiovascular health or to simply be more mindful of what it is we’re consuming, however of equal importance is that we enjoy what we eat!
When we sit down for a meal we are taking a moment to tune into ourselves. We gravitate towards certain flavors or textures not simply for their nutritional values, but for the ways they make us feel. Food is nostalgia, it’s meditation, it’s cerebral. To truly commit to a healthy diet, we must first learn to see food as more than just a necessity, but a means of physical pleasure and fun. When you prohibit the visceral experience of enjoyment from your meals, your cravings will only increase, sabotaging your goals. Along with striving towards a more heart-conscious meal plan, try making fulfilling flavors a priority. When healthy eating is synonymous with happy eating your heart will really thank you!