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February 21, 2014

Love Your Heart: Simple Changes Can Make a Big Difference

Don’t let your sweetheart be the only one you show some love to this month. February is American Heart Month which aims to raise awareness for heart disease, the leading cause of death in both men and women. Heart disease claims more lives than all forms of cancer combined. While age, gender and family history cannot be controlled, weight and lifestyle factors can.

First, it’s important to know that how you prepare recipes is almost as important as what you put in them. Baking or broiling items requires little to no added fat -- so love your oven!

Make smart swaps. In one of our recent “Cooking Matters” client cooking classes, we focused on reducing fat, which is important for heart health. Using simple swaps, we created delicious Tex-Mex flavored dishes and by adding a little spice and using smart cooking techniques, we improved the nutritional value of traditional dishes. By skipping the crust on the bottom and going for heart-healthy oats, we cut the saturated fat in a Banana Crumble without sacrificing flavor or the chewy goodness of this great dessert . 

Trim it or skip it. The leaner meats you use, the better! Using lean ground turkey in our Tex-Mex Skillet reduced the saturated fat by more than 80%. We also used beans, which is a great source of lean protein, as well as fiber. With the right flavors and texture, people won’t even miss the meat in these veggie-packed quesadillas!

Spice it up. Fat provides flavor, but so do herbs and spices…actually even more so! We created a homemade taco seasoning, which was much lower in salt and sugar than the packets found in your grocery store. Spices like cumin add a smoky flavor, while vinegar provides a nice kick in our Southwestern Black-Eyed Pea and Corn Salad. Want to brighten up the flavors of a dish? Add fresh herbs like cilantro, thyme, or rosemary.

Who says healthy can’t be delicious? Try these South of the Border favorites and remember to give your heart a little TLC!

 Brandy Love, RD, LDN, Community Dietitian

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