Five ways to keep your heart healthy



It’s February—National Heart Health Month. I talk about heart health a lot. It’s a huge deal—heart disease is the number one cause of death for men and women! I am going to do something a little bit different in this blog!

I usually talk about heart-healthy foods. In this entry, I am going to discuss some lifestyle choices you should make to reduce your risk of getting heart disease.


Exercise improves overall heart health! Exercise gets your heart pumping harder, which strengthens it. It’s suggested to exercise moderately at least 150 minutes per week for maximum benefits. You don’t have to hit the gym to get exercise. Take your dog for a light jog. Dance with your girlfriends!  Try an app like Sworkit to get in a great 20-60 minute workout at home. Even a 10 minute mini-workout is better than no workout!


Get enough sleep. Aim to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Studies have linked getting sufficient quality sleep had healthier arteries than those who didn’t.  Turn electronic devices off at least an hour before bed.  Determine a relaxing sleep ritual for yourself (maybe reading or doing some yoga or stretching, or even a warm bath).

If you have difficulty sleeping, make sure your room is dark (consider blackout curtains). White noise machines also help light sleepers.


Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke.  Smoke can damage your arteries and lead to the buildup of fatty material. When fatty material builds up in your arteries, they narrow, which can lead to a stroke or heart attack. Ask your doctor what you can do to quit smoking as soon as possible.


Keep alcohol to 1-2 glasses per day(1 drink for women and 2 drinks per day for men). Drinking more alcohol increases chances of developing high blood pressure, stroke, obesity, and other heart disease risk factors.

Stress Reduction

Stress is a major factor in heart disease. Several studies show that meditation is an effective modality to reduce stress. It also helps to reduce anxiety, and harmful hormones. Meditating can lower heart rate and blood pressure.

And do something that will make you laugh! Laughter is good for your heart; it actually raises your HDL (good) cholesterol!

Eat well, exercise daily (even if for 10 minutes), sleep well, quit smoking, limit alcohol, and reduce stress and your heart will thank you!


Nuts about nuts!



What food is so versatile, so delicious, high in protein, fiber, minerals, and healthy unsaturated fats? By the title of my blog, I’m sure you guessed it—nuts! And I am nuts about nuts because they are widely available, so good for you and each one tastes different, which means I never get bored with them. In this blog, I will share some nutrition information about my five favorite nuts.

Each of these nuts are amazing at possibly helping to prevent heart disease and they are great (when eaten in small serving sizes) for weight-loss efforts. Study after study find that nuts are the perfect heart-healthy food choice!


A small handful of almonds contains roughly:

Calories: 161

Total mono and or polyunsaturated fat: 14 grams

Protein: 6 grams

Carbs: 6 grams

Fiber: 3.5 grams

Vitamin E: 37% of the RDI

Magnesium: 19% of the RD


A small handful of pistachios contains roughly:

Calories: 156

Total mono and or polyunsaturated fat: 12.5 grams

Protein: 6 grams

Carbs: 8 grams

Fiber: 3 grams

Vitamin E: 3% of the RDI

Magnesium: 8% of the RD


A small handful of cashews contains roughly:

Calories: 155

Total mono and or polyunsaturated fat: 12 grams

Protein: 5 grams

Carbs: 9 grams

Fiber: 1 gram

Vitamin E: 1% of the RDI

Magnesium: 20% of the RDI

Brazil Nuts

Brazil nuts originate from a tree in the Amazon and are an incredibly rich source of selenium

A small handful of Brazil nuts contains about:

Calories: 182

Total mono and or polyunsaturated fat: 18 grams

Protein: 4 grams

Carbs: 3 grams

Fiber: 2 grams

Vitamin E: 8% of the RDI

Magnesium: 26% of the RDI


Walnuts are a very popular nut and an excellent source of the omega -3 fatty acids alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

A small handful of walnuts contains roughly:

Calories: 182

Total mono and or polyunsaturated fat: 18 grams

Protein: 4 grams

Carbs: 4 grams

Fiber: 2 grams

Vitamin E: 1% of the RDI

Magnesium: 11% of the RDI

Add nuts to your morning oatmeal or yogurt. They’re great in salads. You can crush them for a “breading” for poultry and fish. Some like cashews blend well in smoothies as well. And even just a small handful of nuts is a great snack to keep you satiated between meals!

Welcome whole grains



I know, I know, you are going to tell me that you are trying the ketogenic diet, or paleo, Atkins, South Beach, or some other diet that “bans” carbs! I think each diet has merit to some degree or another, but I am actually going to tell you why you would want whole grains!

First of all, let me set things straight. I am NOT advocating refined carbs like crackers, cookies, white bread, flour tortillas or even white rice. I am suggesting you welcome whole grains—grains that contain the entire grain kernel—the bran, germ, and endosperm (for example, whole wheat bread, oatmeal, brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, millet, and popcorn).

