Create a Heart-Healthy Meal for Two at Home

During the month of February, in honor of American Heart Month, celebrate with a well-balanced, heart-healthy meal you’ll be sure to love.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and woman in the United States. It encompasses several different cardiac conditions with the most common being coronary artery disease, which can cause heart attacks. According to the Center for Disease Control, some people are predisposed or even born with heart disease. However, there are five main steps you can take to reduce risk: don’t smoke, maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, and prevent and treat certain health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

Eating a healthy diet is the fifth proactive measure you can take, with this meal as a step in the right direction. Salmon is rich in unsaturated fats, which help lower bad cholesterol, and omega-3 fats, which help reduce inflammation. Whole grains such as farro are rich in fiber, which helps regulate blood sugar or insulin, preventing extreme highs and lows. Beets are also rich in fiber and contain nitrates linked to improvement of blood flow and overall heart health. Plant-based avocado oil has a high smoke point, making it excellent for cooking while extra virgin olive oil is pungent in flavor, both rich in heart-healthy unsaturated fats.


Roasted Beets with Toasted Pine Nuts and Feta (serves 2)

Prep Tip: Marinate salmon one day prior to preparing this meal. In part of preparing the meal and serving hot, start by boiling the beets and cooking the farro, lastly cooking the salmon.

Ingredients:

  • 3 beets, medium and equal in size, cleaned with stems removed
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ¼ cup low-fat feta cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar

Boil beets for 20-30 minutes or until tender. Drain and let cool. Cut into 1-inch, bite-size pieces and place into large bowl. Pour pine nuts on baking sheet and toast in toaster oven for 2-4 minutes or until golden brown. Watch, so they don’t burn. Mix in toasted pine nuts, feta, EVOO, and balsamic vinegar. Toss to combine, then serve on individual plates.


Sautéed Spinach and Zucchini Farro (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup farro
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 garlic clove, mined
  • ½ small purple onion, diced
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • ¼ tsp. ground lemon pepper
  • ¼ tsp. Himalayan salt
  • Parsley, chopped for garnish

Place farro and vegetable broth in a medium saucepan, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the farro is tender. Drain any remaining liquid and let sit until vegetables are prepared. In a large saucepan add avocado oil, garlic, and onion. Sauté until translucent and slightly golden brown in color. Add spinach, zucchini, feta cheese, pepper and salt, and stir to combine. Cook until spinach is wilted and zucchini is fully cooked. Add farro to vegetable mixture in saucepan, and stir to combine. Transfer farro to individual plates and garnish with fresh parsley.


Herbed Mango Salmon (serves 2)

Ingredients:

  • ½ fresh mango
  • 1-2 sprigs of fresh dill
  • 10 garlic chives
  • 1½ Myer lemon, 1 juiced, ½ sliced for garnish
  • 2 4-6oz. ocean fresh salmon filets
  • ¼ tsp. ground lemon pepper
  • ¼ tsp. Himalayan salt

Puree mango, dill, and chives, and lemon juice in blender. Coat salmon with marinade for at least 1 hour, up to 24 hours in refrigerator. Preheat a large skillet over medium heat for 3 minutes. Remove salmon filets from marinade and place in skillet, and increase heat to high. Cook for 3 minutes. Turn salmon over, and cook for 5 minutes, or until browned. Salmon will flake easily with a fork when fully cooked. Transfer salmon to individual plates, and garnish with lemon pepper, salt, and lemon slices.


Guest contributor Kate Moran, RD, LDN, lives in Naples and is the sports dietitian for the Minnesota Twins, based out of the Twins Academy in Fort Myers, and owner of The Educated Plate LLC. Follow Kate on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, and find her blog here.

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