To Your Heart, with Love!

Recent research suggests that substituting 2-3.5 oz per day of walnuts for saturated fat is not only good for your heart but promotes growth of friendly bacteria in the digestive system.  Read more here, and just in time for Heart Health Month, enjoy fun walnut recipes from the California Walnut Commission at https://walnuts.org/.

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Great Grapes

Savor the season with a treat loaded with antioxidants.  Recent research found a variety of beneficial nutrients across several grape types and colors (Lui et al, 2018), and this festive treat is also perfect as a quick and festive snack at Christmas.

Directions: In a clear 3 ounce cup, layer shredded, sweetened coconut for snow and 6 green grapes stacked as a tree.  Top with a star-shaped fruit snack.

 

Grape trees

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Sunflower Cookie Bites

No tricks here!  Just in time for Halloween and harvest time, this quick treat is packed with nutrients.

Ingredients:

¾ cup puffed rice cereal

1/4 cup dried cranberries

¼ cup sunflower butter

2 tablespoons honey

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, combine sunflower butter and honey. Lightly oil the measuring spoon before measuring the honey so that the honey slides off the spoon easily.
  2. Stir in cereal, tossing to coat with sunflower butter. Fold in the dried cranberries.
  3. Arrange 6 mini muffin wrappers on a plate. Use a tablespoon to scoop the cereal into the muffin papers, diving it evenly between the 6 papers.  Chill for 30 minutes before serving.
  4. Store cookies in the refrigerator, tightly covered on a plate or in an air tight container, for up to one week.
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Hooray for Blueberries!

It’s blueberry season here in New Jersey, and recent research found new benefits to enjoying this favorite blue food.  A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that consuming 1 cup of blueberries per day for 6 months improved endothelial function and reduced arterial stiffness, both markers of cardiovascular health and how easily blood can move through blood vessels.

Want to add more blueberries to your meals this summer?  Visit the American Blueberry Council‘s website or Taste of Home for great ideas.

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“Raisin” the Standard for Treats Has Never Been So Sweet

Happy National Raisin Day!  These sweet treats have a day all their own each April 30 and recently gained attention as research suggested they may lower blood pressure and post-meal blood glucose levels compared to other snacks (https://calraisins.org/raisin-nutrition/health-and-nutrition-research/).  Celebrate this fantastic fruit by enjoying about ¼ cup (2 tablespoons for diabetics) as a serving.  Think beyond oatmeal cookies and try adding them to cereal and salads or eating them out of hand as a snack.  However you serve them, they are a great source of nutrients with no extra sugar needed.

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Taste of Home Tuesday: Glazed Carrot Coins

Need a heart-healthy side dish this Valentine’s Day?  I recently tried (and loved) Taste of Home’s Contest-Winning Glazed Carrot Coins Recipe (below).  These tender, moist carrots are sure to bright a winter night while providing beta-carotene, which the body turns into vitamin A, and vitamin C.  I swapped butter for canola oil to add some healthful fats, and left out the salt. Frozen carrots made this dish super easy to prepare.  This was a keeper for sure.

 

Ingredients

2 tablespoons of butter or canola oil

2 tablespoons of brown sugar

2 tablespoons of orange juice

1/4 teaspoon of salt, optional

1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

6 medium carrots cut into 1/2 slices, or an equal amount of frozen carrots

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Stir in the brown sugar, orange juice, salt, ginger and cinnamon.  Add the carrots; cover, and cook for 20-25 minutes or until tender.  Makes 4 servings.

https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/contest-winning-glazed-carrot-coins/

I am sharing this as part of a blog hop with some of Taste of Home’s other volunteer field editors.  Please check out their sites and the recipes they are making this week at the links below.  I will draw a name at random (U.S. residents only, no purchase necessary) from those who share a comment for a chance to win a Taste of Home cookbook.  The winner will be announced Saturday, February 16, 2019.

Jolene: Jolene’s Recipe Journal/ Quick and Easy Chocolate Sauce/ https://jolenesrecipejournal.blogspot.com/2019/02/quick-easy-chocolate-sauce.html

Ellen: Ellen Folkman Family Around the Table | Glazed Cherry Cheese Danish | https://familyaroundthetable.com/2019/02/12/glazed-cherry-cheese-danish/

Courtney: Courtney Kitch Stultz  LPHJ Kitchen – Tuscan Portobello Stew – https://www.lphjkitchen.com/giveaway/021219toh/See More

AJ: A.j. Lively Chocolate Trifle /
https://www.facebook.com/groups/64926233658/scheduled/

 

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To Your Heart, with Love

Happy Heart Month!  It’s an especially good season to celebrate dark chocolate.  Research suggests, that, in moderation dark chocolate may lower rates of heart attacks, heart failure and death from heart disease and protect against atrial fibrillation. Not just any chocolate will do:  dark chocolate, with its heart-healthy flavonoids, is the winner here, particularly when it is served without added fat and sugar.  Read more in the journal Circulation, and for a creative recipe, check out Taste of Home’s Chocolate-Covered Pomegranate Seeds.  Try swapping your favorite unsalted nuts or seeds for a healthy, indulgent treat.

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