Top 10 Heart Healthy Tips

February is heart health month, so I thought I would share some of my healthy heart tips. A few of my favorite heart healthy foods are salmon, nuts, oatmeal, dark chocolate, tomatoes, berries and even red wine (in moderation). Read on for some easy tips to better heart health.

1. Limit unhealthy fats and cholesterol-If you reduce trans and saturated fats, you can reduce your cholesterol.

Choose: canola oil and olive oil

Avoid: butter, lard, bacon, fat

2. Choose Low Fat Protein Sources-Choose lean meats, eat less red meat and choose heart healthy fish (such as wild salmon and mackerel). These are filled with omega 3-fatty acids. Other good options include lean meats and poultry, low-fat daily products and egg whites. Avoid full fat milk and dairy products, egg yolks, bacon and fried foods.

3. Eat more vegetables and fruits-Eat raw fruits and veggies, and if you cook your vegetables, steam, grill or sauté them.

Avoid: frying vegetables, vegetables in cream sauces and fruit in heavy syrup.

4. Eat Whole Grains and Seeds-Choose whole grains and add seeds such as ground flaxseed and chia seeds to your diet. Flaxseeds are small brown seeds that are high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower your total blood cholesterol. You can grind the seeds in a coffee grinder or food processor and stir a teaspoon of them into yogurt, applesauce or hot cereal.

Avoid: white bread, cakes, and pies

5. Reduce sodium intake-Sodium can lead to high blood pressure. Choose fresh or dried herbs and spices instead of salt.

Avoid: table salt, full sodium canned soup, soy sauce, and tomato juice

6. Control portions-Watch your portions. A serving of pasta is ½ cup and the size of a hockey puck. 3 to 4 ounces of lean meat is the size of deck of cards.

7. Plan your daily meals ahead of time – Eat out less and cook healthy meals more.

8. Eat more Power-Foods-Power foods are those foods packed with antioxidants such as cherries, strawberries, berries, chia and flaxseeds, lentils, pomegranates, quinoa and more.

9. Exercise that heart-Try to exercise 5 to 6 times a week. Walk, run, dance, bike, swim or do what you love to get that heart pumping.

10. Replace junk food with fruits and vegetables– Start by replacing one junk food a week, and increase this every week  until you have a cleaner diet.

Photo above via pinterest  

photo above from Pinterest

Best Foods for Runners

I have been an avid runner since I was 16. I love it, and it’s definitely one of my passions. For years, friends have asked me to come up with recipes for runners. Instead, I thought I would research what are the best foods and write about it. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Wild Salmon-Wild salmon is an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids which boost heart health and nerve system functioning. Some doctors even say omega-3’s can help with post-run achy joints.

2. Almonds-High in antioxidants, protein and vitamin E, almonds are a wise choice for a runner’s snack helping to prevent achy muscles.

3. Quinoa-This complex carbohydrate (pronounced Keen-wah) is a great energy source filled with fiber, B vitamin, zinc and magnesium which are so helpful to runners. One-fourth cup of dry of quinoa has 172 calories, 6 grams of protein, 31 grams of carbohydrate and 3 grams of fiber, and it’s also gluten-free.

4. Kale-This member of the cabbage family has high levels of vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin K, vitamin C and fiber. It is one of the most antioxidant filled vegetables.

5. Bananas-This great pre-workout or post-workout food is a great source of carbohydrates and potassium. That is why you will always find bananas offered at the end of races.

6. Eggs-Eating one egg offers a great source of vitamin K and protein which aid in promoting healthy bones and muscles. I like to purchase the organic omega-3 enhanced eggs.

7. Blueberries-Filled with vitamin C and potassium, these can help the body repair itself after long, hard runs.

8. Edamame-This great snack is filled with protein, fiber, iron, potassium, magnesium, vitamin K and vitamin C. It’s a great snack option loaded with health benefits.

9. Yogurt-Low-fat yogurt has a good source of carbohydrates and protein, and Greek yogurt has less carbs and even more protein. Both are great sources of calcium which is important for runners to help prevent stress fractures and osteoporosis.

10. Oranges-High in vitamin C, oranges are great for healing and helping absorb iron in the body which can help prevent fatigue and increase energy levels.

Citrus at Its Best: Orange Ricotta Pancakes

This weekend, I am so excited to be speaking at  Food Blog South, a conference and workshop in Birmingham, Alabama on Recipe Development along with the talented Virginia Willis. It’s going to be wonderful weekend filled with bloggers, writers, photographers and so many others from around the country. Proceeds from the conference go to support a charity to restore the Gulf, and also support The Desert Island Supply Company, a Woodlawn-based writing center for kids. Recently, I was working on a recipe development project for a client creating recipes made with citrus fruits. I loved how these Orange Ricotta Pancakes turned out: so light and fluffy with the perfect hint of orange flavor. This makes a great breakfast idea for this weekend since oranges are at their peak. Enjoy and have a great weekend!