Sneaking More Vegetables into Meals

sneaking more vegetables into mealsWe all know we need to be eating more veggies. Some of us love them and eat them at every meal. And then there are those of us who can’t stomach the thought of chomping on something green that looks like a tree. And no, we’re not talking about four-year-olds — we mean adults, too!


Seasonal, Heart-Healthy Holiday Foods

seasonal-heart-healthy-holiday-foodsNov 7, 2016

Deck the halls, but don’t ditch your diet! Stay heart-healthy with seasonal, healthy foods.

For many, the holidays are the most wonderful – and least heart-healthy – time of the year. 
Grandma’s fudge is a sentimental favorite, and the neighbor’s cake balls are a decadent habit. Indulging a little won’t hurt – but planning ahead will make for merry meals that are healthy too.

Do you decorate for the holidays with a lot of color? Treat your dinner plate the same way.

“Half of a meal should comprise fruits and vegetables that consist of a variety of colors,” said Vilma Andari, president and founder of NutraHealthFood and a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association. “The other two quarters should be whole grains and healthy proteins.”

Make your holiday meals festive and healthy with a variety of richly colored fruits and vegetables – and don’t forget the herbs and spices. “Try to work fruits and veggies into everything from soups and stews to casseroles instead of just side dishes,” Andari said. 

Sweet potatoes

“Nothing spells ‘fall’ like a deep orange-yellow colored food packed with antioxidants such as Vitamin C and beta carotene,” Andari said. “Beta carotene can be converted into Vitamin A in the body to help support a healthy immune system and promote bone growth.”

Sweet potatoes are also high in fiber and vitamin B-6, as well as potassium, which plays a role in decreasing blood pressure.

Rachel K. Johnson, Ph.D., R.D., the Bickford Professor of Nutrition at the University of Vermont and an AHA spokeswoman, is a fan of them too. “Sweet potatoes are a nutrient bonanza,” she said. “Roast them with a little drizzle of maple syrup for the holidays.”

Need more seasonal vegetables that are packed with beta carotene? Try acorn squash, pumpkin and winter squash.

Brussels sprouts

Don’t put Brussels sprouts on your “naughty” list. Go green with this multilayered….

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How Do I Change Recipes?

how-do-i-change-recipes2Using low-saturated-fat, trans fat, low sodium recipes makes it easier to cook healthy meals. There’s a lot you can do with your favorite recipes or everyday meals to control the amount of saturated and trans fats, sugar and sodium you eat. It’s a great way to have your cake and eat it, too!

How can I substitute healthier ingredients?

  • Whole Milk (1 cup) = 1 cup low-fat or non-fat milk + 1 Tbsp. unsaturated liquid vegetable oil.
  • Heavy Cream (1 cup) = 1 cup fat-free half and half can be used in place of heavy cream in most baking. You can also use soy, almond and rice milk.
  • Sour Cream = Use low-fat or fat-free sour cream instead. Unflavored low-fat Greek yogurt is also an easy, heart-healthy swap. You can squeeze some lemon into the yogurt, stir and serve.
  • Butter (1 Tbsp.) = 1 Tbsp. unsalted soft tub or liquid margarine or 3/4 Tbsp. polyunsaturated or monounsaturated oil. Use 1 1/4 Tbsp. margarine for 1 Tbsp. oil.
  • Shortening (1 cup) = 1 cup unsalted soft tub or liquid margarine (choose margarine low in saturated fat and trans fat or trans fat free). For pies use 1/2 cup margarine for every 2 cups flour. To reduce your calories in muffins or quick breads, substitute 1 cup applesauce for a cup of butter, margarine, oil or shortening.
  • White Flour = Instead of white, processed flour try to use whole-wheat flour in your baking. But before you swap, be sure to check the recipe, as the amount may need to be adjusted.
  • Ground Beef = try lean, ground turkey in place of ground beef for chili, pasta sauce, burgers and in casseroles.

How can I use vegetable oils?

Use olive, canola, corn, or safflower oil as your main kitchen fats when cooking requires using fat.

For example, use small amounts of these oils:

  • To prepare fish and skinless poultry or to brown lean meats.
  • To sauté onions and other vegetables for soups, sauces, or stir frying.
  • For popping corn.
  • In casseroles made with dried peas or beans.
  • When cooking dehydrated potatoes and other prepared foods.

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How Do I Follow a Healthy Diet?

how-do-i-follow-a-healthy-dietThe American Heart Association recommends an eating plan that emphasizes intake of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains and includes low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes (dried beans and peas), nontropical vegetable oils, nuts and seeds. It should limit intake of sodium, sweets, sugar-sweetened beverages and red meats.


  • One serving equals: 1 cup raw leafy vegetables (about the size of a small fist); 1/2 cup cut-up raw or cooked vegetables; 1/2 cup vegetable juice.
  • Eat a variety of colors and types, especially deeply colored vegetables, such as spinach, carrots, and broccoli.
  • Look for vegetables that are fresh, frozen, or canned in water without added sugar, saturated and trans fats, or salt.


  • One serving equals: 1 medium fruit (about the size of a baseball); 1/4 cup dried fruit; 1/2 cup fresh, frozen, or canned fruit; 1/2 cup 100% fruit juice.
  • Eat a variety of colors and types, especially deeply colored fruits such as peaches and berries.
  • Eat whole fruits to get all of the nutrients (such as fiber) that can be missing in some juices.

Whole grains

  • One serving equals: 1 slice bread; 1/2 cup hot cereal, 1 cup flaked cereal; or 1/2 cup cooked rice or pasta (about the size of a baseball).
  • At least half of your servings should be high-fiber whole grains. Select items like whole-wheat bread, whole-grain crackers and brown rice.
  • Aim for about 25-30 grams of fiber from foods each day.

Poultry, fish and lean meats (less than 6 cooked ounces per day)

  • A 3 oz. portion is about the size of a deck of playing cards, 1/2 of a chicken breast or 3/4 cup of flaked fish.
  • Enjoy at least 2 servings of baked or grilled fish each week; especially fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, trout, and herring. (3 oz. of grilled or baked fish is about the size of a checkbook).
  • Trim all visible fat from meats before cooking.
  • Remove skin from poultry before eating.

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