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5 Foods to Keep Your Heart Healthy!

Heart healthy foods Feb 20 2017 - Sue L - 1

February is Heart Month! Did you know that 9 out of 10 adults have at least one risk factor for heart disease? The good news is that eating the right foods can keep your heart healthy.

Watch my interview on CTV Your Morning

Whole grains
Barley and oats specifically contain a special type of fibre called beta-glucan. This type of fibre has been shown to lower blood cholesterol which is important since high blood cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease. The beneficial amount is 3 grams of beta-glucan fibre which is found in 1 cup of cooked barley or 1½ cups of cooked oatmeal.

Try this recipe – Vegetable, Bean & Barley Stuffed Peppers


Nuts

Research shows that eating about 1.5 to 3.5 servings of nuts 5 times or more per week can also lower the bad LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol. All nuts have high proportions of healthy fats – these are called monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats – and it’s these fats which help to reduce our cholesterol levels. Nuts are packed with nutrition like protein, vitamin E, selenium, folate and even calcium but the calories do add up, so keep in mind that a portion size is about ¼ cup. One easy way to eat more nuts is to eat them as a snack. Or you can easily add nuts to your oatmeal, in your baking recipes or in a stir-fry.


Soy protein

About 20-25 grams of soy protein helps to lower blood cholesterol levels. Plus soy protein is a great vegetarian protein. To get this amount of soy protein, try any one of these options:
– ¾ cup cooked tofu or
– ¾ cup cooked edamame beans or
– 1 cup fortified soy beverage with ¼ cup roasted soy nuts

Fish
Fatty fish such as salmon, rainbow trout, artic char, mackerel and sardines are super sources of heart healthy omega-3 fats. These omega-3 fats can reduce inflammation and blood clotting. Aim to fish at least twice a week. A serving is 75 g of cooked fish or about the size and thickness of your palm.

Try this recipe – Salmon with Peanut Cucumber Relish

Veggies and Fruit
You can’t go wrong eating more fruit and veggies. Fruit and veggies are superstars for fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which protect us from not just heart disease but other health conditions too such as high blood pressure, cancer and diabetes. As a general rule, try to have 1-2 servings of veggies or fruit at every meal and snack. Or just think of filling half your plate with veggies and fruit at every meal.

Last Minute DIY Holiday Gifts from the Kitchen!

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There’s something so special about making – and receiving – a homemade gift!
Here are my five gift ideas which use common ingredients from your kitchen!

Watch my interview video for step-by-step instructions.

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DYI Gift #1: Mini Clementine Wreath
Everyone loves clementines this time of year! Take this seasonal fruit to make a cute wreath.

Step 1: Cut a piece of clear wrapping paper or clear basket wrap about 2 feet long.
Step 2: About 6 inches from the top edge of the wrapping paper, place 8 mini clementines about 1 finger width apart.
Step 3: Fold the top edge of the wrapping paper over the clementines and continue rolling until you get to the end of the wrapping paper.
Step 4: Bring the two ends of the wrapping paper together to form a wreath shape and tie the ends together with floral wire or a large twist tie.
Step 5: Tie a little bow between each clementine.
Step 6: Finish off the wreath by tying a big bow at the bottom of the wreath to cover up the floral wire.

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DIY Gift #2: Soup in a Jar
A perfect gift for the health conscious person on your list. The fibre in beans and barley helps to lower blood cholesterol levels.

Step 1: In a 4 cup jar, layer 3/4 cup each of green split peas, red lentils and barley. Repeat the layers.
Step 2: Attach a wooden spoon or soup spoon.
Step 3: Include a gift tag with these cooking instructions: Heat about 2 T of vegetable oil on medium high heat in a heavy stockpot. Sauté one diced onion, 2 cloves minced garlic, 2 diced carrots and 2 stalks of chopped celery for about 5 minutes. Add the soup mix and 10 cups of broth. Bring the soup to a boil, then cover and simmer for 45 minutes or until barley is tender.

