Healthy Snacks for a Happy Heart
Why is it Important to Have a Healthy Heart?
Your heart, that muscle the size of your fist that sits on the right side of your chest, is pretty much responsible for just about everything that gives your body life. It is responsible for jobs ranging from the transportation of oxygen to the working success of your immune system.
All of this makes it of the upmost importance to keep your heart happy. So how do you do that? By exercising regularly, keep your heart clean (don't smoke, drink, or do drugs), and follow a heart healthy diet.
How to make your favorite recipes healthier
- Bake your food instead of frying. If you must fry, blot food with paper towels.
- Use reduced fat cheese or try using mozzarella cheese, it is naturally lower in fat.
- Try using whole grain side dishes such as bulgar or kasha instead of white rice or pasta.
- In many cases you can cut back on your unhealthy fats by using less butter, oil, or margarine. In some cases you can cut their use by up to 1/2 without noticing the difference. Begin by cutting back a tiny bit and cut back a little more each time.
- When making casseroles, soups and stews, use more vegetables and cut down on meat.
- When your recipe calls for milk or cream, try using reduced fat versions such as rice milk, soy milk, almond milk, low-fat cream cheese, low-fat yogurt, or mayonnaise.
- When eating a baked potato, instead of butter or sour cream, try using salsa.
- If you have a craving for fresh fruit, try using frozen without adding sugar.
- Use whole wheat flour instead of white flour in your recipes.
- In many cases you can use substitutes such as applesauce or prune purees when making baked goods instead of the fats such as oil, butter or margarine.
- Try not to use products that contain monosodium glutamate (example: soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce) instead experiment with different herbs and spices.
Note: Following a heart-healthy diet doen't have to be a hassle. With a little effort you can turn almost any recipe into a healthy meal. A little imagination and experimentation can work wonders. It may, in the beginning take a little longer to prepare your snacks and meals but in the long run the benefits you will reap outweigh the little bit of extra time you spent in the beginning. Once it becomes second nature you will wonder what the fuss was all about.
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 lb whole blanched almonds
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Combine olive oil, chili powder, salt, cumin, and almonds in a bowl, coating almonds evenly.
Spread coated almonds in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake for 35 minutes,
Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.
Strawberry Cream Cheese
1/2 cup Neufchatel (reduced fat cream cheese)
1/4 cup chopped, frozen or fresh strawberries
1 1/2 tsp confectioners sugar
dash of allspice or cinnamon
Combine all ingredients and store in refrigerator overnight.
Delicious on whole grain bread, bagel or crackers.
Frozen Chocolate Bananas
4 medium size bananas
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted.
Cut bananas in half.
Insert a Popsicle stick into cut end of each banana piece.
Cover each banana half with melted chocolate.
Place bananas on a baking sheet covered with wax paper and freeze until well frozen.
Store in freezer for up to a week.
Heart Healthy Snacks
- apples cut into wedges
- dried fruit - pears, mangoes, apricots, apples, raisins (dark and golden)
- air-popped popcorn
- fat-free, sugar free yogurt sprinkled with nuts
- baby carrots or carrot stick dipped in peanut butter
- baked tortilla chips with home-made salsa
- berry surprise - a mixture of fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries.
- a cup of home-made soup with whole grain crackers
- ants on a log - celery sticks with peanut butter and raisins
- ice pops made out of unsweetened fruit juice
- mini pizzas made out of whole grain English Muffins, tomato sauce, low-fat mozzarella cheese, topped with oregano, thyme, chopped onions and green peppers.
- low-fat cheese on whole grain crackers
- pretzels with low-fat cheese
- unsweetened applesauce
- frozen grapes - they're a great cooling during the summer
- fat-free cottage cheese topped with unsweetened strawberries, blueberries or raspberries
- fresh vegetables with low-fat dressing used as a dip
- rice cakes with low-fat cheese spread or peanut butter.
Note: All of these heart-healthy snack contain protein, a variety of vitamins and minerals, low carbohydrates, the fiber your body needs and just a tiny bit of fat. They will leave you feeling satisfied, proud of yourself control and healthier. Eating heart-healthy snack is a conscious decision, try it, your heart will thank you.
Take care of your body.
It's the only place you have to live.— Jim Roche
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World Heart Day is celebrated on 29 September. Screenings, walks, concerts, sporting events are organized by the World Heart Federation.
© 2011 Susan Hazelton