Today’s Superfood: Kale

Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on earth. It provides an enormous amount of nutrients for very few calories. In particular the nutrients of kale target the health of the heart. Kale is one of the crucifer vegetables, a descendant of the wild cabbage. A dark leafy green with an earthy flavor, kale is surely a superfood.

REDUCE Inflammation and Oxidative Stress

One of the unbelievable benefits of kale is its ability to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the body. Kale contains unusually high concentrations of carotenoids and flavonoid, two super-powerful antioxidants. These antioxidants work to protect the cells of our body from oxidative stress caused by many environmental factors. The sun, air pollution, and radiation are some of the factors we are exposed to every day.

Kale also contains a plethora of anti-inflammatory nutrients. Inflammation can be found throughout the GI tract, blood vessels and organs of the body. Common causes include an unhealthy diet high in processed foods, sugar and fats and environmental exposers.

The combination of oxidative stress and inflammation in the body is a risk factor for the development of different disease including cancer and cardiovascular disease. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of kale can protect the body from these and many other conditions.

 

FUN FACT: Kale contains more vitamin C than an orange!

LOWER Cholesterol

Our bodies produce cholesterol every day. Yet, we still get plenty in our diet, even too much. The excess buildup of cholesterol can contribute to the development of heart disease. An effective way reduce your cholesterol is to consume kale!

The fiber found in kale binds and excretes bile acids. The loss of these bile acids will give cholesterol an important job, to make more! This means the body will use cholesterol, eliminating it from causing damage.

Krazy for Kale
  • Curly Kale is dark green, has wavy edges and a bitter taste
  • Dinosaur Kale is blue-green with a sweet and delicate taste
  • Ornamental Kale is found a variety of colors and has a mellow flavor

Kale chips make for a great quick crunchy snack. Try this recipe form Super Healthy Kids!

kale_chips-13

1 bunch Kale

2 TBL grapeseed oil

1 TBL lemon juice

1/4 tsp. sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Chop kale into 1/2 inch pieces

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and massage the oil, lemon juice, and sea salt into the kale using your hands

Place on parchment lined baking sheets for 12 minutes.

Does your family have a favorite way to enjoy kale?

Advertisements

Heart-ful Websites

Heart failure is the leading cause of death in the United States. There are a variety of risk factors, prevention measures and treatments for heart disease. The Internet is full of opinions on these topics, making it difficult to decipher what to believe. Thankfully, we have made it easy to find reliable information about heart disease and health!

           Compiled below are lists of credible websites that base their content on research. Plus, a few heart healthy food blogs are a great way to inspire in the kitchen!

 

American Heart Association

Check out their new issue of Heart Health Matters E-zine!

http://www.heart.org

National Institute of Aging

Learn about the effects of aging on the heart and what measures you can take to make a positive change

http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/heart-health

Banner Health

Take the Heart “Age” Test

http://www.bannerhealth.com/Services/Heart+Care/Heart+Age+Test.htm?utm_source=eruptr&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=cardio_hra

Heart Foundation

Get the facts on heart health and the measures you can take to prevent heart disease. Browse the “News and Stories” section for new blog updates!

http://www.heartfoundation.org.nz/

 

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

View a trustworthy “Heart Failure Fact Sheet”

http://www.cdc.gov/DHDSP/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fs_heart_failure.htm

Harvard Medical School

A blog based fully on new research and heart heath

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/categories/health/heart-health

Heart Sisters

A blog written by a survivor herself, a combination of research and real life stories to guide anyone through a similar experience

http://myheartsisters.org/

The Healthy Foodie

Find creative inspiration on different ways to nourish your health with a variety of recipes

http://thehealthyfoodie.com/

The Heart Beet Kitchen

Explore heart healthy recipes utilizing fresh and seasonal foods

http://heartbeetkitchen.com/

Painting with Produce

Today we are creating art with fruits and veggies! By combining the natural and unique beauty of different produce with colorful paint and a blank canvas. Let your creativity flow and create art!

MATERIALS
  • Select a variety of fruits and veggies for the “paint brushes.”

