February is National Heart Month. And we’re not talking about the red satin hearts filled with tasty chocolates. No, we’re referring to our trusty tickers that keep us moving and grooving. National Heart Month was created to draw attention to cardiovascular health, so it’s important to know the types of food that contribute to healthy hearts – and a few local restaurants where it’s easy to find tasty dishes you can feel good about eating.
According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, with one person dying every 36 seconds from cardiovascular disease. Dr. Katherine Kenny, President of the Phoenix American Heart Association Board and a certified adult nurse practitioner, says those looking to eat a heart-healthy diet or consume heart-healthy dishes should focus on the following:
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• A wide variety of fruits and vegetables
• Whole grains and products made up mostly of whole grains
• Healthy sources of protein (plants such as legumes and nuts; fish and seafood; low-fat or nonfat dairy; and, if you eat meat and poultry, ensuring it is lean and unprocessed)
• Liquid non-tropical vegetable oils
• Minimally processed foods
• Minimized intake of added sugars
• Foods prepared with little or no salt
• Limited or no alcohol intake
“Look for these generally healthier menu items and terms the next time you’re at a restaurant,” says Kenny. “Skinless chicken, fish or seafood, and lean unprocessed meat; nuts and legumes such as black beans; whole-grain bread, brown rice and whole wheat pasta; broth-based soup with lots of veggies; grilled, sautéed, roasted, steamed, baked or poached; cooked vegetables or salad as sides; guacamole, pico de gallo; flavored with herbs, spices and/or vinegar; a la carte for smaller portions; healthy or light menu options; fresh fruit and fruit-based desserts; water, and unsweetened tea and coffee.”
Kenny also cautions those eating out not to overdo it with meal portion sizes or sauces. “Try saving half of your food for another meal, and put sauces and toppings on the side,” she suggests.
The following dishes from five local restaurants take the guesswork out of choosing heart-healthy dishes or a heart-healthy meal:
Daily Dose Kitchen & Bar – Egg White Wrap
The breakfast burrito gets a heart-healthy makeover with this filling wrap. Egg whites, house grains, smoked mozzarella, mushrooms and avocado are wrapped in a chipotle tortilla, and served with pico de gallo, herb potato and fruit. Those eating a vegan diet can opt for the tempeh burrito, which swaps tempeh for egg whites and skips the smoked mozzarella.
Three Valley locations:
• Daily Dose Old Town: 4020 N. Scottsdale Rd #101, Scottsdale AZ 85251, 480-994-3673
• Daily Dose Midtown: 1928 E. Highland Ave #F-107; Phoenix AZ 85016; 602-274-0334• Daily Dose Rio Salado: 96 South Rockford Drive, #105; Tempe, AZ 85281; 602-274-0334
Los Sombreros – Guacamole
As pretty as it is delicious, Los Sombreros guacamole delivers all the healthy fats and tons of flavor. Made fresh daily with ripe avocados, finely diced onion, jalapeno, and cilantro, this shareable appetizer is garnished with crispy radish slivers, diced tomato, queso fresco, and a thick crunchy Los Sombreros chip.
Three Valley locations:
• Uptown Phoenix: 322 E Camelback Road, Phoenix, AZ 85012 602-601-6390
• Scottsdale: 2534 N. Scottsdale Rd.; Scottsdale, AZ 85257; 480-994-1799
• Mesa: 1976 W. Southern Ave.; Mesa, AZ 85202; 480-534-6742
Picazzo’s Healthy Italian Kitchen – Kale Pesto Quinoa Bowl
This hot dish warms your insides, while doing your body good! Cruciferous vegetables, broccoli and sautéed kale, are packed with phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals, and fiber. Quinoa brings the whole grains, while tomatoes, creamy pesto, French feta, and pumpkin seeds bring the flavor!
Six locations in the Valley and Sedona: https://picazzos.com/locations/
Koibito Poke – The First Timer Bowl
If you’re looking for a heart healthy dish, local and award-winning poke franchise Koibito Poke is delivering the most important heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids! Their First Timer Bowl is just that! Your choice of traditional rice, cauliflower rice or greens, is stacked with heart-healthy ingredients including Hawaiian tuna, house sauce, cucumber, edamame, green onion, pineapple, crab mix and then topped with a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
Four Valley locations:
• Waterfront – 7135 E Camelback Rd, Suite 175, Scottsdale, AZ 85251 – 480.454.4957
• Arcadia – 4280 E Indian School, Suite 108, Phoenix, AZ 85018 – 602.368.2222
• Gainey Village – 8877 N Scottsdale Rd, Suite 406, Scottsdale, AZ 85253 – 480.306.8440
• Chandler – 4041 S Gilbert Rd, Suite 1, Chandler, AZ 85249 – 480.361.6533
Pita Jungle – Lentil Fetoosh Salad
Heart-healthy options at this Valley favorite Mediterranean spot include the popular Lentil Fetoosh Salad, packed with fiber and potassium-rich lentils! These nutrition rich lentils are slowly cooked with turmeric brown rice and are paired with caramelized onions, a crispy salad of fresh greens, tomatoes, cucumbers and then lightly dressed with evoo and lemon juice. Accompanied by crispy pita croutons, this heart healthy dish will become your instant favorite!
23 locations across Arizona: https://www.pitajungle.com/locations