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Celebrate National Sticky Bun Day in a Fun, Sticky Bun Way!

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National Sticky Bun DayCake pops are a popular trend in the foodie world today, but what about sticky bun pops?! In celebration of National Sticky Bun Day, this mini sticky bun recipe will satisfy your sweet tooth and incorporate the importance of portion control. Everyone should be able to enjoy his or her favorite foods as long as everything is in moderation! These mini sticky bun pops are fun, creative and delicious! They are great party favors and fabulous décor. Enjoy these little desserts and celebrate National Sticky Bun Day in a fun, sticky bun way!

Mini Sticky Bun Pops
Yield: 16 servings

Ingredients:
• 1 (12-ounce) Original Pillsbury Crescent Roll can
• ½ cup granulated sugar
• 4 tablespoons ground cinnamon
• ¼ cup walnuts, finely chopped

For icing:National Sticky Bun Day
• ½ cup powdered sugar
• 1 teaspoon orange juice

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon.
3. On a flat surface, separate and lay out crescent rolls. Sprinkle with sugar/cinnamon mixture and finely chopped walnuts.
4. Roll crescent rolls from small end in. Cut in half.
5. In a greased mini muffin pan, place halves face up (with swirl side up). Bake for 12-15 minutes or until brown.
6. While sticky buns are baking, prepare icing. In a small bowl combine powdered sugar and orange juice. Mix well.
7. Remove sticky buns from oven, let cool for 5-10 minutes. Top with icing. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. Stick with a bamboo stick and enjoy your mini sticky bun pop.

Per Mini Sticky Bun: 104 calories, 18 g carbohydrates, 4 g fat, 1 g protein, 106 mg sodium, 11 g sugar

Healthy Valentine’s Day Treat: Dark Chocolate Raspberry Bark

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Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, but instead of gifting your Valentine with an expensive store bought treat packed full of added sugar and unhealthy ingredients, why not make them something they will really love? This simple treat is so easy to make even my 2 year old can do it (really! he loves to ‘cook’ this with me). It only takes minutes to prepare and it looks so pretty you almost don’t want to eat it! It doesn’t get much easier than a recipe that uses just two ingredients! You can’t mess it up. And it tastes so good you won’t even realize it’s packed full of antioxidants.

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Bark

 

Guiltless Dark Chocolate Raspberry Bark

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips (70% cacao or higher)
  • ½ cup freeze-dried raspberries

Directions:

Melt dark chocolate and spread evenly onto a cookie tray lined with parchment paper. **My easy tip for melting chocolate: Add the chocolate into a plastic zip-lock bag and heat for 30 seconds in the microwave. Rotate and heat for another 30 seconds. Repeat until all of the chocolate is melted. Then, cut a small hole in the bottom of the bag and squeeze the chocolate out onto the parchment paper.

 

Next, sprinkle the freeze dried raspberries evenly over top. Allow tray to sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours until dark hardens. Break into pieces and serve. This treat is best enjoyed within 1-2 days as humidity can cause the freeze dried fruit to soften over time (it still tastes great, but the texture will be less crispy)

Makes 16 servings

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

52 Calories, 7 grams Carbs, 0 grams Protein, 3 grams Fat

 

Four Steps to Creating a Heart Healthy Dinner Your Whole Family Will Love

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With February being ‘American Heart Month,’ it’s a good time to be reminded that heart disease, the number one killer of both men and women in the US, can best be prevented when a heart healthy diet is implemented from childhood on. Focusing on creating heart healthy meals that appeal to your entire family can be a great way to improve not just your own health, but also the future health of your entire household. While you probably think the idea of your family eating heart healthy sounds great, you are most likely concerned that heart healthy dishes will taste bland or fail to appeal to picky palates. And these concerns are valid. If your family isn’t enjoying the food being served, it will be much harder for any of you to stay on track with your heart health goals. But I have good news for you – eating heart healthy does not have to be time consuming, confusing, or tasteless! You can make easy, nutritious, on-the-go meals that appeal to your whole family. In just four simple steps, you can be serving up heart healthy meals that appeal to even the most selective taste buds in just minutes:

HeartHealthyDinner

Photo credit: Flatout

Make produce a staple at every meal

It goes without saying that fruits and vegetables provide a variety of nutrients to the diet. However, just how large an impact produce has on heart disease is often underestimated. These foods are rich in soluble fiber, which helps your body eliminate artery hardening LDL cholesterol by binding cholesterol-rich bile acids in your digestive system so you literally “flush” cholesterol away. In addition, produce delivers minerals like potassium, magnesium and calcium that help keep blood pressure lower and healthier. However, on average, less than 1 in 3 people get two or more servings of fruits & vegetables each day. Research out of Japan found that by simply upping your intake can help to reduce your risk of heart disease or stroke by as much as 30%!

