Heart-Healthy Menu

It’s time to take care of your heart!  With Valentine’s Day less than a month away, I figured the end of January was the perfect time to create an entire heart healthy menu for you. If your family has a history of Heart Disease or high blood pressure, it might be a good idea to start paying attention to what you’re eating.

How to eat “Heart Healthy:

Avoid:  Saturated Fat, Trans Fats, Sodium, Cholesterol, and Caffeine.

Eat More:  Healthy Fats (Raw Nuts, Olive Oil, Fish Oils, Avocadoes), Omega 3 & Protein (Fish, Shellfish, Poultry), Low-Fat Dairy (Skim Milk, Yogurt), Potassium (Avocados, Potatoes, Spinach, Tomatoes, Bananas)

Today’s Heart-Healthy Menu:

Red Pepper & Bean Dip w/ Toasted Pita

Roasted Zucchini & Squash

Rosemary Roasted Red Potatoes

Pan-Grilled Strawberry Balsamic Chicken & Sautéed Spinach

Apricot, Banana, & BerrySmush over Vanilla Frozen Yogurt

Everything in this menu creates a well-rounded, low-fat, low-sodium, high-fiber and potassium loaded heart-healthy meal.  You may also even be able to find most of the ingredients already in your kitchen!

First, start with the Bean Dip.  When my family cooks, we like to have a healthy snack available for us to munch on, instead of taking snitches of what we’re making.  It’s probably the only way I can make dinner after work without starving myself to death!

This bean dip makes 8-1/4 Cup Servings, with one serving totaling only 63 calories,3.5 gramsof fat, 272mg of sodium, and1.5 gramsof fiber.

Roasted Red Pepper & Cannellini Bean Dip

(Cooking Light, January 2007)

¼ cup Fresh Basil, chopped

1 teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar

1 (16oz) can Cannellini Beans, rinsed and drained

1 (7oz) bottle Roasted Red Peppers, rinsed and drained

1 Garlic Clove

2 Tablespoons EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

½ teaspoon Salt

½ teaspoon Ground Black Pepper

Whole Wheat Pita, sliced & toasted

Place first 5 ingredients in a food processor and let it rip!  Process until smooth.  Slowly add the oil through the chute with the processor still on.  Once well combined, stop the processor and stir in the salt and pepper.  Serve with toasted Whole Wheat Pita (I recommendSahara’s small Whole Wheat Pitas, they are 70 calories/piece) or carrots & celery.

What a simple appetizer! The roasted Red Pepper & Basil flavors really stood out in this amazing dip!

Since I was going to have the oven going for the veggies already, Roasted Potatoes seemed like a wonderful addition to this meal.  The Red Potato has such a high level of Vitamin C and Potassium!  They also are a great source of fiber & protein, with 4g of protein in just one medium potato.  Pretty impressive!

Rosemary Roasted Red Potatoes

1lb Baby Red Potatoes

1 Tablespoon EVOO

1 teaspoon Garlic, minced

1 Tablespoon Fresh Rosemary, chopped

1 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper

1 teaspoon Sea Salt

These babies are ready for some roastin'

Preheat the oven to 400.  Scrub the potatoes and pat dry with a paper towel.  If you have an Olive Oil sprayer, place the potatoes in a baking dish coated in Cooking Spray and thoroughly spray the potatoes with the Olive Oil.  If you don’t have one of these handy gadgets, you can just toss the potatoes in a bowl with 1 Tablespoon of EVOO.  Evenly sprinkle the potatoes in the baking dish with garlic, rosemary, pepper, and sea salt.  Mix well.  Bake in the oven for about an hour, or until you can easily remove a fork from one of the larger potatoes.

I chose Zucchini for this meal, not only because it’s one of my favorite veggies, but because of its’ high nutritional value.  Zukes & Squash provide a great source of Vitamin C & Potassium- a key word for heart-healthy cooking!

Roasted Zucchini & Squash

2 Zucchini

2 Yellow Squash

1 Tablespoon EVOO

1 teaspoon Paprika

1 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper

Sea Salt

Your oven should already be heated to 400 to be roasting your potatoes.  You should put the veggies in after the potatoes have been cooking for about 20 minutes.  Slice the veggies in ½ inch thick circles.  I cut the larger circles of Yellow Squash in half circles too.  Toss in a bowl with Olive Oil and seasonings.  Place veggies in a baking dish coated in Cooking Spray.  Bake in the oven for around until they are fully cooked and the potatoes are done, stirring occasionally.

Now that you have your potatoes and squash in the oven, it’s time to start making the chicken.  I like to buy thinly sliced chicken because the fat is already cut off and it cooks much faster than normal chicken breasts.  If you have normal large chicken breasts, I would slice them thinner if possible.

Once the potatoes have been in the oven for about 30 minutes, you can start the sauce for the chicken.  This recipe can also be made with plain Balsamic Vinegar or add some cut Strawberries into plain Balsamic.

Strawberry Balsamic Reduction

½ cup Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar

¼ cup Balsamic Vinegar

½ cup Ketchup

1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar

1 Tablespoon HoneyDijonMustard

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce

½ teaspoon Salt

½ teaspoon Pepper

Put all ingredients into a saucepan over medium heat.  Stir often with a whisk while the sauce simmers.  Simmer and stir for about 15-20 minutes or until it becomes thicker and about 1/3 of the original size.  Keep the sauce on low, stirring occasionally. (and don’t forget to check your roasting potatoes and veggies!!)

Next, you’re going to start to heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.  Take one piece of chicken and slather just a little bit of the Balsamic on one side with a silicone pastry brush, then place the sauce side down on the grill pan.  Brush a little of the sauce on the top side of the chicken and repeat.  Cook each side for about 3-4 minutes or until cooked all the way through.  Now, pour a ladel-full of sauce ontop of the chicken and let it cook for a minute.  The chicken is done!

Remove the chicken and place in aluminum foil to keep warm.  Dump an entire bag of fresh spinach into the same grill pan with the leftover balsamic in it.  Stir after about 2 minutes, and the spinach will be done a minute after that.  Spinach is one of the best foods you can eat!  Click here to read about this antioxidant rich food!

Here, I plated the chicken over the sautéed spinach, with potatoes and roasted zucchini & squash on the side.  Everything was unbelievable.  I cooked the potatoes for about an hour and the veggies for about 45 minutes total.  They were perfect!  The Balsamic sauce on the chicken was unbelievable, it was tangy and sweet and so different than anything else I have ever cooked.

The finished products:

No amazing meal would be complete without dessert, right?  Well here is your super heart-healthy dessert!  Complete with 3 Potassium rich fruits!

Banana Frozen Yogurt Smush

1 Cup (or a little more) Fat Free Vanilla Frozen Yogurt

1 Banana, sliced thin

¼ Cup Polaner’s All Fruit with Fiber – Blackberry

6 Dried Apricots, sliced/diced

1 pinch Cinnamon

In a glass dish, microwave the banana and All Fruit for 2 minutes, stirring/smushing the banana after one minute.  When it’s finished, spoon over the Frozen Yogurt and top with Apricots and a little sprinkle of cinnamon.  MMM!!

Tastes so good! I love smashing it all together and making the Fro-Yo melt.

I found a ton of information on Heart-Healthy eating and dieting on the CDC’s website for Heart Disease Info, as well as Livestrong’s Food & Drink Website.  You can find them here!