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Heart-Healthy Recipes for Valentine's Day and Every Day

By Hammer Nutrition

This Valentine's Day, show your loved ones you care with a gift of delicious, heart- healthy food made by you. Our breakfast through dinner menus feature simple, flavor- packed recipes and ingredients that help reduce blood pressure, encourage healthy cholesterol levels, and reduce inflammation.

You'll find these and dozens of other healthy recipes in our 113-page cookbook, In the Kitchen with Hammer Nutrition - available free on the Hammer Nutrition website. It's updated every couple of months with new recipes, so check back often. We hope your day of heart-healthy eating will lead to a year-round commitment.

Breakfast

Start the day with a cup of two of coffee or green tea. Studies have shown that the plant compounds in these classic beverages may cut the risk of cardiovascular disease by 20-30 percent when consumed regularly.

Then, whip up some Blueberry Chai Smoothies. One study showed that eating blueberries (or strawberries) at least three times a week reduced risk of heart attack. Almonds contain vitamin E for healthy cholesterol levels, and flax seeds are a good source of inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids.

Blueberry Chai Smoothie
Serves 1
1 scoop Chai Hammer Whey Protein
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 teaspoon fresh ground flax seed
1 cup almond milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup water (if needed for thinner consistency)
Blend all of the ingredients together in a blender, then enjoy!

Lunch

This mouthwatering Black Bean and Tomato Salad features four heart-protective ingredients: black beans, tomatoes, olive oil, and garlic. In one study, a diet rich in legumes (black beans, lentils, peas, etc.) reduced the risk of heart attack by 22 percent. Tomatoes contain lycopene and potassium, both known to benefit heart health. Olive oil and garlic are key ingredients of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet.

Black Bean and Tomato Salad
Serves 4-6
(2) 15-oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed (or cook your own)
1 cup chopped tomatoes
2/3 cup chopped white onion
1 cup chopped cilantro
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil (preferably extra virgin)
1 tablespoon cumin
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped (optional)
Seasonings to taste
Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate at least 2-3 hours before serving.

Dinner

First pour some red wine and put on the relaxing music (both also known to benefit the heart). Keep dinner simple by serving grilled or broiled salmon, brushed lightly with olive oil and finished with fresh lemon and chopped herbs. Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to decrease the risk of heart arrhythmia, cut triglyceride levels, slow the growth of plaque, and lower blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fatty fish like salmon per week.

On the side, serve crunchy Kale Salad with Peanut Dressing. Loaded with antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins and minerals, kale and other dark leafy veggies are just plain healthy. The fiber and vitamin E in peanuts helps lower cholesterol; pectin in the apple may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. End the meal with a bite or two of heart-healthy dark chocolate.

Kale Salad with Peanut Dressing
Serves 4-6
1 bunch kale
1/4 head green cabbage
2 green onions
1 large carrot
1 large crisp apple
1 small bunch cilantro
1/4 cup chopped peanuts (reserve for finish)

Dressing:
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon chili flakes
Combine dressing ingredients in a bowl; whisk until smooth and creamy. Shred kale, cabbage, and green onions. Grate the carrot. Cut the apple into small, thin slices. In a large salad bowl, combine the ingredients. Toss well with dressing. Sprinkle with the peanuts. HN