3 Heart-Healthy Recipes to Make Right Now
- Written By:Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN
When I think of February I think of hearts, the color red and, well, snow. Makes sense that this month we not only celebrate Valentine’s day but it also happens to be National Heart Health Awareness Month. Coincidence? I think not. Did you know that many of the foods that promote optimal heart health are dark in color and tend to contain some serious sex appeal? Some of my favorites include pomegranate seeds, berries, kale, the ever seductive dark chocolate, and even red wine. (Ok, the kale might just be sexy to dietitians.) The dark color is a reflection of the powerful antioxidant properties they possess giving them their inflammation fighting, cholesterol lowering and blood pressure reducing powers. Let’s celebrate this month with a few of my favorite heart healthy recipes perfect for your Valentine's Day celebration, or really anytime!
Pomegranate and Beet Salad
Health Benefits: Pomegranates contain polyphenols which help to decrease inflammation and therefore support healthy arteries and blood flow reducing blood pressure.Beets are also rich in antioxidants, nitrates and folate which have all been shown to lower blood pressure, prevent damage to blood vessels and to improve athletic performance.
- 2 Beets (peeled, chopped or buy already prepared beets we recommend lovebeets.com)
- 2 tbsps Avocado Oil
- 2 tbsps Apple Cider Vinegar
- 3 cups Mixed Greens
- 2 Clementines (peeled, sectioned)
- 1/4 cup Pomegranate Seeds
- 1/4 cup Feta Cheese
Preheat the oven to 400. Wash and place beets in tin foil packet, seal completely. Bake for 40 - 50 minutes checking every 20 minutes to not burn.
Let cool, then gently rub off skin and discard (I wear disposable gloves to prevent staining my fingers). You can also use store bought beets.
While the beets cook, make the dressing. Combine the oil and apple cider vinegar in a jar and shake vigorously until combined.
Divide the mixed greens evenly between plates. Top with the cooled beets, clementines, pomegranate seeds and cheese. Add the dressing and enjoy!
Pistachio Pomegranate Bark
Health benefits: Pistachios are a great source of fiber which reduces LDL (remember: “L stands for lousy”) cholesterol and promotes weight loss. Dark chocolate and/or cacao (not cocoa..there is a difference!) contain antioxidants called flavonols which reduce blood pressure and lower the risk of insulin resistance. No blood sugar spikes here!
- 7 oz Dark Chocolate (at least 70% cacao we love Hu Kitchen Gems)
- 1 cup Pomegranate Seeds
- 1/2 cup Pistachios (shelled and chopped)
- 1/4 cup Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
- Sea salt to taste
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Prepare the pomegranate seeds, pistachios and coconut flakes in bowls.
Fill one large pot with water and place a smaller pot inside. Bring to a boil then reduce to lowest heat. Ensure no water is able to escape into the smaller pot! Add the dark chocolate to the smaller pot. Stir continuously just until melted. Remove from stove top immediately once melted. Do not overheat as this will cause the chocolate to get lumpy.
Pour the melted chocolate onto the baking sheet. Use a spatula to smooth the chocolate into an even layer, about 1/4 inch thick. Quickly sprinkle the pomegranate seeds evenly over top, followed by the pistachios and finally the coconut. Transfer to the fridge or freezer and let chill for 20 to 30 minutes, or until firm. Add a sprinkle of flaky sea salt for punch!
Once the chocolate is firm, break or cut it into pieces. Enjoy!
Simply Sexy Chocolate dipped Cherries
Health Benefits: Rich in vitamin C to maintain immunity (much needed this winter) and skin integrity but also dark in color signifying the presence of the same antioxidants as pomegranates and berries. Heart protective and fun to eat!
- 4 ozs Dark Chocolate, >70% cacao (chopped)
- 2 cups Cherries (stems on, organic, washed and dried very well)
Place the dark chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for one minute, then stir. Return to the microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring each time, until all the chocolate has melted.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Dip each cherry into the melted chocolate and place on the baking sheet. Refrigerate for at least 25 minutes or until the chocolate has hardened. Enjoy!