Whole grains are filled with fiber and almost every person I know (even healthy eaters) do not get enough fiber in your diet. Fiber helps keep things moving in your digestion system, keeps you fuller longer (so yes, it can help with weight loss), and it also lowers your risk of getting heart disease.

Whole grains also loaded with important B vitamins and minerals. These nutrients are amazing for reducing stress levels and giving you energy.

Speaking of energy—if you experience major dips in your energy throughout the day, whole grains can help prevent that! Why? They help regulate your blood-sugar levels. Lulls in your energy level often indicate that your blood sugar levels are not remaining steady throughout the day. Fix that with whole grains!

Are you unsure about how to try incorporating whole grains into your diet? Here are just a few tips:

  • Use whole wheat pasta when you would normally use regular pasta.
  • Swap white bread for whole grain bread.
  • Eat oatmeal for breakfast!
  • Look for whole grain crackers!
  • Instead of white rice, try cooking with brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, or millet.

Continue reading

Get your heart healthy with a smoothie bowl for breakfast


smoothie bowl

February is Heart Health Month and I’m going to tell you about how eating a smoothie bowl for breakfast can help reduce your risk of heart disease! Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in both men and women in the United States, so give this smoothie bowl a try!

Now, you may be wondering, what is a smoothie bowl? Aren’t smoothies supposed to be drunk from a glass? Smoothie bowls are simply smoothies you can eat with a spoon with lots of delicious toppings!

This smoothie was made with mixed berries, a frozen banana, plain Greek yogurt, and unsweetened cashew milk. It was topped with oranges, hemp seeds, and pomegranate!

Berries, oranges, and pomegranate are packed full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Plus, they are naturally low in calories and high in fiber and water! Fiber helps lower your cholesterol.

Bananas are a great source of potassium. Potassium can help manage high blood pressure by reducing the effects of excess sodium. When you eat more potassium, you lose more sodium in urine. Other foods rich in potassium are avocados, beans, potatoes, and more!

Greek yogurt and cashew milk are both fantastic sources of calcium. Calcium is a mineral that helps with muscle contraction!

And last but not least, hemp seeds are an excellent source of those healthy fats, omega-3 and rare omega-6 GLA. They are also packed with protein, iron, zinc, magnesium, vitamin E, and riboflavin! It’s really important to limit saturated and trans fats as they can damage your arteries and lead to heart disease. Load up your diet with omega-3 rich foods like hemp seeds instead!

There are so many variations of smoothie bowls you can make, so I’m going to give you a base recipe and you can create your own!

Step 1: Choose your fruit. Frozen fruit works best in smoothies because it makes it nice and cold!

Step 2: Choose your yogurt. Any kind is fine, but if you want extra protein try Greek yogurt. Try to stay away from yogurts with a lot of added sugars to cut back on calories.

Step 3: Choose your milk. Any kind of milk is fine too! I always go for nut milk because it is a lot lower in calories. If you are trying nut milk, make sure it’s the unsweetened variety to decrease added sugars.

Step 4: Pick some optional add-ins: spinach, nuts, seeds, protein powders. Add-ins like spinach are very tasteless and give you an extra serving of vegetables!

Step 5: Pour into a bowl and load up with healthy toppings like sliced fruit, coconut flakes, granola, and extra dark chocolate!

Go to to see this recipe and more that were created by Rosemary Squires.


How to Breakup with Salt in your Home Cooking



Did you know that May is High Blood Pressure Awareness Month? One of the biggest culprits of high blood pressure is sodium. And sodium abounds in almost every packaged food on the grocery store shelves and almost every dish you order at a restaurant.

The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams (mgs) a day and an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults. What can you do to reduce your salt intake?

One of the simplest ways to reduce salt intake is to cook more at home. This will help you control the salt that goes into your food. Soups for example are so easy to “throw together” and I promise you that almost every recipe will have less sodium than canned soup, many of which contain close to 40 percent of the amount of sodium you should have in a given day.

Here are some ways the American Heart Association recommends reducing salt when preparing food:

  • Use onions, garlic, herbs, spices, citrus juices and vinegars in place of some or all of the salt to add flavor to foods.
  • Drain and rinse canned beans (like chickpeas, kidney beans, etc.) and vegetables – this can cut the sodium by up to 40 percent.
  • Combine lower-sodium versions of food with regular versions. If you don’t like the taste of lower-sodium foods right now, try combining them in equal parts with a regular version of the same food. You’ll get less salt and probably won’t notice much difference in taste. This works especially well for broths, soups, and tomato-based pasta sauces.
  • Cook pasta, rice, and hot cereal without salt. You’re likely going to add other flavorful ingredients to these foods, so you won’t miss the salt.
  • Cook by grilling, braising, roasting, searing, and sautéing to bring out the natural flavors in foods – that will reduce the need to add salt.
  • Incorporate foods with potassium, like sweet potatoes, potatoes, greens, tomatoes and lower-sodium tomato sauce, white beans, kidney beans, nonfat yogurt, oranges, bananas and cantaloupe. Potassium helps counter the effects of sodium and may help lower your blood pressure.

