Tag Archives: healthy snacks

DASH Diet for Lowering Blood Pressure

18 Apr

DASH Diet

 [Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension]

In addition to following the American Heart Association’s (AHA) heart healthy diet recommendations (low-fat, high fiber diet with fruits and vegetables and plant-based protein), the DASH diet emphasizes a low sodium diet with adequate amounts of calcium, potassium and magnesium. This plan has been shown to lower blood pressure in as quickly as two weeks. Following this plan may also lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.

The Guidelines:

    • 1500mg sodium [The AHA recommends this amount of sodium for ALL individuals]
    • 4700mg potassium
    • 1250mg calcium
    • 500mg magnesium

How to lower sodium intake:

  • Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables for snacks
  • Cook from scratch and freeze leftovers
  • Don’t add salt to your food
  • Eat out less often; ask servers how the food is prepared and ask for sauce on the side and/or no salt added
  • Go easy on the condiments
  • Rinse canned beans well
  • Choose frozen/fresh over canned vegetables
  • Limit frozen dinners or if you do have one on occasion, look for ones with less than 600mg sodium
  • Read labels: aim for foods with no more than 300mg per serving (less than 150mg is even better)

Reducing your sodium intake is extremely important to lowering blood pressure, but the following nutrients have also been shown to play a role. Focus on eating a variety of fruits and vegetables daily (5 to 9 servings per day) as well as the other nutrient-dense foods below.

 Potassium rich foods: potatoes, banana, soybeans, apricots, sweet potato, lentils, spinach, zucchini, almonds, kidney beans, oranges, fat-free milk, low-fat yogurt, fish, wheat germ

 

Photo source

 

Magnesium rich foods: halibut, almonds, cashews, soybeans, spinach, whole wheat products, shredded wheat cereal, oatmeal, potatoes, peanuts, wheat bran, pumpkin seeds, low-fat yogurt, brown rice, lentils, avocado, kidney beans, wheat germ, banana, sunflower seeds, flaxseed

 Calcium rich foods: fat-free milk, low-fat yogurt, collard greens, black strap molasses, calcium-fortified orange juice, turnip greens, tofu, tempeh, kale, soybeans, okra, bok choy, broccoli, tahini, almonds, fortified soy milk, wheat germ

For more information visit the DASH Diet.

DASH Yogurt Parfait

Yield: 1 parfait

Time: 5 minutes

 Ingredients:

  • ½ cup wheat bran cereal
  • 1 6oz container of vanilla non-fat Greek yogurt [better yet, plain yogurt – lower in sugar]
  • ½ medium banana, sliced
  • 1/8 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 Tbsp chopped dried apricots

 Place ¼ cup cereal in a small bowl; layer 3oz yogurt, ¼ banana, 1/16 cup almonds, ½ Tbsp apricots. Repeat.

 Nutrition Stats: 300 calories, 5gm fat, 0.6gm saturated, 66mg sodium, 47gm carbohydrate, 9.5gm fiber, 27gm sugar, 22gm protein

 Other ways to lower your blood pressure:

  • Exercise at least 30-60 minutes 3-6 days per week
  • Weight loss, if needed
  • Caffeinated beverages can increase blood pressure, consume sparingly
  • Quit smoking
  • Practice stress management
  • Increase fiber intake [fruits, vegetables, whole grains]

Chocolate Cinnamon Date Balls

16 Mar

My mom asked for a healthy dessert for her birthday this year, and being short on time and looking for something she could also take home for snacks, this is what ended up happening. These no-bake cookie balls are delicious and totally customizable to your own taste!

Makes: 12 balls

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup raw unsalted almonds
  • 16 dates
  • 1 Tbsp flaxseed meal
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (at least 60% cocoa), chopped

Grind almonds in food processor until it is a coarse flour-like texture, not too fine. Place in a bowl and set aside. Place the dates in the food processor and blend until chopped well. Add cinnamon, flaxseed, cinnamon and ground almonds and blend until well combined. Mix in chopped chocolate chips by hand. Using a tablespoon measuring spoon, scoop the “dough” and form into a firm ball in your hand. Store in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Stats (per ball): 75 calories, 3.5gm fat, 0gm cholesterol, 0mg sodium, 10gm carbs, 2gm fiber, 2gm protein

Nutrition bonus: Almonds contain heart healthy monounsaturated fat and vitamin E, an antioxidant (also look here for more information about how to get more antioxidants in your diet). Dates contain fiber, antioxidants, potassium [helpful for lowering blood pressure] and iron for energy boosting. Dark chocolate and cinnamon also contain antioxidants and cinnamon helps to stablize blood sugars as well [important for everyone, not only diabetics]. Flaxseed is a source of ALA, an omega-3 fatty acid, and also adds fiber to your diet and contains lignans – more antioxidants!

