Tag Archives: fruits

Go Red for Heart Health

Long View: You Can’t Beat a Healthy Heart or 6 More Weeks of Winter

Just when you think the holidays are over and the thrill of the new year has finally tapered down, here comes February — Groundhog Day, Super Bowl Sunday, Mardis Gras, Valentine’s Day, and Presidents Day. February is a multi-themed, food-filled month of celebration.

We anticipate the shadow reveal of Punxsutawney Phil, we break out the football-shaped cheese ball to root for our team, we plan our menu of anything and everything on Fat Tuesday, and if that isn’t enough, we love to eat chocolates on the day of love. Then when it’s all over (and after a slight weight gain), we hit the mall for some comfy stretch wear with Presidents Day sale bargains!

But wait, how about doing something this month to celebrate our health and focus on our heart? If we can take advice from a small woodchuck about the weather, we surely can take advice from the American Heart Association about our health!

February is American Heart Month, and part of that is National Wear Red Day. For those of you who know me, my wardrobe pretty much consists of drab colors and neutrals, but this year, I broke out my red floral scarf for a splash of color as a symbol of support!

The American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute encourage all of us to take action against this killer disease. Studies show that 80% of cardiac and stroke events may be preventable with education and action.

Find time to talk to your family and get everyone on board with heart health. Encourage healthy eating habits by making healthier versions of your favorite food. Choose foods and recipes low in sodium and with no added sugar or trans fats. When you shop, buy colorful fruits and vegetables, which are all powerhouses when it comes to nutrition, and stay away from dairy and meat products that are high in fat.

Fiber is important in your diet, and you can find fiber not only in fruits and vegetables, but also in beans, nuts, and whole grain. Take the time to read the nutrition labels on items, and check out the sodium content. (A general rule is, if anything has more than 250 mg of sodium, you may want to search for something with less.)

Physical activity can also help you stay heart healthy. It’s not only what you put into your body, it’s also what you put out. Exercise helps to improve heart health, and it can even help reverse certain heart disease risk factors. Our heart becomes stronger from exercise, which helps it pump more blood through the body and work at maximum level without strain.

Aerobic activities at least 3 to 4 times a week are the best. Choose walking, swimming, or biking, and allow for a good 5 minutes of stretching beforehand to warm up your muscles and a cool down period after you’re through. And of course, always check with your doctor before starting any new physical routine.

So this February, maybe forego indulging in lavish holiday food choices (remember that New Year’s resolution?) and celebrate in a new way. Go out and buy something red to wear to celebrate heart health AND 6 more weeks of winter, or will it be an early spring? Better check with Punxsutawney Phil before you go!

Mervet Adams is a community liaison with Health Alliance. She loves her grandson, family, nature, and fashion.

Farmers Market Recipes

Farmers Market Recipes

In honor of National Farmers Market Week, we have farmers market recipes packed with fresh fruits and veggies to help you use your in-season summer finds.

This super simple Heirloom Tomato and Chicken Toss will be a crowd-pleaser.

Heirloom Tomato and Chicken Toss
Image and Recipe via My Recipes


Seared Salmon with Sugar Snap-Fennel Slaw is a light and delicious summer meal.

Seared Salmon with Sugar Snap-Fennel Slaw
Image and Recipe via Eating Well


For rainy or sick days, this rich Andean Potato & Cheese Soup is sure to please.

Andean Potato & Cheese Soup
Image and Recipe via The Kitchn


Mix sweet and savory with these Pork Chops with Cherry Sauce.

Pork Chops with Cherry Sauce
Image and Recipe via Real Simple


Basil, Blackberry, and Grilled Chicken Salad is the summer lunch you’ve been missing.

Basil, Blackberry, and Grilled Chicken Salad
Image and Recipe via Cooking Light


Use the summer staple to make Honey-Chipotle Grilled Corn.

Honey-Chipotle Grilled Corn
Image and Recipe via My Recipes


Skip the expensive restaurant and make Pepper Steak Fajitas at home.

Pepper Steak Fajitas
Image and Recipe via Health

Family Fun Month

Family Fun Month

It’s Family Fun Month, and in honor of it, we’re helping you make exercise fun so you can get moving with your whole family.

Go for pre- or post-dinner walks as a family. They’ll help with your digestion, and walks are the perfect time to explore your neighborhood.

Dinner Walks


Crank a record or a playlist, move the furniture, and have a dance party. Music can help cognitive development. You’ll get moving, and you can hand down your favorites.

