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Recovering from a stroke can be difficult, especially when you’re also expected to overhaul your diet to prevent further complications.

Patients who are recovering from a stroke in the hospital are often handed a list of foods that they now need to avoid.  Needless to say, feeling like you have to give up all of your favorite foods can feel pretty stressful, especially when you’re already in the hospital due to a serious health complication.

You can show your support for a loved one who is going through this difficult time by preparing a beautiful and delicious smoothie bowl that proves healthy eating doesn’t need to be bland or boring.

Often the most challenging step in transitioning toward a healthier lifestyle is simply the act of becoming more familiar with plant-based ingredients and cooking techniques.  For this reason, I love the idea of starting with a simple, 5-minute smoothie bowl.

Unlike regular (drinkable) smoothies, smoothie bowls are usually made to be a bit thicker and eaten out of a bowl with a spoon instead of out of a glass.

My favorite thing about eating smoothies out of a bowl is that it allows for a beautiful display of healthy toppings!  The result is a dish that’s wholesome enough for breakfast yet tasty enough for dessert too.

Besides great taste and eye-catching presentation, this Strawberry Flax Smoothie Bowl is filled with foods that support optimal cardiovascular health.

Strawberries, for example, contain a number of heart-healthy nutrients, including vitamin C, fiber, and protective phytonutrients that support optimal cholesterol levels and blood sugar control.

Flaxseeds are another beneficial addition to a heart healthy lifestyle.  These cardiovascular benefits are in part due to high levels of an omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid.  Omega 3’s and flax have been shown to suppress the hardening of arteries (a major risk factor for future stroke).

Smoothies and smoothie bowls are best served fresh but they can easily be partially prepared in advance for added convenience.  To partially prepare a smoothie bowl, add all ingredients except milk and toppings to a freezer-friendly bag or container and freeze.  Once ready to serve, just transfer contents to a blender, add milk, and blend until smooth.

And don’t forget the toppings!

They’re not only beautiful to look at and fun to eat, but also provide an opportunity to add even more heart-healthy antioxidants, fiber, and healthy fats.  Use my suggestions from the recipe below or express a little creativity by adding in your own favorite nuts, seeds, fresh or dried fruits, herbs and spices, etc.

Opt for lots of color and texture to create a healthy breakfast or dessert that’s just as good for your heart as it is fun to eat!

Serves: 1

Strawberry Flax Smoothie Bowl

  1. Total Time5 Mins
  2. Prep Time5 Mins

This convenient smoothie bowl helps those recovering from a stroke to maintain strength during rehabilitation. This recipe was developed by Stephanie McKercher, RDN.

Ingredients

    • ½ frozen banana
    • ½ cup frozen strawberries
    • ½ cup almond milk or milk of choice, unsweetened
    • 2 tablespoons ground flax
    • 2 teaspoons cacao nibs (plus additional for topping)
    • Toppings: more cacao nibs, goji berries, coconut, hemp seeds, sliced fresh strawberries

Instructions

    1. Add banana, frozen strawberries, almond milk, ground flax, and cacao nibs to blender and pulse until creamy.
    2. Transfer to bowl, add toppings and enjoy!

Reference

Basu A, Rhone M, Lyons TJ.  Berries: emerging impact on cardiovascular health.  Nutr. Rev. 2010 Mar; 68(3): 168-177.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3068482/#!po=11.9048 Accessed 7/7/16.

Prasad K.  Flaxseed and cardiovascular health.  J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2009 Nov;54(5):369-77. doi: 10.1097/FJC.0b013e3181af04e5.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19568181 Accessed 7/7/16.

Give InKind does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We have an affiliate relationship with many of the advertisers on our site, and may receive a commission from any products purchased from links in this article. See Terms & Conditions.

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