When it comes to what’s healthy to eat these days, there is undoubtedly conflicting information. Dietary factions bicker like a cranky old married couple. But whether you’re paleo or plant-based or something in between, there are a few things we can all agree are good for the heart:
- Fiber is your friend, particularly soluble fiber.
- Fruits and vegetables should occupy the most real estate on your plate.
- Highly processed foods should be kicked to the curb.
- If you eat grains, make them whole.
- Most of us eat a lot more sodium than we need to.
- Be moderate with the saturated fats in full-fat cheeses, butter, and red meat.
- Take a walk after lunch.
Here are a few ideas for easy-to-make lunches that are portable, tasty, and good for your heart.
All recipes by Miriam Wolf
Black Bean Salad
Full of fiber and vitamin C!
- One 15-ounce can of black beans
- One small onion
- One tomato
- One avocado
- One tablespoon lime juice
- Two teaspoons olive oil
- One jalapeno pepper (optional)
- One clove garlic
- Salt to taste
- Drain and rinse beans.
- Dice avocado, tomato, and onion into ½-inch dice.
- Mince garlic.
- If using jalapeno, remove seeds and veins and mince finely (wear gloves if your skin is sensitive).
- Combine all ingredients.
- Stir and salt to taste.
- Serve with baked tortilla chips.
Serves 3. Prep time, 10 minutes.
Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes
Easy to make ahead and warm up in the microwave.
- Two medium to large sweet potatoes
- One tablespoon olive oil
- One onion, diced
- One cup kale or Swiss chard, finely chopped
- One teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ cup Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese
- Salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Scrub potatoes and pierce in three or four places with a fork. Bake until flesh is soft and skin is crisp (40–60 minutes, depending on the size of your sweet potatoes). Let cool.
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet until hot. Add onion and sauté until translucent. Add smoked paprika and kale. Continue to cook until onions are deep golden-brown and kale is tender. Salt to taste.
- When potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut in half lengthwise and carefully scoop out the flesh, leaving a ¼-inch wall of potato. Set aside the potato shells. Mash potato flesh. Add yogurt and kale mixture. Stuff into the shells. Top with cheese. Bake for 20 more minutes, until cheese, is melted and potato is heated through.
Serves 4. Prep time, 15 minutes; cook time 60–80 minutes.
Curried Salmon Salad
The omega-3 fatty acids in salmon are very heart-healthy.
- One 6-ounce can wild-caught salmon
- Two tablespoons mayonnaise
- Two tablespoons yogurt
- One teaspoon Dijon mustard
- One rib celery, chopped
- ½ apple, chopped
- One teaspoon curry powder
- Two tablespoons raisins, currants, or dried cranberries
- Flake salmon.
- Mix all ingredients together.
- Salt to taste.
- Serve on salad greens or between two slices of 100 percent whole-wheat toast.
Serves 2. Prep time, 5 minutes.
And after lunch, take a walk! Your heart, and your valentine will thank you.
Miriam Wolf is the editor of The FruitGuys Magazine newsletter.