Healthy Super Bowl Snacks

8 Feb

Well to start off with an update on my “wedding makeover”…. weight is stable, last week I only lifted twice (goal 3-4x/week) and did one regular run and one day of intervals on the treadmill (goal 2-4 days of cardio/week). I also have made it to yoga for the past 3 weeks! I’ve been doing better about keeping track of my food, and do pretty well during the day, but afternoon/evening snacking is definitely my downfall. That’s what I’ll focus on this week. I’ve been eating 300-350 calorie snacks between meals to see if it helps my hunger attacks later in the day. I’ll also be taking my measurements again this week; sometime the scale doesn’t budge but the inches are melting away (even though that’s not likely the case this week).

We had some friends over for the Super Bowl last night, not that I actually watched more than a few minutes of the game! But we had (if I do say so myself) a pretty fabulous spread; everyone left feeling just a bit too full!

One piece of advice I always give around the holidays, make sure to eat a good, healthy breakfast and lunch before parties. Many people “save” their calories for the party by skipping meals before – I PROMISE you that this doesn’t work out in your favor.

I started out with my usual oat bran and had a yummy salad for lunch. To make sure it would fill me up, I loaded it up with:

  • 1/8 block extra-firm lite tofu
  • 1/2 cup chopped raw butternut squash
  • 1/3 cup kidney beans
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow and red peppers
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/3 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 2 T. balsamic vinegar, 1/2 T. tahini paste, 1/2 T. tamari sauce, 1/2 T. minced garlic

And here are is the Super Bowl Spread:
Hummus :: (minus the roasted red peppers)

(we were hungry while cooking and broke into it before I could snap a photo!)

Sweet Potato Chips ::

Preheat oven to 400*F.

Wash and slice up some sweet potatoes. The thinner you slice them the more like chips they will be, the thicker they are the more like potato skims (yum) they are.

Lightly spray each side with olive oil cooking spray (or brush with olive oil). Line baking sheet with “chips”. Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake until brown (or crispy if desired).

Snapped the photo a little late I guess 🙂

Get creative with the spices on these! My other favorite combo is a little salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme!

I also made regular potato skins (Russet potatoes, olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic pepper)  and homemade corn and whole wheat tortilla chips. For the tortilla chips, cut the tortillas into eighths and prepare the same as the potato chips. I just added salt and pepper and they made for perfect, crunchy vehicles for my friend’s homemade queso dip and salsa!

We also grilled some turkey burgers topped with reduced fat Sargento provolone cheese and plenty of veggies.

And my favorite part of the day…. dessert!

No Bake Chocolate Chip Cookie Balls ::

Makes 22 cookies

  • 1 cup raw, unsalted almonds
  • 1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
  • 18 whole, pitted dates
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 4 T dark chocolate chips

In a food processor, blend cashews and almonds until nuts are pulverized. Remove nuts and blend dates, vanilla extract and salt until smooth. Place nuts back into processor and blend together. It will looks like loose crumbs when it’s ready. Fold in chocolate chips. Using a heaping tablespoon to begin to form balls and shape in your hands. Refrigerate to help keep form. I’ve seen a lot of recipes for these no-bake balls lately, feel free to experiment with ingredients! I wanted to keep it simple this time, but I sure will be experimenting also!



Nutrition Stats (per ball) :: 100 calories, 10gm carbs, 7gm fat (almost all poly and monounsaturated), 3gm protein

Gluten-free Brownies ::

Makes 15 squares

  • 3 ounces dark chocolate chips
  • 7 T. Smart Balance butter
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 2 T. + 1 1/2 t. oat flour (add 2T additional for high altitude)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1/4 cup walnuts

 

Preheat oven to 350*F. Spray 8×11 baking pan with cooking spray. Melt choc chips and butter in a saucepan over low heat (or double boiler, if you have one). Once melted, add all the other ingredients and mix well. Pour into pan and cook for about 30 minutes, until springy in the center. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes then cut into 15 squares.

Nutrition Stats :: 122 calories, 11gm fat, 3gm saturated, 3gm poly, 3gm mono, 50mg sodium, 28mg cholesterol, 49mg potassium, 6gm carbs, 2gm fiber, 3gm sugar, 3gm protein

Thought

“All of our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them” – Walt Disney

Question // What are your favorite, healthy treats for entertaining?