Heart Healthy Holiday Tips

Alpine Cardiology - Heart Healthy Turkey


It is that that time of year again, celebrations with family and lots of food. Keeping your diet heart healthy during the holidays can be challenging. Many of the dishes that we look forward to all year are loaded with salt, fat, sugar and other unhealthy items. You can have a heart healthy holiday meal without sacrificing flavor by making some simple substitutions.

Refer to our heart healthy substitution tips when planning your holidays meals. You can either save it to your computer or print it out to keep handy. Click here to download..

Tips for heart healthy holiday meals

Start with a delicious healthy soup. This pumpkin soup with hints of spices makes it a sweet/savory dish that is perfect for the start of your meal.

Alpine Cardiology - Heart Healthy Pumpkin Soup


  • 1-1/2 cup water, divided
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) pumpkin
  • 4 cups unsalted vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups fat-free milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 green onion tops, chopped


  • Heat 1/4 cup of the water over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender (about 3 minutes). Don’t let the onion dry out.
  • Add remaining water, pumpkin, broth, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the milk and cook until hot. DO NOT BOIL
  • Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with black pepper and green onion tops. Serve immediately. Serves 8.

For more heart healthy recipes to enjoy during the holiday season or anytime visit our recipe category in our articles on our website or click here.

Use our heart healthy substitution tips to make all your family favorites healthy and delicious. Your heart will thank you.

Winter and your Heart


Winter is near for Northern Michigan and that means the temperatures will drop and the snow will fall. A study in the journal JAMA Cardiology found that heart attack rates increase most when the temperature dips below freezing.

Alpine Cardiology shoveling snowIf you have a heart condition or are older, you may be vulnerable in winter months. It is harder for older people to regulate their own body temperature. This puts them at higher risk in extreme weather.

How does Cold Weather Affect the Heart?

Freezing weather can put stress on the body and affect your heart in number of ways. The cold can cause our bodies to make certain adjustments in order to maintain our core body temperatures. These normal adjustments could be a challenge for people with heart disease. Cold temperatures can cause:

  • Alpine Cardiology - checking temperatureYour blood pressure to increase.
  • Heart rate increases
  • Your heart to work harder.
  • Blood thickens in chilly weather and may lead to blood clots.

The winter months are when people have more colds and flu. A recent study showed that the risk of a heart attack was significantly higher in the first 7 days after an infection. Colds, flu, or pneumonia cause infections in the lungs and will make your heart work harder.

Alpine Cardiology - exercising

Do not Hibernate!

Regular exercise is still important for your heart health even when the seasons change. Instead of walking outside when it is below freezing, walk at a mall or big box store. Take a class in yoga or other exercise or swim at an indoor pool. Regardless of the temperature outside, you still need to add movement to your daily life. Take the stairs, walk the hallways during breaks or exercise at home with a DVD or YouTube video.


Cold Weather Precautions

Alpine CardiologyBesides the obvious of wearing warm clothing when heading out in the cold there are other precautions you can take to protect you and your heart in cold weather. Cover your mouth and nose with a scarf to help warm the temperature of the air you breathe. If you must dig out of the snow, ask for help. If help is not available, shove small loads instead of lifting heavy loads. Take frequent breaks inside and warm up and drink plenty of water.

You also want to be careful not to become overheated. Dressing warmly then engaging in physical activity can lead to overheating. If you are out in the cold and find yourself sweating, you are over heated. If you have heart disease, consider this to be a danger sign. Stop what you are doing and go inside and take a break.

Other Precautions to Take

Alpine Cardiology - Flu VaccineYou can also help prevent heart problems that come in the winter months by building up your body’s defense against colds, flu, and other infections.

  • Get a flu shot every year
  • As your healthcare provider if you should get a vaccine for pneumonia
  • Wash your hand often with soap and water.
  • Get at 7-8 hours of sleep a night
  • Do not smoke
  • Exercise regularly

Know the signs of a heart attack

Alpine Cardiology - EMS

Call 911 if you have any of these most common symptoms

  • Chest pain
  • Pain in one or both arms
  • Pain in the back, shoulders, neck, jaw, or upper part of the stomach (may be mistaken for indigestion)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting

Talk to your Healthcare Team

If you are not sure how healthy your heart is, talk to your doctor. They can understand your risk and advise you on the proper precautions for you.

Knowing your risk factors and taking the right precautions will help you stay healthy and heart strong.

An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Alpine Cardiology Apple Orchard


It is Fall in Northern Michigan which means it is apple harvest time! You know what they say about apples and doctors.  This adage has been put to the test many times over the years. An apple a day doesn’t mean you get to skip out on regular preventative appointments, but research has shown that daily apple eaters appear to use fewer prescription medications.

Alpine Cardiology ApplesA 2020 article in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition that included 16 studies, found many heart-related benefits for those who include apples in their diet. Eating one medium apple a day may help lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and inflammation according to the article. Unpeeled apples are a good source of fiber and compounds called polyphenols that benefit heart health.

Apples are abundant in Northern Michigan this time of year and there is nothing better than taking a big bite out of a crisp apple fresh from the orchard. You don’t have to eat apples plain to get health benefits, below are some heart healthy easy and delicious recipes to help add apples to your diet.

Alpine Cardiology Yogurt fruit dip

Honey-Vanilla Yogurt Dip

This easy dip isn’t just for apples. It is delicious with bananas, strawberries, peaches, and most other fruits. Try making a fruit parfait by creating layers of the dip, fruit and low-fat granola as a quick breakfast or snack any time of the day.


