Low-sodium versions of your favorite comfort foods

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nine out of 10 Americans over the age of 2 consume too much salt in their diets, increasing their risk for high blood pressure, stroke and heart attacks. If you are a student of an  online culinary school, you can use your knowledge of seasoning food to help people at risk for cardiovascular disease. Here are a few options you can try to turn your comfort food into heart healthy treats:

Veggie Mac and Cheese
One of the most common comfort food choices for many people is classic macaroni and cheese. However, those who are concerned about their heart health should stay away from super cheesy and salty versions. Skip the box version and make your cheese sauce with by blending extra-sharp cheddar, squash, chicken stock and milk. Add vegetables like spinach, tomatoes, peas and broccoli.

Green Bean Casserole
A family favorite at every major holiday, green bean casserole is full of delicious cream of mushroom soup and fried onion toppings. Although it might be super tasty, it’s not exactly heart friendly. Trade in your traditional style pre-made soup and packaged fried onions. Try using low-sodium cream of mushroom soup, fresh mushroom caps and regular onion slices.

Pumpkin or butternut squash pancakes or waffles
Saturday morning breakfast isn’t really the same without a steaming stack of freshly made pancakes or waffles on a breakfast plate. However, if you’re concerned about keeping your heart in tip-top shape, you might want to consider a recipe that uses less sodium. The next time you have guests over for a weekend breakfast, puree some pumpkin or squash and add a little bit to your pancake or waffle mix.

Heart healthy pizza
There are plenty of frozen pizzas on the market that claim to be healthy or low-fat, but one look at its nutritional value and you’ll see a great amount of salt is used to make it. You don’t have to make a compromise between taste and healthy when you create pizza, you just need the right kind of complementary flavors on the same pie. Pick out your favorite whole wheat, tortilla or vegan crust. Nitrate-filled meats on your pizza doesn’t make your heart happy. In order to really add some flavor, don’t skimp on the vegetables and make sure you use strong, flavorful cheese.

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