February Is Heart Healthy Month

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According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, focusing on your heart has never been more important and here’s why;

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. But you can do a lot to protect your heart.
  • Prioritizing your heart can help you avoid severe illness. People with poor
    cardiovascular health are also at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
  • Self-care is heart-health care. Practicing self-care can keep our hearts healthy. Being physically active, eating healthier foods, getting enough sleep, not smoking, and finding healthy ways to reduce stress can help prevent heart disease. And, when we take care of our hearts, we set an example for those around us to do the same.
  • Get to know #OurHearts! Learn what a healthy blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, and blood sugar level is for you and how they impact your risk for heart disease. Having a basic understanding of information that concerns your health and using the information to inform health-related decisions and actions for yourself and others, is strongly linked to better health.

For additional information on visit the Heart Healthy Month website, to seek additional information concerning how to protect your heart and the increased risks as a result of COVID-19.

What is a heart-healthy diet? A heart-healthy diet is one that limits saturated fat, trans fat and dietary cholesterol while adding heart-healthy foods in an attempt to lower your blood cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, saturated fat should not exceed seven percent of your total calories, trans fat should not exceed one percent and cholesterol should be less than 300 milligrams.

So how do you follow a heart-healthy diet? Eat a good balance of fresh, fiber-rich fruits and veggies; whole grains; and healthy proteins, such as nuts, skinless fish and poultry. Cooking the Mediterranean way would be a great choice when trying a heart-healthy plan. Some of these “superfoods” have been identified on a list of great foods to improve heart health!!

  • Beets – Beets contain high doses of nitrates, which keep blood vessels dilated and healthy.
    One study revealed that drinking a cup of beet juice daily significantly lowered blood pressure.
  • Olives and Olive Oil – Olive oil boosts good, heart-protective cholesterol but also wards off diabetes and strokes. Research confirms that patients who had had heart attacks and subsequently followed a Mediterranean diet high in olive oil had better repair of the arterial linings and yet another study reveals that that olive oil may help people live longer. The USDA guidelines say to consume about of 27 grams or about two tablespoons a day.
  • Salmon – The American Heart Association recommends eating fish, especially salmon and other oily fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids at least twice a week to aid in staving off the risk of heart failure, stroke and other coronary disease. Other oily fish include trout, herring, albacore tuna, sardines and mackerel.
  • Blueberries – Blueberries, as well as strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries all have heart- healthy benefits for their fiber as well as their antioxidants, if you are not a berry fan, red grapes will also do the trick
  • Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts – Broccoli, brussels sprouts, and other cruciferous vegetables are linked to a decline in blood vessel disease
  • Chili Peppers – It turns out that the capsaicin in these hot little guys not only sets your mouth on fire, but it also has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and blood-glucose-regulating effects.

    One research study of 570,000 people found that those who ate chili peppers had a whopping 26 percent lower relative risk of cardiovascular mortality than those who rarely or never ate the peppers.

Some other super foods for your heart include oatmeal, garbanzo beans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and tofu.

Oven Roasted Salmon with Lemon Vinaigrette


  • 1 lemon
  • 2 bulbs fennel, thinly sliced
  • 2 small red onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 ½ tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 ¼ pounds skin-on salmon
  • 1 teaspoon stone ground mustard
  • 3 cups baby arugula


  1. Heat broiler. Cut pointed ends off lemon, halve crosswise, and place on a rimmed baking sheet, center cut sides up. Broil on top rack until charred, 5 minutes; transfer to a plate and set
  2. Reduce oven temperature to 400°F. On rimmed baking sheet, toss fennel and onions with 1 1/2 Tbsp oil and 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper; arrange around edges of sheet. Place salmon in center of sheet and season with 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper. Roast until vegetables are tender and salmon is opaque throughout, 17 to 20 minutes.
  3. Juice charred lemon halves into a small bowl and whisk in mustard and remaining Tbsp oil.
  4. Remove baking sheet from oven and fold arugula into vegetables. Drizzle charred lemon vinaigrette over fish and vegetables and gently toss vegetables.

Honey Chili Glazed Brussels Sprouts


  • 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved, about 6 cups
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 ½ tablespoons Sriracha
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds


  1. Place a rimmed baking sheet in the oven; preheat to 450 degrees F.
  2. Toss Brussels sprouts, oil and salt in a medium bowl. Spread on the hot baking sheet. Roast until browned and tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
    Meanwhile, whisk honey, Sriracha and lime juice in the bowl.
  3. Drizzle the Brussels sprouts with the honey mixture and stir to coat; continue roasting for 5 minutes more. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Heart Healthy Hush Puppies (who knew?)


  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup yellow grits
  • ½ cup white flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ¾ tsp. seasoned salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2/3 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/8 cup oil
  • 1/3 cup nuts, finely chopped
  • Oil for deep frying – use any kind of vegetable oil, NOT solid shortening or lard. Safflower, corn, sunflower, peanut, soybean are best for hot temperatures (vs. olive, canola)
  • A mixture of vegetables finely chopped – about 1-1 ½ cups total. Choose anything you like, but include onions. Other options that are good – experiment with your favorites:
    • Red or green bell peppers (or hot peppers if you dare!
    • Eggplant
    • Sweet potatoes
    • Zucchini or yellow squash
    • Okra
    • Cabbage


  1. Begin heating the oil for deep frying (medium to high heat) – about 1 ½ inch depth.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix all wet ingredients. Combine wet and dry ingredients. Add chopped nuts and vegetables
  3. Add more buttermilk if needed for the consistency of cornbread (very thick pancake batter)
  4. Drop batter into the heated oil using a small spoon. The oil should bubble vigorously around the dough. Turn the puppies with a slotted spoon to brown them on all sides. It should take only 2-3 minutes to cook.
  5. Remove from oil and drain on a paper towel. Enjoy!