Choose a healthy, easy side dish

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I always try to serve my family healthy foods. I don’t always succeed, but I try. Luckily, we love fresh fruits and vegetables at my house (most of us, at least), and I try to work our favorites into our meals.

This is an important part of a heart-healthy diet, as we are all reminded each year in February, American Heart Month.

To make heart-healthy choices with your daily diet and lifestyle, follow guidelines from the American Heart Association:

Use up at least as many calories as you take in and aim for 150 minutes or moderate physical activity each week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity or a combination of both.

Eat a variety of nutritious foods from all food groups, including a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry and fish, nuts and legumes and non-tropical vegetable oils.

• Eat fewer nutrient-poor foods.

• When choosing fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables, pick those without high-calorie sauces or added salt and sugars.

• Replace high-calorie foods with fruits and vegetables.

• Eat a variety of fish at least twice a week, especially such varieties as salmon, trout and herring.

• Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars.

• Check labels to choose foods with less sodium and use less salt or no salt when preparing foods.

If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation.

• Keep an eye on portion size if you eat out.

• Don’t smoke tobacco products and avoid secondhand smoke.

On Saturday, we took advantage of the gorgeous day and cooked chicken on the grill. I made a yummy new barbecue sauce for the chicken, daughter Anna prepared her delicious baked beans, and I made a new slaw, using a recipe from the AHA website for picnic cole slaw.

The base for this super easy side dish is a bag of cole slaw mix, which you can purchase in the produce aisle with bagged lettuce.

I varied the recipe just a bit. I bought a package that included carrots, so I didn’t add extra carrots. I used green bell pepper, which we love, but I also added red bell pepper, which we love as well! The red bell pepper added nice color to the slaw because I omitted the radishes.

The dressing for the salad is a good combination of sweet and sour and mixes up in just a few minutes. One word of advice: Make sure to stir the slaw right before you eat it. Our dressing had ended up on the bottom of the bowl by dinner time.

My husband and I enjoyed the new side dish, which is very quick and easy to make.

lisa@wilsontimes.com | 265-7810

Picnic Cole Slaw

8 oz. packaged cole slaw mix

1 cup carrot (cut into matchstick-size strips)*

1 medium green bell pepper (chopped)

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

6 medium radishes (thinly sliced, halved)

1/4 cup vinegar

3 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

In a large bowl, gently toss together all the ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes to 1 hour for peak flavor and texture.

* The slaw mixture I purchased included carrots, so I didn’t add more. I also used green and red bell pepper (chopping half of each) and omitted radishes.

American Heart Association