Heart Healthy Beats

Tidbits to keep your heart healthy

Weekend Fun

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What a weekend! The weather was beautiful, a little warm, but overall lovely.

The afternoon was spent at Elliott Family Farms for Heritage Days








But the morning started with Prince P’s first run.









The HOP 5k & 10K with the 1 mile fun run.












A sugar cane maze, story telling, horse and buggy ride, apple butter and BBQ awaited us after the run.














We were thoroughly exhausted at the end of the day.


Eggplant was the center of attention for dinner Saturday night. I wanted something light and refreshing. I sliced this beautiful eggplant, that came out of a dear friend’s garden, dipped it in eggwash and breadcrumbs and baked for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, I opened two cans of tomatoes, added a few spices. Once the eggplant was finished I stacked and enjoyed.

I also tried out my new bread machine, given to me by my boss. Talk about a great hand-me-down.










My first creation has so far been everyones favorite. Banana nut bread!! Delicious.








I finished the weekend with a little work in the garden. The radishes were ready to be pulled up and I found a few okra lingering. I decided to try my hand at pickling these. I’ll let you know how that turns out.


I had one eggplant left that needed to be used, so I decided to stuff it. I was preparing sausage pizza for the kids so I used left over sausage, garlic and left over tomatoes from the eggplant Parmesan. Topped it with mozzarella cheese and baked. Served this with stewed tomatoes and okra and Italian and herb bread.


Even though the homework is waiting, I enjoyed being able to get back in the garden and kitchen this weekend.

Now its back to the books!

How was your weekend?


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How safe is our food?

Earlier this week, while finishing a lesson plan on MyPlate, I realized I could no longer access the website due to the government shutdown. This got me thinking, what else is affected by the shutdown? 

The Food and Drug Administration will have to cease most of its food safety operations. The FDA regulates 80 percent of the food supply and the administration will be unable to continue the majority of its food safety, nutrition and cosmetics activity.

“While the FDA will continue manning all meat production facilities with full-time inspectors, routine establishment inspections, some compliance and enforcement activities, monitoring notification programs (food contact substances, infant formula), and the majority of the laboratory research necessary to inform public health decision making will cease.”

Epidemiologists from the Centers for Disease Control will not be able to do microbial testing needed to track outbreaks back to their source.

WIC, Headstart and senior nutrition programs will not receive funding during the shutdown.

It is possible that nothing goes wrong with our food supply during this time but who can take that chance.

This weekend while I’m out and about, I will be looking for more than my usual crop from the farmer’s market and local farmers. Eating local makes even more sense to me during this time.





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Tidbit Tuesday – More about B vitamins

Yes, this school work is kicking my tail but I am determined not to let you guys down. Thanks for bearing with me.

This week a lot of research has been put into B vitamins. Mostly Biotin, Pantothenic acid, Folate & B 12.

One of our discussions asked, “Does biotin and pantothenic acid really improve your hair texture and preserve its color?”

I thought this would also be a good topic for us to discuss. Do any of you take these supplements? Hair, skin and nails supplement?










Biotin & Pantothenic acid are B vitamins essential for growth. They support energy metabolism by helping breakdown and use food.

During my research search.  I found very little scientific data supporting the use of either. Deficiency in these vitamins is very rare. These supplements would not prove beneficial unless deficiency is present and biotin deficiency is linked to incomplete parenteral nutrition and nursing infants whose mother is deficient in the vitamin. This deficiency, although rare, results in skin rashes and hair loss.

So, bottom line, continue to eat a varied, nutritious diet and do not waste your money on these products as they likely doing nothing more than the food you eat. Healthy nails and hair comes from plant based foods, eggs, salmon, sweet potatoes, liver

Biotin food sources

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Mediterranean diet and the heart

This was my threaded discussion topic for Intro to Vitamin and Mineral Metabolism:

Years ago, everyone spoke about the benefits of vitamin E and the heart. It was called the love vitamin by many. Other than functioning as an antioxidant, what would you tell consumers about vitamin E and cardiovascular health? What did you find in the literature that you want to share to support your argument?

After researching the benefits of vitamin E and finding that no studies support supplementing with vitamin E but all state a diet full of fruits, vegetables, fortified grains, nuts and seeds, my professor decided I should elaborate on the Mediterranean Diet since one of my studies mentioned it briefly. I thought you guys would get something out of this.

