V-Day Love for Your Body: 14 Heart-Healthy Foods

When I was in college, my favorite thing about Valentine's Day was the day after. My roommate Amiee and I would go to the store and scoop up all the marked-down bags of conversation heart candy. We'd gorge on handfuls of those pastel sugar bombs for weeks.

Although the thought of doing that now makes my head, belly and teeth ache, at the time I thought I was a healthy eater. Why? Because practically everything I ate was fat free from those candy hearts and bagels to yogurt and cheese. If it was fat free, I ate it with gusto!

My health suffered from my lopsided diet. I had funky nails and dry skin, was chronically constipated, and struggled with my weight.

You can read more about my fat phobia and its impact here.

Thank goodness my eating evolved to a more balanced, wholesome diet. Now on February 15, you'll find me at my favorite San Francisco co-op buying my current favorite things, including the heart-healthy foods listed below.

V-Day Love for Your Body: 14 Heart-Healthy Foods
Use these simple tips for easily adding delicious, heart-healthy foods to your daily diet.

  1. Salmon: Canned wild salmon makes an tasty, easy addition to salads, sandwiches and pasta. Click here for ideas.
  2. Flaxseed: Mix 1-2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed into oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies, cottage cheese, meatloaf, casseroles and baked goods. 
  3. Almonds: Combine almonds or almond butter with an apple for a well-balanced snack.
  4. Beans: Cook a pot of dried beans on Sunday to add to tacos, burritos, soups, stews and salads throughout the week.
  5. Kale: De-stem, chop and sauté with extra-virgin coconut oil for a quick side dish.
  6. Avocado: Use in place of sandwich mayo and cheese, and instead of banana in smoothies for a creamy, lower-sugar drink.
  7. Berries: Keep frozen blueberries and raspberries on hand to mix into yogurt, smoothies, oatmeal, salads, pancakes and baked goods.
  8. Garlic:  Add to any savory dish or pop a raw clove or two directly into your mouth.
  9. Lentils: Replace meat with this inexpensive source of lean protein.  Red lentils cook the fastest and are yummy when made with curry seasoning.
  10. Spinach: Store a few bags in your freezer to quickly add to soups, stews, spaghetti sauce, pasta, eggs and smoothies.
  11. Brown Rice: Prep a large batch on Sunday to bulk up salads, soups, stews and veggie dishes throughout the week. Freeze cooked rice to have on hand for quick weeknight prep.
  12. Walnuts: Snack on a handful of raw nuts or toss into yogurt, oatmeal, salads and side dishes.
  13. Oranges: Toss with salmon (#1), kale (#5), avocado (#6) and walnuts (#12) for a super-food salad. Mix chopped kale with olive oil and vinegar, massage with your hands until tender, add the other ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Bonus ingredient: minced garlic (#8).
  14. Dark Chocolate: Enjoy a daily piece with 70 percent or higher cocoa content and very little added sugar.

Every Valentine's Day for my entire life my father has given me a box of chocolates. Conversation hearts aside, this truly has been my favorite thing about Valentine's Day.

To Your Healthy Heart!