Chances are you received some sweets from a sweetheart or another loved one this past Valentine's Day. While savoring a sugary treat from time to time isn't terrible, it's important to keep your heart's health in mind while snacking.

Certain foods (such as walnuts, chickpeas and fruits) have been medically proven to decrease your chance of heart disease. But don't worry! Your taste buds can still enjoy a delicious (and nutritious) snack! There are plenty of ways to incorporate healthy foods into your favorite treats. Take a look at some of these scrumptious ideas:

  • Substitute your snacking. It isn't easy to turn down chocolate or a bag of salty chips.    Denying your cravings could make you crash, so substitute the bad sweets for some good  sweets!  Munch on some walnuts when you want something crunchy. Grab a handful of fresh fruit next time your sweet tooth is calling. These simple substitutions can go a long way.
  • Try something new. Eating the same health foods over and over gets pretty boring quickly. Be creative in the kitchen instead! Next time you are making breakfast, throw some fresh blueberries in your oatmeal! making tuna salad? Add some walnuts for flavor and texture.
  • Host a healthy party. Being healthier is easier when you aren't alone. Host a healthy snack party with new heart-healthy foods. Encourage you friends and loved ones to improve their heart health. Not only will your heart be healthier, but your mind will be at ease knowing you've helped others improve their health.

Here in Monmouth and Middlesex Counties it's easy to stay heart healthy. With fruit and vegetable standson every corner and beautiful orchards in so many towns, there's no reason not to incorporate these healthy foods into  your diet. Take a trip to Delicious Orchards in Colts Neck. There you will find every fruit and vegetable under the sun to endless varieties of nuts and delicious whole grain breads. These foods can be used in so many mouth -watering recipes. Remember, a little effort goes a long way. Take some time in planning your meals and snacks. If the right foods are readily available to you, it will be a whole lot easier to make the healthier choice.

For your next get together with friends make the delicious spinach-artichoke dip below.

  •       2 cups artichoke hearts
  •       1 tsp black pepper
  •       4 cups chopped spinach
  •       1 tsp minced thyme
  •       2 cloves garlic, minced
  •       1 Tbs parsley, minced
  •       1 cup white beans, prepared
  •       2 Tbs parmesan cheese
  •       1/2 cup light sour cream

      Mix all ingredients together. Place in glass or ceramic dish.Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

     Serve with whole grain bread, crackers or vegetables. Enjoy!

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