Eating for heart health is actually easier–and more delicious–than you might think. When you have a good plan and plenty of mouthwatering recipes, you’ll enjoy taking care of your heart. According to the FDA, diets rich in whole grain foods and other plant foods and low in saturated fat and cholesterol may help reduce the risk of heart disease. Here are some tips to help you make these kinds of heart-smart choices:
- Choose leaner cuts of meat. You can find plenty of delicious options such as skinless chicken, lean pork and beef. You can make smart substitutions, too. For example, use ground turkey instead of ground beef to make meatloaf or burgers even leaner.
- Add fruits and veggies to every meal. Strawberries in yogurt, blueberries on a salad, carrots and hummus as a snack, roasted sweet potatoes with dinner–it’s easier than you think to add nutrient-dense produce to your diet. Eat plenty of different colored produce for variety and a wider range of health benefits.
- Enjoy more whole grains. Whole grains add carbohydrates for energy, fiber to fill you up and nutrients important for good health. According to a recent national survey, four out of five doctors recommend shredded wheat as part of a healthy, low-sodium diet to maintain a healthy heart, reduce the risk of heart disease and support healthy blood pressure levels. These recipes are a great start to adding more whole grains–and they’re so good, you might forget they are heart smart.
1. GRAB ‘N GO PEANUT BUTTER BARS
Total Time: 10 minutes. Makes 16 servings (1 bar per serving)
- 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup reduced fat peanut butter
- 3 cups shredded wheat cereal, coarsely crushed
- 3/4 cup raisins
Mix sugar, honey and peanut butter in large microwavable bowl. Microwave on high 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until bubbly at edge; stir until well blended. Stir in cereal and raisins. Press firmly into 8-inch square pan sprayed with cooking spray. Cool. Cut into bars. Store in airtight container.
Take-along tip: After completely cooled, wrap bars individually in plastic wrap. Leave in bowl on kitchen counter for a great grab-and-go snack.
2. APPLE CRISP
Total Time: 65 minutes. Makes six servings
- 5 cups peeled apple slices
- 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar, divided
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon tapioca
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 cups shredded wheat cereal, finely crushed
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) margarine, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix apples, 1/4 cup sugar, lemon juice, tapioca and cinnamon in large bowl. Let stand 10 minutes.
To make topping, stir crushed cereal, remaining 1/4 cup sugar and margarine in medium bowl until well blended.
Spread apple mixture in ungreased 1 1/2- quart baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with cereal topping.
Bake for 45 minutes or until topping is browned and apples are tender when pierced with fork.
3. SAVORY MEATLOAF
Total Time: 75 minutes. Makes 12 servings
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 2 pounds lean ground beef
- 3 biscuits shredded wheat cereal, crushed
- 1 can (8 ounces) stewed tomatoes, undrained
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped green pepper
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat eggs and milk in large bowl with wire whisk until well blended. Add remaining ingredients; mix well. Shape meat mixture into oval loaf in shallow baking pan. Bake 1 hour or until cooked through (160 degrees).
Variation: Prepare as directed, using fat-free milk and substituting 1/2 cup cholesterol-free egg product for the eggs and 2 pounds thawed frozen ground turkey for the ground beef.
5. BANANA BREAD
Total Time: 65 minutes. Makes 16 servings (1 slice per serving)
- 1 3/4 cups flour
- 1 cup shredded wheat cereal, finely crushed
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) margarine
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup fat-free milk
- 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large bananas)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour, cereal, spice, baking powder and baking soda in medium bowl; set aside. Beat sugar and margarine in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs; mix well. Add flour mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition. Blend in bananas. Pour into greased 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Bake 1 hour to 1 hour 5 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely.
Special extra: Toast the bread slices and top each with a scoop of vanilla or chocolate sorbet and a drizzle of strawberry sauce for a different kind of banana split.