The day of love is fast approaching. Here are some tools for your mind and body to celebrate in a heart healthy way. From divine dark treats (my warm dark chocolate cinnamon banana bites) to eating out made easy, and the heart healthy benefits of sassy salmon – I have you covered in my step-by-step guide.
Go Dark. Chocolate and the day of love go hand in hand. Deprivation is no fun and leads to the deadly combination of HANGER (hunger and anger). Not to mention, it is no way to live life. You also will most likely end up overeating then repeating the unhealthy cycle. Instead, go dark and indulge in dark chocolate.
Select Wisely. Many labels advertise “healthy dark chocolate” but really are loaded with processed sugars (defeating the purpose of going dark). Make sure the chocolate is made with a minimum of 70% pure cocoa and read the back of the label. Try to get as real as possible with little added ingredients. Ghirardelli “intense dark” squares are a good name brand choice. (I always carry a square in my purse whenever I need a 3PM pick me up or post dinner treat.) Just because dark chocolate has incredible health benefits does not mean you can go to town! Around 1-2 squares (1/2-1 ounce) is a good size. Moderation is key. Below are some of the beautiful benefits of going dark and my simple warm cinnamon chocolate banana bites.
Feel good. Dark Chocolate triggers the release of “feel good” hormones in your brain. The same “feel good” hormones that get released after you do physical activity or when you are falling in love.
Control Cravings. This delicious delight does not spike your blood sugar levels. What does that mean? You will have more stable energy levels throughout the day, and not have that sudden crash you normally get with other candy. Most candies contain tons of sugars and hidden preservatives that make it very hard to tell when you are actually full. So you just keep munching and suddenly the bag is empty!
Fight the flu. Dark chocolate contains zinc (which most people lack in their diet). Zinc is a mineral superstar when it comes to boosting your immune system. (For more flu fighting foods check out my old blog here). You can also check out my featured piece in Beauty High Magazine on why I suggest dark chocolate for clear skin.
Focus. Dark chocolate increases blood flow to the heart and brain improving your thought processing abilities. Brain food.
Carina’s Simple Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Banana Bites: melt ½ ounce of dark chocolate in a saucepan for around 30 seconds to a liquid texture of your liking. Place half of a sliced banana in a cooking pan with organic cooking spray and heat on the stove for around 10-15 seconds until the top of the banana slices are a light golden brown. Drizzle the melted dark chocolate over the warm banana slices. Always spice up your life! Add cinnamon or nutmeg (for more slimming spices read my old blog here) and if you like things extra sweet add a dash of stevia (an all natural sweetener from the stevia plant).
Sass it up with salmon: salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids, a healthy fat that the body does not produce on its own. Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease, irregular heartbeats and help lower blood pressure levels. These healthy fats also increase your ability to focus and improve your mood. For more focus foods check out my old blog here.
Be brave and branch out…by staying in. Instead of going out to a fancy dinner with your significant other or group of friends plan to cook a meal at home. Home cooked meals are much healthier than eating out and getting comfortable in the kitchen is a great bonding activity (check out my Recipe Rehab Healthy Cooking Videos). Cooking may seem draining or daunting at first but just like using a muscle that you have not used, it will get stronger and easier with time. If you are eating out and are a fan of sushi be sure to read my old piece The Sushi Situation for a guilt free guide. As well as my old blog titled Eating Out Made Easy. The best way to order salmon is steamed or poached at restaurants.
Mind. Valentine’s day is a day of love; show yourself and your loved ones how much you truly care by taking a step to make health a priority. Even if it is a small change, everything counts. If you are feeling alone on Valentine’s Day treat yourself to a delicious healthy home cooked meal, massage or activity that YOU enjoy. Indulge and invest in yourself. Once you start focusing on your own heath (mentally and physically) the right people will fill your life. Everything happens for a reason. Trust the process.
**Catch my most recent live CBS KCAL-9 News Television appearance where I share my favorite Red Carpet Ready Remedies for glowing skin, endless energy and stress reduction that I recommend to all my clients when prepping them for awards season. The video is up in the Recipe Rehab Video section of my site. (You can also find the footage on the CBS KCAL-9 site http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2014/02/19/eat-the-right-snacks-for-glowing-skin-lasting-energy-calm-nerves/)