Make a game out of household chores to improve imagination and get active. Put on capes and have your kids save their toys from the slimy pit of the rug by putting them away.

Clean-Up Made Fun


Have a weekly sports night. Go to your kid’s baseball game, play tag or catch in the backyard, or make or buy an exercise deck of cards.

A New Kind of Sports Night


Walk or run for charity. Teach your kids the value of helping others and about good causes, and meet people while working out.

Moving for a Good Cause


Put kids to work in the yard. Tell them they can only jump in the leaf pile if they help rake and bag them too.

Yard Work Made Fun


Garden together! Kids already love playing in the dirt, so have them help you plant a garden and learn about healthy fruits and veggies.

Learning Through Gardening

Healthy Endive Recipes

Healthy Endive Recipes

This week in food, we’re featuring healthy in-season endive recipes that are perfect for entertaining this summer.

First up is a light Endive Radish Salad with a Lemony Vinaigrette, perfect for lunch.

Endive Radish Salad with Lemony Vinaigrette + spring ricotta toasts!

Smoked Salmon Goat Cheese Endive Bites are a great summer version of the classic app.

Smoked Salmon Goat Cheese Endive Bites

Smoked Salmon Goat Cheese Endive Bites

Roasted Endives with Thyme are a refreshing side any time of year.

Roasted Endives with Thyme

Grapefruit, Endive, and Arugula Salad is a citrusy and light meal for summer.

Grapefruit, Endive, and Arugula Salad
Image and Recipe via Cooking Light


Endive Salad Bites with Pears, Blue Cheese, and Pecans is an easy way to serve salad at a party.

Endive Salad Bites with Pears, Blue Cheese, and Pecans

Beet, Endive & Quinoa Rainbow Salad has a great serving of fruits and veggies.

Beet, Endive & Quinoa Rainbow Salad

Beet, Endive & Quinoa Rainbow Salad

If you love BLTs, cut back on the mayo without losing any flavor with these BLT Endive Bites.

BLT Endive Bites
Image and Recipe via Paleo Leap

National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month

National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month

It’s National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month, and with in-season summer fruits and veggies and grilling season upon us, it’s time to make them a part of healthy meals.

First up, Grilled Veggie Kababs that are perfect with whatever you throw on the grill.

Grilled Veggie Kebabs with Creamer Potatoes & Tofu

Whip up this Loaded Veggie Salad with Chickpeas and Black Beans for a picnic.

Loaded Veggie Salad with Chickpeas and Black Beans Image and Recipe via Pip and Ebby


Strawberry Mango Chia Popsicles will be a great cool treat all summer long.

Strawberry Mango Chia Popsicles

This Grilled Hawaiian BBQ Chicken in Foil is an easy, all-in-one summer dinner.

Grilled Hawaiian Barbecue Chicken in Foil

Make this 4-Ingredient Fruit Salad Pineapple Boat for an impressive and easy party dish.

4-Ingredient Fruit Salad Platter and a Pineapple Boat

Light Grilled Summer Vegetable Pasta Salad will be delicious at your summer BBQs.

Grilled Summer Vegetable Pasta Salad
Image and Recipe via Salt & Lavender


Easy Balsamic Grilled Vegetables with Goat Cheese will be your new go-to side dish.

Balsamic Grilled VegetablesImage and Recipe via NeighborFood

National Salsa Month

National Salsa Month Recipes

It’s National Salsa Month, which is a great way to sneak in fruits and veggies to snacks and wraps or on top of your dinner.

First up, try this delicious Homemade Salsa Verde.

Homemade Salsa Verde (Tomatillo Salsa)

Eat this Mediterranean Salsa with pita bread for a hearty snack.

Mediterranean Salsa

Use your favorite summer fruit in this savory Watermelon Salsa.

Watermelon Salsa

Make Avocado Salsa instead of guac to go with your weeknight tacos.

Avocado Salsa
Image and Recipe via Closet Cooking


This Fresh Strawberry Salsa mixes sweet and savory in-season produce.

5 Ingredient Strawberry Salsa

This filling Black Bean Salsa with rice and chicken makes a perfect burrito bowl.

Black Bean Salsa

This tropical Pineapple Salsa is a tasty topping for your grilled fish.

Pineapple Salsa

Deciding on a Balanced Diet

Eating a Balanced Diet

Focusing on a balanced diet is one of the best ways to make healthy eating a part of your life.

