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Take Your Health to Heart

  • Posted by: Luisa Cywinski
  • Posted Date: February 13, 2016
  • Filed Under: Library News

It’s hard to escape the signs or flyers advertising Valentine’s Day cakes, candies, and cards. Most grocery stores have a display at the front door that practically barricades customers off from the rest of the store.

So, what if you’re not in a romantic relationship right now? Or you’re not interested in candy or junk food? Why not spend a little time in the kitchen preparing a heart-healthy meal? You could try something new, like a vegan or vegetarian recipe. Or buy prepared treats that are labeled as “heart healthy.” Valentine’s Day can be good for your heart in a whole new way!

heart healthy

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), “most vegetarian diets are low in or devoid of animal products. They’re also usually lower than non-vegetarian diets in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. Many studies have shown that vegetarians seem to have a lower risk of obesity, coronary heart disease (which causes heart attack), high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus and some forms of cancer.” You don’t need to go totally vegetarian or vegan, but lowering your intake of animal products can make a difference.

Whip up a fruit smoothie with soy or almond milk, hit a good salad bar near you, or try one of the Cooking With Heart recipes on the AHA website (the sweet potato nachos look amazing!). You can also find great recipes in the Falvey or Health Promotion collections. Our online catalog will show you where to find them. We also have access to e-book cookbooks!

If you really want chocolate for Valentine’s Day, try this vegan cookie recipe. It’s bound to satisfy your deepest, darkest chocolate cravings.

vegan choc cookie serving


Chocolate chocolate chip cherry cookies

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
vegan choc cookie ingredients½ tsp. salt
2/3 cup canola oil
1 ½ cups organic cane sugar
4 tsp. ground flaxseeds
½ cup soy milk
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
¾ cup vegan chocolate chips
¾ cup dried cherries, chopped small

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate large bowl, mix together the oil and sugar. Add the flaxseeds, soy milk, and vanilla, and mix well.

Fold in the dry ingredients in batches. When the batter starts to get too stiff to mix with a fork, use hands until a ball of dough forms. Add the chocolate chips and cherries, and mix with your hands again. (I didn’t need to mix the dough with my hands. It seemed to hold together pretty well.)

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and flatten into disks about 1 ½ inches in diameter. Place about an inch apart on cookie sheets.

vegan choc cookie coolingBake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for a couple of minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Demian Katz, a technology development specialist at Falvey, shared this recipe with me a few years ago and it’s still one of my favorites. I substituted some of the original ingredients according to my own preferences. The original recipe can be found in Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook.

More resources on heart health can be found at the Library and on the AHA website.

Before starting any new diet, consult your physician or a nutrition counselor. The Villanova University Office of Health Promotion has excellent resources on its website and offers private one-on-one nutrition counseling with a registered dietician.

Food blog written by Luisa Cywinski, writer on the Communication & Service Promotion team and team leader, Access Services.





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Last Modified: February 13, 2016

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