The Delicious Side of Heart Healthy

Who says eating for your heart has to be tasteless? Make your heart-healthy diet delicious with these tips from Sharon Palmer!

Low Fat is Out, Vibrant and Flavorful is In!

Who says eating for your heart has to be tasteless? Take some tips from the Mediterranean diet to make your diet fabulous.

Remember  the days when heart-healthy eating advice was about as much fun as a root canal? Say au revoir to those days, thanks to a new approach to heart health. A strict, low-fat dietary strategy for heart disease prevention is old news. Today's emphasis is on a vibrant, flavorful diet that powers up on healthy fats, seasonal fruits and vegetables, whole grains, herbs, spices, and moderate alcohol consumption.

There's nothing frightful about that portrait of a diet. Maybe it's time to give your heart-healthy eating style a more palatable update.

Heart-Healthy Cooking Tips

Use these practical culinary health tips and tricks in your kitchen.

Power up on flavor. You don't need to dine on the same bland, plain foods every day. Make menu ideas interesting with the addition of herbs and spices, such as turmeric, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, and hot pepper.

Discover the new "OK" foods. Don't avoid foods merely because of higher calorie content. For instance, almond slivers, chopped walnuts, and sunflower seeds can add heart-healthy fats and flavor to salads and side dishes. Enjoy a handful of nuts or seeds each day.

Add a touch of healthy fat in cooking. It's a common misperception that 'healthy cooking techniques' means only steaming and broiling plain foods. Use a little healthy fat, such as a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil or expeller pressed canola oil in a family-sized recipe.

Make vegetables delicious. Want people to eat more vegetables? Make them delicious by drizzling a bit of extra-virgin olive oil and roasting them, or serving them with a dip such as hummus or pesto.

Pump up the nutrition. Try cutting out the meat in favor of legumes, vegetables and whole grains in your standard recipes. Do you love pizza? Load up on the veggie toppings, such as arugula, tomatoes, bell peppers, or even broccoli on a whole grain crust. Add spinach or mushrooms to your homemade tomato sauce. Toss peas, cauliflower, or even kale to your favorite pasta recipe. And opt for whole grain pasta whenever possible.

Experiment with whole grains. Make a big batch of a new whole grain each week, such as farro, quinoa, or bulgar, and add it to soups, salads, and side dishes.

A little bit of sweetness goes a long way. A handful of dried fruit in a salad or a spoonful of maple syrup or honey in a homemade vinaigrette can offer powerful flavor to salad greens.

Include avocado in sandwiches. Instead of dry sandwiches or high-saturated fat spreads, use nature's favorite bread spread - mashed avocados!  Avocados provide moisture, flavor, and healthy fats when spread on breads. You can watch how I make Avocado Butter here.

Satisfy your sweet tooth. Whip up a pear crumble or bake apples for a nutrient-packed dessert. When fruit is heated, the natural sugars caramelize, resulting in a healthy, yet delicious treat.

You can read my full article, "The Delicious Side of Heart Healthy Eating" in Today's Dietitian Magazine here.

Happy eating!

From my (plant-powered) plate to yours,



Sharon Palmer, R.D.

Sharon Palmer, The Plant-Powered Dietitian™ is a writer and author of The Plant-Powered Diet. Over 850 of her articles have been published in national publications, including Prevention, Better Homes and Gardens and Today’s Dietitian. She is also the editor of the award-winning publication Environmental Nutrition and writes for her blog, The Plant-Powered Blog. Her specific expertise is in plant-based nutrition, including Mediterranean, vegetarian and vegan diets. Her second book, Plant-Powered for Life: Eat Your Way to Lasting Health with 52 Simple Steps and 125 Delicious Recipes, will be in stores spring of 2014.

Related articles