If you follow me on Twitter, you may have caught a hint-hint about today’s post. That’s because I couldn’t stop gushing about my breakfast that day and giving you a first glimpse of Love Your Heart!

Today marks the first in a series of recipes featuring heart-healthy ingredients that I will be bringing to you along with Nicole of Prevention RD, Lauren of Healthy Food for Living, and Amy and Natalie of Super Healthy Kids.

Click on the image to visit the Love Your Heart home page!

Every Wednesday in February, we’ll be honoring the heart-healthy theme with delicious new recipes and giveaway items. I hope you’re excited, because we’ve got some great stuff lined up!

We’re kicking off the celebration with heart-healthy breakfasts.

I confess that smoothies have never been a typical breakfast for me, I recently found myself in a breakfast rut and thinking about what kinds of powerful concoctions I could derive from my blender. When I first trialed this smoothie, I spent the rest of the day dreaming about it while feeling surprisingly full and energetic. When I share the ingredients with you, I think you’ll see why!

Be sure to check out all the heart-healthy breakfasts featured this week!

Let’s run down the list of heart-healthy ingredients joining harmoniously in this powerful breakfast smoothie:

Avocados
We’ve all heard that despite being high in fat, avocados contain the “good” kind of fat. True indeed, the fat content in avocados is primarily comprised of oleic acid and omega-3 containing alpha-linolenic acid, both of which support a healthy cardiovascular system. In addition, avocados provide plenty of B6 and folic acid, which regulate homocysteine levels, another component to heart health. Finally, comparison studies show that those who regularly consume avocados have a lower body mass index than those who don’t.

Strawberries
Blueberries might be the most cited heart-healthy berry, but don’t overlook the others! A healthy fiber intake is crucial to maintaining good cholesterol levels, and 100 grams of strawberries (the amount used in this recipe!) supplies 2 grams of fiber. Additionally, studies suggest that the pigments occurring in naturally red foods, like strawberries, tomatoes and red peppers, contain powerful antioxidants.

Dates
Dates provide much of the fiber and potassium in this smoothie. Studies suggest that consuming 400mg of potassium per day can reduce the risk of stroke by 40% (source). This smoothie provides more than that!

Hemp Hearts
Hemp hearts, also known as shelled hemp seeds, are considered by some to be nature’s ultimate power food. They are the only plant source known to contain all of the necessary amino acids and fatty acids in the most desirable ratio for human needs (source). They are also comprised of 40% fiber. Because of this and the optimal ratio of fatty acids, it is easy to see why these satisfying seeds have a powerful effect on lowering blood pressure and preventing heart disease.  (Try: Navitas Naturals Shelled Hemp Seeds)

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Strawberry Avocado Smoothie with Dates and Hemp Seeds

Yield: 1 serving

This smoothie is easy on the eyes but a nutritional powerhouse for the heart!

Ingredients:

1 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 dates, soaked in water overnight in refrigerator
1/2 cup (100gm) fresh or frozen strawberries
1/4 of an avocado
1 1/2 tablespoons (15gm) hemp hearts
1 tablespoon soaking liquid from dates
1 packet stevia, or to taste
a few ice cubes (optional, add if you're using fresh strawberries and want a colder smoothie)

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a powerful blender and process until smooth.

Nutrition Facts:

Amount Per Serving
Calories 269.5
Total Fat 16.8 g
Saturated Fat 1.6 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.8 g
Monounsaturated Fat 4.3 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 185.8 mg
Potassium 655.7 mg
Total Carbohydrate 29.1 g
Dietary Fiber 8.2 g
Sugars 15.2 g
Protein 7.6 g

And how about that giveaway!

Remember, each week will feature new giveaway items. This month we are excited to be sharing some great snacks and a book with you.

Our very own Amy Roskelley of Super Healthy Kids has written a book, and one lucky winner will receive a copy! The book will be published in May so you’ll have to sit tight for a little while, but we know it will be worth the wait. Her 201 Healthy Smoothies & Juices for Kids is designed to help your little ones get that extra boost of essential nutrients from fruits and vegetables, but I have a feeling big kids will love these beverages just as much.

Do you remember when I first blogged about Paleonola? This all-natural, grain-free granola has proven to be a big hit among my friends who got to enjoy it at my Eggland’s Best Pink Party. Full of good fats from nuts and flax, and antioxidants from dried fruits, this is one super heart-healthy essential snack item. One winner will receive two bags of Palenola, in your choice of flavors! (Hint: Apple Pie is my favorite!)

We love Chobani for not only it’s creamy taste and culinary versatility, but also because it’s high in protein and potassium, and low in sodium. These factors stack up to make Chobani a must-have in a heart-healthy diet. One winner will receive two 32oz containers of Chobani plain yogurt, in their nonfat and 2% varieties.

To Enter the Giveaway, leave a comment for each of the following actions. Enter as many times as you like!

  • Leave a comment telling me about your favorite heart-healthy breakfast or what you like about this smoothie
  • Share this recipe/giveaway on Pinterest
  • Use the Linky Tool below to link up a heart-healthy breakfast recipe on your blog. If you wish, share the love and use this badge in your post!

    Copy & paste this code into the html of your post:
    <a href=”http://www.carascravings.com/love-your-heart-feb-2012″ target=”_blank”><img src=http://www.carascravings.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/loveyourheart5small.jpg>

  • Subscribe to Cara’s Cravings
  • Mention this giveaway on Twitter or Facebook with a link to this page
  • Follow Amy Roskelley on Facebook or Twitter
  • Follow Paleonola on Facebook or Twitter
  • Follow Chobani on Facebook or Twitter

Link up your heart-healthy breakfast recipe here!

Giveaway Rules:
No purchase necessary. The contest will close on Monday, February 6th at 11:50pm EST, at which point a winner will be chosen via random number generator. Winner must reside in the United States and supply a valid email address in the commenting form. Winner will be contacted and have 3 days to respond, at which point s/he forfeits the prize and another winner will be chosen. Winner will provide name, email address, shipping address and phone number and give me permission to supply this information to the sponsors of the giveaway items.

fun with Picnik for one of the very last times 🙁

This post is linked to: Allergy-Free Wednesdays, Wellness Weekends, Allergy-Friendly Lunchbox Love, and Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays. .