Change Must Happen

During a conversation with a friend, she told me about someone she knew who had a heart attack in January. Unfortunately for this person, he was not making any changes to his eating habits. His wife said she was too tired when she came home from work to cook and he said he didn’t know how. He continued to eat the same convenience foods and eat the same restaurant foods –  the same ones that contributed to his condition in the first place.

This saddens me, because it doesn’t have to be this way. This person should keep in mind that the foods he ate and the habits he had are what brought him to his heart attack, and medicines alone will not prevent another. Changes must be made.

My husband was committed to avoid repeating his experience and so he took his recovery very seriously. And so did I. We cleaned out the cupboards and removed the foods that contributed to the heart attack and I started cooking better meals. We stopped going to restaurants and he started going to the gym. Over a year later and 50 pounds less (for each of us)   –  he’s doing very well and has reduced his risk for future heart events significantly.

I understand it may be hard for some of you; some of you may not have a spouse/partner who is willing or able to help. But there is so much information out there, so many resources, you must make this your priority. If you don’t have anyone to cook for you perhaps this is the time you can learn. You must take your doctor’s recommendations seriously and you must make changes. As the saying goes “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got”. Please, make the changes now.

Reach out to friends and family, reach out to me – let’s work on making the changes so you can continue to live and become healthier day by day.

Getting on the Instant Pot Bandwagon + Instant Pot Fried Rice Recipe

I’ve been hearing about the Instant Pot for several months, and although I’m willing to try new things and be a (fairly) early adopter, I’m not one to jump on fads. When I first heard about it, I thought it was going to be another fad/trend like the magic bullet or the dancing the Dougie.  But I continued to hear about it –  and since I’ve long  been a pressure cooker cooker I decided I wanted to try the Instant Pot. And boy am I glad that I have!

My ONLY issue is finding recipes – or should I say ‘healthy’ recipes that suit the heart healthy/diabetic person. I can find plenty of meat, Keto and  vegetarian recipes, but many are high in fat or sugar. I’ve also become frustrated with many of the sites because there are SO MANY  ads that pop up all the time… and mailing list requests, and other pop-ups that seem to get past my pop up checker. I might have to explore this need and see if I can help fellow cooks resolve this issue.

Today, I’ll start with a nice and simple recommendation – fried rice. Please check this blog for  more information about Instant Pot cooking and for the fried rice recipe, which has the following ingredients:

  • 2 cups white rice prepared and cooled
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1 T garlic minced
  • 1 1/2 cups peas and corn frozen
  • 3 T soy sauce*
  • 3 large eggs

*My only changes would be to change to brown rice and to substitute the soy sauce for a product such as Naked Coconut Soy Sauce Substitute, to reduce the amount of salt in the recipe (they claim 65% less sodium than regular soy sauce). nakedcoconut soysauce alternate

Pumpkin Chili Recipe (Meatless)

This is a very good recipe that I’ve tested several times – even on picky eaters, and they loved it. They were surprised there was pumpkin in it.

Total time: approximately 40 minutes
Serves: 4


1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped small
1 cup fresh mushrooms, diced
1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (canned)
(i.e. ED Smith 100% pumpkin, per 1/3 cup: 0mg sodium, 100 mg potassium)
1 cup  no salt added canned tomatoes, diced not puree
(i.e Unico, per 1/2 cup:5mg sodium, 290mg potassium)
1 cup low-sodium vegetable stock, or water
1 can no-salt added black beans (15 oz), rinsed
(i.e. President’s Choice Blue Menu, per 1 cup: 5 mg sodium, 550 potassium)
2 cans no-salt added kidney beans (15 oz each), rinsed
(i.e. President’s Choice Blue Menu, per 1 cup: 10 mg sodium, 550 mg potassium)
1 tbsp cumin
1-2 tbsp chilli powder
pepper, to taste

  1. In a large pot, cook chopped onion for 2-3 minutes, then add mushrooms and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add pumpkin, rinsed black beans, rinsed kidney beans, vegetable broth or water and stir well. Add cumin and chilli powder. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  3. Garnish with chopped green onion or small amount of low-fat shredded cheddar cheese. Can also be served with homemade wholewheat bread or buns. Or some Low-Sodium Tortilla Chips

This recipe keeps well and is great for lunches.


Changing What You Eat

Based on J’s condition of having a heart attack AND diabetes we revised his diet by:

-reducing sugar  -replacing with Splenda products

-reducing sodium -replacing with herbs, spices, sodium replacements (be cautious of high amounts of potassium used in some products)

-reducing fat – including switching from whole milk to 1%, reduced fat cheese (limited quantities due to salt content), switching to Olive Oil margarine

-reducing meat – we eliminated red meat and switched to more of a plant based diet, although we did have some skinless, lean poultry and fish; also added protein with more nuts and seeds

Possibly the biggest changes were (1) not eating in restaurants and (2) limiting processed/premade food. The majority of our grocery shopping was raw ingredients as I cooked almost everything. Including making whole wheat bread so I could control the amount of sugar and salt in the bread.

Continue reading “Changing What You Eat”

Procedure Preparation -Food ideas

Last week J had to undergo a procedure at the hospital that required a clear liquid diet only for 24 hours. The instructions allowed bouillon or broth, jello and  drinks as long as there was no red or purple colouring. For many people this might not be too difficult but if you’re  on a sugar and salt restricted diet, this can be more difficult.

For example, beverages – almost all the clear juices on the grocery shelves had too much sugar, so they were off the list.


Next I tried the liquid or powder drink flavouring. Many of the Crystal Light flavours had raspberry mixed in so we were left with only Lemon/Lime. Brands such as Tang or Mio also either had the restricted colours or too much sugar, althoughI did find a nice Mango Peach that was good.  Also keep in mind you (or your “patient”) might not need to drink too many glasses, so depending on your daily intake, this might not be a problem if you only have a glass or two.

The Jello products were also a disappointment because I could only find Orange and Lemon in the Sugar Free versions. But they were helpful to make in advance before and after the procedure.

Bouillon/Broth – Campbell’s is now making a fairly good “no salt added’ broth. The Vegetable broth has only 20mg of Sodium and 45mg of Potassium for 2/3 cup of broth which is fairly good for commercially made broth.  I opted to make my own chicken broth.

Chicken Broth Recipe

A couple of days prior I placed two whole chickens in my pressure cooker along with 3 cups of liquid (you can use water, or a low sodium/low potassium broth). Place the pressure cooker on the high heat until the pressure builds and then reduce the heat to medium high to keep the steam going. Cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

According to the manufacturer’s instructions, when safe to do so, open the pressure cooker and use an instant read thermometer to check for doneness. Once the chicken is done separate the whole birds from the broth and place on a platter to cool down.

At this point I like to transfer the liquid to my stock pot because it has a thicker base than my pressure cooker and therefore is less likely to burn ingredients onto the bottom.

I add spices such  as: bay leaf, peppercorns, thyme, oregano and slowly bring to a low simmer. If desired, you can also add vegetable to your broth, such as celery, carrots, onions chopped into small-medium sized pieces.

In the mean time I separate the meat from the bones, adding the bones to the broth and once all the bones are in the broth, I place on a low simmer for 4 hours. Strain the broth to remove the bones and the vegetables and discard to your food recycling.

Let the broth cool and transfer to a container for your fridge.

The following day, you can degrease the broth by removing the hardened layer of fat from the broth. This can then be consumed following the instructions of the medical procedure.

You can later use the remaining broth as you normally would – maybe even adding back your cooked chicken for a chicken noodle soup, or other dishes.