Heart-Smart Snack: No-Bake Peanut Butter Granola Bars

For those who know me well, you know that eating healthy and staying active is extremely important to me. I have been a runner since I was 16 and in love with anything related to health and nutrition since college. Over the past 20 years, my dad has had three heart attacks and open-heart surgeries, which has made me even more conscious of keeping my family fit and heart-healthy.

As you know, I’ve been working with CanolaInfo on its World Heart Day campaign and have learned a lot! For example, cardiovascular disease (CVD), including heart disease, stroke and diseases of the blood vessels, is the number one cause of death worldwide, accounting for more than 17 million lost lives every year. In the U.S. alone, more than 81 million people (37 percent of the population) have CVD, resulting in nearly 850,000 deaths a year. Research has also shown that obese children are at a high risk for being obese as adults, which is a risk factor for CVD. There is good news though – with healthy diet and exercise, CVD can be prevented up to 80 percent of the time!

I’ve tried to teach my three children (10, 12 and 14) the importance of a healthy lifestyle through examples I’ve set and it seems to be working! As a family, we like to ride bikes, take walks, play tennis – anything active that we can do together. I also urge them to join team sports every season and we discuss the importance of making healthy food choices. I include them in meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking. I am always proud, impressed and grateful when I see them making wise decisions with healthy snacks and other foods. But kids are also, well kids, so I try to make heart-healthy foods fun like these No Bake Peanut Butter Granola Bars I developed for CanolaInfo’s “Home is Where the Heart is” Recipe Collection.

These easy and tasty granola bars are perfect for breakfast, a lunchbox dessert or afternoon snack. For more great kid-friendly recipes and information on living a heart-smart lifestyle, visit Canolainfo.org.

Halibut with Mango and Goat Cheese

Grilling in the summer is the norm at my house. Lately, I have really been trying to get my kids to eat more fish. This Halibut with Mango and Goat Cheese recipe is one of my newest favorite creations that they really liked (can you say no leftovers?).  The combination of maple syrup and Dijon mustard flavors the fish to perfection, and it goes great with the sweet and savory mango topping made with fresh mangos, parsley, lime juice and goat cheese. This makes a great weekend night family dinner or weekend idea for entertaining with friends. Serve with a tossed salad and grilled asparagus or grilled okra for a healthy summery meal in under 35 minutes.

Under 30 Minutes: Salmon with Pineapple-Pomegranate Salsa

If you’re looking for a dinner idea under 30 minutes, try Salmon with Pineapple-Pomegranate Salsa. This main dish is incredibly heart-healthy, pretty and filled with great flavors. This salmon recipe is truly one of my favorites. Start simply by combining maple syrup and Dijon and brushing the mixture over the fish. Top it with the easy, fresh Pineapple Salsa combination made with chopped fresh pineapple, fresh cilantro, lime juice and pomegranate seeds. When pomegranate seeds are out of season, you can substitute fresh blueberries or dried cherries. Feel free to also grill the salmon when grilling season rolls around. Enjoy this dish for a weeknight or weekend, and serve it with your favorite rice and a mixed green salad.

Crisp, Fresh and Flavorful: Basil-Citrus Shrimp Salad

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I’m on a main-dish salad kick this week since it’s so hot outside. I’m also so busy developing and testing recipes for a Christmas project for a major brand. It is so fun to think about Christmas and smell holiday dishes cooking in my kitchen in July. Testing heavier recipes for work makes me want something really light and healthy for dinner. This recipe is one of my favorites for this time of year. I love the freshness of grapefruit, oranges and basil served with the shrimp. When I make this, it’s gone within minutes. It’s very low in carbs, fat, calories and gluten-free.

Gluten-Free, Low Carb and Low Calorie: Flank Steak with Tomatoes and Feta

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My sister, Natalie, asked me for some main-dish dinner ideas since her two daughters are now home from college for the summer. This recipe for Flank Steak with Tomatoes and Feta is perfect for weeknights and weekends, especially since it’s grilling season (and Memorial Day is coming up). It’s so simple to prepare using fresh basil, oregano, garlic, fresh lemon juice and red wine vinegar. And who says beef isn’t healthy? Flank Steak with Tomatoes and Feta only has 185 calories, 29 grams of protein and only 2 grams of fat and carbohydrates per serving.