This month, get in the habit of showing your heart some love!
– By the Veggie Fairy Team
Valentines are nice… a healthy ticker is even better! American Heart Month is the perfect time to start getting in the habit of keeping heart-healthy food on hand. That way whipping up a heart-healthy meal or snack for you and your family is really easy and yummy. Local food is a big part of it.
By the way, before we get to the local part, this being Cupid’s month and all, we veggie fairies are happy to report that dark chocolate and red wine are both good for your heart! (Based on personal experience, there are definitely some days when wine and chocolate are really good for mental health, too. Just sayin’…!) The Cleveland Clinic put dark chocolate up against red wine to see if one is better for you than the other. Find out which one was the winner here!
And now, armed with our chocolate and our glass of wine, we’ve got 9 local food suggestions for you from the American Heart Association and the Cleveland Clinic. Watch for these foods in your online farmers market — some are available year-round and some are seasonal. If you put a few of the foods on this list in your Seasonal Roots basket each week, your heart will love you for it!
#1 Dark leafy greens
Kale, spinach, Swiss chard, arugula, and watercress are tasty dark greens that grow locally year round and can be used in different ways in a wide variety of recipes. Use them in sandwiches instead of lettuce. They’re a great source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that contribute to heart health.
#2 Whole wheat items
For pasta, breads, and crackers, always opt for whole wheat when you can. It provides more fiber than white flour and is more filling. If you go for 100% whole wheat, you’ll enjoy the full benefits of the fiber and antioxidants.
This versatile fruit masquerading as a vegetable can be added to most dishes — think salads, pastas, eggs, and sandwiches. Tomatoes are high in antioxidants.
#4 Red, yellow, and orange veggies
Carrots, sweet potatoes, red peppers, and acorn squash are packed with carotenoids, fiber, and vitamins to help your heart.
Legumes in general are great for your blood-pump, and hummus is chock-full of chickpeas, a.k.a. garbanzo beans, a type of legume.
Everybody loves berries, and local berry season is coming soon! They’re rich in fiber and antioxidants, especially when you eat them in season at their flavorful and nutritional peak.
Try marinated tofu in a stir-fry with fresh veggies for a heart-healthy lunch or dinner. The prepared vegan meals in our online farmers market are a super-easy and tasty way to get your tofu, whether your a newbie checking it out or a tofu super fan.
Tender, sweet asparagus is filled with mighty nutrients such as beta-carotene, folate, and fiber, and only provide 25 calories per cup, or 5 calories per large spear.
Crisp, fresh broccoli florets dipped in hummus are a terrific heart-healthy snack with a whopping list of nutrients, including vitamins C and E, potassium, folate, calcium, and fiber.
By eating these foods locally when they’re freshly made or in season, you’re maximizing the nutritional benefits for your heart. Other heart-healthy staples to keep on hand include nuts like almonds and walnuts, extra virgin olive oil, canned or dried legumes, and quinoa, a grain that’s a great source of protein and rich in fiber. So with a clink of our glasses of red wine we say: Here’s to your heart!
ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS
Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, eggs, grass-fed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.