Trick Yourself into Heart-Healthy Eating

Do you have trouble getting enough nutritious food into your daily diet even though you know good health depends on making smart choices? Borrow some tricks from smart moms who face the challenge of feeding kids who are picky eaters. The simple recipe swaps that help children live longer and stronger will work for you, too. Your children will grow up heart healthy, and you’ll go along for the ride.

Hide vegetables in every meal.

An average of eight or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day means you’ll be 30 percent less likely than people who eat fewer than one and one-half servings to suffer a heart attack or stroke, according to a long-term study of almost 110,000 men and women. Vegetables are low in calories and high in fiber. They’re also packed with nutrients that may help control blood pressure.

Use these tricks:

  • For breakfast, add spinach to eggs. Surprise your kids with something unexpected such as mixing mashed sweet potatoes into pancake batter.
  • Sneak into lunch-time sandwiches all the good stuff: cucumbers, lettuce, avocado, tomato. Or, put the healthy stuff into a salad and top those vegetables with sandwich meat. Or, make a salad layered with the same vegetables and top with sandwich meat.
  • Blend a smoothie with greens or munch on carrots dipped in hummus for a mid-day or after-school snack.

Swap out old standbys for healthier substitutions when you bake at home.

  • For every one cup of sugar, substitute three-quarters of a cup raw or coconut palm and a pinch of a sweet spice such as cinnamon or one-quarter teaspoon of pure vanilla extract. You can use less of the swap because it is naturally sweeter. This substation will save 130 calories and 22 grams of sugar per cup.
  • Use 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter and a quarter-cup avocado oil or grapeseed oil. Instead of a half-cup butter. You’ll gain heart-healthy fats and you won’t lose any of the rich taste.
  • Substitute whole-wheat pastry flour for white all-purpose flour will give you more fiber and flavor that’s a little nuttier.
  • If the recipe calls for semisweet chocolate or milk chocolate, use bittersweet chocolate containing at least 60 percent cacao instead. The darker the chocolate gives you more heart-protective cocoa compounds.

Don’t let restaurant menu marketing distract you.

Don’t let big, bold, colorful menu descriptions entice you away from picking a health entrée when you eat out at a restaurant. Concentrate on looking for grilled, broiled, and steamed dishes, and don’t let attention-grabbing fonts and bright colors distract you. Be aware that Cornell researchers have found diners more often choose menu items that are highlighted in a box or accented with large, colorful fonts

Try to steer the family to restaurants that make a point of putting nutritious options on their menus for children. More choices mean the 12-and-under crowd is more likely to pick the healthy offering over the fried foods, according to a study published in the journal Obesity.

 

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