Thursday, March 23, 2017

Banana Oat Date Bars #LoveMyHealthyHeart

"Thanks to Sprouts for sponsoring this post. February was American heart month and Sprouts gave me lots of tips to keep my ticker ticking. These banana oat date bars are guilt free and perfect for satisfying my sweet craving, while also helping keep my heart healthy!"


After last week's calorie filled Irish nachos it seems fitting that I supply you with something a bit healthier. February was American heart month and Sprouts supplied plenty of information on ways to keep our heart healthy. Heart disease runs in my family so it is never to late to learn or review new tips to stay fit. My father had a wake up call at the age of 42 when he collapsed on the tennis court with a heart attack. I was 16. He never smoked, was not a drinker, just a tad overweight, and jogged at the time, though I'm sure he ate too much red meat. He's continued to stay fit and even at the age of 85 he ran/walked a 5k. He has had two open heart surgeries to replace arteries, but thank goodness for modern medicine. Turns out in our case heart disease is genetic, though that doesn't mean we should give up on trying to stay healthy.

Exercise is not something I really enjoy, but I do try to walk on  regular basis. Eating is something I really enjoy and though I received a minor in nutrition way back when (when no one cared about nutrition) I know what I'm supposed to eat.  However, I'm just not very good at following what I know. Well, at least I admit it. So far I've been pretty lucky and though I am overweight, I've avoided health related diseases. I'm getting older and know the odds of staying healthy are decreasing each day therefore it's best to err on the side of health.


Following a heart healthy diet like the Mediterranean diet is one way to do things. Another way is to eat lots of fruits, veggies and fiber. Suzanne Farrell, a dietician and nutrition coach, gave us lots of tips to point us in the right direction. One thing I'm trying to do is to follow the rule of 1/4, 1/4, 1/2. No this isn't a math test; that's the way one's dinner plate should be designed. In other words, (much to Manservant's chagrin) vegetables and fruit should fill half of our plate, grain and starches should fill 1/4 and the other 1/4 is for your protein.

Some foods that help our heart include fish such as salmon. Get your omega 3's in. Walnuts and flax seeds, chia seeds or fish oil capsules also contain omega 3's. Decrease your risk factors by getting lots of fiber in your diet. Most of us only get about 15g daily when we should get 25-35. Think lots of whole grains and oatmeal. Oatmeal is so good for you. Oats not only help lower your bad cholesterol, they also absorb it from your GI tract. Think beans. Beans are loaded with fiber. Think fruit; berries, apples and citrus are all great choices. Bananas are also great because they contain potassium and potassium is known for lowering blood pressure.

So today's lesson is what to eat for a healthy heart. You figured that out, right? I decided to combine some ingredients that Sprout sent us home with and come up with something that Manservant could munch without feeling guilty-well, me too! I used bananas-check! I used flax seed-check! And I used oats! Add in some dark chocolate which is also linked to reducing heart disease, (thank God!) some dates, which also contain lots of fiber and you don't need sugar. We all now sugar is the new bad boy, not fat-right? Well, that is if you are eating healthy fats!


So check these bars out. They aren't crunchy like granola bars but they are chewy. No, they aren't a chocolate chip cookie, but I don't feel guilty eating them. They aren't sugary sweet;  they taste like bananas and I love bananas. They are easy to make and perfect for those brown bananas that I usually throw away. It's just a mind set, right? I mean if my mom had started me on these, maybe my heart would be healthier. So save those yucky bananas and help save your heart!

Need a new snack? Give these a try. They pack well, are easy to make and just might cure that sugar urge while also providing lots of fiber and heart healthy goodness!


More heart healthy recipes:
Banana Baked Oatmeal                         Simple Salmon                  Moroccan Fish with Chickpeas
               

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yield: 1 9" panprint recipe

Banana Oat Date Bars

These banana oat date bars are guilt free and perfect for satisfying my sweet craving, while also helping keep my heart healthy! Gluten free, sugar free and egg free-what's not to like?
prep time: 15 MINScook time: 30 MINStotal time: 45 mins

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 large very ripe bananas
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 c chopped pitted, dates
  • 2 c oats
  • 1/4 c coconut flakes
  • 1/4 c flax seeds
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 1/3 c mini chocolate chips

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Heat oven to 350. Grease or line with parchment a 9" square pan.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, mash your bananas until they are almost liquid. I used an immersion blender. Stir in all ingredients except the chocolate chips.
  3. Pat mixture into pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and then pat them into mixture so that they are resting on top.
  4. Bake for abut 30 minutes or until the edges begin to crisp up. You can also bake these longer if you want them crisper. Remove from oven and cool. Slice into bars and serve. Leftovers keep a good week, if they last that long.
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