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Give your valentine the gift of heart health

Have you ever thought about the impact you can have on a friend or family member who is in need of improving their health? A pat on the back, a simple “good job”, or helping prepare a healthy meal will go a long way in the mind of someone who is working hard to enhance their diet or activity level. 

People often feel sabotaged by their family members or friends who bring high-fat food items into the home or want to go out to eat frequently. This can make eating healthy very challenging. To celebrate heart health this month, surround your Valentine with healthy foods and words of encouragement. Offer to help with meal planning and preparation, take a walk together, and share some laughs. 

Enjoy the following heart-healthy meal and snack ideas with your special valentine this month.

n Grilled shrimp and vegetable kabobs over brown rice. Add a side salad and fresh strawberries.

n Roast turkey breast, zucchini sauteed in low-sodium chicken broth, mashed sweet potatoes and diced kiwi mixed into yogurt.

n Grilled salmon, asparagus, whole-grain couscous or quinoa and a tossed spinach salad with raspberry vinaigrette. 

n Chicken fajitas with tri-color pepper strips and onion on whole-wheat tortillas, green salad and a dish of low-fat frozen yogurt with a drizzle of chocolate syrup.

n Black bean chili, small slice of cornbread, whole-grain pasta salad and low-fat milk or soy milk.

n Breakfast parfait layered with 1/3 cup low-fat granola, 1 cup low-fat yogurt, one medium-size orange, peeled and chopped; one kiwi, peeled and chopped; and 2 teaspoons dried tart cherries.

n Meatloaf made with at least 93 percent lean ground hamburger, cooked peas and carrots, roasted red potatoes and a green leaf lettuce salad. 

n Fish tacos made with grilled halibut, shredded cabbage, diced tomatoes, diced avocado and fat-free sour cream. Serve with steamed vegetables and whole-grain rice.

More heart-healthy foods to add to your sweetheart’s diet:

Whole-wheat tortillas, whole-wheat crackers such as Triscuits, air-popped popcorn, barley, whole-grain cereals, fresh fruits and vegetables, wheat germ, frozen berries, frozen vegetables without sauces, beans such as black, navy, kidney and pinto, nut butters including peanut, almond, soy and cashew, low-fat yogurt and cottage cheese, olive and canola oil, salmon, tuna, and soy products.

Healthy words for your sweetheart:

n “How can I help you as you are trying to eat healthier and exercise more?”

n “Eating healthy can be difficult. Just keep taking it one day at a time. You are doing great”. 

n “Would you like me to exercise with you?”

n “Can I help you prepare dinner or pick up more fruits and vegetables at the store?”

n “I am so proud of you for making your health a priority.”

n This one is for the husbands/boyfriends out there. “You are doing so well, I’m stopping by the jewelry store tonight to pick up something special for you.”  

Just an idea!

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