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Simple, heart-healthy Super Bowl recipe and advice from a cardiologist

It's heart month, and with the Super Bowl this weekend (and suggestions from the media that sporting events may trigger heart attacks), I decided to whip up my low-fat, smokey, heart-healthy three-cheese fondue, as well as ask cardiologist Mark Reisman, MD, for some tips.

Low-fat, smokey, three-cheese fondue (serves 6)

Ingredients

Healthy Holiday Drinks

As we enter the holiday season, it usually means we're running to more parties and more opportunities to indulge in tasty treats and drinks. But did you think about what exactly is in your holiday cocktails?

Dr. Lindquist from Swedish Weight Loss Services has some tips for eating at holiday gatherings.

And he offers some tips for preventing holiday weight gain:

Chef Eric has some tips for healthy holiday drinks, and you can make them yourself with the recipes below!

Happy (Healthy) Holidays!

The more that has been done to a food, the less it has to offer you. Fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, legumes and whole grains, enjoyed as close to their natural state as possible this holiday season, will keep your energy levels high, your appetite content, and weight gain off your worry list.

Reunite with Your Appetite

These next few months feel like the fast-forward button is stuck on…work demands remain high, yet family and friends require a significantly greater share of your attention. I fully support the extra shot of espresso to fill your tank this season, as long as you put the brakes on and slow way down at the dinner table.

It takes at least 20 minutes after you start eating for your stomach to signal your brain that it’s receiving food and to slow production of hunger hormones (ghrelin) and kick up production of leptin (satiety hormone). If you are shoveling food in your mouth like you are training to take on Takeru Kobayashi (hot dog eating champ), you are going to end up miserable. Slow down. Take time to chew thoroughly, put your fork down between bites, breathe, and enjoy the company.

Speaking of company…unfortunately when we are graced with the presence of loved ones, we tend to eat much more than we would by ourselves. Eating with just one other person encourages you to eat about 35% more, and in a group of 7 or more, you’ll eat roughly 96% more than you would if you were eating alone. Now you have an excuse not to invite that bizarre cousin right? Kidding. For those of us blessed with large families and parties of friends, make sure to pace yourself with the slowest eater at the table (anyone in a highchair is fair game), start eating last, and determine how much you are going to eat before you sit down. We eat about 92% of what we dish up in the buffet line, so now is the time to be chintzy (not on your Uncles gift). If there is a choice in plate size, go for the smaller one. Just a two-inch smaller diameter plate (from 12 to 10”) reduces your consumption by 22%. Stop eating when you are no longer hungry, not when you have reached the point where you are too full (it’s too late).

Put Vegetables on the Guest List

During the holidays we do a fine job getting our fix of fruits (apple pie, wine), grains (gingerbread), and meats (duck, turkey, or whatever other animals we aren’t willing to prepare the other 360 something other days a year). What about our true friends that are packed full of nutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber), while contributing few calories and little fat? Vegetables! Displace 20% of your plate with these guys and you will save a couple hundred calories. There are 3,500 calories per pound, so do the math: Over the next two month celebration marathon, that’s a new years resolution besides losing weight gained over the holidays!

Embrace the season – focus on seasonal winter vegetables, such as:

Pomegranate Orange Dressing

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup 100% Pomegranate Juice
  • Juice and zest of one orange
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbs honey
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Instructions:

  1. Whisk entirely and serve immediately.

Preparation Time: Less than 5 minutes.
Yields: 1 cup of dressing

Substantial Spinach Salad

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups washed and rinsed baby spinach
  • 2 ripe pears
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 4 baby Clementine oranges
  • 1 Tbs dried cranberries
  • 1 Tbs pistachios (shelled, dry roasted, salted)
  • 1 Tbs dry roasted almonds
  • 1 Tbs dry roasted pecans
  • 1 Tbs dry roasted walnuts
  • Fresh cracked pepper (optional)

Instructions

  1. Cut pear into small cubes and place in bowl and cover with lemon juice (to prevent browning). Let sit 5 minutes.
  2. Peel Clementines and cut individual segments in half.
  3. Pour pear bowl over greens.
  4. Add oranges, cranberries and nuts and toss salad completely.
  5. Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper if preferred. Add dressing if preferred.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes.
Yields: 4 servings (Nutrition Facts is for ¼ of recipe above).

Acorn Squash with Cranberry Quinoa

Ingredients:

For Squash

  • 1 acorn squash
  • 2 Tbs honey
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp cayenne

For Quinoa-

  • ½ cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp coriander
  • ¼ tsp cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh parsley, rinsed and patted dry
  • ½ cup toasted pecans (see note below)


Instructions

  1. To roast squash: Preheat oven to 400F. Cut acorn squash in half. Using a spoon, remove seeds and stringy flesh.
  2. In small bowl, whisk honey, oil and spices and brush onto exposed sides of squash. Place (face down) on rimmed baking sheet and bake for 35-40 minutes or when flesh is soft and tender. Meanwhile while squash is roasting, prepare quinoa.
  3. In a medium saucepan, bring quinoa, broth, spices, salt and pepper to a boil then reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Once all liquid is absorbed, stir in honey, cranberries, parsley and pecans.
  5. Spoon carefully into roasted squash and serve immediately.
  6. To toast pecans: Preheat oven to 350F. In a single layer, spread pecans on rimmed baking sheet. Toast for 10 minutes or until fragrant.

Recipe Notes: A hearty dish with a heavy serving of Vitamins A and C, potassium and fiber. Quinoa is a complete protein, so there is no need to add any meat entrees to round out the meal. Quinoa may also be spooned over tender baby spinach. Add a festive vinaigrette to greens if needed.

Preparation Time: 55 minutes total.
Yields: 2 servings (Nutrition Facts is for one-half of acorn squash plus generous ¾ cup quinoa filling).

Festive Roasted Veggies

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound carrots, peeled, cut on the diagonal into ½” strips
  • ½ pound Brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed, cut into thirds
  • 1 ½ cups rinsed cranberries (frozen or fresh)
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs raw honey
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cayenne (or more for spicier version)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Place carrots, Brussels sprouts, and cranberries in a large bowl.
  3. Drizzle olive oil and 1 Tbs honey and mix.
  4. Spread vegetables in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with cinnamon, cayenne, salt and pepper, mix gently.
  5. Roast for 25-30 minutes, or until carrots are fork tender, mixing gently about halfway through.
  6. Remove from oven. Drizzle with reserved 1 Tbs honey and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes:
A festive holiday winter dish that packs a fiery dose of nutrients. This antioxidant packed dish is high in vitamins A, C, potassium and is full of fiber. Honey acts as an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and has been used as a remedy for cough. Cinnamon works to maintain stable blood sugar levels and has been shown to boost brain activity. Cayenne contains capsaicin- which works to clear respiratory blockage.

Preparation Time: 40minutes total.
Yields: 4, 1 generous cup servings (Nutrition Facts is for 1 full of above recipe)

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