You can learn more about ways to reduce salt at restaurants and even find recipes at the American Health Association’s Break up with Salt website.

Celebrate World Pistachio Day with Me



Happy World Pistachio Day! Yes, that’s right, today is a day to celebrate pistachios. Let me give me a little Pistachio 101 lesson on this little powerhouse. Related botanically to cashews and mangoes, pistachios are one of the oldest flowering nut trees, and are one of the only two nuts mentioned in the Bible. Americans started enjoying pistachios in the 1800s, but the first commercial crop wasn’t harvested until 1976. Today, California produces 300 million pounds of pistachios a year. They are also produced in Syria, Greece, Italy, and Turkey.

These little green nuts. are packed with amazing nutrients, such as B-complex, healthy mono-unsaturated fats, protein, fiber, vitamin E, copper and other minerals. Studies show that daily consumption of nuts, like pistachios, may reduce the risk of heart disease and may lower blood pressure. Emerging research shows that pistachios can help manage blood-sugar levels even when consumed with a high-carbohydrate meal. Now, that’s powerful!

Here are some more fun facts about pistachios:

  • One serving of pistachios is 49 nuts! No deprivation here!
  • New research shows that your serum antioxidant levels rise when you at pistachios.
  • New research also shows that your LDL (BAD!) cholesterol levels can lower when you eat pistachios.
  • Here’s my favorite! Pistachios can make you happy! These little green nuts are actually referred to as the smiling nut in Iran and the happy nut in China.

I enjoy many of the pistachio products made by Setton Farms. Pistachio Chewy  Bites are awesome and handy little snacks to take with me when I travel. They are so simple and natural and yummy-a pistachio cranberry combo. If you are a chocolaholic, you will love their Dark Chocolate Pistachios. If you like things to be spiced up a little, try their flavored pistachios. Setton’s flavored pistachios are available in five different flavors. Consumers can choose from Chipotle BBQ, Chili-Limon, Garlic Onion, Jalapeno and Salt & Pepper.

Did you know there were so many fun ways to enjoy pistachios? Try any of these—you will thank me!


Reach for an Avocado for your Heart



For this last week of Heart Health month, I am going to feature some of my favorite heart-healthy foods. Today, I will zoom in on Avocados. I LOVE Avocados, they are king of Omega-9s, a heart-healthy fat. I’m including an Avocado DESSERT recipe in this blog as well.

Why Avocados are Heart-Healthy:

-They may lower your bad cholesterol and total cholesterol

A recent study at Penn State tested three different diets, all designed to lower cholesterol. One diet was low fat, one was moderate fat, and one was moderate fat with an added Hass Avocado. The researchers tested the diets with 45 healthy, overweight adults. All three diets significantly lowered LDL — also known as bad cholesterol — as well as total cholesterol. However, participants experienced an even greater reduction in LDL and total cholesterol while on the avocado diet, compared to the other two diets, according to this study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

They may lower you triglyercide levels

People tend to know more about cholesterol than they do about triglycerides. Triglycerides are a type of fat (lipid) found in your blood. When you eat, your body converts any calories it doesn’t need to use right away into triglycerides. The triglycerides are stored in your fat cells. Later, hormones release triglycerides for energy between meals. However, many people eat more unhealthy carbs and unhealthy fats than they can burn so the triglycerides remain stored. High triglyceride levels provoke metabolic syndrome, which is a high risk factor for heart disease.

A recent pilot study found that when avocados are added to a burger, your triglyceride levels do not increase. When the burger is eaten alone, your triglyceride levels do increase. How cool, right? You can help combat the unhealthy effects of a burger by adding avocado!

They help you absorb all the antioxidants from other healthy foods

Avocados can actually help increase the absorption of nutrients from other vegetables! This is a concept known as nutrient fusion. For instance, a salad with lettuce, carrots, some spinach, and salsa is rich in carotenoids (example: beta carotene), which are extremely health-promoting. Add an avocado in your salad, and you automatically increase your body’s ability to absorb those nutrients! Why? Because these carotenoids are lipophilic (which means they are soluble in fat, not water); if you eat them along with a healthy fat, like avocados, you enhance their bioavailability!

So, on your next trip to the grocery store, pick up some avocados…trick your loved ones with this avocado mousse dessert!

Awesome Avocado Mousse (Makes 4 servings)

By Kelly Springer. RDavocado_mousse


-3 avocados

– 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk

-1/4 cup cocoa powder

-2 Tablespoons maple syrup

½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon

-Unsweetened dried coconut for garnish



Blend the first five ingredients until smooth. Pour into 4 ramekins or small bowls. Chill for at least two hours. Garnish with dried coconut.