Your heart is the most vital organ in your body. Without proper care malfunctions occur and create a variety of life-changing challenges: diabetes, high blood pressure, lung diseases and respiratory problems. Keeping your heart strong helps reduce the odds of health crises. The words “heart friendly” conjure the picture “tasteless” for most people. Not true! There are a variety of ways to enjoy guilt-free meals and snacks while eating foods good for your heart. Who wouldn’t want to become healthier and enjoy healthy food?
What Makes the Difference?Essentially the difference between good and bad food is the fat content. Many treats have ingredients such as butter and cream. These saturated fats raise cholesterol and contribute to heart attacks and circulation concerns. Sugar is another culprit linked to heart muscle damage. Do your best to avoid both. Heart-friendly treats have less harmful content because of substituting healthier alternatives. Instead of using a cup of milk use a cup of applesauce. A favorite snack becomes healthy with a couple of simple changes. Keep nutritious substitutes close by to easily create a healthy snack.
Start with Sweet TreatsDo you have a sweet tooth? These heart-friendly recipes will satisfy your craving for sugar.
Crazy About CocoaNot everyone loves chocolate but if you do, try Triple Chocolate Cake Balls. They are decadent, fudgy, creamy…and heart healthy! Ingredients include whole-wheat flour, Greek yogurt, and avocado. Yes! Avocado adds moisture and reduces the amount of sugar needed for the recipe while remaining taste neutral. An additional inviting healthy recipe is Ellie Krieger’s Double-Chocolate Brownies. This cake-like brownie is surprisingly healthy because of the unsweetened cocoa powder, whole grain flour, low-fat yogurt and unsalted butter.
A Trip to the Lighter SideIf chocolate isn’t your “thing”, there are plenty of other kinds of tasty, heart-healthy desserts to enjoy. Try Sautéed Bananas with Tangy Sweet Cream. The bananas are creamy and the sweet cream has a bit of a tang to brighten the dish. It’s good to have a light and fresh-tasting dessert to cleanse the palate after dinner. This Healthy Lemon Poppy Seed Muffin recipe has all of the ingredients of a healthy snack choice. They are gluten, dairy and sugar free.
If You Prefer SavoryThose who would rather eat their way to a healthier heart without the sweets and prefer the savory have options too. Apples go with peanut butter like peanut butter and jelly. Peanut butter, however, may have a high sugar content so always read the label. Even better, make your own here.
Quick and EasySometimes a craving strikes out of nowhere. If you don’t want to measure, mix, and wait for the oven, it’s easy to grab the high-sugar snacks for a quick fix. It might not be the sweet taste you crave but a little more salt or crunch. In either case, here are some spur-of-the-moment heart-friendly options.
- Parfaits-Layer graham crackers or gingersnap crumbs with a favorite fresh fruit. Spoon a dollop or two of honey-sweetened Greek yogurt over strawberries, blueberries or peaches and dig in for a delicious treat.
- Cut fruit in half and sauté or grill it. Natural sugars in the fruit will caramelize and create a sweet treat. Top with some yogurt and you have an instant dessert.
- If reaching for a salty or crunchy snack opt for nuts, pickles or roasted chickpeas. Chickpeas, a unique vegetable, are crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside.
- Nothing is as versatile as popcorn. It is nutritious as long as it is not drenched in butter and salt. A little goes a long way. Try mixing Italian seasonings, garlic powder and red peppers with melted butter and pour over the popcorn or add some parmesan cheese for a nutty kick.