February kicks off American Heart Month and one way to celebrate is by being a bit sweeter to that ticker of yours. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States; one in every three deaths is from heart disease and stroke, to the tune of 2,200 deaths each day. With that grave fact in mind, let’s take a closer look at some steps you can take for a healthy heart
According to the American Heart Association, the best way to keep your heart in peak form is by eating well and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Whole grains are a cornerstone of a heart-healthy diet and consuming them has been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease by keeping blood pressure, cholesterol – and even weight – in check. Because of these benefits, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends making at least half your grains whole grains. By following this simple recommendation, you will be well on your way to giving your heart a little more love.
Speaking of love, with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, treat yourself and your loved ones to a heart-y helping of whole grains with this recipe for Quinoa, Sweet Pepper, and Fig Salad. It’s a sweet and savory dish loaded with whole grains, fiber, and antioxidants. Known as the “fruit of love,” figs are a great compliment to this hearty ancient grain.
Quinoa, Sweet Pepper, and Fig Salad
(Recipe from the Huffington Post)
- 1 cup dry sherry
- 1/2 cup dried currants
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 1/2 cups chicken stock or store-bought chicken broth
- 2 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
- 1 cup fresh figs, stemmed and chopped
- 1 cup carrot, finely chopped
- 1/4 green bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1/4 red bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1/4 yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/3 cup tangy citrus vinaigrette
Pour the sherry into a medium bowl. Add the currants and set aside to rehydrate for 20 minutes. Drain the currants, discard any remaining sherry, and set the currants aside.
Place the quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse under cold running water. Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the quinoa and return to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook until the quinoa is tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Scrape the quinoa into a large bowl and set aside to cool.
Stir the scallions, figs, carrots, bell peppers, and cilantro into the cooled quinoa. Pour the citrus vinaigrette over the salad and stir gently to combine. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days. The salad can be served cold or at room temperature.