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Fourth of July

The Fourth of July is coming up this weekend so I thought I would post some recipes I have found from around the web that would be both a delicious and nutritious addition to your holiday festivities. Enjoy!

Socal Guacamole Burger; Cooking Light

This burger, made with lean ground sirloin is topped with guacamole and alfalfa sprouts. Findings from a pilot study at UCLA have indicated that eating 1/2 a medium haas avocado with a hamburger may decrease certain inflammatory markers when compared to eating a hamburger alone despite the increase in fat and calories that the avocado contributed.

Spicy Grilled Sweet Potatoes; Cooking Light

Full of vitamin a and flavor, these grilled potatoes are a much better choice then deep fried French fries.

Grilled Sweet Chili Lime Chicken; The Recipe Critic

Grilled chicken breasts is a great healthy option. Use a reduced sodium soy sauce to help cut down on the sodium.

Blue Cheese Portobello Burgers; Eating Well

For all those vegetarians out there, portobello caps make a great burger substitute.

Fruit kebobs are always a healthy and refreshing treat. The flag pattern makes it extra fun!

Fourth of July Mini Berry Cheesecakes; Mom’s Kitchen Handbook

Super cute dessert! Reduced fat dairy products along with the pre-portion size helps to decrease calories and saturated fat.

Warm Banana Coconut Breakfast Bowl

I found this super easy breakfast recipe on last week and couldn’t wait to try it! It was very easy, it only took me about 3 minutes total and it was also really good so of course I thought I would share.

It was just me eating it (my fiancée hates bananas, but he did remark that it smelled good) so I divided everything in half and just made one portion. The recipe doesn’t specify what kind of coconut milk to use but I used unsweetened to save on calories and sugar. So Delicious Dairy Free Unsweetened Coconut Milk Beverage was what I chose (only 45 calories per cup!). I don’t think it would have needed sweetened anyways because the bananas made the dish sweet enough. I also used crushed nuts the second time I made it because I didn’t like having the large pecan halves just hanging around. It felt more blended when they were crushed. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! 🍌🍌🍌

Heart Healthy Diet Tip #5

Drink More Water!

Water is important for many functions in your body and is necessary for life. It helps remove toxins, aids in digestion, delivers nutrients to cells and helps to regulate body temperature. The human body is composed of anywhere between 50-75% water so it is easy to see why it is so important. Dehydration causes your blood to thicken which can increase your risk of blood clots and make it more difficult for your heart to pump your blood throughout your body.

Water also happens to contain 0 calories so replacing 1 can of soda a day with water can save you about 140 calories per day which can translate to almost a 15 pound weight loss over the course of a year. And a healthy weight is important for a healthy heart ❤️

How much do I need to drink?

The amount of water people need varies from person to person. It depends on things like climate you live in, exercise habits and medical conditions. The best way to determine if you are hydrated is to look at the color of your urine. If it is pale, you are doing a good job, if it is dark, you should try and increase your intake.

Happy Hydrating!

Heart Healthy Diet Tip #4

Eat More Fruits and Veggies!

Fruits and vegetables are great sources of vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals. Because of this and their generally lower amounts of calories and fat they have been shown to help with weight control and can decrease your risk for multiple chronic disease such as heart disease and cancer. The American Heart Association recommends consuming 8 or more servings of fruit and vegetables every day….Which can seem overwhelming, but it may not be as hard to do as you think.

What counts as a serving?

1/2 C of fresh, frozen or canned fruits or vegetables
1/2 C of 100% fruit or vegetable juice
1 medium fruit
1 C of raw leafy green vegetables
1/4 C dried fruit

Tips to Add More Fruits and Vegetables in Your Diet

1. Pack a banana, apple or dried fruits in your purse for a quick snack
2. Toss some berries or raisins into your breakfast cereal or oatmeal
3. Add veggies such as peppers and onions to your eggs
4. Add a salad, vegetable soup or piece of fruit to your lunch or dinner
5. Add tomatoes, lettuce, onions or any other favorite vegetables to your sandwich
6. Keep some cut up fruit and vegetable sticks ready in your refrigerator for a quick and easy snack
7. Keep a bag of frozen fruit such as mixed berries in your freezer so you can make a nice cold smoothie on a hot day
8. Add chopped vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms or onions to your pasta or rice
9. If you are a dessert fan you can try baking fruit such as apples, pears or plums with a light sprinkle of brown sugar and cinnamon
10. Eat from the rainbow! Add colors to your diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables!

Check out these great recipes to help you eat more fruits and veggies!

Roasted Plums with Greek yogurt…. just make sure you choose a nonfat greek yogurt with no added sugars

Super Easy Brown Rice with Vegetables….. If using soy sauce choose a low sodium soy sauce

Frozen Smoothie

And here is a salad that is definitely not your usual boring normal every day salad

Heart Healthy Diet Tip #3

Replace “Bad” Fats with “Good” Fats

Fat has gotten a bad reputation but it is not all bad. Fat is important for healthy skin and brain function and also helps with the absorption of some vitamins such as vitamin A, D, and E. Fat can also help you feel fuller longer. In order to replace your bad fats with good fats it is important to know the difference between the different types of fats and why some kinds of fats are good and others are bad.

