February is Heart Health month and today, February 7, is “Go Red for Women” Day, an event to raise awareness of heart disease in females. So to help support this cause, I’m sharing a recipe for a delicious snack mix that not only has beautiful red cranberries to help us “go red,” but also has some heart health benefits. Plus with Valentine’s Day only a week away, this is a great snack to share with your Valentine, young or old. And that’s excellent for your heart too!
I’ve never thought too hard about “recipes” for trail mix or the like since you pretty much toss together a bunch of yummy snacks in a bowl or bag and go. But I came across this delectable combination of dried coconut, dried cranberries, and chocolate chips in a packaged snack mix and loved the flavors and figured I could do it myself for a fraction of the cost.
Coconuts are pretty trendy in the food world now and there is lots of research going on in the nutrition and medical fields regarding potential benefits of coconut water, coconut milk, coconut oil, and just plain old coconut. Some studies have shown advantageous effects on cholesterol from ingesting coconut oil. Point 1 for heart health!
Then we come to cranberries. Polyphenols, which are found in cranberries as well as other foods, are thought to be great for cardiovascular health also by improving cholesterol as well as through some anti-clotting and anti-inflammatory mechanisms. Yay cranberries!
And finally chocolate. No one needs to give me any scientific argument to eat (and enjoy) chocolate. But just in case you need a heart healthy reason to indulge, here you go…just like cranberries, flavonoids are found in cocoa and chocolate. They have anti-oxidant properties which also have anti-clotting and anti-inflammatory benefits. They also might help lower blood pressure which improves circulation to the heart. Yes please! Benefits are the best with dark chocolate (which includes the semi-sweet chocolate used here).
I recommend not using the shredded dried coconut from the baking aisle and rather finding actual dried coconut pieces from the dried fruit section. The flavor and nutrition benefits are so much better and since it’s one of only three ingredients in this snack, it is really highlighted, so the better quality coconut is totally worth it. I found mine at Costco but I imagine it’s available at some supermarkets as well as natural food stores.
“Go Red” for Heart Health Snack Mix
Yield: approximately 3 cups
2 cups dried coconut chunks (we found them at Costco), chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Share with someone you love! Store leftovers in an airtight container.