Eat your heart out (healthily)

January is the month many people choose to start a diet that helps them shed pounds and set course on a new beginning for health. February is “American Heart Month,” and what better way to make your diet work double duty than by enjoying delicious recipes that are good for your heart and help you lose weight.

Heart disease affects more than 82 million Americans, according to statistics from the American Heart Association. A simple first step in prevention is to eat more fruits and vegetables, which are naturally low in fat, sodium and calories, and do not contain cholesterol.

“There is no one ‘superfood’ or nutrient that can prevent heart disease,” registered dietitian Kathleen Stanley said in an interview with the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader. “Research has shown that diets that contain whole grains and fruits and vegetables, and are generally low in fats, can help reduce risk for heart disease.”

Boost your heart health nutrition by adding these dishes to your diet this week.

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HEARTY ITALIAN SPROUTED LENTIL SOUP

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, finely diced

1 carrot, finely diced

1 stalk celery, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

One can (14 ounces) organic diced tomatoes

3½ cups water or vegetable broth

1 bay leaf

1 cup sprouted lentils

¼ cup minced fresh parsley

Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, carrot and celery, and cook, partially covered, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomatoes, and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in water and bay leaf. and bring to a boil. Add lentils. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes, until lentils are tender. Cover and let stand for 2 minutes. Stir in parsley and salt and pepper before serving. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

From TruRoots Originals

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Studies show that a high consumption of orange and red vegetables might reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. These recipes are from natural foods chef Christine Waltermyer, created for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

WARM OR COLD BEET SALAD

3 medium beets

11/2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 tablespoon apple juice concentrate

1 teaspoon stone-ground mustard

1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed

1 to 2 yellow bell peppers, sliced

Wash and peel beets. Cut each beet in half, and each half into four wedges. To prevent staining your counter top, place a dark-colored towel or paper towels under your cutting board. Steam beets over boiling water until tender when pierced with a fork, 15 to 20 minutes.

Mix lemon juice, vinegar, apple juice concentrate, mustard and dill in a serving bowl. Add beets and toss to mix. Arrange beets on salad plate with sliced yellow peppers. Serve warm or cold. Makes 3 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 36 calories, 0.2 g. fat, 0 mg. cholesterol, 1 g. protein, 8.4 g. carbohydrate, 1.1 g. fiber, 61 mg. sodium.

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When you serve this dessert to the family, don’t tell them what’s in it.

SUPER RASPBERRY PROTEIN BROWNIES

1/4 teaspoon safflower oil

2 cans (15 ounces each) low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup pitted dates

1 cup all-fruit raspberry jam

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray an 8- by 8-inch baking pan with the oil. Combine black beans, dates, jam and vanilla in a food processor, and process until smooth. Add flour, cocoa powder and salt, and process again.

Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top looks set. Remove from the oven and cool completely, then cut into 16 squares. The brownies will keep, refrigerated in a covered container, for up to 1 week. Makes 16 brownies.

Nutrition information per serving: 145 calories, 1 g. fat, 5 g. protein, 8 g. fiber, 0 mg. cholesterol, 110 mg. sodium.

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    Kory Hansen

    Kory Hansen, a graduate of California State University, Fresno, began work at The Record in 2004 as a page designer and Graphics Editor. Kory currently lives in Brentwood with his wife and two sons, and spends entirely too much time chasing peacocks ... Read Full
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