Check eating habits for American Heart Month

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Mary Morris, director and family & consumer sciences agent for Chowan County Cooperative Extension, has prepared a heart healthy recipe for Barbecue Chicken Lettuce Wraps.


By Mary Morris
Chowan County Cooperative Extension

Sunday, February 18, 2018

February is American Heart Month, so do something to celebrate your ticker this month. We all know someone who has had or has heart disease. The top three things you can do right now are 1. Eat right 2. Exercise 3. Reduce stress. Yep, those are some main contributors to heart disease that we can control. Out of our control are our genetics, but making changes to your diet and exercise can help us live a much better quality of life and for longer.

So, step back and take a look at what you are eating and how you cook? Are you eating a lot of processed foods (frozen dinners, boxed mac ‘n cheese, foods partially or already made)?

If the answer is yes, you can start there. Change some of your meals to foods that you make from start to finish. Pull out some of your favorite recipes and adjust the ingredients using these tips to be more heart healthy.

· Dairy Products-Cook with low-fat, fat free, nonfat dry, or evaporated fat free milk. Bake or cook with 3 egg whites and 1 egg yolk, instead of 2 whole eggs. Or use 2 egg whites or 1 /4 cup of egg substitute, instead of 1 whole egg.

· Spices and Flavorings- Use a variety of herbs and spices in place of salt, and choose low-sodium bouillon and broths.

· Oils and Butter- Use cooking oil spray to lower fat and calories. Use more olive oil. Use a small amount of vegetable oil, instead of lard, butter, or other fats that are hard at room temperature.

· Meats and Poultry-Choose lean cuts of meat and remove any visible fat. Remove skin from chicken and other poultry before cooking.

· Sandwiches and Salads- Use fat free or low-fat dressing, yogurt, or mayonnaise. For salad dressing, use equal parts water and vinegar, and half the oil.

· Soups and Stews- Remove fat from homemade broths, soups, and stews by preparing them ahead and chilling them. Before reheating, lift the hardened fat off the surface.

· Breads- Make muffins, quick breads, and biscuits by using no more than 1-2 Tbsp of fat for each cup of flour. For muffins or quick breads, use 3 ripe, well-mashed bananas, instead of 1 /2 cup butter or oil. Or, substitute a cup of applesauce for a cup of butter, margarine, oil, or shortening.

· Desserts- Make a pie crust with only 1 /2 cup margarine for every 2 cups flour. Use soft margarines (liquid or tub types). For chocolate desserts, use 3 Tbsp of cocoa for every ounce of baking chocolate. If you need to replace the fat in chocolate, add up to 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil. Make cakes and soft-drop cookies by using no more than 2 Tbsp of fat for each cup of flour.

It’s okay to go semi homemade also, you want to be careful by reading food labels and watching out for added salt and sugar. The more of the recipe you can put together the better because then you know what has been added. If you have questions regarding recipes or cooking substitutions please call Mary Morris, Chowan County Cooperative Extension office 252-482-6585 or email mary_morris@ncsu.edu . Below are some heart healthy recipes that can get you started.

Mary Campen Morris is director and family & consumer sciences agent for Chowan County Cooperative Extension.