February is heart month, and I have a special place in my heart for this occasion. (See what I did there?) My dad has suffered from a heart condition called Atrial Fibrillation since I was in middle school. It was pretty scary growing up knowing that he had such a serious issue, and he has since had surgeries and now a pacemaker that keeps him in line. When I studied the cardiovascular system in Nutritional Therapy school, I paid close attention so I could help my dad. Things are really changing in terms of how we look at nutrition for heart health. We no longer say (and some have never said) that a low fat diet is best for heart health.
The heart needs a slow burning energy source (fat) to run efficiently. What we have learned: heart disease is a disease of inflammation. What causes most inflammation? Processed foods and refined sugars. For a more detailed look at heart disease and inflammation, I recommend a book called: “Put Your Heart in Your Mouth”, by Dr Natasha Campbell McBride.
Not all fats are created equal. There are many different types of fatty acids and we need a balance of all of them. We also do need saturated fats from good, grass fed, animal sources as well as coconut and palm oils. Good fatty acid balance is super important for heart health, brain function, and hormone function and balance. The fats you need to avoid like the plague are “manmade” fats. These are fats that have been altered by high heat or chemical processing.
Avoid these: hydrogenated oils, trans fats, and oils that have been highly processed, like corn, soy (vegetable), canola, etc. Do not heat olive oil, nut oils, or seed oils, as their fatty acid structure is very delicate and easily damaged. Drizzle these oils on your meal after cooking.
Wow, so I might have just told you that many of the things you normally eat are, well, not that great. What are you supposed to do, starve? Don’t panic! I’ve got your back. OK. Fats are good. Refined or processed carbs, not so good. What are you supposed to eat if you are craving carbs? Nuts!
Here is a recipe that will quench your cravings for carbs, while doing your heart a favor by adding healthy fats. The nuts in this recipe are sprouted, which allows for better digestion and better nutrient content and absorption. Also, the roasting is done at low heat as to not damage the fragile oils within the nuts. Enjoy!
Crispy & Savory Almonds
Ingredients: 4 cups organic, raw almonds 1 Tbs sea salt Filtered water 2 Tsp. Organic Red Pepper Flakes (optional) 3 Tbsp. Organic Dried Oregano 2 Tbsp. Organic Garlic Powder 3 Tbsp. Organic Lemon Zest (optional) 2 tsp. Black Pepper 3 Tbs (Real) Organic Maple Syrup, or Organic Raw Honey
In a jar or bowl, mix the almonds with the salt and cover with filtered water. Leave in a warm place for at least 7 hours or overnight. Drain in a colander. In a mixing bowl, add other ingredients to the nuts and mix with your hands to coat all of the nuts with the spice mixture. Spread on a baking pan and place in a warm oven (no more than 150 degrees) for 12 to 24 hours, stirring occasionally, until completely dry and crisp. Store in an airtight container.
Try with your other favorite nuts! Mix and match different spices! You can get creative with this one!