By Lizzie Waldo, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Move over, chocolates and roses! February is a great opportunity to focus on one of the best gifts we can give ourselves: a healthier heart. American Heart Month is an annual initiative that encourages all Americans to join the battle against heart disease. 

One of the most important things you can do to show your heart some love is to eat healthy. This means cutting down on added sugar, salt, and saturated fat.

I've curated five healthier recipes below that are packed with nutrients and flavor. Do your heart a favor and choose one (or five!) to make this month. Remember that eating well doesn't have to mean eating boring. Happy heart month!

1. Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Bowl

While oatmeal a more well-known breakfast go-to for heart health, this recipe pushes oats aside and replaces them with quinoa! High in protein and fiber, as well as other important nutrients and antioxidants, quinoa is the all-star of grains. The high level of fiber helps reduce blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, and makes you feel fuller for longer.

This recipe uses low-fat milk to cut back on saturated fat but still adds a good boost of protein. You could also replace this with a non-dairy milk like cashew or almond milk, which contain heart healthy fats. Chunks of apples, a sprinkle of sliced almonds and a drizzle of honey make this the perfect breakfast to jump start your day.

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2. Avo-Berry Muffins

Looks can be deceiving when it comes to these muffins. The slight green color may give you pause, but these treats are packed with healthy ingredients. Avocados are swapped for butter to give this recipe a healthy fat boost, a great example of how to make better choices when cooking for your heart. Try something new!

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3. Heart Smart Bean and Barley Vegetable Soup

Soluble fiber plays a big role in having a healthy heart. Found in oats, beans, barley, and fruits and vegetables, this type of fiber helps lower cholesterol levels, blood pressure and inflammation in the body. This recipe combines all of these ingredients in one pot, offering the perfect "heart guard" in every spoonful!

Soups are known for being loaded with sodium, but this recipe uses low-sodium chicken broth to cut back on added salt. A variety of six different vegetables, protein-packed beans, and barley make this a well-rounded and flavorful meal that'll keep you on track.

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4. Veggie Pizza with Cauliflower Crust

No more frozen pizza! Convenience foods are loaded with added sodium, fats, and sugar, which is why making your own pizza crust and adding your own toppings gives you more control.

Cauliflower is a versatile vegetable due to its mild flavor, which is why it makes a great base for a pizza crust. The best part of this recipe is that it's loaded with antioxidant-rich vegetables, which are low in calories, fat, and cholesterol.

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5. Thai Glazed Salmon with Vegetables

The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least two times (two servings) per week. One serving of fish is equal to 3.5 ounces when cooked. While all fish are a great option, you want to consume fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines, or albacore tuna. These are all high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can decrease your risk of heart disease.

This recipe makes it easy to incorporate fish into your dinner menu, as it only takes 30 minutes and uses one pan, making cleanup a breeze. The sweet, mildly spicy sauce is drizzled over the salmon and a medley of crisp vegetables before being popped into the oven. Pair it with some brown rice, and this meal is dietitian (and heart) approved.

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Hungry for more?

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