Wellness for the Family: Plant Based Eating for Heart and over Cardiovascular Health

Since February is Heart Health Awareness Month, it’s only fitting that we talk about plant-based eating.  The colorful, flavorful lifestyle way of eating is a huge benefit for our overall cardiovascularSalad health.  It is also packed with crucial vitamins and minerals for our everyday health.

Registered dietician with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Shanthi Appelö, goes over the key benefits of plant-based eating and what specific parts of our bodies are impacted the most.

To see Shanthi’s recommendations and simple plant-based recipe she shares with us, see below.

The Mediterranean diet was rated by a group of experts and named the best diet in 2020 US News and World Report. This Greek salad recipe features flavors of the Mediterranean and air fried chickpeas as a crunchy plant-based protein.

Greek Salad Ingredients


  • Romaine lettuce
  • Tomatoes, diced
  • Cucumbers, sliced and halved
  • Red onion, thinly sliced
  • Kalamata olives, drained and rinsed
  • Feta cheese crumbles
  • Orzo
  • Greek salad dressing (see recipe below)


Greek Salad Dressing


  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder 
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup wine vinegar


  1. Rub basil and oregano between fingers or use a mortar and pestle to bring out the flavors of the dried herbs.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a mason jar or other container with lid. Shake well to combine each time before serving.

Air Fryer Chickpea


A great source of protein and fiber, chickpeas are a great healthy snack sure to keep you full until your next meal. While cooked chickpeas are often soft in texture, air frying this nutritional powerhouse offers a crunch to eat by hand or on a salad instead of croutons.  


  • 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed 
  • Spray olive oil 
  • ½ tsp garlic powder 
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper 
  • Juice from one lemon wedge 
  • Fresh ground pepper and salt to taste 


  1. Drain and rinse chickpeas. Pat dry. 
  1. Place chickpeas in air fryer basket and spray with oil. Set temperature to 390 degrees F and timer to 17 minutes. 
  1. Shake air fryer every 5 minutes or so. 
  2. At 15 minutes, spray with oil and sprinkle with lemon juice and apply spice mixture. 

Want to eat your chickpeas as a crunchy snack? Here are the nutrition facts:

Nutrition information, serving size ½ cup 

Calories 114| Fat 2g | Carbohydrates 16 g (Sugar 0g) (Fiber 9g) | Protein 8g 

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