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February is what I call Heart-to-Heart Month. In addition to the good old Valentine’s Day, we have Nutella Day, Chocolate Fondue Day, National Chocolate Covered Nut Day and not to shove one important awareness under the rug—American Heart Awareness. But since I’m not in the medical field, I’m going to leave the importance of heart awareness to medical professionals; however, what I do want to talk about is food, only my favorite subject. I want to examine how to indulge in something, like chocolate in moderation, and how you can still be good to your heart and make special memories with your babies.

Let’s start with everyone’s favorite – chocolate! Remember, not all chocolates are created equal, and the best chocolate for everyone is dark chocolate. Did you know that if it’s 70-85% cocoa, it can improve your health and lower the risk of heart disease? It’s also rich in fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, and a few other minerals. It’s a very powerful source of antioxidants. The bioactive compounds found in cocoa may improve blood flow in the arteries and cause a small but statistically significant decrease in blood pressure. So, next time you decide to bake cookies or make a fondue, reach for the dark chocolate and enjoy.

Now, onto my family’s favorite snack – dried fruits and nuts. Did you know that different nuts carry a different health values for your body? Walnuts are incredible for your brain health, and ironically, they are even shaped like a brain. Almonds boost heart and gut health and contain the least amount of fat. Try rubbing them between your fingers; there will be no oils. My two most favorites nuts are macadamia and pistachios. Macadamias are high in healthy fats and pistachios are anti-inflammatory. Try rubbing macadamia nuts between your fingers -quite oily, ah? But keep in mind, it’s a healthy fat. While in the store, grab a bag of dried apricots; they are super healthy and so good for you. They are also low in calories and are fat-free. They also lower cholesterol and improve digestion.

So, going back to those holidays. How do walnuts or almonds or apricots dipped in chocolate sound? Absolutely delish! A few before basketball or ballet practice or after dinner won’t do anyone any harm. They will satisfy your sweet tooth and will do your body good. Just remember everything in moderation.

So, mom, incorporate healthy snacks into your family diet. Kids will love it and your heart will love it. It’s a perfect union of heart to heart.

Enjoy this recipe for a Valentine's Day Treat:


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