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5 Heart Healthy Recipes for Your Next Holiday Gathering

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salmon and corn relish

The holidays are a time for family get-togethers and meals around the table. But often those meals are full of calories and cholesterol – making the holidays a difficult time to stick to a heart-healthy diet. Here are 5 recipes to provide some variety and nutrition at your next holiday gathering!

Salmon and Corn Relish

Yield: 2 servings

Nutritional Information:
Calories: 605
Fat: 33.1 g
Protein: 56.6 g
Carbohydrate: 20.2 g
Cholesterol: 141 mg
Sodium: 755 mg

Bacon, slices cut crosswise into ½-inch pieces | 6
White corn | 2 ears
Green onions, chopped – white and light green parts separated from green tops | ¼ cup
Red bell pepper, diced | ¼ cup
Salt and pepper | To taste
Cayenne pepper | 1 pinch, to taste
Olive oil | 2 teaspoons
Rice vinegar | 1 tablespoon, or more to taste
Vegetable oil | ½ teaspoon
Center-cut boneless salmon fillets | 2 8-ounce
Fresh spinach leaves | 1 cup, optional

1. Preheat an outdoor grill (preferably charcoal) for high heat and lightly oil the grate.
2. Place bacon in a skillet over medium heat and cook until browned and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes.
3. Cut kernels from corn ears into a large bowl using a sharp knife held at a 45-degree angle. Scrape cobs with the back of the knife into the bowl to get the juices.
4. Stir white and light green parts of green onions into bacon and add red bell pepper; cook and stir until vegetables just start to become tender, about 2 minutes. Stir corn into bacon mixture and let corn just warm through. Season with salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, a few chopped dark green onion tops, olive oil, and rice vinegar. Turn off heat under relish.
5. Spread vegetable oil onto both sides of salmon fillets and season fish with salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.
6. Cook on preheated grill until fish shows good grill marks, the flesh flakes easily, and fish is still slightly pink in the center, about 5 minutes per side. A crack that opens up in the salmon flesh as you cook will let you see how done the salmon is in the middle.
7. Divide spinach leaves onto 2 plates and top each with a salmon fillet and half the bacon relish. Sprinkle on a few green onion tops for garnish.


Avocado Bean Dip

Yield: 12 servings

Nutritional Information:
Calories: 130
Fat: 6.5 g
Protein: 6.5 g
Carbohydrate: 14 g
Fiber: 4.3 g
Sodium: 365 mg
Sugar: 1.1 g

Can of non-fat refried beans | 16 ounces
Can of black beans, drained and rinsed | 16 ounces
4 scallions, sliced | 4
Prepared salsa | ½ cup
Ground cumin & chili powder | 1 teaspoon each
Reduced fat sour cream | ½ cup
Shredded lettuce | 1½ cup
Medium onion, chopped | 1
Medium tomato, chopped | 1
Medium avocado, chopped | 1
Cheddar cheese | 1 cup

1. Combine refried beans, black beans, scallions, salsa, cumin and chili powder in a large bowl.
2. Grease a 9x13” pan and transfer combined ingredients into the pan.
3. Top with cheese and microwave on high for 3-5 minutes until cheese is melted, and bean mixture is hot.
4. Spread sour cream over the hot mixture and top with chopped tomatoes, onions, lettuce and avocado.
5. Serve with tortilla chips!


Balsamic Sweet Potatoes

Yield: 4 servings

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 30 min
Ready in: 45 min

Nutritional Information:
Calories: 224
Fat: 10.2 g
Protein: 2.6 g
Carbohydrate: 31.1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 115 mg

Peeled, chopped sweet potatoes | 4 cups
Sweet onion, cut into wedges | 1
Garlic, sliced | 2 cloves
Olive oil | 3 tablespoons
Balsalmic vinegar | 1 tablespoon
Salt and pepper | dash

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Mix sweet potatoes, sweet onions, and garlic in a bowl. Drizzle olive oil over the mixture and toss to coat.
3. Pour mixture into a shallow roasting pan.
4. Roast sweet potato mixture in preheated oven, turning frequently until the vegetables are soft and golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar over the vegetables; season with salt and pepper.


Artichoke and Chicken Pasta

Yield: 6 servings

Nutritional Information:
Calories: 488
Fat: 11.4 g
Protein: 32.6 g
Carbohydrate: 70 g
Fiber: 7.5 g
Cholesterol: 55 mg
Sodium: 444 mg

Package of linguine pasta | 16 ounces
Olive oil | 1 tablespoon
Garlic, crushed | 2 cloves
Skinless, boneless chicken breast cut into bite-sized pieces | 1 pound
Can of marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped | 14 ounces
Large tomato, chopped | 1
Crumbled feta cheese | ½ cup
Lemon juice | 3 tablespoons
Dried oregano | 2 teaspoons
Salt and pepper | To taste
Lemons for garnish, cut into wedges | 2 

1. Boil a large pot of lightly salted water. Cook linguine pasta in boiling water until tender yet firm (al dente), around 8-10 minutes, and drain.
2. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and add onion and garlic and saute for about 2 minutes.
3. Stir in chicken to oil, garlic and onion mixture. Stir occasionally until chicken is cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes.
4. Reduce skillet heat to medium-low and add the artichoke hearts, tomato, feta cheese, lemon juice, parsley, oregano, and cooked pasta. Cook until all is heated through, about 2 to 3 minutes.
5. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with lemon wedges and enjoy!


Spanish Stuffed Peppers

Yield: 2 servings

Nutritional Information:
Calories: 385
Fat: 15.2 g
Protein: 10.8 g
Carbohydrate: 52.6 g
Fiber: 4.5 g
Cholesterol: 33 mg
Sodium: 1595 mg

Water | 1 cup
Arborio rice, uncooked | ½ cup
Green bell peppers, halved and seeded | 2
Olive oil | 1 tablespoon
Green onions | 2, thinly sliced
Dried basil | 1 teaspoon
Italian seasoning | 1 teaspoon
Salt | 1 teaspoon
Ground black pepper | 1 pinch
Tomato, diced | 1
Feta cheese | ½ cup 

1. Lightly grease a baking sheet and preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
2. In a saucepan, boil water. Cook rice in boiled water and let simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and set aside when the rice is cooked through.
4. Cut the tops off your peppers and clean out the inside.
5. Place your peppers cut-side down on the greased baking sheet. Roast peppers for 25-30 minutes or until tender and the skin begins to brown.
6. Heat oil in a skillet over medium – high heat while peppers roast. Saute onions with basil, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper for 2 to 3 minutes.
7. Stir in tomato and cook for 5 minutes.
8. Add cooked rice to the mixture in the skillet and cook until heated through.
9. Remove skillet mixture from heat and mix in feta cheese, and spoon into peppers once done roasting.
10. Place peppers with Spanish stuffing in the oven for 5 more minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Eating a diet low in saturated fat, trans fat, salt, and cholesterol plays a major role in keeping your heart healthy. For other tips for preventing heart disease, click here.

To assess your heart disease risk, UnityPoint Clinic Cardiology offers a Heart Scan, a simple non-invasive procedure that can detect coronary artery disease at an early stage when symptoms may not be present.