Bananas, Oranges, Lemons, Grapes, Apples, Broccoli, Spinach, Peppers, Carrots, Onion

  • A poster board or white paper for the canvas
  • A knife and cutting board to slice fruits and veggies
  • An assortment of color paints
  • Paper plates for dipping the fruits and veggies into the paint

blog post_painting with veggies01

PROCEDURE
  • Begin by slicing the fruits and vegetables you have selected into different shapes and sizes

Slice lemons, apples, oranges and bananas in half to expose their unique patterns

Cut potatoes and carrots into stars, hearts, and shapes

Use broccoli and cauliflower florets to create a sponge effect

Use Leafs for a paintbrush effect

  • Place a different paint colors on separate paper plates
  • Dip the fruits and vegetables in the paint and then press them on the canvas

Notice that each fruit and vegetable has its print. The details of the inside of the fruits will appear on the canvas!

  • Continue dipping each fruit and vegetable paint and then onto the canvas

Combined the different shapes and patterns of the produce to make a picture

Create abstract art by layering different patterns

  • Once the paint is dry, frame your beautiful artwork!

We would love to see your fruit and vegetable creations! Send them in, post them below, or post them to our Facebook page!

Tips for Heart Health

In honor of heart health awareness month, here are some tips on keeping a happy, healthy heart. The heart is the hardest-working muscle in the body, beating 100,000 times per day! In order to maintain a healthy heart, it requires a combination or good diet, physical activity, stress management and positive life choices.

blog post_heart health01

Exercise

Staying active provides your heart with essential exercise, keeping it strong and healthy! There are endless benefits to regular exercise.

  • Improve blood circulations and lower blood pressure
  • Increase good cholesterol and decrease bad cholesterol
  • Reduce body weight
  • Increase muscle strength
  • Improve mood and distress

Research shows these benefits can occur with 30-60 minutes of exercise three times per week.1

Diet

It is important to feed your heart with a quality and nutritious diet. Eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Avoid processed foods and consume foods in their most whole and raw state. Eating a well-balanced diet is one of the best things you can do for your heart.

Although, there are particular foods that are packed with extra nutrition that your heart desires

  • Salmon and other fatty fish are a great source omega 3 fatty acids
  • Oatmeal provides a sources of fiber that can lower cholesterol
  • Berries are filled with antioxidants and can decrease blood pressure
  • Dark chocolate (60% or more cacao) can reduce inflammation on the heart
  • Nuts are full of fiber and contain essential fatty acids

Manage Stress

The stresses of life can cause direct harm to our heart. A simple and natural way to fight stress is doing things throughout the day that bring happiness.

  • Work on a creative project
  • Read your favorite book
  • Take a walk
  • Have lunch with your friends
  • Listen to music

At the end of the day, take 10-15 minutes of alone time to relax. Sit in your favorite chair or picture yourself in a beautiful and peaceful place. Just a few subtle changes can improve moods and heart health.2

 

  1. Exercise and Cardiovascular Health. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/107/1/e2.full
  2. Four Ways to Deal with Stress. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/StressManagement/FourWaystoDealWithStress/Four-Ways-to-Deal-with-Stress_UCM_307996_Article.jsp

Heart Healthy Valentines Day Treats

blog post_valentine treats
Chocolate Covered Love

Dip apples, strawberries, grapes and pineapple in melted dark chocolate. Add texture by then dipping in shredded coconut or groundnuts. Place in freezer until ingredients set.

Fruit Kabob

Place a variety of fresh fruits, grapes, melons, kiwi, strawberries on a skewer. Serve with a side of vanilla or favored yogurt to dip!

Cookie Cutter Crazy

Using cookie cutters:

  • Make heart shaped whole-wheat pancakes. Add fresh berries for sweetness!
  • Cut different sized hearts into a variety of tasty fruits
  • Add love with a heart shaped peanut butter and jelly sandwich made with whole wheat bread
  • Place heart shaped cheese on crackers
Pop of Pink

Blend fresh or frozen red fruits with low-fat milk to created a bright Valentines Day smoothie!

Red Fruits:

  • Pomegranate
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Pitaya
Cupcake Delights

Fill valentines day themed cupcake liners with fresh fruit, granola and dark chocolate chips for a yummy and festive snack.

 

Satisfy your sweet tooth while keeping your heart happy with a velvety chocolate mousse from Crazy for Crust

Mousse

  • 1 large avocado, pitted and skin removed
  • 2 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk (or almond milk or nonfat milk)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup nonfat vanilla or plain regular or greek yogurt

    1.    Place all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until smooth, wiping down the sides and stirring as needed.

    2.    Place in a bowl and chill until ready to eat. Serves 1 large portion or 4 small.

    3.    Enjoy!

 http://www.crazyforcrust.com