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March 28, 2010

My indulgences


©istockphoto.com/nodmitrySince my doctor encouraged me to adopt a more heart-healthy diet, I've made some drastic changes. 

I'm no longer eating fried foods of any kind. I've switched from cow's milk to soy milk, and I'm eating as few processed foods as possible. When I eat breads and cereals, I opt for whole grains. I'm eating way more vegetables than ever before.

There are a few things, however, I'm counting as "indulgences" — little treats that make healthy eating a bit more enjoyable:

• Black coffee: I'd given up coffee last November, but when I started to eat more healthily I found I wanted a little something to perk me up in the mornings. Because I don't use cream or sugar, it's a low-calorie choice. It's also is a bit of a hunger suppressant, so it's made cutting back on calories a little easier. And at one to two cups a day, I'm definitely enjoying my joe in moderation. (For more information about the health effects — good and bad — of coffee, check out "Coffee and health: What does the research say?" at the Mayo Clinic web site.)

• Bison: A restaurant I frequent has locally-sourced bison on its menu. Low in cholesterol and saturated fat, some sources (such as the National Bison Association) claim that bison is healthier than boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Given these benefits and bison's tasty, juicy flavor (no ketchup or steak sauce required), my once-a-week red meat is sure to be bison. Even better, it can be found fresh or frozen at most of the groceries and meat markets I already frequent.

• Red wine: As I prepare more evening meals at home, I'm finding that a glass of red wine is a nice accompaniment. According to this article at the Mayo Clinic, red wine might be a heart-healthy choice.

• Sweet potato fries: My boyfriend and I enjoy cooking together on the weekends. Tonight, we're making oven-baked sweet potato fries as one of our side dishes. The Mayo Clinic considers sweet potatoes one of "10 great health foods for eating well." Who are we to argue?

What are your healthy (or at least not too unhealthy) indulgences?

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