Dietary Guidelines for Americans

The USDA sets Dietary Guidelines for Americans regularly to help guide balanced diet choices. While these guidelines can seem complicated, there are key takeaways from them you should know.

The Importance of Healthy Eating

Healthy eating helps prevent and slow the onset of diseases, like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Include in a Balanced Diet

A healthy and balanced diet, which for most people is around 2,000 calories a day, includes a variety of:

  • Vegetables, including a variety of dark green, red, and orange veggies, legumes, which include beans and peas, and starchy veggies, like corn and potatoes.
  • Fruits, especially whole fruits, like apples and oranges, which are the perfect serving  size.
  • Grains, at least half of which are whole grain.
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy (like milk, yogurt, and cheese) or appropriate substitutes.
  • A variety of foods high in protein, like lean meats, poultry, eggs, seafood, beans,  soy-based products (like tofu), nuts and seeds.
  • Oils (like canola, olive, peanut, and soybean) or naturally occurring oils in nuts, seeds, olives, and avocados.

Limit in a Balanced Diet

  • Added sugars should make up less than 10% of your daily calories, which can be hidden in processed and prepared foods, like soda, cereal, cookies, and more.
  • Limit saturated and trans fats, which should make up less than 10% of your daily calories. Foods high in these include butter, whole milk, and palm oil. Replace with unsaturated fats, like canola and olive oil whenever you can.
  • Limit sodium to less than 2,300 mg per day. Processed foods, like pizza, and canned soup and sauces can be high in this salt.

A Balanced Diet with MyPlate

MyPlate replaced the food pyramid as the guide to making sense of servings. It helps you look at your plate and strike a balance with each meal.

This chart can help you divide your own plates appropriately: MyPlate

Fruits and veggies should make up about half of your plate, with just over a quarter filled with whole grains, and protein should be under a quarter. (A few ounces of meat, a piece about the size of the palm of your hand, is a good serving size for most people.) Also work in a small serving of dairy through milk, cheese, or yogurt to round out your meal.

Making Smart Choices

Combine these guidelines with smart choices, and you’ll be well on your way to eating a balanced diet. And making these smart choices doesn’t have to be difficult. There are lots of tips and tricks that can help you make a balanced diet a part of your daily life.

Tracking Your Food

Then, you can target the number of servings you should be getting of the different food groups.

These can help you figure out calorie counts and limit sodium and sugar.

This can help you understand how balanced your diet and food servings are and set and reach food goals.

Making and Meeting Food Goals

  • Start small.

Making small changes in your eating habits can have long-term effects:

  • Switch to high fiber, low-sugar cereals.
  • Give up soda with flavored sparkling waters.
  • When you’re hungry, try drinking a glass of water before you eat something.
  • Plan for all of the places you go in life:
    • Instead of eating out for lunch at work, start planning and meal-prepping ahead of time, and avoid the vending machines.
    • If you know your kids aren’t making great food choices at school, get them involved in packing lunches they’ll love ahead of time.
    • When you know you’ll spend the day at the mall, carry snacks and a water bottle, eat a healthy breakfast or snack before you head out, and skip the food court. If you just can’t avoid a meal or a snack while you’re out, find the healthiest option. Load up a sandwich with veggies, get frozen yogurt without all kinds of extra sweet toppings instead of ice cream, and choose hot tea or unsweetened iced tea instead of a frappachino.
    • Check menus for calorie counts when you’re eating out. Ask for salad dressings and sauces on the side, avoid fried foods, and keep in mind that alcoholic drinks can be full of calories.
    • Many communities have community gardens. Join in and help out to get moving and to grow things your whole family can enjoy in meals.

Results and Rewards

  • Don’t beat yourself up when you have missteps.

Everyone struggles with giving up the foods full of sugar and salt that they love, so it’s important to stay positive and get back on track.

  • Plan your cheat day.

Many people have found that planning a weekly cheat day can help them stay on course knowing they can treat themselves later. And once you get used to a balanced diet, you’ll find that you’ll cheat in smaller and smaller ways, even on the day you’re allowed to.

  • Find healthy ways to treat yourself.

For example, do you love watermelon or raspberries? Splurge on the healthy treats you love. Enjoy a piece of dark chocolate each day or a glass of red wine each week. Another option, reward meeting your goals with a treat that isn’t food-related, like a new outfit, book, or manicure.

Up Next:

Now that you know the value of a balanced diet, learn to prepare before you go grocery shopping and shop smart to meet your goals.