February is American Heart Month, a month of raising awareness about the top cause of death in the United States: Heart disease. Making the right lifestyle choices, including eating a well-balanced diet, remain one of the top ways to support a healthier heart and reduce your risks of heart disease. This collection of easy-to-make recipes, which provides delicious ideas for a full day of meals, contains numerous ingredients that studies have shown will reduce your cardiovascular risks and help you to foster a healthier heart today.

BREAKFAST: Creamy Banana Matcha Smoothie

Launch into your day with this antioxidant-packed breakfast shake. Matcha is a type of powdered green tea that’s very high in a compound called EGCG. It’s been shown that taking EGCG can help prevent some types of heart disease by keeping fatty substances and plaque from building up in your arteries. Matcha is also a potent immunity booster.

Some people find the earthy flavor of matcha a bit too much for their personal preferences, but it pairs well with the natural sweetness of the bananas in this shake. Plus, this smoothie is high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats for a healthier heart, mind and body.

1 frozen banana

1 tsp matcha powder

1 cup frozen spinach

1 tsp flax seed

1 tsp chia seed

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup nut milk (unsweetened)

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until creamy. Enjoy!

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LUNCH: Tangy Greek Salad With Sardines

Sardines are one of the best sources of omega-3 fats, and are also one of the most environmentally sustainable types of seafood to enjoy. The omega-3s in sardines have been proven in dozens upon dozens of studies to help reduce your risks of heart disease and improve all factors related to a healthier heart. For instance, a diet high in omega-3 fats can reduce inflammation, improve your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers, and much more!

That high fat content can make sardines a bit too rich for some people’s palates, which is why sardines go so well with this tangy Greek salad. The fresh crispness and vibrant citrus flavors of the salad cut the richness of the fish, creating a perfect melody of flavors and textures. As a bonus, all those veggies add fiber and antioxidants that further strengthen your heart health and your general wellness.

LEMON VINAIGRETTE 

Juice from one lemon

2 tbsp olive oil

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 tsp dried oregano

½ tsp ground pepper

SALAD

3 Roma tomatoes, diced

1 cucumber, diced

1 15-oz can chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1/3 c crumbled feta cheese (or a vegan plant-based alternative)

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 cup Kalamata olives, thinly sliced with the pit removed

2 4-oz cans of sardines, drained

Make the dressing by whisking together all the vinaigrette ingredients and setting it aside.

In a big bowl, combine all the other ingredients (with the exception of the sardines). Drizzle with the vinaigrette and toss gently. To serve, plate the salad in individual portions and add two or three sardines on top of each scoop of salad. Enjoy!

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DINNER: Charred Broccoli Quinoa Salad

Charred broccoli, roasted quickly in your oven, brings out all the unique flavors and textures of this delicious vegetable. Not only is it tasty, but broccoli is a rich source of natural sulfur compounds that work as potent anti-inflammatories that may help lower your heart disease risks. 

This colorful salad pairs broccoli with quinoa. The ancient grain has a delightfully nutty flavor profile, and it’s also very high in minerals like potassium and magnesium, which are all crucial for maintaining a healthier heart and a strong cardiovascular system.

1 c raw, dried quinoa

2 c veggie broth

1 head of broccoli, cut into florets 

1 sweet potato, chopped into 1/2-inch chunks

1 15-oz can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 bunch kale, chopped

Dash of oil

Juice from one lemon

1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 tsp organic maple syrup

3 tbsp oil

Salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. While the oven is heating up, add the quinoa and broth to a pot and bring it to a boil. Once the quinoa is boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and let it cook for 10-15 minutes or until the broth has evaporated and the quinoa is tender. There’s no need to stir it during the cooking process. Once cooked, set the quinoa aside.

Toss the broccoli and potatoes in olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast in your oven for 20 minutes. Then, add the kale and chickpeas to the same pan and roast for another 10-15 minutes. 

After the veggies are cooked, toss with the quinoa, lemon juice, maple syrup and apple cider vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper and enjoy! 

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