How to LOVE your Heart

Happy Valentine’s Day! I have a new little Valentine this year (in addition to my sweet husband), so it will be an extra special one for us. Since it is the day of L-O-V-E, I thought it was only appropriate to talk about how we can love our heart through food! One of the most famous quotes from Hippocrates states ‘let food be thy medicine’ and I believe that statement is so true. What we put into our body either fuels us or hinders us, so it’s important to eat the right foods to make sure we are taking care of ourselves!

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States – proving how crucial it is that we take care of this important organ! One of the best ways to take care of our hearts is to follow a plant based diet (or as close to one as possible)! Believe me when I say it’s hard to switch the mindset away from the idea to always have meat at every meal. I used to think a meal was only complete when a piece of chicken, fish or beef was on my plate. But lately, I have been trying to focus more on meatless meals to challenge myself and my family to follow a more plant based diet. In fact, did you know that the American Dietetic Association position’s on a vegetarian diet is that, when the diet is well planned, it is nutritionally adequate and even provides additional health benefits.

A plant based diet is one that focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts/ legumes. Multiple research studies confirm that a plant based diet significantly lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke. The nutritional properties of these foods prevent and even fight off disease and include fiber, minerals and antioxidant vitamins. A plant based diet can be daunting to think about, so instead, try focusing on having at least one fruit and vegetable at each meal. And, if you are already doing that, try incorporating additional servings of colorful vegetables in place of other items you may be eating. From there, try making one dinner each week meatless – whether it is vegetable soup with beans and chickpeas, quinoa broccoli bites, eggplant chili without the ground turkey or roasted vegetable lasgana.  For a protein source, there are quite a few vegetarian and vegan sources that you can include at your meal that will keep you fuller for longer. Then, continue to increase the number of times a week that you are going meatless. Soon, it will be second nature to eat this way!

So, today I challenge you to think about your dinner plans for the week. Is there one meal that you could make “meatless” instead?

Happy heart day! 🙂

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Local Foods Review + an AMAZING Giveaway

Happy Tuesday! We are continuing our series of reviewing some of our favorite local Houston restaurants! In the past, we have reviewed Caracol, Dish Society and Adair Kitchen, and today, we are focusing on one of my absolute favorite places in the city — Local Foods! If you have never been to this restaurant, you need to RUN there for your next meal. It is SO GOOD! Plus, I’m in love with their decor!

Keep reading through this blog post to see how to enter our incredible giveaway. Local Foods was so generous to provide TWO gift certificates to give away to our readers – each certificate covers dinner for four ($100 value) at their Tanglewood location.

Local Foods has four locations throughout the city of Houston that all focus on food that is locally sourced. In fact, you can view the list of where the restaurant obtains their local ingredients from online. The quality of the food is so good and you can really taste the freshness in everything you eat. Every menu item that I have tried at Local Foods has been delicious – it’s honestly so hard to pick what to eat when we go because I have so many favorites.

Not only would I consider Local Foods to be healthy because of its focus on local ingredients, but because of the variety of menu options that support a healthy lifestyle. From quinoa burgers to gourmet sides that are fresh and full of nutrients to sandwiches that can be prepared as salads, you really cannot go wrong with what you order. And, for those who follow specific diets (vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, etc) there are a variety of options for you to choose from. The staff is extremely willing to make special accommodations to fit your needs. My all time favorite dish at Local Foods is their Crunchy Chicken Sandwich. It is seriously delicious! My mouth might be watering right now thinking of it…

  

To enter to win one of two gift certificates to Local Foods- Tanglewood (Dinner for 4/ $100 value), just head to our social media sites, Facebook and Instagram –  and tag at least one person in the comment section – 1 entry for every person you tag! And, for double the chances, share our post on either site. You can also comment on this post for a chance to win. The giveaway ends next Monday (Feb. 6th) at 12am CST. We will email our two random winners the following day. Good luck!

 

 

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Kale, Chicken and Butternut Squash Soup

Happy 2017 HBH friends! We are back after some time off and ready to bring you some great new content, giveaways and recipes. We are excited for what’s in store and appreciate you hanging with us while we were away for a little bit.

With a baby, dinner has become slightly more challenging (as many of you probably already know), and the slow cooker has become my best friend. I love being able to prep ahead of time while he naps and not have to worry about it for the rest of the day! Today, I’m sharing my recipe for kale, chicken and butternut squash soup. This superfood filled soup is sure to fill you up while giving you a variety of nutrients and flavor! Plus, you can feel good about the real foods you are eating, and this recipe is Whole30 approved. For a meatless dish, remove the chicken and try adding quinoa about 30-40 minutes before serving.

One trick to making this soup is prepping the ingredients ahead of time — peel and cube the butternut squash, trim and cut the kale, and wash and prep the herbs. After everything is prepped, all you have to do is dump it into the slow cooker and go! This is definitely my favorite kind of recipe 🙂 Let us know if you give it a try. Enjoy!

