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Choose to Move Into a Healthy New Year

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Cool Cucumber Dip

(Family Features) - Shopping, company parties, family gatherings, decorating the house, cooking your favorite dishes, cleaning - and don't forget wrapping the gifts! - are just a few of the added responsibilities women face during the holidays.

How can you juggle all of this and maintain a healthy lifestyle? The answer is be active, eat healthy ... and sign up for Choose To Move.

The American Heart Association's free Choose To Move program offers you physical activity and nutrition tips. In fact, this program can be a holiday gift you give yourself with year-round benefits. It's a great way to help you build healthy habits.

But let's be realistic: Starting an exercise and nutrition program to improve your health probably isn't high on your to-do list right now. That's OK. By committing now to a game plan for a healthy lifestyle, you can minimize the holiday bulge, ease seasonal stress (and guilt!) and jump-start the New Year. Here's how to get started:

Step One: Celebrate the Season by Being Active

  • Take a walk to look at the holiday lights. Build a snowman. Go caroling, ice skating, sledding or skiing. Toss a football after the family gathering.
  • Shovel the sidewalk. In fact, spread good cheer and shovel your neighbor's sidewalk.
  • Make an extra lap around the mall while doing your holiday shopping.
  • Resolve that you won't deal with all the THINGS added to your plate by adding more FOOD to your plate.

Step Two: Order Choose To Move

  • Call 1-888- MY HEART or visit americanheart.org/choosetomove to receive your handbook. It provides you with a personalized 12- week exercise program. You determine your personal fitness level and set your own pace through this free program. Call or sign up on the Web now so you'll have your handbook when you need it - and are ready to make those healthy New Year's resolutions come true.

"Choose To Move is a road map to help you live more healthfully, while reducing your risk of heart disease and stroke," said Dr. Rita Redberg, professor of medicine at the University of California-San Francisco National Center of Excellence in Women's Health, and an American Heart Association volunteer. "The program was developed by the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research, and over 135 thousand women have signed up to improve their fitness and health."

Women who register for the program will receive all this free:

  • An easy-to-follow handbook to increase physical activity
  • Nutrition tips and tasty recipes for healthful eating
  • Weight management tips
  • Success stories and information through e-newsletters
  • Facts about heart disease and stroke

"Combining physical activity and a balanced diet can help you manage your stress and increase your energy levels as well as help you feel better about yourself," says Dr. Redberg. So don't wait. Choose To Move NOW!

Step Three: Make Merry With Healthy Choices

While you are planning your holiday events, incorporate these healthy habits into your eating choices:

  • When entertaining or planning holiday meals, include plenty of fruits, vegetables and grains. Make low-fat dips, such as Cool Cucumber Dip (see recipe), to serve with plenty of fresh veggies.
  • Include fat-free and low-fat dairy products in holiday menus and cooking.
  • Healthy holiday snacks - a handful of almonds, low-fat yogurt, fresh fruit or a homemade snack mix made with a salt-free seasoning blend - are a good habit to carry into the new year.
  • Emphasize the time spent with family and friends, don't focus solely on food.
  • Drink plenty of water.

Maintain a healthy body weight:

  • Balance physical activity that achieves your fitness goals with calorie intake; choose a diet that's nutrient-dense (lots of nutrition for the calories it provides).

Achieve a desirable cholesterol level:

  • Limit foods high in saturated fat, trans-fatty acids and cholesterol. Although cholesterol is found in all animal products, there is no cholesterol in fruits, vegetables or other plant foods.
  • When you go grocery shopping, look for foods that do not list hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil in the contents on their food label. These foods contain trans fats. Trans fat increases your LDL "bad" cholesterol and decreases your HDL "good" cholesterol levels.
Choose To Move is sponsored by the Almond Board of California and the Mrs. Dash brand.
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Cool Cucumber Dip

Crushed toasted almonds provide crunch, and the just-right seasoning blend adds zing to this unusual dip. It's convenient and stress-free for parties - you can make it up to four days in advance and serve it with colorful precut vegetables.
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  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sliced almonds
  • 3/4 cup fat-free or light sour cream
  • 1/4 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
  • (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 medium green onions, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt-free extra-spicy seasoning blend

    1. In a medium skillet, toast almonds on medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden brown. Put 1 tablespoon almonds in small bowl. Set aside to use as garnish.
    2. In food processor or blender, process remaining almonds 3 to 5 seconds, or until coarsely crushed (1/4-inch irregular pieces). Transfer to medium serving bowl.
    3. Process remaining ingredients to desired consistency, 5 to 10 seconds for chunky texture, 15 to 20 seconds for smooth. Stir into crushed almonds.
    4. To serve, sprinkle with reserved almonds.
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Calories: 51g     Total Fat: 2g
Cholesterol: 4mg     Protein: 2g
Carbohydrates: 6g     Sodium: 20mg

Serves 8 (2 tablespoons per serving)
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Notes, Tips & Suggestions
Cook's Tip: For a decorative presentation, peel a medium cucumber in lengthwise strips about 1/2 inch wide and 1/2 inch apart, leaving 1/2-inch strips of peel intact. Cut the cucumber crosswise into 3/4-inch slices. Using a melon baller or the tip of a small spoon, partially hollow out the slices, making little cups with enough of one end intact to hold the filling in place.

Spoon the filling into the cups.

This recipe is brought to you by the American Heart Association's free Choose To Move program for women. Recipe copyright c 2005 by the American Heart Association. Look for other delicious recipes in American Heart Association cookbooks, available from booksellers everywhere.
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SOURCE: American Heart Association

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