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.
My three kids love this recipe for Mini Calzones, which I created for CanolaInfo’s “Home is Where the Heart is” Recipe Collection in honor of World Heart Day. They are so simple to prepare and tasty, your kids won’t even know just how heart-healthy they are.
Like other busy moms, keeping my family healthy is on the top of my list. For me, it’s about making small changes, like using canola oil in a dish as opposed to butter or other oils. I’ve always used canola oil in my kitchen, but have learned so much more during this campaign. Here is some of my favorite info:
1. Everybody needs a little fat in their diet. Fat is a part of every cell in the body. It’s a valuable source of energy, and it aids in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. It also slows digestion so that you feel full longer.
2. Not all fats are created equally. Unsaturated fats are healthy and saturated and trans fats are unhealthy. The type of fat consumed is as important as the amount.
3. Canola oil is one of the healthiest oils in the world. It has the least saturated fat of any cooking oil (half that of olive oil) and is free of trans fat and cholesterol. Canola oil also has the most omega-3 fat of any cooking oil and is a good source of vitamin E.
4. Canola oil can help protect the heart for just pennies a day. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized a qualified health claim for canola oil on its potential to reduce the risk of heart disease when used in place of saturated fat. About 1.5 tablespoons of canola oil a day is enough to help keep the cardiologist away.
5. Canola oil is extremely versatile. Its light and neutral flavor make it ideal for almost any culinary application. In addition, the smoke point is extremely high at 468 F, making it ideal for sautéing or frying.
Also, if you haven’t already, check out the new interactive cooking game at Facebook.com/CanolaInfo, which features my recipe collection! You become the chef and try to beat the clock!
I am so excited to announce my partnership with CanolaInfo for their 2011 World Heart Day campaign. As part of my work with them, I created the “Home is Where the Heart is” Recipe Collection, which includes six simple, family-friendly, and heart-healthy recipes (such as these brownies above).
World Heart Day, observed on Sept. 29, was created by the World Heart Federation to encourage heart-healthy habits from regular exercise to nutritious eating. Heart disease remains the world’s number one killer and the World Heart Federation is dedicated to leading the fight against it along with stroke. Together with the World Heart Federation, CanolaInfo is helping to inform the public on ways to prevent this disease by providing heart-healthy tips, recipes, publications and more.
Besides the recipe collection, I am working with CanolaInfo on some social media events over the next month. On Sept. 1 from 12-1 PM CST, I will be participating in my first ever “Twitterview!” The folks at @CanolaInfo will be interviewing me (@alisonlewis) about my new recipe collection and ways I keep my family healthy and active. You can ask your own questions as well, just use #CanolaInfo. In addition, 10 lucky participants will be chosen at random to receive a free cookbook! You can RSVP for the here for the Twitterview.
In addition, on World Heart Day (Sept. 29) from 7-8 PM CST, I will host a discussion on ways to be heart smart at home from CanolaInfo’s Facebook page. I hope you will come and share your own tips and stories as well. To top it all off, 10 more of you will be chosen at random to receive a CanolaInfo Heart Health Toolkit! You can RSVP here for Canolainfo Facebook Party.
I am honored to be a part of this project. Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing my recipes from the “Home is Where the Heart Is” campaign – all of which include canola oil. Meanwhile, for more information about this healthy oil, go to www.canolainfo.org.
P.S. On Sept. 1, CanolaInfo is launching an interactive Facebook game that features my recipes! You become the chef and try to beat the clock! Check it out at Facebook.com/CanolaInfo.