Oldways, the Harvard School of Public Health, and the European Office of the World Health Organization introduced the classic Mediterranean Diet in 1993 at a conference in Cambridge, MA, along with a Mediterranean Diet Pyramid graphic to represent it visually.


Parts of the Mediterranean region that has shown the lowest recorded rates of coronary heart disease, certain cancers, and other diet related chronic diseases along with the highest adult life expectancy are proven to eat a similar diet as the one displayed below. (Willett, et al., 1995) The healthfulness of this pattern is corroborated by more than 50 years of epidemiological and experimental nutrition research. The frequency and amounts suggested are in most cases intentionally nonspecific, since variation was considerable. The historical pattern includes the following (several parenthetical notes add a contemporary public health perspective):

  • An abundance of food from plant sources, including fruits and vegetables, potatoes, breads and grains, beans, nuts, and seeds.
  • Emphasis on a variety of minimally processed and, wherever possible, seasonally fresh and locally grown foods (which often maximizes the health-promoting micronutrient and antioxidant content of these foods).
  • Olive oil as the principal fat, replacing other fats and oils (including butter and margarine).
  • Total fat ranging from less than 25 percent to over 35 percent of energy, with saturated fat no more than 7 to 8 percent of energy (calories).
  • Daily consumption of low to moderate amounts of cheese and yogurt (low-fat and non-fat versions may be preferable).
  • Twice-weekly consumption of low to moderate amounts of fish and poultry (recent research suggests that fish be somewhat favored over poultry); up to 7 eggs per week (including those used in cooking and baking).
  • Fresh fruit as the typical daily dessert; sweets with a significant amount of sugar (often as honey) and saturated fat consumed not more than a few times per week.
  • Red meat a few times per month (recent research suggests that if red meat is eaten, its consumption should be limited to a maximum of 12 to 16 ounces [340 to 450 grams] per month; where the flavor is acceptable, lean versions may be preferable).
  • Regular physical activity at a level which promotes a healthy weight, fitness and well-being.

Moderate consumption of wine, normally with meals; about one to two glasses per day for men and one glass per day for women. From a contemporary public health perspective, wine should be considered optional and avoided when consumption would put the individual or others at risk.

A randomized trial of the Mediterranean diet and cardiovascular risk revealed that persons at high cardiovascular risk, eating a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil or nuts reduced the incidence of major cardiovascular events. 7447 patients were assigned to one of three groups. One group ate a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil. Another group ate a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts. The last group ate a controlled diet. Participants were followed for a median of 4.8 years. Participants from all groups reported similar adherence to the diet at baseline. In this trial, an energy-unrestricted Mediterranean diet supplemented with either extra-virgin olive oil or nuts resulted in an absolute risk reduction of approximately 3 major cardiovascular events per 1000 person-years, for a relative risk reduction of approximately 30%, among high-risk persons who were initially free of cardiovascular disease. These results support the benefits of the Mediterranean diet for cardiovascular risk reduction. (Estruch, et al., 2013)

Estruch, R., Ros, E., Salas-Salvadó, J., Covas, M., Corella, D., Arós, F., et al. (2013). Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet. The New England Journal of Medicine, 1279-1290.

Willett, W., Sacks, F., Trichopoulou, A., Drescher, G., Ferro-Luzzi, A., Helsing, E., et al. (1995). Mediterranean diet pyramid: a cultural model for healthy eating. The American Journal of Clinical Nutriton, 1402-1406.












Have you tried the Mediterranean diet? What do you like most about it.

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Tuesday Tidbit – Salmon

You should be eating more fish, hell, we all should be eating more fish. There are so many benefits we are missing out on by not creating more meals containing fish. Tonight, in a rush after work, I threw together salmon patties and it brought me to this Tuesday’s tidbit.

Studies have shown that consumption of the fatty acid rich salmon can help you live longer and be healthier while you do it.

Salmon helps lower total cholesterol by lowering bad cholesterol (LDL) and raising good cholesterol (HDL). Consuming a diet rich is omega-3 fatty acids can help repair heart damage and strengthen the heart muscles. It also helps lower blood pressure and even prevent hardening of your arteries which lessens your chances of having a heart attack. Two servings of salmon each week may reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease by 17 percent and your risk of having a heart attack by 27 percent.

