5 Recipes to a Healthier Heart
American Heart Month may be coming to a close, but every day is an opportunity to take steps towards a heart-healthy lifestyle. Below are five heart-healthy recipes that highlight fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in sodium and high in potassium – an important nutrient for heart health. Whole grains provide fiber, which helps promote healthy cholesterol levels.
To conclude Heart Month, we wanted to give you simple recipes to make at home to reduce your sodium intake and increase your fruit and vegetable intake. A diet high in fruits and vegetables is a heart-healthy diet. Not only are fruits and vegetables naturally low in sodium, but fruits and vegetables are also a good source of potassium, which is important for heart health. Below are 5 recipes to help guide you to a healthier heart:
Serves 4-6 people
- 1 cup diced carrots
- 1 cup diced bell pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 15 oz. can no-salt-added garbanzo beans
- 4-5 small zucchini, diced
- 1 cup no-salt-added frozen peas
- 1 15 oz. can reduced-sodium tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 2-3 teaspoons curry powder
- 1 cup fresh cilantro, Optional
- Cooked brown rice to serve
- Sauté carrots, onion, bell pepper, and garlic in a small amount of oil (1-2 teaspoons) until tender
- Add zucchini, garbanzo beans, and frozen peas. Cover and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Blend remaining ingredients (including cilantro, if desired) until smooth. Add to cooked vegetables and heat
- Serve over cooked brown rice if desired
Seasoned Home-Cut Fries
Treat your heart to these seasoned home-cut fries for a low-sodium, high potassium treat. Use an air fryer for a crisp, restaurant-style texture. If you don’t have an air fryer, these can still be made in a traditional oven, though they may need additional baking time.
- 6 large russet potatoes
- 3 tablespoons canola or avocado oil
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
- Scrub potatoes to clean, then cut into French fry strips
- Place in a large bowl and cover with water. Swirl potatoes in water, then pour out the water. Repeat until water is no longer cloudy. Drain potatoes well
- Add remaining ingredients to the bowl, tossing well to coat potatoes
- Place on a sheet pan or an air fryer pan and cook at 450 degrees for 25-35 minutes or until crisp
Salads are a great way to pack in servings of vegetables, but if you’re not careful, they can also pack a lot of sodium. Toppings like cheese, olives, croutons, and salad dressing all offer significant amounts of sodium. Salad dressing alone has around 300 mg of sodium per 2 tablespoon serving, and most people use more than one serving. One easy way to stick to the 2,300 mg guideline for sodium intake is to make your salad dressing. Below is an easy recipe for a creamy Italian dressing with only about 20 mg of sodium per serving. Service it over torn romaine lettuce with cucumbers, tomatoes, and a few croutons or olives for a delicious Italian salad!
Makes about 3/4 cup
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise (use an egg-free may for vegan salad dressing)
- 1 teaspoon sugar or another sweetener
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- ½-1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until combined
- Transfer to a jar and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks
Did you know that even breakfast cereal has salt? Some of the “healthy” cereals have more sodium per serving than potato chips! Steel-cut oats are a great way to start the morning, and a step in the direction of heart health. Oats are naturally rich in fiber, which helps lower cholesterol. They also have no sodium, making it easier to stick to the guideline of 2,300 mg or less of sodium per day. See the recipe below for incredibly easy steel-cut oats. Steel-cut oats are great to prep ahead and reheat for breakfast each morning.
Store cooked oats in the fridge for 3-5 days.
- 1 cup steel cut oats
- 5 cups water*
*Depending on the desired thickness, oats can be cooked in 3-5 cups of liquid per cup of oats. Oats can be cooked in milk or milk alternatives instead of some or all of the water. Keep in mind that milk has around 150 mg of sodium per cup.
Instructions – Instant Pot
- Combine oats and water in an Instant Pot or another electric pressure cooker
- Cook on manual for 2 minutes
- Cook on low for 4-5 hours
- Simmer for 20-30 minutes
Top with your favorite goodies, like fresh or frozen fruit, unsalted nuts, seeds, spices, or dried fruit.
Healthy Chocolate “Frosty”
There’s room for dessert on a heart-healthy diet! A diet high in fiber can significantly increase your triglycerides, instead, when you want something sweet, reach for a treat that gets its sweetness from the fruit. While refined sugars provide little nutritional value, fruit offers vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Bananas are also a good source of potassium, which is important in maintaining healthy blood pressure.
Makes 2 large or 3 medium “frosties”
- 2 cups your choice of milk
- 2-3 frozen peeled bananas
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- 1-2 teaspoons honey or another sweetener if desired
- 1-3 cups ice
- Blend all ingredients together except ice, blending until smooth. Add more milk if needed to blend. Add ice and blend until the texture is similar to a frosty or milkshake.