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DIY Gift #3: Homemade Pancake Mix
The holidays can spell cookie overload! Give the gift of breakfast with this homemade pancake mix.

Step 1: In a tall clear bag, add 1 cup white flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, 2 T sugar, 4 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt.
Step 2: Tie the bag with a festive ribbon.
Step 3: Attach these instructions on a gift tag: In a large bowl, whisk together 1 egg, 2 1/4 cups milk or buttermilk, 2 T oil or melted butter. Use a whisk to stir the pancake mix into the egg mixture. Heat a skillet with butter on medium high heat. Pour 1/4 cup of batter at a time per pancake. Cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes until bubbles form on the pancake. Flip over and cook for another 30 to 60 seconds or until the pancake is set. Makes 12 pancakes.
Step 4: Attach a colourful whisk and/or a bottle of maple syrup.

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4. Chai Tea Mix
An aromatic mix for the tea lover on your list!

Step 1: In a small jar, combine: 1/2 T ground black pepper, 2 T ground cinnamon, 2 T ground ginger, 1 T ground cardamom, 1 T ground cloves, 1/2 T ground nutmeg.
Step 2: Attach a gift tag with these instructions: To make a cup of chai tea, add 1/2 tsp of the tea mix with 1 cup of hot milk and 2 tsp of black tea. Optional – add sugar to taste.
Step 3: Pair the chai tea mix with a festive mug and you’re all set!

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5. DIY Coupons
Give the gift of your time or service.
Think beyond the kitchen and offer gifts that continue to give all year long.

Step 1: Hand write or print your own coupons.
Step 2: Place them in a tin or stocking stuffer. Have fun and be creative!

Here are some coupon ideas:

To spouse / partner / friend:
– No cooking tonight. Dinner on me at the restaurant of your choice.
– One month no garbage duty.
– Lunch on me today!
– One free night of babysitting.

To child from parent:
– Breakfast in bed!
– Stay up one hour past your bedtime.
– Dinner and movie with mom.

To parent from child:
– Free car wash by hand.
– Breakfast in bed!
– I’ll clean up my room without complaining.

Happy holidays and all the best for the New Year!

Barley Butternut Squash Risotto

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I made this wonderful side dish for Thanksgiving dinner this year! It’s one of my all-time favourite recipes from Lucy Waverman’s cookbook Dinner Tonight.

Barley contains a unique fibre called beta-glucan. This type of fibre has been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels. Butternut squash is filled with beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A, and important for vision and a healthy immune system.

Ingredients
5 cups chicken stock or water (I use lower sodium chicken stock)
2 T olive oil or canola oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups diced butternut squash (about 1/2 small butternut squash)
1 cup uncooked pearl barley
salt and pepper to taste
2 T chopped parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions
1. Heat stock in pot until simmering.
2. Heat oil in heavy pot on medium heat. Add onion and cook for 1 minute. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute or until onion is soft.
3. Add squash and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in barley and sauté for 1 minute or until barley is coated with oil.
4. Add 1 cup stock, bring to boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, until barley absorbs most of stock. Add 2 more cups stock and cook for 20 minutes or until most of stock has been absorbed.
5. Stir in 1 cup more stock and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, until stock is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Add remaining stock and cook and stir until barley is tender, about 10 minutes longer. Season well with salt and pepper.
6. Beat in parsley and cheese. Serve immediately. Risotto thickens as it sits, but it can be reheated by beating in more stock or water.

Makes 4 servings.

Health Canada approves new health claim for barley and cholesterol

There’s good new for barley! Health Canada has just approved the following heart health claim: “Barley fibre helps reduce cholesterol, which is a risk factor for heart disease.” To qualify for this claim, the food must contain at least 1 gram of beta-glucan from barley grain products per reference amount and per serving of stated size. Research shows that 3 grams of barley beta-glucan per day is effective in lowering blood cholesterol levels. About 44% of Canadians have high blood cholesterol which is a risk factor for heart disease.

Image source: Wikia.com

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