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Feb 13

February is Heart Healthy Month

Posted by Beaver Hollow on Thursday, February 13, 2014

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Chocolate covered strawberries are a Heart Healthy dessert that is perfect for Valentine’s Day. Try making the tuxedo variation to make it extra special. Dark chocolate is heart healthy because it is packed with antioxidants which combat damage to cells and help keep your heart and blood vessels healthy. Dark chocolate can also be an appetite suppressant and mood booster. When purchasing dark chocolate look for a high percentage (≥ 50%) of cocoa/cacao and little or no added sugar. Check ingredient lists and keep it simple and preferably organic or fair traded cocoa beans. Moderate intake is key so stick to 1 ounce of dark chocolate a day, eat it slowly and mindfully to increase enjoyment.

 

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Serves 4 (serving size 2 strawberries)

8      each       strawberries, large with stem

2      oz           dark chocolate (>50% cacao)

Note: Wash all strawberries thoroughly! The strawberries will need to be dried prior to dipping in chocolate or else the chocolate won’t stick to the strawberry. Cover a large sheet pan with parchment paper. Next melt the chocolate. In a dry metal bowl add chocolate, and place over a pot of boiling water. Stir chocolate occasionally. Once the chocolate is melted remove pot with bowl from the stove top. Begin dipping strawberries into the chocolate and placing on the sheet pan. Serve 2 strawberries per person. Each strawberry is dipped in about 1 Tbsp of melted chocolate. Strawberries are chilled in a fridge for approximately 8 hours.

Variations: To make the tuxedo strawberries, use white chocolate as well as dark chocolate. Dip the strawberries in the white chocolate first. Let it dry and then dip the strawberry in the dark chocolate at a 45 degree angle from both sides to make the "jacket". Place some melted dark chocolate into a piping bag with a very small tip or in a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off and pipe on buttons and bow tie.

Nutrient info per 2 berry serving:  89 calories, 5g fat, 10g carbohydrate, 1g protein, 2g fiber, 0mg sodium

 

Heart Healthy Tips

 Keep it simple – Eat more fresh whole foods and less processed foods.

MORE:

  • Vegetables – Strive for a variety of colors. The richer the color the more the heart healthy nutrients. Try making a big salad with different green lettuces, red tomatoes, yellow and orange peppers and red onions.
  •  Fruits – Enjoy more fresh fruits. Berries are loaded with antioxidants which are heart healthy!
  • Whole Grains – Try out different whole grains like quinoa, brown rice or steel cut oatmeal. The fiber in whole grains not only helps to fill you up but can help to lower cholesterol!
  • Lean Proteins – Choose heart healthy proteins like organic chicken breast or wild caught salmon or try using plain Greek yogurt in place of mayonnaise or creamy salad dressings.
  • Healthy Fats – Heart healthy fats like those found in oils, nuts, seeds and avocados help improve cholesterol levels and keep blood vessels healthy. Fish especially the oily fish like wild caught salmon or Ahi tuna contain omega-3 fats which studies have shown help prevent high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. Include healthy fats daily and oily fish often, at least twice a week.

LESS:

  • Added sugars – Avoid sugar laden drinks and sugary snacks. Check labels and look for less than 8 grams of sugar per serving.
  • Trans fats – Look for partially hydrogenated oils on labels and avoid completely.
  • Saturated fats – Eat less whole fat dairy or high fat cuts of meat.
  • Excess sodium – Check labels for sodium content, choose foods with a lower % Daily Value 5% or less is low.