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Be good to your heart!

You probably know somebody, either in your family, friends or a colleague who is taking care of their heart health. You might take your heart for granted – after all, it’s there, beating day and night, providing us with the oxygen we need for our body.

But if heart disease runs in your family, you might be wondering how to maintain your health and aim for preventive care.

Let’s check your grocery list for this week

Fruits and Veggies, anyone? One of the best choices you can make for your heart is consuming plenty of fresh, colorful fruits and vegetables. If you’ve visited our local farmer’s market and purchase our weekly produce bags, you’re in for a treat! Think about the variety of our dark green leafy vegetable selection – which are packed with low calories yet brimming with high dense nutrients!

Kale is a great example of a dark green that is so versatile – yet not many of us include it in our meal plans. Check how simple it is to transform a leafy kale into a healthy kale chip – toss the kale with olive oil, minced garlic and spread it on a baking sheet. Bake about 15 minutes until it is crisp. You can season with your favorite spices or maybe just some salt and pepper. What a treat for your kids or grandkids!

If you’re looking for some bright orange/red vegetables to brighten your day, have you tried our rainbow carrots and beets salad? Just steam these veggies, slice thinly, add cilantro, onions, freshly chopped arugula and toss with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Ready, set, eat!

Another option is choosing fresh vegetables, steaming them and placing them in individualized wrapped freezer bags for future use. This saves the hassle of cooking – just unfreeze and mix with other ingredients.

If you’re looking for a healthy snack, try a trail mix – combining your fresh fruit that’s been dried – such as dried berries, prunes, peaches with some roasted, unsalted nuts and seeds. Or, better yet, start your dinner with our freshly chopped bok choy and add some leaves of swiss chard and complement with other veggies – broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and celery sticks with a light yogurt dressing.

Time for dessert – How about some baked apples or pears, drizzled with some red wine? Rich in fiber, nutrients, low in calories and no need for baked sweets.

Think Low! Our heart and arteries work better when they are not burdened by so much fats and cholesterol. In fact, our own body can make cholesterol! Selecting skim milk or low-fat milk for your hot or cold drinks and adding color naturally with fresh fruit, will keep you in tip-top heart shape.

It’s easy to substitute recipes by using egg whites – 2 egg whites for every 1 whole egg if you really need to avoid the cholesterol in the yolk. Or choose soft margarines that contain “0 trans fats” instead of butter, creams or other spreads.

Dinner Smells Fishy tonight! Although we are a society of meat or chicken, try switching to some fish. The American Heart Association recommends grilled or baked fish at least twice a week. Fatty fish, those that are high in omega-3-fatty acids, protect our heart. Look for salmon, trout, tuna and herring.

Fish is quick to prepare. Just add some lemon juice with our freshly minced parsley or cilantro –  slice some of our rainbow carrots with onions and in the oven! Or prepare a side salad with our fresh spinach for your aji tuna. Limit your intake of fried fish as it’s usually higher in fat.

Be Brainy-Grainy? Whole-grains, high-fiber breads or crackers whose first ingredient mentions whole wheat, oatmeal whole rye, whole grain corn and buckwheat are also high in vitamin B. Enhance your quick oatmeal breakfast with some dried fruit and a glass of fresh orange juice.

If you want to add more vegetarian options to your meals, try brown rice and lentil casserole with our cilantro, garlic and spinach leaves. Add some cumin for a special kick to your dish. You’ll be getting your fiber, healthy nutrients, no cholesterol and a low-fat alternative to meat and potatoes!

Last but not least, go easy on the fats and oils you purchase. Choose oils with the lowest saturated fats (these tend to clog our arteries) such as olive oil, canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil and sunflower oil. Refrain from lard, cocoa butter, palm oil or palm kernel oil as these are higher in saturated fats.

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