By Chef Jill McCollum, CC

Build these five heart-healthy foods into your daily diet for great taste and better health. Nothing matters more than taking good care of your heart. Getting regular exercise, not smoking, and controlling stress are just a few things health experts recommend, along with eating a variety of nutritious, heart-healthy foods that make up a healthy diet.
Blueberries top the list as one of the most powerful disease-fighting foods. That's because they contain anthocyanins, the antioxidant responsible for their dark blue color. Blueberries are packed with fiber, vitamin C, and are available all year long.

This cold-water fish is a great source of protein and is also packed with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association advises eating salmon and other omega-3 rich foods twice a week for benefits that go beyond heart health.

Soy Protein
This inexpensive, high-quality protein contains fiber, vitamins, and minerals-all ingredients for a heart-healthy meal. Also, a diet rich in soy protein can lower triglycerides, which help prevent cardiovascular disease and keep your heart strong and healthy.

Oats are nourishing whole grains and a great source of vitamins, minerals, and cholesterol-lowering fiber.

Spinach is the powerhouse of the vegetable kingdom. Its rich, dark color comes from vitamins and minerals (especially iron) that also fight disease, protect against heart disease, and preserve your eyesight.

Suggested Uses for these
5 Heart Healthy Foods
Blueberries-Top your whole-grain cereal with fresh or frozen blueberries to add delicious flavor. Eat them plain or mix with other fruit or low-calorie, high fiber tasty fruit salad.
Salmon-Salmon cooks in a matter of minutes and its delicate texture quickly absorbs and showcases the flavor of added ingredients. For example, toss chunks of salmon into a chowder of corn and potatoes, or wrap salmon with herbs and chopped onion and tomatoes in parchment or aluminum foil and grill or bake 12 minutes for a satisfying meal.
Soy Protein-Pack a soy protein bar or a bag of soy nuts for a quick snack during the day.
Oatmeal-Add oats whenever you bake. Substitute up to one-third of the flour with oats in pancakes, muffins, quick breads, cookies, and coffee cakes for an added dose of fiber. Use oats in place of bread crumbs in dishes such as meatloaf, meatballs, or breading on poultry.
Spinach-Keep frozen, chopped spinach in your freezer for an easy, quick addition to pizza, pasta, soups, and stews. Steam spinach, mix with garlic, a little olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon for a low-fat potato topper.
Grilled Salmon with Creamy Tarragon Sauce

1 pound salmon fillet
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup plain yogurt
¼ cup chopped green onions
1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 teaspoons lime juice
½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce

Brush salmon on both sides with oil. Coat grill rack with nonstick cooking spray before starting the grill. Place salmon, skin side down, on grill rack. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 15-20 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. For sauce, combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Serve with the salmon.

Garbanzo Bean Chocolate Cupcakes (Gluten Free!)

1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 (19 oz) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
4 eggs
¾ cup white sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar for dusting
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place chocolate chips into a microwave-safe bowl. Cook in the microwave for about 2 minutes, stirring every 20 seconds, until chocolate is melted and smooth. Combine the beans and eggs in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Add the sugar and baking powder, and pulse to blend. Pour in the melted chocolate and vanilla, blend until smooth. Transfer batter in to cup cake cups. Bake for 20 minutes in preheated oven. Cool for 10 to 15 minutes, then dust with confectioners' sugar just before serving.

Chicken Vegetable Medley

6 (4 ounce) skinless, boneless chicken
Breast halves
4 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 tomatoes-peeled, and chopped
2 medium eggplants, peeled and diced
2 large green peppers, diced
2 medium zucchini, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 small bag fresh spinach
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
In a large skillet, or Dutch oven over medium heat, brow chicken in 1 tablespoon oil; set chicken aside. Add remaining oil to skillet; sauté mushrooms, garlic, tomatoes, eggplant, green pepper, zucchini and onion for 10-15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Return chicken to skillet. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until chicken juices run clear. Remove bay leaf before serving.
Garnish with Capers and Italian Parsley