Celebrate American Heart Month every day of February with this list of 28 heart healthy recipes, tips and tricks, and a few cookbook recommendations.
It’s the last week of American Heart Month but it’s never too late to start adding healthy habits that benefit your heart and overall health. I may eat my fair share of sweet, fatty, and salty things but I try to balance it out by making healthier choices for my other meals of the day, or by making healthier substitutions in recipes I already know and love.
Due to recent health-related events in my family, I have been doing my research on heart-healthy food and recipes. I already checked out 10 cookbooks from the local library with 3 more on the way. It actually surprises me how much variability there is and yet at the same time makes sense that Diabetes diets are very similar.
Some cookbooks have no meat at all and are vegan to boot, while some still have red meat and cheese but instead call for low/no-salt/fat alternatives to swap in your otherwise regular recipes, and some are very technical while others are simpler. But I have picked out a few favorites based on the criteria of identifying easy recipes consisting of whole grains, low sodium, low sugar, and little to no red meat.
Heart Healthy Cookbooks
(Amazon affiliate links)
- 30-minute Heart Healthy Cookbook – This is probably my favorite of those I checked out because it includes the nutritional info for each recipe which are quick and approachable while also sounding delicious (halibut with chimichurri, sun-dried tomato turkey burgers, banana oatmeal cookies). There are also a lot of helpful tips. A great choice if you’re a little more willing to try new things without straying too far from what you know.
- Diabetes & Heart Healthy Cookbook – This cookbook offers healthier versions of favorite recipes such as turkey chili and peach berry crisp along with some creative new options without all the frills (salmon tacos, Italian lentil soup). While some seem as though they are just swapping low salt/fat options (which can be done for many regular recipes), I appreciate that it also comes with nutritional info for each and also offers a sample weekly meal plan.
- The New American Heart Association Cookbook – If you want the Joy of Cooking Bible of heart healthy cookbooks, this is it. Just like those big classic cookbooks, there are often multiple recipes per page (with nutritional info and often tips). As such, is it probably better for those who know what they are looking for or want to find a few recipes using a specific ingredient.
7 Tips and Tricks
- Pump up the fresh or frozen veggies and fruits, avoiding any packed in syrup or salt (usually canned).
- Swap ingredients in recipes you already love with lower or no salt/sugar/fat alternatives. This applies to sauces, juice, dairy products (or switch to plant based dairy), meat, etc. Basically most packaged items.
- Rehydrate your own dried beans instead of using canned if you cannot find low/no salt options.
- Make your own homemade vegetable broth or poultry stock and seasoning blends (such as taco and guacamole seasoning) to better control you salt intake.
- Reach for whole wheat grain products instead of processed white bread, rice, etc. Which includes reducing your classic baked dessert intake as well. As a bonus, whole grains usually come with higher fiber content as well.
- The acidic nature of lemon/lime juice acts similarly to salt by bringing out the flavor of a dish. So instead of reaching for the salt shaker, squeeze a lemon or lime wedge on top.
- Drink water and stay active!
28 Heart Healthy Recipes
I also took to some of my favorite blogs and my own recipe index for inspiration as well. So if you are not quite ready to invest in new cookbooks, here is a great list of 28 heart healthy recipes to start with – one for each day of February! These would be great additions to add into your regular rotation. They are healthy, delicious, and not overly complicated.
Acorn Squash Stuffed with Quinoa Pilaf by The Spiffy Cookie. Stuff your acorn squashes with a little bit of everything, including quinoa, dried cranberries, broccoli, almonds, and pepitas. Or substitute with things you have on hand.
Balsamic Herb Baked Tofu by The Baking Fairy. This Balsamic Herb Baked Tofu is simple, delicious, and versatile! It comes together in just 30 minutes and pairs perfectly with all your favorite sides.
Cauliflower Rice Stir Fry by Vegan in the Freezer. Cauliflower Rice Stir Fry is low carb and an easy recipe to make. Only 20 minutes for a delicious side dish or add your favorite protein to make it a meal.
Chicken Fajita Quinoa Bowls by Savory Moments. Don’t skimp on taco night with these fajita bowls! Would be a great way to use the lentil taco filling listed later as well.
Chicken Quinoa Burgers with Avocado-Yogurt Sauce by The Spiffy Cookie. I have a weakness for burgers, so I had to make sure one was on this list. These chicken quinoa burgers have a great texture and flavor to boot. Not to mention the avocado sauce on top.
Easy Greek Salmon and Orzo by The Spiffy Cookie. Foil-wrapped salmon couldn’t be easier and it perfect for weeknights or a fancy dinner. Cooked in a Greek inspired sauce and served over Greek orzo.
Egg Roll in a Bowl by Flavor The Moments. This delicious, low carb meal is high in protein, loaded with veggies, and is on the table in 30 minutes! Includes gluten-free, paleo, keto and Whole30 options as well.
