Summer barbecues don’t have to be unhealthy
|SPRINGFIELD Summertime is filled with parties and picnics featuring traditional fare like hot dogs, potato salad, and chips. But unfortunately, foods like these are often packed with sodium and fat, which can lead to major health issues including obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. These risk factors can increase a person’s chances for developing heart disease and stroke the nation’s leading health threats.|
But the summer season doesn’t need to focus on the chips and dip. It’s the perfect time to incorporate healthy options into meals.
Fruits and vegetables are in abundance and grilling is a healthy way to enjoy lean meats, which can be the first step to eating healthier and begin reducing risk of cardiovascular disease.
Each day people can make healthy choices that can dramatically reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke and increase the quality and length of life.
The American Heart Association recently introduced Life’s Simple 7 with the goal of improved health by educating the public on how best to live. These seven measures have one unique thing in common: any person can make changes, the steps are not expensive to take and even modest improvements to one’s health will make a big difference.
A great start is to eat healthier and take My Life Check, a free assessment at www.mylifecheck.heart.org.
Here are a few healthy summer foods and tips to get started on the road to better eating this summer:
- Have plenty of fresh cut vegetables and serve with low-fat dips.
- Wash fresh green beans to dip in yogurt or low-fat cottage cheese.
- Stay hydrated. Water is a person’s best option when temperatures soar. Add slices of lemon or strawberries for natural flavor.
- Have simple snacks that don’t take much prep work such as fresh berries that can be eaten by hand, add to salads or add to low fat yogurt.
- Be meat savvy. Choose lean cuts of beef, chicken breast, and turkey tenders. Marinate in salsa, low-calorie salad dressing or citrus juices for more flavor.
- Aim for variety. Kick up the health factor by grilling vegetables and fruits on low heat until slightly golden. These healthy snacks make consuming the recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables simple.
- Buy store bought angel food cake and add cut up fresh fruit for a heart healthy dessert.
For more information on Life’s Simple Seven, heart healthy recipes, and how to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, go to www.heart.org.
At the next summer picnic, try this recipe from the American Heart Association.
Chicken Rotini Salad with Rosemary
4 ounces dried multigrain rotini
1 1/2 cups cubed cooked skinless chicken breasts, cooked without salt
1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained, and coarsely chopped
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved (about 5 ounces)
1 cup fresh baby spinach (about 1 ounce)
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
1 2.25-ounce can sliced black olives, drained
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil (extra-virgin preferred)
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/4 cup crumbled low-fat blue cheese
- In a stockpot or large saucepan, prepare the pasta using the package directions, omitting the salt and oil. Drain in a colander. Run under cold water to stop the cooking process and cool the pasta quickly.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients except the blue cheese.
- Stir in the pasta. Gently fold in the blue cheese.
Nutritional Analysis (per serving)
Calories Per Serving: 296
Total Fat: 9 grams
Saturated Fat: 2 grams
Trans Fat: 0
Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 gram
Monounsaturated Fat: 4.5 grams
Cholesterol: 48 miligrams
Sodium: 444 miligrams
Carbohydrates: 29 grams
Fiber: 5 grams
Sugar: 3 grams
Protein: 25 grams
Dietary Exchanges: 3 lean meat, 1 1/2 starch, 1 vegetable.
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