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

10 Foods Great for Healthy Skin

Summer is now upon us, and this is the time of year to really take care of your skin. Many doctors say the more attention we pay to what we put in our body, the more it will help with skin problems later. I thought I would share some of my favorite foods that are great for healthy skin. Let me know if you have any favorites to add to my list.

 

1. Blueberries and Strawberries-Foods high in antioxidants are ideal for healthy skin. These should be on your summer list while they’re in peak season.

2. Green Tea-Green tea contains phenols which have anti-inflammatory properties. It has been said that drinking green tea daily can even prevent skin cancer.

3. Avocados-Filled with essential oils and B-complex vitamins, avocados are filled with Niacin (vitamin B3) which is important for healthy skin.

4. Almonds, Pumpkin Seeds and Walnuts-These nuts, filled with vitamin E, zinc and magnesium, are great for your skin.

5. Salmon-Contains essential fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6 and can help create great moisturized looking skin.

6. Water-Many of us have heard it before, but water keeps you hydrated and keeps the skin healthy and younger looking. Make sure you drink at least 8 glasses a day.

7. Low-Fat Yogurt-Dairy products are full of Vitamin A necessary for healthy skin. Try Greek yogurt or even low-fat cottage cheese if you like.

8. Carrots-An excellent source of Vitamin A, carrots also contain high amounts of beta-carotene and antioxidants which helps prevent damage to the skin.

9. Mangoes-Mangoes are high in Beta Carotene and Vitamin A, and they are a good source of antioxidants. These have also been called an “acne cure”.

10. Kiwi-Kiwi packs more vitamin C than any other fruit which helps maintain collagen in our skin.  Collagen helps keep the skin firm.

Strawberry Cobbler

Cobblers are one of my all-time favorite desserts. When I was trying to decide on a recipe to feature for the February issue of the Birmingham Magazine, the first thing that came to mind was a warm succulent Strawberry Cobbler. I thought it would be different to add oats to the topping, making it lighter and healthier. The recipe worked perfectly on my first try during recipe testing (I love it when that happens). When my 3 kids said, “Mom, this is the best thing you have ever made.” I must admit, I agreed. Enjoy on Valentines, Mother’s Day or really anytime. It’s true comfort food, easy to prepare and so worth it.

Easter Treats: Chocolate Dipped Strawberries, Petit Fours and Peeps

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Since spring is in the air and Easter is around the corner, I thought I would show you these awesome gift ideas. First, the combination of Chocolate Covered Strawberries and Gourmet Petits Fours include eight scrumptious California  grown strawberries dipped in dark and white chocolate and then hand striped in Spring pastel colors. The four bite size petits fours include lemon, strawberry, orange and chocolate.  Second, the hand-dipped gourmet chocolate strawberries and Spring Peeps. Each strawberry and Peep is covered in gourmet chocolate and packed with eight delicious, juicy chocolate strawberries and four darling Peeps nestled in decadent chocolate coating. See http://www.bouquetoffruits.com for more information.

Valentine’s Day Idea: Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

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My friend, Kiel, a law student, asked me if I am picky and critical about restaurants and food products since my profession is a Recipe Developer. I told her that I am really not as picky as most people think, and when I try something I really like, I stick with it. So, for Valentine’s Day, I thought I would share a gift that’s wonderful and beautiful. The company, Bouquet of fruits, features the finest gourmet dipped strawberries you will ever find. Only the best California grown strawberries are used. Each strawberry is selected then hand-dipped in their own creamy chocolate coating. They are then decorated with a variety of toppings. The strawberries are also kosher and an exquisite gift. For more varieties, visit http://www.gourmentshoppingnetwork.com and http://www.bouquetoffruits.com