Be Heart Smart

by Brittany Lightsey, MS, RD, LD

Everyone knows that February brings Valentine’s cards, candy and lots of love. Teach your children to love their bodies by being heart smart this month. After all, February Heart SmartFebruary is American Heart Month, so you should celebrate!

The key to a healthy heart is eating a diet low in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol and sodium, while increasing fiber and “good fats.” Here are a few easy ways to be heart smart this month:

  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. Encourage you family to eat a variety of colored fruits and vegetables each day. White and red fruits and vegetables actually contribute to heart health!
  • Eat more whole grains.  Look for the first ingredient on the food label of grain products to be whole wheat, rye or oats.  Buy breads with more than 3 grams of fiber per serving, and cereals with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving.
  • Eat more fish. Oily fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel and tuna have omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats. These types of fat do not raise your blood cholesterol, and if eaten in the right amounts, may lower your “bad” cholesterol. Aim for two servings per week.
  • Eat more plant-based proteins. Beans and peas provide protein and fiber. Try to eat them more often as a replacement for typical protein sources like fatty meats. Meats such as ground beef, sausage, and bacon are high in saturated fats which raise our “bad” cholesterol.

February KidsBe active for 60 minutes every day! While eating nutritiously is a key component of health, activity is needed for a healthy heart too. Too often our kiddos do not get the activity needed after a long school day. Try these suggestions to make your home more active:

  • Play before homework.  Children more than likely have been sitting all day at school, and research shows that after school their brains are tired, not their bodies. Encourage your child to play for at least 20 minutes before sitting down for homework.
  • The 30 minute rule. 30 minutes of sitting work means at least 5 minutes of play.
  • Turn up the music, not the TV. Dancing is a great way to get bodies moving.
  • Go outside! Be active with your kids. You are their role model.

Baked Cod and Veggie Packets
From Kids Eat Right

Try this easy cleanup fish recipe from Kids Eat Right with your family. The cod provides heart-healthy omega-3’s, and you are well on your way to making half your plate fruits and vegetables with the colorful veggies in this recipe.

February VeggiesServing: 1 cod filet in veggie packet
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided
2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen (thawed) corn kernels
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 small zucchini, halved and thinly sliced
4 (5-ounce) cod fillets



  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Arrange 4 (16x12-inch) sheets of aluminum foil on a work surface.
  • Combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, basil, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Add tomatoes, corn, green onions and zucchini; toss well.
  • Divide vegetable mixture evenly among sheets of foil; top each with one cod fillet.
  • Drizzle evenly with remaining 1 tablespoon oil; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
  • Seal foil packets tightly, and place on a large baking sheet.
  • Bake 18 to 22 minutes or until fish flakes with a fork.

Per serving, this recipe contains 261 calories, 12 grams of total fat and 2 grams of saturated fat.

Be sure to check out our articles monthly on the “Parent Resources” section of SCCPSS’ School Food and Nutrition Website found on These articles will highlight tips, tricks, and recipes to keep your family happy and healthy!