Keeping all this in mind, I hope this recipe will give you an idea of how to incorporate more fish into your meals.

  • Canned Salmon
  • 1 tbsp. pepper
  • 1 tbsp. dried parsley
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 egg
  • canola or vegetable oil, a drizzle

In a pan, add a drizzle of oil and swirl pan. Heat oil on medium.

Drain juice off salmon and empty in bowl. Add pepper, dried parsley, bread crumbs and cornmeal. Mix well. Add egg and mix well.

Patty with hands and add to pan when oil is hot. Brown both sides. Enjoy!!!

Served mine with left over pasta and tomatoes, and vinegar cucumbers.

School Lunch Week in Review

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The new school week starts tomorrow and I only have four days of lunches to plan for. Having a six year old picky eater, is tough and planning healthier meals is even harder. Here’s a run down of last weeks meals.



Pizza spirals made out of crescent rolls with homemade pizza sauce, pepperoni and cheese; Celery boats  with carrot cream cheese topped with sunflower kernels; cherry tomatoes (he used to call these red eggs); homemade apple chips with a fruit leather “P”

He loved the pizza spirals and ate all the tomatoes. The rest was picked over and he doesn’t like the raspberry fruit leather. 



Peanut butter and jelly on wheat (supposed to be a hand but it looks a little rough); carrots, cauliflower and carrots with a homemade ranch dip; lemon lime jello with pear pieces.

He didn’t even try the dip, said he didn’t like ranch dip. That’s silly because he normally loves it. Kids!! The veggies are always a huge hit with Prince P so this meal was mostly devoured. 



Pepperoni stick; Mozzarella cheese; pretzels; cherry tomatoes; grapes and Super Mario Bros. gummies

This meal was a complete success!!!



Flat bread Canadian bacon and pepperoni pizza; Angry Birds cheese crackers; cucumbers and cherry tomatoes; grapes

I tried to do something a little different this meal and serve something that wasn’t cold but it backfired because he said it wasn’t good and ate no more than one bite of the pizza. The rest was eaten up. 



Peanut butter and jelly on waffles; Pringles; sliced cucumber and cherry tomatoes; diced pears and peaches

The sandwich wasn’t even touched. I think he was a little intimidated by the wrapper. He picked at the fruit and of course the rest was devoured.



Everyday he drank either Gatorade or Crystal Light. I would rather send milk but he has a really late lunch and I don’t want to take the chance of his milk getting too hot. Milk is center stage at his other meals. We are learning with each day what works in the lunch box. I’m learning that even if he eats it at home, he may not eat it at school. Writing his menu down for him to see also helps.

If you have children, what kind of meals are you packing? What is your biggest obstacle?

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Tidbit Tuesday – Beans

I’m a little late, please forgive me. 

“Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart
The more you eat, the more you fart
The more you fart, the better you feel
So let’s have beans with every meal!”


This little poem makes a great point, beans are great for your heart!!!

When I started eating a cleaner diet, I had to make important decisions. Groceries are expensive and when half your cart is filled with fresh fruits and vegetables your bill increases. In order for me to continue to provide my family with clean food, and not double my grocery bill, I had to cut out other things. I decided to decrease the amount of meat we eat. Ground beef started creeping closer to $5 per pound, that’s when I decided we didn’t need it. I’m not a huge fan of it anyways. But in order to still provide my family with the burgers we all love I turned to beans. Black beans makes a mean burger. I combine mine with a homemade tomato sauce, bell peppers, onions, garlic, bread crumbs, a few spices and an egg. Top it with avocado slices and home grown tomatoes. And the hubby loves it.


Not only does this method save me money but it also saves my body.

  • Unlike meat based protein, beans are naturally low in fat, free of saturated and trans-fat, and are a cholesterol free source of protein.
  • Research shows a diet including beans may reduce your risk of heart disease.
  • Thanks to their high fiber and water content, beans help keep you feeling full and can help you shed excess weight.
  • Beans lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels instead of potentially causing them to increase, as some animal proteins have been proven to.
  • When paired with a whole grain such as whole wheat pasta or brown rice, they provide protein comparable to that of meat or diary foods.


How do you incorporate beans into your diet? How often do add beans to the menu?

For more inspiration check out my Pinterest board, all about beans.

Have a great Wednesday!!!