How to Use 5 Heart-Healthy Foods in Your Everyday Meals

Choosing the right foods to eat is one way to cook and eat healthier. Our newest video and infographic below are all about choosing the right foods that are good for your heart.

  • By Jackie Sun
  • February 18, 2014

February is American Heart Month, so we’re going to focus on heart-healthy foods to get you eating right, keep you energized throughout the day, and overall, have you feeling better about yourself and your body.

We are also continuing with our Dear Cook Smarts video series on how to cook and eat healthier, and this new video is all about choosing the right foods that are good for your heart, so check it out here:


5 Heart-Healthy Ingredients to Include in Your Diet

Feel good about what you eat with 5 ingredients that will do your heart good and keep you energized throughout the day.

While there are plenty of good-for-your-heart foods out there, starting with just a few can give you the starting point you need to continuously include heart-healthy foods into your diet, which is why we decided to highlight 5 of our favorite ingredients.

Eating foods that are good for your heart will last you the whole day, so we recommended fueling up on these foods, and giving your body a boost with daily exercise or a fun-filled activity, such as a walk in the park. Your body will surely thank you! And here’s an added bonus:

Taking care of yourself affects the people around you, so show them that you love them and care about them by treating yourself right! Tweet this

Our infographic below breaks down simple ways to enjoy these 5 Heart-Healthy Foods, and we have also created a recipe that incorporates all 5 of these ingredients for a meal that will make your heart feel super good. It’s a simple, delicious meal that all your loved ones will enjoy. Get the free recipe here:


Salmon with Spinach Walnut Pesto

Heart-healthy ingredients come together for a simple, tasty meal that will fuel your body and treat your heart right.

We were also inspired by many recipes that we found all over the internet, so we had to share with you our findings. There are recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so you’ll never have to worry about being unable to fit in a heart-healthy ingredient into any meal of the day.

In addition to recipes, you’ll find short cooking and prep videos that will make cooking healthier so much easier, as well as

8 helpful tips to get your heart pumping and feeling good.

Now go show yourself some love with these awesome heart-healthy foods!


5 Heart-Healthy Foods

Reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, and high cholesterol with these five foods.

5 Heart-Healthy Ingredients and How to Use Them

1. Brown Rice

Breakfast: Start your day right with this Maple Brown Rice Breakfast Bowl from Wonky Wonderful. This gluten-free breakfast bowl is chock full of brown rice, coconut flakes, and almonds, and sweetened with some golden raisins and maple syrup. It’s perfect for making ahead, so there’s no excuse to skip breakfast!

Lunch: Whenever you make brown rice for dinner, double the amount so that you can have leftovers. They’re great for adding to salads, like this Spring Salad with Salmon, Rice & Creamy Lemon Dressing from A Splash of Vanilla. This filling salad has other healthy ingredients like avocado, salmon, asparagus, snap peas, and spinach. With a salad like that, who can possibly say that healthy eating is boring?

Dinner: Our favorite way to jazz up leftover rice is our recipe for Black Bean and Leftover Rice Soup. Not only is it a tasty way to repurpose a leftover ingredient, it’s also a simple way to bulk up a meal. You can get the full recipe here:


Black Bean & Leftover Rice Soup

A great way to repurpose leftover rice is to add them to this tasty Tex-Mex inspired soup. Top with sour… Read more.

2. Spinach

Breakfast: We love adding spinach to a breakfast scramble – spinach wilts down to pack in a ton of healthy greens! But if you’re looking for a quick breakfast on-the-go, we’re all about Katie at the Kitchen Door’s Sweet Spinach and Mango Smoothie. Plus, eating spinach raw has different health benefits from cooked spinach, so it’s best to eat it both ways whenever you can.

Lunch: We can’t imagine a lunch that will inspire more lunch envy than Rotisserie Chicken Enchiladas. This dish is stuffed with spinach and mushrooms, so you can give your heart the lovin’ it deserves. This meal comes together so quickly with the help of rotisserie chicken, but you can make it vegetarian with black beans, or make it even more heart-healthy with leftover brown rice. Make ahead of time and you can even enjoy it for breakfast!

Dinner: This recipe from The Worktop, Sauteed Spinach with Shiitake Mushrooms and Halloumi, is such a great way to showcase the flavors of spinach. Keep it simple and fresh with whole ingredients and a sprinkle of salt and olive oil, and dinner can be quick, flavorful, and impressive. Sauteing is an easy way to cook veggies, especially spinach. Learn how with this video:


How to Saute Vegetables

Sauteing is a quick way to prepare and cook a wide variety of vegetables.

3. Sweet Potatoes

Breakfast: You’ll need to have some cooked mashed sweet potato on hand to make these Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Blueberry Muffins from The Lean Green Bean, but that can easily be accomplished with our trick to cook sweet potatoes quickly:


How to Quickly Cook Potatoes or Sweet Potatoes

Learn our trick for quickly making potatoes or sweet potatoes on a weeknight with this video.