Lentil Stuffed Eggplant by Running to the Kitchen. Lentil stuffed eggplant is a hearty meatless meal filled with brown lentils, tomatoes, shallots and greens. Top with goat cheese for a creamy bite or leave off for a vegan version.
Lentil Taco Skillet by The Spiffy Cookie. This is actually my favorite recipe for any taco-related meal. Yes even better than meat. Aside from tacos it is also great served with tortilla chips, over rice/quinoa/cauliflower rice, stuffed into a baked potato – basically anything you would use taco meat for!
Mediterranean Chickpea Salad by The Suburban Soapbox. This recipe is easy to make, fresh, and full of vibrant flavors! This is a copy cat version of Trader Joe’s famous Balela Salad recipe, but has olives for an added briny punch (leave off for reduced salt).
Moroccan Carrot Red Lentil Soup by A Cedar Spoon. Who knew a lentil soup could be packed so full of flavor! Cumin, turmeric, coriander, paprika, and cinnamon compliment the red lentils and carrots, creating a creamy, filling soup.
Oil-Free Chimichurri Sauce by This Healthy Kitchen. Not a meal recipe per say but I love chimichurri sauce for adding a boost of flavor to just about any protein. This oil-free version is lower fat too!
Oven-Baked Cilantro Lime Salmon by Simply Low Cal. One thing I have learned in retaining flavor while limiting salt is the key role citrus plays. The same applies to this easy oven-baked salmon.
Pan Seared Tilapia with Green Beans by Slender Kitchen. This easy pan seared tilapia with green beans, garlic, lemon, and a homemade spice rub is a 15 minute meal that delivers tons of flavor.
Quinoa Carrot Salad by Created by Diane. This is a great side and a hit at parties! Add tofu or cooked chicken for a complete, easy meal.
Quick Chickpea Noodle Soup by The Spiffy Cookie. This quick and easy chickpea noodle soup is vegan and ready in under 30 minutes! Use your own homemade vegetable broth and you can control the salt content even more.
Quinoa Turkey Meatballs by The Spiffy Cookie. Make your meatballs do some work with these protein packed, low fat, quinoa turkey meatballs. Serve with your favorite pasta, low salt/sugar sauce and veggie.
Roasted Butternut Squash Stew by The Spiffy Cookie. This vegetarian roasted butternut squash stew is packed with flavor and will warm you up and keep you satisfied long after it’s gone.
Roasted Sweet Potato Tacos with Black Beans and Kale Ceviche by The Spiffy Cookie. A little bit a prep goes a long way with these veggie tacos featuring roasted sweet potatoes, black beans, and a kale ceviche. Want to reduce the salt even more? Prepared your own black beans from dried.
Roasted Veggie Bowl with Lemon Tahini Dressing by The Spiffy Cookie. Roasted veggies are the best – so I mixed up a whole bunch of them, added crispy chickpeas, and drizzled the whole thing with a lemon tahini dressing.
Slow Cooker Chicken Gyro Bowl by The Spiffy Cookie. All the Greek flavors come together in this slow cooker chicken gyro bowl served with quinoa and all the fixings. It’s naturally gluten free too.
Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup by The Spiffy Cookie. This hearty slow cooker minestrone soup is packed with veggies and beans. Feel free to rehydrate dried beans to further reduce the salt content.
Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili by The Spiffy Cookie. I adore chili and despite growing up on the beef and bean version, this all-bean version is a very close second. The variety of beans and veggies mixed in really make this a hearty alternative. Powdered peanut butter and cocoa optional (and again you can reduce the salt further by rehydrating dried beans).
Super Veggie Sandwich by The Spiffy Cookie. This super veggie sandwich is packed with so much goodness you won’t even notice the lack of meat. Easy to prepare for a quick lunch and highly satisfying.
Turkey and Butternut Squash Curry by NeighborFood. If you’re looking for a great big bowl of healthy comfort food, look no further than this warm curry.
Tuscan Cannellini Bean Skillet by The Baking Fairy. This quick and easy Tuscan Cannellini Bean Skillet is healthy and delicious! It comes together in just a few minutes, and packs in heaps of fresh seasonal veggies.
Vegan Cauliflower Steaks by Tasting with Tina. If you are a huge steak lover, there’s not much that can compare, but there is something equally delicious yet different about a thick cauliflower steak when seasoned properly!
Vegan Scrambled Tofu with Sweet Potato and Kale Hash by The Spiffy Cookie. This vegan scrambled tofu looks and feels just like eggs that you might not even know you are eating tofu! Seriously, it’s magic. Served of a bed of seasoned sweet potato and kale hash.
BONUS for when it’s a leap year – Cinnamon Apple Quinoa Parfaits by The Spiffy Cookie. These parfaits are delicious enough to be dessert, but healthy enough for breakfast. Make the components ahead of time for an easy weekday breakfast option. Also works with any fruit of choice.
What are you favorite heart healthy cookbooks and recipes?
Leave a comment and I might add it to my list!