If you read my blogs regularly, you may remember that my husband has high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease. (He was diagnosed when he was in his early twenties.)

But there are things we can-and should-do, even at a young age, to prevent heart disease later in life. For Dan and me it means doing our best to control his high blood pressure now, through what we eat, among other things, so it won't lead to more serious heart problems down the road. (For more information on keeping your heart as healthy as it can be, including recipes for healthy blood pressure, check out our Heart Health Center.)

Luckily, there are some really easy things we can all do to make the recipes we love heart-healthier. Here are a few of my favorite tricks and recipes for making heart-healthy recipes at home.

  1. 1. Skip the deep fryer. With just a bit of breading or batter and a little oil or cooking spray, you can get a crispy, delicious coating on just about anything! Try our Crispy Fish Sandwich with Pineapple Slaw to see how easy it is.
  2. 2. Choose whole grains over processed grains. Processed grains are stripped of many key nutrients that whole grains have. Swap in whole-wheat pasta instead of regular for Inside-Out Lasagna, whole-wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour, whole-grain bread instead of white and brown rice instead of white rice.
  3. 3. Substitute heart-healthy oils for butter. Pick oils like olive, canola or walnut oil. These are high in heart-healthy unsaturated fats, as opposed to butter, which is loaded with saturated fat. But keep in mind that even though unsaturated fat is better for your heart, these oils are still high in calories and need to be used in moderation to maintain a healthy weight. Dan has a severe sweet tooth, so I'm always sure to have a batch of cookies on hand, such as Double Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chewies, which skips the butter in favor of canola oil and natural peanut butter. (See our 5 secrets for making cookies healthier-but still taste great-here.)
  4. 4. Add vegetables. In order to keep servings generous but still healthy, use less of higher-calorie ingredients like meat or pasta and add in more vegetables. Our makeover of the boxed helper mix we call Hamburger Buddy is a great way to sneak in more vegetables. (Find 5 easy ways to sneak vegetables into your meals here.)
  5. 5. Choose low-fat or nonfat dairy products instead of the high-fat versions. Part-skim mozzarella, nonfat milk, nonfat ricotta cheese and nonfat sour cream are great dairy products that you can include in a heart-healthy diet and skip all the saturated fat in their full-fat counterparts. (Find healthy recipes with cheese here.)