Lunch: Sweet potatoes make a hearty filling for these Vegetarian Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos. Paired with black beans and avocado, these tacos are so hearty, you won’t even miss the meat! Learn how to chop sweet potatoes with this video and then get the yummy recipe below:


How to Prep Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a delicious nutritional powerhouse - learn how to prep them in this video.


Spice Up Taco Tuesday with These Sweet Potato & Black Bean Tacos

Sweet potatoes make an excellent vegetarian taco filling. Topped with lime juice and a dollop of fresh guacamole, you won't… Read more.

Dinner: We love a good curry, and Begin Within Nutrition’s Simple Coconut Curry hits the spot, especially on the healthy eating scale. In addition to sweet potato and lots of other veggies, this comforting dish also contains two other heart-healthy foods – spinach and brown rice!

4. Walnuts

Breakfast: Homemade granola is always good, because it’s not loaded with a ton of sugar. This recipe for Cranberry Nut Granola by Jackie Cooks is a delicious and healthy way to start your day. You can use whatever nuts you have on hand, but remember, walnuts are high in omega-3’s and protein, so make sure to include some in the granola!

Lunch: We love a good salad for lunch, and this Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad with Blood Oranges by Kim’s Cravings is a tasty switch from the usual salad greens. Shredded brussels sprouts mixed with citrus fruit, walnuts, feta cheese, and a citrus dressing are sure to please your tastebuds. If you’re looking for more protein, try adding some shredded rotisserie chicken or beans. Don’t forget to make your own dressing! It’s way healthier than the bottled stuff. Watch how here:


How to Make a Vinaigrette

Vinaigrettes are a wonderful way to dress up not just salads, but proteins and vegetables too, and they're very easy to make.

Dinner: Our favorite way to add walnuts to a meal is to turn it into a pesto. Traditional pesto calls for pine nuts, but you can use any kind of nut that you like. Try subbing walnuts for pine nuts in our recipe for Pasta with Basil Pesto and Peas. Garnish with even more walnuts for a delightful crunch and healthy boost. It’s a whole lot easier to use a food processor to make a pesto, but no worries if you don’t have one. You can still make a hand-chopped pesto with the help of our video below:


How to Make a Hand-Chopped Pesto

Food processors and blenders are not needed to make a delicious herb pesto.


Once You Try This Pasta with Pesto & Peas, You’ll Want It Every Night

Homemade pesto is easy, quick, and oh so tasty, and it coats our pasta and peas with lots of summery… Read more.

5. Salmon

Breakfast: A Thought for Food’s Smoked Salmon with Apple, Yogurt, and Chives had us at “smoked salmon”! We love smoked salmon and can’t imagine a healthier, tastier combo with apples, greek yogurt, and chives for a light, tasty breakfast.

Lunch: For a filling but still light lunch that wouldn’t put you in a food coma in the middle of work, try this Broiled Salmon with Pineapple Salsa recipe by Tracey’s Culinary Adventures. If you need some carbs, you can even flake the salmon, stuff into tortillas, and top with pineapple salsa for some tacos!

Dinner: This is by far one of our favorite recipes ever. Middle-Eastern Spiced Salmon Kebabs will make dinnertime exciting with all its fresh flavors – tangy lemons, fresh dill, and za’atar, a fragrant Middle Eastern spice. And for some reason, eating foods on a stick is always so much tastier. They’re super easy to assemble, too! Just watch the video below to see how:


How to Assemble Salmon Skewers

Thread salmon onto skewers for a fun and tasty way to enjoy kebabs.


Easy Salmon Kebabs with Middle Eastern Spices

A simple Middle Eastern spice blend transforms salmon into a restaurant quality dish. Read more.

8 Tips to Get Your Heart Pumping & Feeling Good

  1. Garnish breakfasts with blueberries or toasted almonds and walnuts.
  2. Substitute milk for almond milk or soy milk.
  3. Toss cooked brown rice with salads; brown rice adds fiber and no extra fat.
  4. Use vegetables and fruits that are in season for the freshest and best taste; your heart, body, and taste buds will thank you!
  5. When adding protein to your meals, choose salmon, tofu, or black beans.
  6. Change up pestos with variations like spinach and walnut pesto or broccoli and almond pesto.
  7. Using apple sauce and bananas in baked goods reduces amount of fat, cholesterol, and calories.
  8. To satisfy sweet cravings, choose chocolate with a cacao content of 70% or higher.

Show yourself some love and try out our cooking tips on these heart-healthy foods. We keep things simple, smart, and healthy, so that you can live a heart-healthy life. And don’t forget to try out our new free recipe that features our 5 favorite heart-healthy foods!


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