Bad Fats – Saturated and Trans Fats

Saturated and trans fats are known to increase LDL cholesterol levels in your blood which can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. Saturated fat occurs naturally, mostly in animal products such as meat, butter, and cheese. Trans fat does occur naturally in very small amounts but most of the trans fat we consume today is artificially made through a process where hydrogen is added into vegetable oil to make it last longer. The end result is called “partially hydrogenated oil.” You can find this ingredient in many commercially baked goods, fried items such as potato chips or french fries, microwave popcorn, some margarines. Trans fat is even worse than saturated fat because not only does it increase your LDL cholesterol levels (bad cholesterol) it also decreases your HDL cholesterol levels (good cholesterol). Check your labels and try to avoid anything that contains partially hydrogenated oil.

Tip: If a fat is solid at room temperature, it most likely is full of “bad” fats.

Good Fats – Unsaturated Fats such as Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fats

Both mono and polyunsaturated fats can actually help reduce your cholesterol and decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke. Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat that are essential in the diet and you can actually develop a deficiency if you do not consume these fats. Omega-3 fatty acids can decrease elevated triglyceride levels and lower levels of inflammation, both important for cardiovascular health. Sources of “Good” fats include nuts, oils such as olive and canola oil, avocados, and fish.

So how do I replace “bad” fats with “good” fats?

Here are a few easy practical ways:

1. Use oils such as olive or canola oil instead of butter or margarine when cooking.

2. Add a slice of avocado to your sandwich instead of butter.

3. Choose lean meats and cut off or drain any visible fat.

4. Eat fish twice a week.

5. Pack an ounce of mixed nuts for a snack instead of getting candy or other junk food from the vending machine.

6. Check your food labels for partially hydrogenated oils and avoid!

Here are a few recipes full of “good” fats:

If plain nuts are too boring for you check out this recipe for Rosemary Roasted Almonds

Avocados as a pasta sauce really intrigues me and I think I will have to try this recipe…using a whole grain pasta of course 🙂

Heart Healthy Diet Tip #2

Eat Less Sodium

Sodium is an essential nutrient used in our bodies as an electrolyte. Electrolytes are important for muscle contractions, nerve transmissions, fluid balance and blood pressure. However, when too much sodium is consumed blood pressure can increase, causing damage to your heart and arteries.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend sodium to be limited to 2300mg per day for adults and children 2 years and older. For those that have high blood pressure, are African American, or are 51 years or older, sodium should be further reduced to 1500mg per day.

It is estimated that the average American consumes about 3400mg of sodium every day. Most of the sodium consumed comes from processed foods and restaurant meals. If you start looking at the sodium content of restaurants foods and processed convenience items it is easy to see how we consume so much sodium.

For example:
Applebee’s Sizzling Skillet Fajita with Chicken has 4730mg of sodium!!! Even if you eat only half you are still consuming 2365mg which is still more than the recommended amount for the whole day!

And in the frozen food aisle, Bertolli’s Chicken Marsala and Roasted Red Skin Potatoes contain 920mg of sodium per portion. If you add a salad with 2 tablespoons of wishbone italian dressing to your meal you are adding another 340mg of sodium.

A good rule of thumb is to try and keep sodium intake to around 500mg at each meal and 250mg for each snack. That way if you eat 3 meals a day and 2 snacks you will be around 2000mg for the day.

Making your meals yourself and avoiding processed foods is the easiest way to decrease your sodium intake but that is not always possible due to busy schedules and sometimes you only have time for fast foods or frozen meals. Or maybe you had a long day and are tired and just don’t feel like cooking and having to wash all the dishes afterwards.

So here are a few lower sodium convenience food item recommendations for those days:

-Healthy Choice frozen entrees. Healthy Choice has a number of meals that have around 500mg of sodium such as their honey balsamic chicken, grilled chicken marsala with mushrooms, chicken pasta primavera and sweet and spicy orange zest chicken.

-Wendy’s 4 piece chicken nuggets (350mg sodium) and a sour cream and chive baked potato (50mg sodium) give you 400mg of sodium.

-Wendy’s 6 piece chicken nuggets (520mg sodium) and Apple Slices (0mg sodium) give your 520mg of sodium.

If you are going out to eat and nutrition information is available online, go ahead and take a look at it before you leave the house and take into account the sodium content when you are making your decision.
Say you are going to PF Changs and you always have a hard time deciding between the sweet and sour chicken or the kung pao chicken. You take a look at the nutrition info and notice the kung pao chicken has more than twice the amount of sodium as the sweet and sour chicken… problem solved. Sweet and sour chicken it is. While it is still 760mg of sodium you can decide to eat half at the restaurant and save the other half for later and still be able to stay under your sodium goal. And 6 ounces of brown rice has only 5mg of sodium so you can definitely add the rice and make two good meals out of it.

Bottom line…. try and cook at home using fresh ingredients whenever possible and read your food labels so you know exactly how much sodium you are consuming.

References and Further Reading
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