February is American Heart Month. Heart disease is still the leading cause of death among men and women in the U.S. It is also a disease where diet can play a large role. It is never too early to start thinking about heart-healthy foods. In fact, it is better to get children off on the right path by including those foods regularly so that it becomes habit.
As a dietitian, I like to focus on the foods that you can eat versus those that you should not. This list from WebMD of the 11 Top Heart-Healthy Foods is a great reference.
In honor of American Heart Month, I created this yummy muffin recipe that both children and adults alike will enjoy, and it is packed with many heart-healthy ingredients:
- Dark chocolate – it is the flavonoids in dark chocolate that confers the health benefits. Choose at least 70 percent cacao to reap the benefits.
- Tart cherries – high in antioxidants, tart cherries have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Avocado – full of “good” fats – monounsaturated and polyunsaturated – avocados are very versatile and can be used in place of products high in saturated fat, which are not good for you.
- Oatmeal – in addition to being packed with vitamins and minerals, oatmeal is a great source of soluble fiber, shown to reduce cholesterol.
- Ground flaxseed – packed with fiber and omega-3 fats, which are anti-inflammatory, ground flaxseed is a great addition to oatmeal, muffins and yogurt.
Trust me. You won’t even notice the avocado, except for the velvety texture it provides! My 4-year-old gobbled these muffins up so fast, as did my 13-month-old!
Chocolate Cherry Avocado Muffins
Yield: 16 muffins (or 12 regular + 8 mini, which is what I did)
- 1 ripe avocado, mashed
- 1 ripe banana, mashed
- 2 tbsp oil
- ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ½ cup milk
- 1 ½ cups white whole wheat flour
- ½ cup oats
- ½ cup ground flaxseed
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ cup dark cocoa powder
- ¾ cup dried tart cherries, chopped
- ½ cup mini chocolate chips
1. Preheat the oven to 350ᵒF. Spray muffin cups with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
2. In a mixer, cream the avocado, banana, oil and sugar at medium speed until smooth. Add in the eggs one a time. Add the vanilla and milk. Mix until smooth.
3. In a separate bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients, the flour through the cocoa powder. Stir well with a whisk.
4. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing just until combined being careful not to over-mix. Stir in the cherries and chocolate chips.
5. Fill muffin cups 3/4 of the way with the batter. Bake for 16-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
Note: For a smoother texture, grind the oats in a food processor before mixing with the rest of the dry ingredients.