Simple Ways to be Heart Smart
(Family Features) Sometimes making small changes can have a positive impact on your health - including heart health - like drinking more water, taking the stairs instead of the escalator and adding nutritious ingredients to your snacks and meals.
Incorporating nutritious ingredients is an easy way to step up your mealtime - for example, American Pecans can super-fy nearly any recipe by adding flavor and nutrition.
It's always a good time to include heart-healthy ingredients on your shopping list. Certified by the American Heart Association's Heart-Check*, American Pecans and their unique mix of unsaturated fats, plant sterols, fiber and flavonoids add up to help promote a healthy heart. In fact, according to the Food and Drug Administration, research suggests but does not prove that eating 1 1/2 ounces of most nuts, such as pecans, each day as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may help reduce your risk of heart disease. One serving of pecans (28 grams) contains 18 grams unsaturated fat and only 2 grams saturated fat.
Boosting the heart-smart punch of your favorite recipes can be easy with pecans. Whether topping a salad, sprinkling into bread batter or using them as the foundation of a portable snack, there are few things America's native nut can't do.
Start the day right with a bowl of Banana Pecan Cherry Oatmeal - a comforting and hearty combination that can keep you full for hours. For a wholesome, on-the-go option perfect for school snacks, desk drawers or an afternoon pick-me-up, try Cherry Pecan Energy Bites. Dried cherries, dates and crunchy pecans combine for an all-natural burst of heart-smart nutrition to help you power through the day.
Discover more ways to create heart-healthy meals with pecans at AmericanPecan.com.
Banana Pecan Cherry Oatmeal
1 cup old-fashioned oats
2 cups water
1/2 cup pecan milk
1 banana, sliced
1/4 cup pecan halves
1/4 cup dried tart cherries
1/4 cup honey
In large, microwave-safe bowl, combine oats and water. Microwave on high 3-4 minutes, or until oats are cooked through. Watch carefully to avoid boiling over.
Remove from microwave, stir and divide between two bowls. Pour 1/4 cup pecan milk over each bowl.
Divide sliced banana, pecan halves and dried tart cherries between each bowl and drizzle with 2 tablespoons honey. Serve immediately.
Cherry Pecan Energy Bites
Makes: 10-12 energy bites
1 cup toasted pecan halves or pieces
1 cup dried cherries
4 medjool dates, pitted
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1 tablespoon cacao powder, plus additional, for coating (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In bowl of food processor, combine toasted pecans, dried cherries, dates, oats, cacao powder and vanilla extract.
Pulse until ingredients begin to bind and form loose, dough-like ball.
Roll into 1-inch balls. Roll balls in additional cacao powder, if desired, and transfer to airtight container. Refrigerate until ready to serve, up to seven days.
Note: To make gluten-free, substitute 1/4 cup of certified gluten-free old-fashioned oats.
*Heart-Check certification does not apply to recipes.
Source: American Pecan Council