As the temperature drops, do you find yourself craving more sweets or carb-heavy food? Well you’re not alone. Research shows that on average, most people gain one to two pounds over the winter months.

Some experts suggest that colder temperatures and less daylight cause people to feel depressed and eat more to cheer up. Others suggest it’s just opportunity – less time outdoors and more holiday parties add up to more calories.

Bonnie Alexander, RD, an outpatient dietitian for Adventist HealthCare.

Whatever the reason – the winter weight gain can add up over the years, causing strain on your heart. Being overweight or obese is a major risk factor for developing heart disease.

On a cold winter morning, it can be tempting to grab a warm muffin or a doughy bagel, but these processed carbs are often full of sugar, fat and sodium, which don’t carry much nutritional value and can be harmful for your heart, explains Bonnie Alexander, RD, outpatient dietitian at Adventist HealthCare Washington Adventist Hospital.

Here’s a hearty, satisfying breakfast that will warm you up this winter and keep your heart healthy. It’s packed with healthy fats, fiber and protein that will keep you feeling full longer.

Quinoa and Chia Oatmeal Mix

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (regular or gluten-free)
  • 1 cup rolled wheat and/or barley flakes*
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup dried fruit, such as raisins, cranberries and/or chopped apricots
  • ½-cup chia and/or hemp seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¾-teaspoon salt

Directions:

  • To make the hot cereal dry mix: Combine oats, wheat and/or barley flakes, quinoa, dried fruit, seeds, cinnamon and salt in an airtight container. Store up to 1 month.
  • To make one serving of hot cereal: Combine ⅓ -up Quinoa and Chia Oatmeal Mix with 1¼ cups water (or milk) in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, partially cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened: 12 to 15 minutes. Let stand, covered, for five minutes. Stir in a sweetener of your choice and top with nuts and/or more dried fruit, if desired. Makes 1 cup.

*Rolled barley and wheat flakes are steamed, dried and rolled-flat whole grains. They can be cooked to make a hot cereal and used in place of rolled oats in most recipes. They are usually near other whole-grain cereals.

Is your heart ready for winter? Find out with our fast, FREE heart health risk assessment.