By following just one simple rule, you can significantly increase your intake with little effort: Fill your plate half way with produce at each meal. That’s it! It really is that simple. Get half of that plate filled by mixing stir-fried vegetables with starchy dishes like pasta and rice or roll up a wrap sandwich with a mix of protein along with raw or cooked vegetables. Add a cup of vegetable soup or a side salad to a meal. And try finishing your meal with fruit for dessert. With a few simple tweaks, you can easily exceed your daily produce goals.

Pack in the whole grains

Whole grains can offer tremendous health benefits, yet the average person eats just one serving per day. By making sure to eat at least three servings of whole grains per day, you can help to reduce your risk of heart disease by as much as 30%. In addition, diets rich in whole grains have been associated with a reduction in unhealthy LDL cholesterol levels and waist circumference, which when elevated can be a major risk factor for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Try fitting in more whole grains each day with easy swaps such as:

  • Select 100% whole grain cereal over sugary options
  • Choose brown rice over white rice
  • Select whole grain breads and wraps over refined versions such as the line of Flatout Flatbread products
  • Enjoy whole grain pastas such as those made with whole wheat, bean, and quinoa flour over white flour options

Fill up on fiber

Fiber offers a variety of health benefits from helping to reduce cholesterol levels to promoting the maintained of a healthy body weight. Aiming for 25-35 grams of fiber per day has been associated with improved health outcomes. But if you are like many individuals, you may be falling short of this goal. Some of the best dietary sources of fiber include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. However, even within these categories, some foods significantly outweigh others in fiber content. One example is in the bread/wraps category. An average whole grain bread or wrap may contain 2 to 3 grams of fiber. However, when you choose a product such as Flatout Flatbread Light Original or Flatout Flatbread Multigrain with Flax you are getting 8 grams of fiber per serving. That’s almost one third of your entire daily fiber needs in just one serving of Flatout Flatbread. If you are looking for a simple and great tasting way to boost your family’s fiber intake, keeping Flatout bread on hand can be a very valuable staple.

Make meal prep a breeze

Sure, your house can be packed full of produce, whole grains, and fiber, but if you don’t have time to pull a meal together (or are creating meals that you don’t enjoy), you aren’t going to gain the health benefits. To maximize heart health, keep meal planning as simple as possible. Start by pulling together seven nutritious recipes your whole loves. Then simplify meal planning by creating a calendar listing what recipes you will make which days. My favorite recommendation for easy meal plan is to plan one recipe every two to three days. When making the recipe, double or triple the recipe to yield two to three days worth of meals. This way, you are only preparing and cooking every two to three days while setting yourself up to have delicious, nutritious home cooked meals every day of the week. Once you have your calendar, it’s easy to create a shopping list for the week, stock up, and get started. For some easy recipes that can be made in a snap, be sure to check out the Flatout recipe resource here.

Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by Flatout Flatbread. All opinions are my own. 

Sources:

  1. Sauvaget, C, et al. Vegetable and Fruit Intake and Stroke Mortality in the Hiroshima/Nagasaki Life Span Study. Stroke. 2003;34:2355-2360. http://stroke.ahajournals.org/content/34/10/2355.full.pdf
  1. Liu S, Stampfer MJ, Hu FB, Giovannucci E, Rimm E, Manson JE, Hennekens CH, Willett WC. Whole-grain consumption and risk of coronary heart disease: results from the Nurses’ Health Study.Am J Clin Nutr. 1999;70(3):412-9.
  1. Jensen MK, Koh-Banarjee P, Hu FB, Franz MJ, Sampson L, Gronbaek M, Rimm EB. Intake of whole grains, bran, and germ risk of coronary heart disease among men.Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Dec;80(6):1492-9.
  1. Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism. 2014 Feb 12:1-10 (Mostad et al.)