Kale, Chicken and Butternut Squash Soup
 
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Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 lb chicken breast or thighs
  • ½ butternut squash, cubed
  • 2 cups of chopped kale (stems removed)
  • 2- 32 oz chicken broth
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • 2-3 tsp Kosher salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Prepare all ingredients and add to slow cooker.
  2. Mix to combine.
  3. Cook on low for 6 hours.
  4. About thirty minutes prior to serving, shred chicken and add back to soup.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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HBH Guide to Ethnic Cuisine: Asian

As the holidays approach, it becomes more common to eat out (at least I know it is for our family)! Whether it’s because our schedules become filled with events and a quick meal is needed or it is the focus of a social gathering, the amount of times we cook meals at home dwindles.  One of our goals of starting this blog was to provide our readers with the tools to eat healthier! Our Quick Bites posts that provide suggestions on foods to order while eating out at specific restaurants have been extremely popular. However, it may be hard to look up the nutritional facts of every restaurant you go to especially local places where they do not provide the facts. Instead, we wanted to provide some common tips on various cuisines so you can be prepared to choose healthier options. First up: Asian cuisine!

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When eating out at any Asian restaurant, fat and sodium content are going to be some of the larger issues to be aware of. Here are some tips for maneuvering these type of restaurants without sacrificing your healthy lifestyle.

Go for the veggies: Many of these establishments do not provide nutritional facts to look at (especially local places) but a general rule of thumb is to choose an entree that contains vegetables. The more that the dish is filled with colorful vegetables and less of fried protein and carbohydrates like large amounts of noodles, the healthier the dish likely is. And, are you a fan of edamame? Make sure to ask how it was prepared. Steamed with water is a much better option than cooked in oil!

  • Choose: Vegetable spring rolls, vegetable dumplings or Moo Goo Gai Pan for an alternative to other dishes.

Ask for sauce on the side or for less of it. When possible, choose steamed dishes with minimal sauces. If a sauce is included, ask for it on the side to prevent excess calories, fat and sodium.

  • Choose: Don’t be afraid to ask if your favorite dish could be steamed with sauce on the side. If you need more flavor, mix a small amount of the included sauce with a small amount of low sodium soy sauce! A perfect example of the nutritional difference between steamed and stir fried is at PF Changs – choose Buddha’s Feast Steamed for a healthier version (250 calories, 0 grams saturated fat, 300 mg sodium) over Buddha’s Feast Stir Fried (480 calories, 1 gram saturated fat, 3860 mg sodium!)

Go Whole: Choose whole grain carbohydrates when possible. As we have previously talked about, whole grains are filled with fiber which not only keep you fuller for longer, but also provide other health benefits.

  • Choose brown rice over fried rice or Lo mein noodles for a healthier option!

Watch portion size: Many of the portions provided at Asian restaurants are large enough for multiple people to enjoy! Try sharing with others you are dining with or ask for a to-go box when the entree is brought to you to prevent from over eating. For rice, try to not eat more than a fistful size at one sitting.

Have soup first. By having soup as an appetizer first, you are preventing yourself from eating more than you should later on.

  • Choose: Wonton, hot and sour, or egg drop soup for a broth based appetizer option that fills you up without excess calories.

Talk to us! What are some of your favorite healthier Asian dishes?

 

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Mediterranean Skillet with Farro

Pinterest is my absolute favorite source of recipe inspiration, but I’m also a huge fan of modifying recipes based on ingredients I already have on hand. I came across this recipe from Paleo Newbie and was determined to make it in some capacity! I love anything with sun-dried tomatoes, and it incorporates a good variety of vegetables which is perfect for my less than adventurous husband.

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The recipe came together fairly quickly and made enough for a couple of lunches as leftovers. The recipe didn’t call for any grains, but I served the skillet over a bed of faro to incorporate some healthy carbs and make the dish a little more well rounded. If you’re not a fan of any of the ingredients, you could easily sub in another veggie and it would still taste great!

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Mediterranean Skillet with Farro
 
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Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 small red onion- finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic- finely chopped
  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes- thinly sliced
  • 2 tomatoes- chopped
  • 1 8 oz jar artichokes
  • 1 8oz container of mushrooms- sliced
  • 1# chicken thighs- chopped into bite size pieces and baked or sautéed
  • 5 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 cup farro- cooked
  • Crumbled feta cheese for topping
Instructions
  1. Prepare Farro according to package instructions
  2. Prepare chicken by baking or sautéing with olive oil, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Saute onions and garlic in 1 tbsp olive oil
  4. Add mushrooms and cook until partially softened
  5. Add another tbsp of olive oil and balsamic vinegar with tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes and artichokes
  6. Mix in spices (parsley, oregano and basil)
  7. Add cooked chicken and stir well
  8. Add spinach and cook until slightly wilted
  9. Serve over a bed of faro and top with feta cheese as desired

 

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