4 Heart-Healthy Ingredients + Recipes for Game Day and Beyond

February is American Heart Month and Friday, February 5th, 2016 is National Wear Red Day – a day to wear the color red to help raise awareness about heart disease being the number one killer of women. Close behind Wear Red Day is another February day many will get together to celebrate – Superbowl Sunday. In honor of American Heart Month and Wear Red Day, let’s challenge each other to make our game day buffet a little healthier and try some new good-for-you foods and recipes.

When the American Heart Association reports that more than 1 in 3 people have some sort of cardiovascular disease and every 85 seconds, someone dies from heart disease, every day is a good day to focus on getting healthier, including a day notorious for filling us up with fried, greasy, salty foods. With those statistics, there is a good chance someone close to you is at risk for or has some sort of cardiovascular disease, so offering healthier options during the big game is good for everyone.

This post will take the guess work out of your game day menu so you have plenty of healthy snacks on hand to last through the end of the big game.

1. Avocados

Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fat (a good kind of fat!), fiber, antioxidants, B vitamins, vitamin K, folate, and many other nutrients. Eating more of those good monounsaturated fats can help you lower your LDL or “bad” cholesterol, which is one of cause of heart disease. Replacing saturated fats (found in animal fat like meat and dairy) with healthy fats found in avocado is a heart-healthy choice. Many people enjoy guacamole on game day, but avocado is versatile and can be used for so much more:

Greatist || 39 Deliciously Unexpected Healthy Avocado Recipes

Avocado Central || Fresh Avocado Guacamole Recipes

Festive Guaca-Bowl-E Nachos Stadium

2. Nuts

Nuts are another “healthy fat” food, and while all nuts have different nutritional benefits, all nuts (especially walnuts) contain a healthy dose of those LDL-lowering, inflammation-reducing, unsaturated fats. They’re also rich in omega-3 fatty acids that help prevent heart disease and stroke, improve blood vessel function and lower inflammation and triglyceride levels. Nuts make a great every-day snack, and can be spiced up for a great game-day snack:

Greatist || Energy Bites for On The Go Snacking

Real Simple || Dark Chocolate and Nut Clusters

3. Whole grains

Whole grains contain the entire grain (bran, germ, and endosperm), which makes them more nutritious and full of fiber compared to refined/white flour or grains. Diets rich in fiber, such as a diet rich in whole grains, can help reduce the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and other types of heart disease. The beta-glucan (a type of soluble fiber) found in whole grains can help lower cholesterol and improves heart health and all that fiber keep you fuller for longer, which is good for weight control.

Whole grains foods don’t have to be boring – you can find hundreds of recipes for tasty whole grain versions of your favorite foods in cook books and on the internet:

Cookie and Kate || Whole Grain Pizza Recipes

The Skinny Fork || Whole Wheat Lasagna Rollups

Buzzfeed || 23 Whole Grain Desserts You’ll Actually Love

4. Beans
Beans are a staple food in many parts of the world for good reason – they’re packed full of protein, fiber, B-vitamins and minerals.
Chili is the ultimate comfort food, and makes a great tailgating or game-day meal. Unfortunately, some of the favorite white chili and creamy soup recipes are full of high-fat sour cream, cheese, and cream. A good substitute for cream in these soups is cooked, blended cauliflower. I know, it sounds weird, but even cauliflower-haters can’t sense the presence of this nutrient-packed vegetable

Based off the recipe for White Turkey Chili from Whole Foods Market and this Creamy (No Cream!) Sweet Corn and Potato Chowder from Iowa Girl Eats, this Healthier Turkey Chili is a great option for game day because it’s light, packed with protein and fiber, and can be topped with all your favorite chili toppings.


1/2 lb. dry Navy Beans
1/2 lb. dry Great Northern beans
or 1 lb. of whatever dry beans you like
2 cups water
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb. ground lean turkey
1 7-oz can green chilis
1/2 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cups frozen corn
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 large head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
1/3 cup milk (skim, 2%, whole, coconut)
4 cups broth (I used homemade turkey stock, but you could use vegetable broth to make the recipe vegetarian)
2-3 cloves of garlic, diced

Soak the dry beans overnight in water. The next day, rinse and drain the beans, and add them to the bottom of the crock pot. Add all spices (reserving 1 tsp of cumin for the turkey), chopped bell peppers, frozen corn, diced onion, and the can of green chilis (drained or undrained). Pour water into crock pot.

Cauliflower cream:

Bring broth to a boil, adding cauliflower florets to the pot and cooking until cauliflower is soft (you’ll be able to spike easily with a fork). Remove from heat and allow to cool. Once cool enough to blend, pour broth and cooked cauliflower mixture, diced garlic, and milk into blender and blend until smooth. Alternatively, you can blend in the pot if you have an immersion blender. Add  this mixture to the crock pot.


Finally, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add raw turkey to the pan and stir frequently, cooking until browned. Add cooked turkey to the crock pot, give the ingredients a good stir, cover crock pot and turn on low for 6-8 hours until beans are cooked/soft.

Top chili with some of your favorite toppings: avocado, cilantro, onions, Greek yogurt/sour cream, a little cheese, and enjoy.

More healthy chili recipes from Epicurious || Healthy Chili Recipes for the Superbowl and Your Heart

What’s your favorite healthy recipe for game day?