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Make Your Heart Merry with These Holiday Treats

During the holidays, rich decadent foods seem to tempt you at every turn. Christmas cookies call to you from the plate, a giant meal promises all your favorite fixings, and the all-you-can-eat buffets provide an endless selection of unhealthy, yet delightful foods. While they are gooey, chewy and delicious, these tasty treats are usually full of fat, salt, and sugar that are terrible for your cardiac health.

Holiday buffets often feature a longline of processed meats, which contain salt and preservatives that can be bad for your heart. Potatoes, cakes, breads, and other treats contain highly refined and processed grains and carbohydrates that can cause spikes in blood sugar. Soft drinks and other sugar beverages often round out the holiday meal, and these treats can be bad for your heart, too.

Make your heart merry by replacing traditional treats with these heart-healthy holiday delights.

Heart-Healthy Holiday Treats

Black bean chocolate cake – replacing the flour in your chocolate cake with black beans cuts calories and adds protein to your treat. The beans will not change the flavor of your cake, but they will add a darker, richer color.

Sweet potato brownies – a drop of natural sweetness from sweet potatoes and honey adds decadence and flavor to unsweetened cocoa powder and bittersweet chocolate.

Cream cheese and berry coffee cake – with its sweet, fruity swirl of jam, there is no need for frosting or streusel.  This low-sodium treat only has 150 calories per serving, so you can indulge while keeping your heart healthy.

Relish tray – offer fresh vegetables, such as carrots, celery, snap peas, cauliflower, broccoli, and cherry tomatoes at your next holiday gathering. Try the creamy cucumber-dill dip recipe from the American Heart Association.

Bake a crustless pumpkin pie and enjoy all the flavor of this traditional treat with fewer calories. Because it is crustless, it is also gluten-free.

Peanut-apple crunch balls – get the kids involved in making a new holiday tradition with peanut-apple crunch balls. Lightly wetting your hands makes it easier to shape the peanut, apple and cereal mixture into little balls.

Heart-healthy green bean casserole – traditional green bean casseroles are usually drowning in a heavy cream sauce, cheese and buttered breadcrumbs that can ruin your heart-healthy diet. Try a lighter version instead, one that replaces heavy cream sauce with heart-friendly olive oil, whole wheat bread crumbs and low-fat milk.

For more information about heart-healthy holiday treats, consult with your healthcare professional. Reduce your risk for underlying diseases, such as heart problems or lung problems, through regular health scans. Make an appointment today with Virtual Imaging, Inc. Imaging Center at 770-730-0119.