Savor a Sweet Heart

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Since I eat red meat, frequently consider a cheese plate dinner, and have a predilection for french fries at Sunday brunch, American Heart Month (February) is a handy reminder to keep your ticker tockin’ for the rest of the  year. It’s good for your most important 20-something home: your bod.

A little bite of dark chocolate (70% or higher) a day is good for your heart. What's your excuse? Knowing heart healthy foods is an easy place to start, because most can easily be incorporated into your diet. The best news of the day…both red wine and CHOCOLATE made the list!!! As long as your chocolate is 70% cocoa or higher. Which means I’m actually doing something right, because really dark chocolate is my fav. On more positive notes (it’s always better for your heart to support what you are doing right), I also take an Omega-3 supplement everyday. Good for your skin and your heart!

Heart Healthy Dinner
Inspiration: Salmon dishes from Tartelette
Squash with lentils and goat cheese from Smitten Kitchen

I went with a baked lemon salmon (I firmly believe salmon needs lots of lemon, and it’s deliciously sweet when you thinly slice a few pieces to bake along with the fish), wrapped in filo. On the side, I omitted the goat cheese in the squash salad (see said “I eat too much cheese” confession) and was too hungry to wait to soak lentils (lay off, I’m starving). So I modified the dish to include heart healthy nuts, with roasted brussel sprouts on this side. I LOOOOVE roasted brussel sprouts.

Baked salmon with lemon and chopped parsley.

Salmon wrapped in filo. Use olive oil instead of butter to moisten.

Roasted veggies.

Finito.

Filo Wrapped Baked Salmon
Soak wild Alaskan salmon in olive oil, juice of two lemons, and a handful of sliced parsely
– Bake for 20-25 minutes at 325 degrees
– Wrap each piece in one sheet of filo dough; drizzle in olive oil
– Bake for another 10-15 minutes until filo is crispy and slightly browned on the top

Roasted Veggies
– Squash: Chop it up, roll it in some olive oil and cinnamon, throw in pecans or walnuts. Bake at 425 degrees for 40-50 minutes.
– Brussel spouts: chop of the stem, and make a little “x” in the bottom using your knife, so that it cooks through (great tip from my “big sis” Shellie over Thanksgiving)! Olive oil, sea salt. Bake at 425 degrees for 40 minutes. Could pop these babies like popcorn.

Note: I realize these are pretty amateur hour directions. But it’s a 20-something kitchen. Sorry for keepin’ it real.

Heart Healthy Breakfast
No one who makes pancakes ever looked bad in the morning. Learning to make pancakes well is #10 on my 101 list. I want to be able to whip up batches for my friends (PJ’s and Pancakes Party!), and illusory husband and children. So I thought this was the perfect place to start.

Inspiration: Ricotta lemon curd pancakes from Apartment Therapy’s Kitchn, as well as a co-worker/friend who is trying to quit smoking (heart health!). I woke up early this morning to make whole wheat, ricotta, blueberry pancakes as a Friday treat for the office. In addition to these heart healthy ingredients, I added flax seeds, replaced regular milk with soy, and used part-skim ricotta. Before I went to bed, I made the batter so I would be ready for action in the a.m.

The stuff.

Wet and dry mixes.

Combined batter. Please take note of the massive amount I made.

After my 5:30 a.m. shower, I pulled out the batter and frozen blueberries (I bought real ones and kept them in the fridge overnight; this way they don’t get soggy while cooking, and the heat thaws them out). Of course, I thought it would be best to use my good cuisinart pans, and greased them with Brummel & Brown yogurt butter. Then, my Betty Crocker morning became a fiasco. The picture says it all:

Bad pancake. Baaaaaad. Ewww. Tear.

Yeah. It’s like the Charlie Sheen of pancakes. I stopped and stared for a moment. Was the batter wrong?? Maybe something with using whole wheat flour?? Then, I sheepishly gazed at the giant red bowl of batter. You saw the amount of batter I made. Was this all getting thrown out  like overnight house guests on The Jersey Shore? I imagined my fictional son sitting at a breakfast table, staring at his plate in pajamas with little blue airplanes. “Daddy, I don’t want to eat mommy’s pancakes!”

I refused. I switched the pans to my older, more griddle like ones, and with a spatula and a prayer, we had pancakes, ladies and gentleman. Now on my kitchen wish list: a griddle. An hour and a half later, I learned that pancakes require a lot of patience, but I also see why they are so great for moms. Best multi-tasking food ever! While cooking and flipping, I dried my hair, got dressed, did the dishes, put on makeup, and was ready for my day. And on this rainy Friday in Manhattan, hopefully got the weekend off to a great start for my office buddies.

The pancake that gave me hope.

The final batch. Everyone liked them. Phew.

My kitchen counter and my life are a bit of a mess, but my heart is healthy Pancakes
Dry Ingredients
– 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
– 3/4 cup all purpose flour
– 3 tablespoons sugar (I like Truvia)
– 4 teaspoons baking soda
– 3/4 teaspoon salt
– 3/4 cup flax seeds

Wet Ingredients
– 3 large eggs
– 1 tablespoon vanilla
– 3 cups soymilk
– 1 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese

– After mixing the two batters separately, combine
– Add fresh blueberries that you have frozen
– Heat your skillet, griddle (I’m jealous), whatever, and test the batter to make sure it’s hot. Oh yeah, and grease the pan with butter. Don’t forget that! Do this between each pancake.
– Be patient. Very patient. And flip!

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