Heart Healthy Eating

February has been designated as American Heart Month but realistically every month should be heart month. Keeping our hearts in the best condition possible is essential to living.

This week I led a Healthy Hearts food demo at Piedmont Fayette Hospital's Cancer Wellness Center. Each of the recipes used had the hallmarks of a Mediterranean diet, one with fruits and vegetables and grains and low on fats.

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes eating primarily a plant based diet, replacing butter with healthy fats, such as olive oil, using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods, limiting red meat to no more than couple of times a week and eating fish and poultry at least twice a week.  Nuts are also a part of the Mediterranean diet. While nuts are high in fat, most of the fat is healthy.  As they are high in calories, they should not be eaten in large amounts - generally no more than a handful a day. And it is best to keep away from candied or honey-roasted and heavily salted nuts.

One of the recipes prepared was Mediterranean 7-Layer Dip. It was a refreshing and healthy change from the traditional recipe. We served it with yellow and red bell pepper strips and baked pita chips. It was an overwhelming hit!

Mediterranean 7-Layer Dip

8 ounces hummus
1 tomato, diced
1/2 cucumber, diced
1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp paprika
2 canned artichoke hearts, chopped
2 roasted red peppers (4 halves), diced
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 Tbs minced flat-leaf parsley
Kalamata olives, chopped, for garnish

1. In an 8x8 square serving dish, spread the hummus evenly on the bottom. Layer the tomatoes and cucumber over top.
2. Dollop the yogurt over the vegetables, then gently spread. Sprinkle the yogurt with salt and paprika.
3. Top the yogurt with the artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers and feta cheese. Sprinkle with parsley and garnish with olives.



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