4 Easy Ways to Teach Your Children to Eat Heart Healthy

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YumboxBlog1-KidsEatHeartHealthyImage2With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, its time to show our children just how important it is to love your own heart. February is American Heart Month, which makes it the perfect time to raise awareness of heart health for your entire family. With heart disease being the number one killer of both men and women in the US, and child obesity rates on the rise, every member of the household from toddler to elder can benefit from adding heart healthy nutrients into their meal plan.

 

Boosting the heart health benefits of meals doesn’t have to be boring or cause those much dreaded food battles. With a few easy tricks, you can have your children excited about their meals, willing to try new food, and most importantly eating a nutritious, heart healthy diet and enjoying it!

 

#1 Make Fruits & Vegetables Fun

The research is clear. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables have been shown to be protective to the heart by helping to maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels while promoting a healthy body weight. But as any parent with a picky eater is aware, just telling your child to eat their veggies does not always work. So how can you get your little ones to start gobbling up their greens without a fight? Make it fun!

 

The more creative you can be with your little one’s food, the more likely they will be to try it. Try cutting fruit and vegetables into fun shapes, calling them fun names such as broccoli ‘trees’ or carrot stick ‘swords,’ and allowing your child to take a stab at creating food art will have them begging to eat produce. A simple activity of arranging fruits and vegetables into funny faces can increase your child’s exposure to new foods, which over time has been shown to increase acceptance and intake. And you don’t have to be an artist to make food art fun. Just be creative, silly, and have fun with it. Your kids, and your whole family, will love it. Who wouldn’t want to eat food that looks this fun?

YumBoxBlog1-KidsHeartHealthyImage1

#2 Say No to Fat Free

If you were under the impression that all dietary fats are damaging to the heart, think again! Plant based fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats have been found to provide multiple health benefits such as improving cholesterol levels, decreasing inflammation, and even promoting a healthy body weight. Incorporating a good source of these nutritious fats daily may aid in nutrient absorption while promoting heart health. Great sources include nuts, seeds, avocado, hummus, and plant-based oils such as olive oil.

 

To help your children incorporate more healthy fats into their meal plan, aim to add a healthy fat source to every meal and snack. Try topping cereal or yogurt with chopped walnuts, snacking on a handful of almonds, or using hummus or guacamole as a dip. Cooking in plant-based oils such as olive or avocado oil can be another great way to add these healthy fats into your family’s diet.

 

#3 Hello Whole Grains

Grains are a staple in many meals and snacks and include foods such as bread, pasta, rice, and pretzels. Although most of us eat plenty of grains, we aren’t always choosing whole grains. On average, most people consume just one serving of whole grains per day. That means that the majority of grains we are ingesting are the refined, rapidly digested forms, which can have a negative impact on overall health. Whole grains on the other hand can promote a healthy heart. These nutrient-dense foods are packed full of soluble fiber, a form of fiber that has been found to decrease unhealthy LDL cholesterol levels.

 

If you worry that your child will never become a whole wheat bread covert, there’s no need to be concerned. Whole grains don’t just have to be just whole wheat. One hundred percent whole grains include options such as rye bread, brown rice, quinoa, and even popcorn (and what kid doesn’t love popcorn?!). Try introducing your child to a variety of whole grain options to find out what they love. You can even use whole grain flours, such as oat flour, to create family favorites such as pancakes and muffins.

 

#4 Embracing Balance

Teaching your child the important of balancing a variety of food groups at each meal is a fantastic way to get them started on the path to good health. Research has shown that visual cues are one of the best ways to educate portion size and meal planning. Using a compartmentalized lunchbox such as Yumbox, you can help illustrate what a balanced meal looks like to your child. The individualized compartments with graphics and text help to make meal planning fun and educational. Younger children can use the visual images to help them identify food groups, while older children can begin to understand the basics of meal planning and portion control. Providing a balanced meal rich in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean protein, low fat dairy, and healthy fats at each meal is the perfect combination for a healthy heart. Using a tool like Yumbox can help to take the stress out of meal planning and transform heart healthy eating into a fun activity the entire family can join in on together.

YumboxBlog1-KidsEatHeartHealthyImage2

Disclosure: This blog post has been sponsored by Yumbox Lunchboxes. All opinions are my own

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