Blog Author: Jacob McCrae, ANSc, Practicum Student
February is heart month, the perfect time to bring awareness around heart health and learn about simple changes that we can make to help prevent heart disease and improve our overall cardiovascular health.
There are several factors that can contribute to heart disease and a lot of it comes down to certain lifestyle choices we make. Lets explore some ways on how we can adopt heart healthy behaviors:
Eat Heart Healthy Foods: Eating a well balanced diet high in fibre is important to cardiovascular health. Fibre has been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels. It is recommended that women get at least 25 grams and men 38 grams of fibre per day. This can easily be achieved through eating plenty of heart healthy foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes. It is recommended that for each meal you fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables. You should also limit salt, added sugars, saturated fat and trans fat.
Be Physically Active: Physical activity and exercise is a great way to keep your heart healthy. You should be getting at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. Always check with your healthcare provider before starting a physical activity program.
Stop Smoking: Smoking increases your risk of developing heart disease. If you smoke, it would be a good idea to quit. If you don’t smoke, don’t start!
Manage Your Stress: A high stress lifestyle is another risk factor for heart disease. Practicing stress management to help you cope with life’s stresses can greatly improve your heart health. Some of the most effective methods are physical activity, stretching, yoga, meditation and deep breathing. Pick one that works for you.
These lifestyle choices can have a big impact on your heart’s health. Follow these recommendations and your heart will thank you!
Resources: Retrieved from https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/CIR.0000000000000510
It's that time of year, getting back to a regular schedule, involved in after school activities and scrambling for what to make for lunch, dinner and snacks.
Here are a few quick tips:
1. Invest in a crockpot. You can find these pretty much anywhere. Reasonably priced and can save you time and money. I love my crockpot. You follow a recipe, throw all ingredients, turn on and leave. At the end of the day, you come home and dinner is done! You feel like you have your own personal chef making your favourite food. Time saved and money well invested.
2. If you have time, focus on Sunday as meal prep day. Prepping your meals can help you stick to a plan and saving money. I can't stress this enough to clients. Check out my Easy Peasy Meatsauce recipe on the JCJNutrition website. Prep meals that can be frozen can save you time, money and sticking to a healthy meal plan. I worked with some great teams over the years and every time we met for lunch, there were some great recipes to exchange with each other. From Chicken Curry to Lazy Lasagna.
3. Stock your kitchen with easy to grab foods. To name a few, have apples, oranges, carrot sticks, mini bell peppers, cheese portions, and hummus stocked. These are easy to grab when you need to go, go, go! From picking the kids up from school and then off to after school activities; Having these foods on hand will lead you to making better choices and consuming healthier foods with more nutritional value.
Sunday, Funday! Love summer and especially the BBQ'ing that gets done during the hot and sunny days.
Just wanted to share some pictures from sunny California. It's been so hot and gorgeous here! BBQ'ing is a must!
Grilled vegetables are a great way to keep clean meals in check for the summer. Here, we have grilled eggplant, zucchini and tasty mushrooms along with chicken and pork. Easy to do, brush lightly with oil and season with pepper or your favourite spices. Mmmmm, so yummy!
A nice light dessert that is easy to make. For 1 cup serving this delicious treat is easy on the waistline and did I mention it's delicious?!
All you need is the following:
*Ice Cubes x 4
*1 Cup Fresh or Frozen Mango Chunks
*1 Cup Plain low fat Greek Yogurt
*1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
*1/3 cup Xylitol
*(optional and flavoured optional) 1Scoop Whey Protein Powder
In a blender (that can blend ice cubes), weigh all ingredients. Blend all ingredients until a thick consistency. Try not to overblend.
Portion into 1 cup and transfer into freezable containers. Freeze for an hour or more if needed.
Recipe can be served as a smoothie too!
Enjoy and keep cool!
Nutrition/Serving: 273 Calories, 0.6g Fat, 39g Carbs, 26g Protein (with Whey)
Nutrition/Serving: 208 Calories, 0.3g Fat, 37g Carbs, 12g Protein (without Whey)
Choosing lean meats that are low in saturated fats:
1. Choose skinless fish and poultry
2. Look for tenderloin or centre cut loins
3. Lean or extra lean ground meats
Your time is crunched with trying to balance it all with your kids activities, working full- time, and trying to squeeze in your daily excercises in the day. How do you find time to prepare a healthy meal for your family?
