Heart-Happy Valentine’s Day!
Nothing says “I Love You!” like giving your loved ones a box of sugar, gmo-filled chemicals
that have no positive nutritional value. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with spoiling your loved ones on Valentine’s Day! But I do believe it matters what you spoil them with.
Today I spoke to one of my dear friends, Tanya. She was telling me that in one of her kiddo’s classrooms they were doing a “heart-happy” Valentine’s Day! They are even making homemade fruit roll-ups using real strawberries and coconut sugar to sweeten them. Well, that’s a bright idea! I seriously think that this is a genius concept for so many reasons. First of all, teaching something and then enforcing it by actions goes a long, long way for kids. Second, It encourages learning information through action. Thirdly, I believe that getting young kids involved in the hands-on experience of preparing healthy foods creates less picky eaters that are more likely to love healthy foods. I would love to see that become a “thing” all over and not just for a handful of students in California. I am sure there are many more classrooms in America who are doing the same thing, but wouldn’t it be neat to start teaching heart health at a young age and enforcing it? I can’t imagine how many schools are teaching about heart health and then have a big sugar feast on Valentine's Day totally negating the curriculum that was just taught.
Let’s talk about some delicious heart-healthy treats that would be great for Valentine’s Day. You might say, “But, Krysten! I already bought my kids their Valentine’s Day treats!” My honest response can go either way. 1) What is your family’s health worth? Is it worth throwing out the junk and wasting that money? If so, toss it and start over. Or, I could say 2) Start the next day and go from there. Do what is right for you and your family. What is right for me and my family may not work for you and your family, and that’s okay.
You don’t have to deprive your family of yummy sweets or treats. That isn’t the point of this blog. But there are healthier alternatives to all the stuff you see advertised on TV and at the majority of checkout stands in the grocery store. There are healthier candy bars, marshmallows, chocolate bars, hot chocolate, soda, gummy candies and more. You just have to look for them, or you can simply follow me on social media since I always post yummy and healthy alternatives to many foods.
All in all, enjoy your Valentine’s Day, and eat your chocolate if you want. I will be eating my favorite chocolate that has 70% or more cocoa and is good for you. Perhaps, if you have any of these heart-healthy foods below, incorporate at least one or two of them tomorrow to balance out all the other stuff you might be eating.
Happy Valentine's Day to you!
- Salmon is filled with omega-3 fatty acids that are good for the heart. The American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish at least 2 times a week. Salmon has the highest amount of omega-3s of any fish. If you don’t like fish, don’t worry, you can take omega-3s in a supplement. Check with your doctor to see the amount that you should take, but this article from Delicious Living says 1,000mg of omega-3's per day. (Delicious Living)
- Dark Chocolate is by far my favorite heart-healthy superfood. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids called polyphenols which may help with blood pressure and inflammation. Put those milk chocolate bars down, they don't do anything besides add calories. Make sure your chocolate is at least 70% cacao. Here’s my fav hot chocolate and chocolate and you can even use promo code “KRYSTENDTMT” to get some free chocolate at checkout. YUM! (Visit EatingEvolved to learn more about their incredibly chocolate!)
- Spinach and kale are crazy good for your heart health. They are high in antioxidants, fiber and vitamins and minerals. Kale is a wonderful source of omega-3 fatty acids, too! Throw a handful of spinach or kale in your smoothie or sauté it with lots of garlic.
- Avocado is great on anything, really. It’s a wonderful healthy fat, which I am sure you already know. It is high in antioxidants and potassium. You can eat it in the form of guacamole or chocolate pudding… they're both amazing!
- Oats are high in soluble fiber which can lower cholesterol. Make sure you are using old fashioned or quick cooking oats and avoid the instant oats as they can contain way too much sugar. How about some Oatmeal Energy Bites?
- Berries, such as strawberries and blueberries, are high in antioxidants that can decrease blood pressure. They are high in soluble fiber and pair well with old fashion oats. You could eat them with your favorite nut butter, mix them in a chia seed pudding or eat them plain.
- Beans, beans... they're good for your heart, the more you eat them the more your diet is filled with good soluble fiber that can lower your cholesterol. If you are buying beans in a can make sure you get "no salt added" as salt can raise your blood pressure. You don’t need to eat a lot of beans to get benefit, 1/2 a cup a few times a week will do. You could also make delicious black bean brownies!