Did you know, according to American Heart Association, Coronary artery disease causes roughly 1.2 million heart attacks each year, and more than forty percent of those suffering from a heart attack will die?
Here in Bam’s Kitchen, for the month of February I want to reach out to you and your loved ones and make sure that you do not fall into the those statistic numbers and help heighten your “Awareness of Heart Health” and have some fun along the way.
During all my years working in cardiology, I would have loved to be able to talk to patients BEFORE they came rolling into the ER with a myocardial infarction. As by this time, the damage has already begun. Prevention, on the other hand, is the key to success!
There are some factors such as age, gender, race, family history and post menopause that we cannot change. (If anyone knows how to get younger please do not hold back and share…)
However we can reduce our chance for heart attack (myocardial infarction) if we change these following risk factors… (smoking, high blood cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, obesity, stress and behavior and physical inactivity)
Did you know that if you exercise just 20-30 minutes three times you can have a 30% reduction in coronary artery disease? So what is stopping all of us?
I know it is the lack of time, convenience and just plain lack of motivation in those cold winter months. I totally understand.
However you can add some small changes into your lifestyle and you can meet these goals and feel better about yourself. Amazingly your body does not care if these 20-30 minutes are put together or spread out over several sessions over the day. (Of course before starting any new type of physical activity you should consult with your physician first!) Here are some examples of squeezing in a little exercise into your day.
1) Instead of finding the absolutely closest parking spot to the entrance into work or other function. Try to park far away, bring your trainers (sports shoes) and walk briskly into work.
2) Bring your trainers into work and use your lunch break to take a quick 10-20 minute brisk walk- even just up and down the stairs or hallways during dismal weather. (I know that most of us eat and work at the same time at our computers so use just a few minutes to stretch and take care of your heart)
3) Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
4) Mix it up. Examples of aerobic activity include walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, rowing, cross-country skiing, stair climbing, and dancing. (Have fun, get romantic and get your significant other involved in a little salsa dancing- after all it is Valentines week)
5) While watching TV at night, you could fit in at least 10 repetitions of situps- much better option than grabbing for a bag of chips.
Now that brings me to the topic of heart healthy snacks. We all need a little something yummy so that we do not feel deprived. BBQ potato chips and double chocolate fudge cake every once in a while is A OK if done in moderation or just a taste of it.
Totally Nutty Granola Bars is a yummy heart healthy snack option that is portable, full of protein and fiber that will not have you feeling guilty.
I was having an attack of the munchies and just started to forage through our pantry and realized that we had more nuts than Mocha (our pet hamster) and I will ever be able to finish off so I just started to put things together and came up with this combination. These treats are kind of chewy and a little crunchy and very addictive- way too good to share with your pet hamsters.
Generally speaking Granola gets a wrap because it is made with large amounts of butter but this version has none. The fat in nuts is monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, which have been shown to lower levels of LDL (so-called “bad” cholesterol).
Totally Nutty Granola Bars
Serves 12 adults or 4 hungry teenagers
- 1 cup dried fruits (I used a combination of cranberries, raisins, dried blueberries and dried cherries)
- 1 cup dried oats (I used gluten-free prepared dried oats)
- 2 cups nuts (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds or any kinds of nuts you like)
- 2 tablespoons natural light flax seeds
- 3/4 cup nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew butter)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup liquid sweeter (agave nectar, honey, corn syrup) I used half honey and half agave nectar but if you want to restrict total calories you could use one of the dietetic sugars such as Equal, Splenda, etc. and adjust amount added to suite your tastes.
- Spray oil
Step 1: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F or 190 degrees F
Step 2: Mix in a large bowl the following items: dried fruits, dried oats, nuts and flax seeds.
Step 3: In a separate bowl mix together nut butter, vanilla, cinnamon and liquid sweetener
Step 4: Mix the nut butter ingredients in together with the dry ingredients. I used my hands and this seemed to work well. The consistency is slightly sticky and will pull together but will still not form a ball.
Step 5: Spray your heart-shaped baking molds or 9 x 11 baking pan with oil.
Step 6: Put your granola mixture in the molds or baking pans and press down firmly with your hands so it sticks together and there is not any air gaps.
Step 7: Bake totally granola nutty bars for approximately 20-25 minutes until slightly golden on top and ingredients are holding together.
Step 8: Allow totally nutty granola bars to cool completely and remove from molds or cut into shapes in your 9×11 pan.
Step 9: Enjoy as a quick breakfast or snack on the go.