Mix 1-1/2 cup fat-free, plain Greek yogurt with 1 tablespoon of honey and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. It is that simple!

For added flavor you can add a tablespoon of apple pie spice. Want to make your own apple pie spice? Mix 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon, 1/4 tablespoon nutmeg, 1/8 tablespoon allspice and 1/8 tablespoon cardamom.

Apple Nachos


This is a quick and tasty treat, a perfect midday snack that is easy to make. You can substitute any dried fruit or nuts and seeds that you would like. Make sure that the dried fruit is unsweetened, and the nuts and seeds are unsalted.


  • Alpine Cardiology Apple Slices3 medium apples, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4-1/3 cup dried unsweetened cranberries or raisins
  • 1/4 -1/3 cup sliced or chopped unsalted almonds or walnuts
  • 2-3 tablespoons unsalted shelled sunflower or pumpkin seeds.
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup smooth low-sodium peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon honey


  • Mix the dried fruit, nuts, and seeds in a small bowl.
  • Layer half the apples on a large plate or platter. Sprinkle with lemon juice to keep from browning.
  • Microwave 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl on high power until boiling. Add in peanut butter and honey, stirring until smooth.
  • Drizzle half the peanut butter mixture over the apple slices. Sprinkle half the dried fruit mixture and then layer the remaining apples.
  • Drizzle second apple layer with the peanut butter mixture and sprinkle the remaining dried fruit mixture over all of it.
  • For variety, you can add low-fat granola or unsweetened shredded coconut


Oven Baked Fall Goodness

With fall comes cool nights and there is nothing better than the smell of apple desserts in the oven. Below are 2 ways to prepare apples for a delicious heart healthy warm fall goodie.

Quick Apple Crisp (serves 6)

An easy and quick recipe for a heart healthy apple crisp. Serve as is or dust with powdered sugar or drizzle with one of the icing ideas at the end of this article.


  • Alpine Cardiology Apple Crisp1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/3 cup quick oats
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 pounds apples (about 6, medium sized)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon butter


  • In a small bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs, oats, and brown sugar.
  • Wash and peel apples. Quarter them, cut out core and seeds. Slice apple quarters.
  • Spread apples in a 12×8 inch baking pan.
  • Add 1/2 cup water to the pan.
  • Sprinkle cinnamon and topping mixture over apples.
  • Dot with butter.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until apples are soft and topping is browned.

Courtesy of John Hopkins Medicine

Apple Coffee Cake (serves 20)

For less servings, use an 8×8 pan and reduce the ingredient measurements by half. This too can be served plain or dusted with powdered sugar. For a little more sweetness, lightly drizzle one of the icing ideas at the end of the is article.


  • Alpine Cardiology - heart healthy Apple Cake5 cups apples, cored, peeled, and chopped
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup pecans or preferred nut
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2-1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Lightly oil a 13x9x2 inch pan
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine apples with sugar, raisins, and pecans (nuts) and mix well. Let stand for 30 minutes.
  • Stir in oil, vanilla, and egg.
  • Sift together flour, baking soda, and cinnamon. Stir into apple mixture about one third at a time. Stirring just enough to moisten dry ingredients.
  • Pour batter into pan. Bake 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Cool cake slightly before serving.

Courtesy of National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Powdered Sugar Icing

Alpine Cardiology Apple Coffee cake with icingFor a little added sweetness drizzle icing made with 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 1-2 tablespoons of low-fat milk. You may substitute coconut, soy, rice, or almond milk.

Icing variations:

Apple Spice Icing: Add 1 teaspoon apple pie spice

Apple Cider Icing: Substitute apple cider for milk and omit the vanilla extract. Add dash of cinnamon if desired.

Chocolate Icing: Add 2-3 tablespoons cocoa powder. May require a little extra milk.

Citrus Icing: Substitute lemon, lime or orange juice for the milk and omit the vanilla extract. Add a little zest if desired.

Almond Icing: Substitute 1/2 teaspoon almond extract for the vanilla extract.

Maple Icing: Substitute 1/2 teaspoon maple extract for the vanilla extract.

Healthier Caramel Sauce

Alpine Cardiology Caramel SauceNotice we didn’t say heart healthy, we said healthier. That is because caramel is not considered a heart healthy treat normally. Most caramel sauces use heavy cream and a lot of butter and refined sugar. This recipe is considered healthier because it uses less butter and low-fat milk. It still uses refined sugar, because after all it is caramel. This doesn’t mean you can never have it; just means you indulge once in a while as a treat. You can dip apples in the sauce or drizzle over any of the recipes above.


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup 2% milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter


  • In a medium saucepan, heat sugar over low-medium heat. Stir constantly until sugar is melted and medium brown color. Remove pan from heat.
  • Add milk and butter to the melted sugar and stir immediately.
  • There will be a lot of bubbling! Once bubbles settle down, return pan to stove over low heat.
  • Stir until caramel is a smooth syrup.
  • Pour sauce in a heat-safe bowl to cool slightly.

Fall Fruit and Produce In Season

Take advantage of fall fruits and produce and make them a part of your heart healthy lifestyle. If you have questions about adopting a heart healthy lifestyle, reach out to your health care team. They can advise you about exercise, diet, risks etc. 

Dr. Bobish and her team will listen to you. They focus on preventative care and providing their patients with the tools needed to live a heart healthy lifestyle. Call our office at 989-448-7002 and talk with one of our staff members, you do not need to be referred by a doctor to schedule an appointment.

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