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As lover’s month (also known as heart health month) comes to a close, I’m sitting here reflecting on my favorite moments, and of course favorite foods of the month. So much deliciousness happened in February. An aphrodisiac inspired valentines menu at Micheal’s Restaurant, heart-healthy cooking demos at the Home Show, perspective-shifting vegan awesomeness for all the meat eaters hanging out for MaacahEats… Yeah, February was a special kind of delicious, but my favorite part was showing so many people that healthy and delicious do not have to be mutually exclusive. Every meal we prepared throughout February was heart healthy and packed with benefits!
A few of my favorite features this month, five to be exact are:
Rich in omega 3s, walnuts improve metabolism and help to lower cholesterol. They are incredibly versatile and much more easily adaptable than you may think. Can’t get past the bitter? Soak them first, this removes the enzyme inhibitors which brings out the sweetness!
Tomatoes have so many body benefits, but since we are talking heart health we’ll focus on potassium, vitamin C, fiber, and folate. Tomatoes are also incredibly versatile and can be added to just about any dish!
3) Olive Oil
Despite all the many conversations about olive oils benefits or lack thereof, the consistent story is its monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants work together to raise HDL (good cholesterol) and lower LDL (bad cholesterol) which is good for plaque reduction and heart health! I love olive oil as a finishing oil. It adds a subtle deliciousness to foods while feeding your body necessary healthy fats!
4) Citrus Fruits
Ok, so I cheated a little here because really there are lots of citrus fruits. I just wanted you to have a bit of variety in ways to add heart-healthy potassium, fiber, folate and B vitamins. Eat an orange, juice a lemon, or snack on a kumquat, but get your citrus in and be great!
5) Red Wine
Yeah, I saved the best for last! I was going to talk a little about sardines, but red wine is definitely more fun! I mean aside from just helping you relax and relive a little stress, in moderation, a glass of red wine will aid in heart health because it is rich in the antioxidants flavonoids and resveratrol.
I really could keep this list going on and on, but I want to get to the recipes, which really is the fun part!
Here are a couple recipes that we prepared this month to keep people heart healthy and in the mood for love:
1/4 C Walnuts
1/4 C Sundried Tomatoes
2 Whole Portobello Mushrooms
1 Tbs Tomato Paste
A few sprigs of Fresh Sage
1/4 Sweet Yellow Onion, diced
1 tsp Garlic, minced
1/8 c Lemon Juice
Heat oil in saute pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic, cook until fragrant and translucent. Add tomatoes, sage, and walnuts. Cook until walnuts are well toasted. Deglaze with lemon juice. Add tomato paste and continue cooking 1-2 min. If the mixture is too dry, add a little water or chicken stock to loosen. In the meanwhile, clean mushroom, drizzle with EVOO and season with salt and pepper and stuff with walnut mixture. Bake in 350* oven for 10- 15 minutes.
4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast, butterflied or pounded thin
1/2 cup Fresh Basil
3 cloves Garlic, smashed
Juice of 2 Lemons
1/3 cup Olive Oil,
1 Tbs Blended Oil (olive oil, veg oil) for cooking
Basil for garnish
Marinate chicken with basil, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil for at least 2 hours. Heat a large
saute pan over medium-high heat and coat with a layer of cooking oil. Arrange chicken in hot pan
and sear on one side, about 6 minutes or until golden brown. Turn chicken onto other side and
cook until done, about 3 additional minutes. You can deglaze the pan with a little lemon juice to
incorporate brown bits and add flavor. Serve chicken garnished with Fresh Basil Leaves.
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