Here are some ideas to help you:
1. Roast a chicken for the week.
When your rushed for time or coming from your child's baseball game. Roasted chickens are easy to make and the leftovers can help prepare different meals such as chicken salad sandwiches, add chicken to homemade soups or green salads.
2. Marinade lean meats ahead of time..
Just finished your workout and need to get in protein to help build muscle. Prepare portion lean meats into ziplock bags and use your favourite marinade. Keep them stored in the refrigerator overnight or up to 2 days. Summertime is here, so have them on skewers and BBQ them or add vegetables and have a stir-fry.
3. Keep dried or canned beans on hand in your pantry.
Adding vegetarian meals in the week provides balance and variety into your meal plans for you and your family. Beans are high in fibre and can help lower cholesterol and help contribute to a healthy heart. Beans are a good alternative to meats and easy to prepare. You can make bean burrito's, bean salad or have baked beans with toast for lunch or supper.
"Stay Strong, Live Long!"
Mac & Cheese Bake- Serves 4
2 cups of whole wheat penne
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 cup shredded cheddar
2 fresh button mushrooms, chopped
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
Pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to bake at 350'F. Grease a 9x9 baking dish.
2. Cook pasta as to the directions on the box. Once done, transfer to a bowl.
3. Add cream of mushroom soup, skim milk, chopped mushroom, shredded cheese and black ground pepper to the cooked pasta. Mix thoroughly.
4. Transfer mix to a baking dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top. Bake for 30 min at 350'F.
5. Broil for 2 minutes or until golden brown on top. Serve warm and enjoy the game!
Note: You can add a lean meat of your choice and veggies on the side to make it a balanced meal.
Pineapple Coconut Mini Muffins
2 & 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup mashed very ripe banana (about 2 large very ripe bananas)
1/4 cup nonfat plain greek yogurt
1 large egg, beaten
3/4 cup skim milk or almond milk
1 and 1/4 cup fresh pineapple, diced
1/4 cup shredded coconut
Preheat oven to 325F degrees. Spray muffin tins with nonstick spray.
In a large bowl, combine & mix the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon & set aside until needed.
In a separate bowl, combine & mix the honey and brown sugar together. Using a fork works to break all the lumps. Then, add the mashed banana, Greek yogurt, and beaten egg.
Slowly add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Gently fold the wet and dry ingredients all together. Slowly add the milk and continue to mix the ingredients together.
Add the pineapple to the batter until distributed evenly, but don't overmix the batter.
Spoon the batter into the mini muffin pan 3/4 full (leave enough room for the batter to rise when cooking). Sprinkle the shredded coconut on top of each muffin. Bake for 15-17 minutes until browned on the edges. Poke muffins with a toothpick until toothpick comes out clean. Remove from tins and allow the muffins to cool completely.
Muffins will remain fresh and moist stored at room temperature for up to 5 days. Freeze any remaining muffins.
A healthy heart is a happy heart! February is all about heart health & by taking care of your heart you can reduce high blood pressure, decrease the risk of a stroke or other harmful health problems. There are so many ways to taking care of your heart. We know that decreasing stress, exercising regularly & good nutrition all contribute to a healthy heart.
Here are some nutrition tips for a healthy heart:
1. Fibre- A good healthy diet will consist of 25 to 38 grams of fibre daily. Increasing your fibre will help lower cholesterol. You can get fibre from fruits, vegetables & whole grains to name a few.
2. Healthy weight-Maintaining a healthy weight by exercising regularly & eating healthy balanced meals will help shed some unwanted pounds. Learn how to portion meals from a certified nutritionist.
3.Limit High processed foods & salt- Learning to read labels can help compare & find foods that are lower in sodium. Avoid adding salt when you eat as well as cooking. To enhance flavours you can use lemons, some dried spices, or products like Mrs. Dash. Watch for highly processed foods such as cookies, muffins, wieners, chips...and the list goes on. So, choose less of these.
Be good to your heart, because a healthy heart is a happy heart!