I usually consider myself pretty rugged when it comes to the cold—but we could all use a little taste of sunshine in the dreary midwinter. So after a very Vermont winter wedding in January, my husband, Colin, and I decided to honeymoon in Kauai, Hawaii. It was a dream get-away, so much so that the minute we stepped off the plane back in Vermont and felt the frigid 10˚ air, we both looked at each other and thought, “I want my Hawaiian honeymoon back!”
Limit sodium. Ban trans fats. I know, I know. Keeping my heart in healthy form means paying attention to what I eat. And, let’s face it: I’m a nutrition editor, so I obviously like eating healthfully. But what’s with all of the negative talk? Can’t we just focus on what we can eat? What I should eat? Let’s hear something positive for a change.
My husband and I spent 10 days in Italy this past fall. And even though I felt like we were constantly eating and drinking, neither of us gained any weight and we both felt great. That’s because we were living the Mediterranean lifestyle to its fullest extent—we were doing plenty of walking, we were eating a variety of healthy, whole foods and delicious Mediterranean meals—in reasonable portions, of course—and we weren’t stressed out!
I was so excited when I heard about First Lady Michelle Obama’s new campaign to fight childhood obesity, called Let’s Move. As a mom, it’s easy for me to get behind any effort to help our kids be healthier. I know how hard it can be for parents and kids to eat healthfully in a world filled with busy schedules, a proliferation of unhealthy convenient food choices and picky eaters.
My husband and I are members of a year-round CSA (community-supported agriculture, with shares for members). In Vermont. That might leave you scratching your head, wondering what the heck we’re getting from a farm in Vermont in the middle of winter, but it’s a pretty sweet deal. The farmers store a lot of root vegetables and winter squash, plus they put up lots of goodies in the summer for the winter share.
When I read this week that former President Bill Clinton had two stents inserted into a clogged coronary artery, I thought of my own family. I’ve been focused on eating a heart-healthy diet for more than 20 years and I’m only 34. Why? When I was in junior high my dad was diagnosed with high cholesterol and Mom announced we were going to start eating more heart-healthy meals.
We’re finally getting a little snow here in Vermont, but it’s nothing like the dumping the mid-Atlantic states have been getting (and will continue to see, according to the latest news reports). I have family in Virginia, Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania and while the snow is hitting them hard and keeping them home from work, they’re hitting the kitchen to cook some warming winter meals during their extra time stuck in the house.
If my house ever caught on fire, I wouldn’t be scrambling for my wedding album or my jewelry box. Of course I’d rescue my husband and pets, but the one item I’d fight to save is my enamel-coated cast-iron Dutch oven. I can’t imagine my life without it. It’s the perfect vessel for cooking up a warming winter supper. It conducts heat evenly, which is perfect for braising. It goes from stovetop to oven with ease and the enamel surface makes it a breeze to clean.
My husband was first told he had high cholesterol at 30 and since then he’s become acutely conscious of his heart health—particularly which foods are heart-healthy. I thought for sure when I pulled together a list of “surprising” foods that promote heart health, he’d look at me and say, “Duh!” Instead he surprised me by raising his eyebrows and smiling (probably because he could now add more foods to his “good for your heart” list).
Over the years we’ve all heard some nutrition information and advice that seemed so black-and-white it was hard to imagine it would ever change. I think one of those bits of information is cutting back on saturated fat to improve your heart’s health. For years research has suggested that keeping a cap on saturated fats helps reduce risk of heart disease primarily by lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol, which can lead to plaque buildup in arteries.