I haven’t always been health-conscious with my food choices – after all, my favorite food is bacon! – but I have become increasingly aware of healthier options. Losing a few pounds and toning up are some motivations for monitoring what goes into my mouth, but having a heart-healthy lifestyle is just as important. In fact, my husband’s physician originally told him a few years ago that he would definitely need to start medication for his heart (and take it for the rest of his life), because several of his immediate family members have experienced heart issues. But, we made several changes to our lifestyle, and the next time he went to the doctor, my husband was informed that he wouldn’t need to take the medication now, because his heart was much healthier.
Here are some ways we try to be heart-healthy in my household:
EXERCISE: Cardio is incredibly important. My husband runs outside during the warmer months and exercising inside during winter. I have been running too. Recently, my mother and I visited a running apparel store in Ridgefield, CT called Kilometers. They measured my feet and analyzed my run. (There’s a treadmill in the store.) After spending a year with pain in my shins, I learned that my feet have high arches and that the pain is caused by my feet underpronating (feet leaning away from my body when my feet make contact with the ground). The owner at Kilometers explained several ways to stop the pain in my shins from occurring, including exercises to do at my work desk and how to set my treadmill to the optimum speed/incline when I’m not running outside. Of course having a good pair of running shoes will balance out my running so that I am not putting too much pressure on the outer edge of my foot. I honestly cannot recommend Kilometers enough. They were incredibly helpful and seemed to genuinely care about their customers. Also, the new sneakers make me feel as though I’m running on air!
FOOD: Eating the right foods is just as important as exercise. Portion control is important. We need to eat until we are satisfied, not until we are full. Over time, portion control becomes much easier, because regulating portions consistently trains the body to be satisfied with the right amount of food it needs. In our home, we made additional changes to our diet. In our main meals, we swapped junk food/sweets for fruits and vegetables, and we now drink water or seltzer with our meals instead of soda. When we have grains (pasta, bread, etc…), they’re usually 100% whole wheat, and we are careful about the amount of sodium we consume. Also, we eat more poultry than red meat. Side note: chicken is one of the most versatile meats. It can be cooked many different ways! Some people also choose to take a fish oil pill with each meal, but eating fish once or twice a week is also beneficial.
So, now that I’ve outlined the ways we try to be heart-healthy, here’s a look at two delicious (and healthy) dinner recipes I tried recently (also, they’re perfect for gluten-free eaters!):
Sweet and Spicy Salmon with Grapefruit Salsa*
Sweet and Spicy Rub:
- 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1 pound salmon fillet
- 2 teaspoons Mazola® Corn Oil
- 2 cups grapefruit sections
- 1/3 cup chopped green onion
- 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 jalapeno pepper, diced
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Combine paprika, onion and garlic powder, salt, oregano, thyme, black pepper, cayenne pepper and brown sugar in a small bowl.
- Cut salmon into 4 portions and brush with oil. Distribute the rub over the salmon generously coating all surfaces. Place salmon on a shallow baking pan with sides.
- Bake for 10 minutes, until fish flakes easily.
- Coarsely chop grapefruit into bite size pieces. Combine all salsa ingredients and serve with salmon. Grapefruit salsa can be made ahead and refrigerated until ready to serve.
My Review: My husband and I loved this dish. The flavors in the rub were fantastic, and I’ll be trying the rub on other meats because it’s just that good! The salsa was unique and refreshing; it would be perfect for a summer dinner. The jalapeño gives it a nice kick. We’ll definitely be trying this meal again.
*Adapted from this recipe.
Pork Carnitas with Cilantro Tomatillo Sauce*
- 1 pound pork shoulder
- 2 tablespoons Mazola® Corn Oil
- 1/4 cup chopped onions
- 1/2 teaspoon Spice Islands® Garlic Powder
- 1 tablespoon Spice Islands® Chili Powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Spice Islands® Chipotle Chile Powder
- 2 tomatillos, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup finely chopped tomatoes
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 jalapeño, diced
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 4 corn tortillas
- Cut pork into 1 inch cubes; season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large skillet or Dutch oven. Add pork, onions, garlic powder, chili powder and chipotle chile powder; saute 3 to 5 minutes to brown the meat.
- Add enough water to barely cover pork. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to simmer an additional 45 minutes or until liquid has evaporated.
- Combine chopped tomatillos, jalapeño, tomatoes and cilantro with the lime juice in a small bowl.
- Place an equal amount of pork on each tortilla. Top with tomatillo salsa.
My Review: This dish was delicious, though a bit time-consuming if you include the prep work and cooking. The pork was delicious, and we enjoyed the salsa (which had some heat with the jalapeño). I served this with Mexican rice, avocado slices, and optional toppings of sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese. The pork can also be made in the slow cooker. Just throw in the pork, spices, and a few cups of beef stock and cook on high for 6 hours. I made quesadillas with the leftovers (and topped with the salsa, of course.) Yum!
*Adapted from this recipe.
Both of these recipes use Mazola® Corn Oil which I received from Mazola®. Mazola® has started a program, Heart Healthy Mazola®, to inspire women to keep themselves and their families heart healthy with Mazola® cooking oils. Within their program, they have deemed corn oil the “Cholesterol Lowering Champ,” stating that “corn oil lowered LDL cholesterol by 10.9 percent compared to extra virgin olive oil’s 3.5 percent reduction, making corn oil more effective.” To learn more about this program, check out their website.
If you like the taste of these recipes (trust me, you will), you can try others in the Mazola® collection on Allrecipes.
I am an Allrecipes Allstar Brand Ambassador (a voluntary position) and I’m not compensated for my work with Allrecipes.com.
Products received from advertiser are only used for experienced-based reviews on Trickle of Consciousness. The reviews, content and opinions expressed in this blog are purely the sole opinions of Jacolyn.