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From the Super Bowl to March Madness, it’s game day season. WakeMed registered dietitian Monika Kraus and WakeMed dietic intern Maggie Darden want to help you make choices that are good for your heart. You can enjoy foods that are a tantalizing touchdown for your tastebuds — without being artery clogging, heartburn-inducing takedowns for your heart. Check out these heart-healthy swaps.

Baked Parmesan Zucchini Fries

Don’t go for those greasy, deep-fat fried French fries this year. Swap them out for some savory parmesan zucchini fries with this recipe.


  • 4 zucchini, quartered lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a cooling rack with nonstick spray and place on a baking sheet; set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine Parmesan, thyme, oregano, basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. Place zucchini onto prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan mixture. Place into oven and bake until tender, about 15 minutes. Then broil for 2-3 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown.
  4. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley, if desired.

High Protein Buffalo Chicken Dip

Huddle up! This simple buffalo chicken dip has all the flavor of regular dip, but with much higher protein. Try this flavorful recipe provided by Maggie Darden to help you swap extra fat for healthy protein. Dig in with nutritious dippers, including carrots and celery.

(8 servings)


  • 1 cup of low-fat cottage cheese
  • 4 ounces of fat-free cream cheese
  • 4 ounces of part skim shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 pound of chicken breast, cooked and shredded
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite buffalo sauce
  • 1/4 cup of crumbled blue cheese


  1. Add cottage cheese, cream cheese, mozzarella and buffalo sauce to a sauce pan.
  2. Place over low heat and mix continuously until cheeses are melted and combined.
  3. Add shredded chicken.
  4. Mix well.
  5. Place in serving dish and top with crumbled blue cheese.

This delicious dip provides 24 grams of protein per serving!

Buffalo-Sriracha Cauliflower Bites

Do you think fried chicken wings are the go-to — for a snack that’s perfectly tender on the inside and crispy on the outside? Think again. Try out Monika Kraus’ recipe for baked buffalo-sriracha cauliflower bites instead.

(8 servings)


  • 8 cups 1 1/2-inch cauliflower florets
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon 1-2 tablespoons Sriracha
  • 1 teaspoon butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 F.
  2. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  3. Toss cauliflower, salt, and oil together in a bowl. Then spread the mixture onto the baking sheet.
  4. Roast the cauliflower about 15 minutes, until slightly brown.
  5. In a bowl, combine hot sauce, Sriracha, butter, and lemon juice. Add cauliflower and toss.
  6. Return cauliflower to baking sheet and continue roasting for 5 more minutes.


Healthy Turkey Chili

Ahh…chili. It’s the perfect snack to keep you nice and toasty on a crisp February Superbowl evening. Enjoy this recipe from Monika Kraus that’s sure to be a crowd pleaser.

(6 servings)


  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • ¾ cup chopped onions
  • ¾ cup green pepper
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 2 cloves minced garlic or ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 5 ounce can of pinto beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 15 ounce can of black beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 5 ounce can of diced tomatoes (undrained)
  • 1 ¾ cup of low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup frozen whole kernel corn
  • 6 ounce canned tomato paste
  • 3 medium green onions, chopped


  1. Add oil to the Dutch oven and heat over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onions and green peppers and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Reduce heat to medium and add turkey. Cook until browned, stirring frequently to break apart turkey, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add garlic, chili powder, pepper, cumin and stir.
  5. Add remaining ingredients except green onions. Cook for 5-10 minutes until completely heated, stirring frequently.
  6. Before serving, top with green onions.

Tip: for additional toppings, add a small amount of shredded cheese and avocado. Also, try substituting Greek yogurt for sour cream as a topping.

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