We’ll be posting heart healthy recipes to help you on your journey to better health. Here is the story about how this began for us…
People were shocked, SHOCKED when they heard that I switched my diet from a full-on carnivorous, fatty diet to a Whole Food Plant-Based (WFPB) diet. After all, I am an East Coast Italian. I exalted using butter, oils, and dairy to develop layers of flavors, or what I referred to as “Flavor Town.” I shared Nana’s meatball recipe that she brought to America from Italy. Heck, I used to make fun of vegans to their faces!
And then, my husband, Steve, started going through a battery of tests due to high cholesterol, fatigue, and chest pains. This was quite sobering because heart disease runs in his family. Steve’s Dad had a quadruple bypass when he was only 38 and died at 42. Steve was only 16 years old, and it was he that put the last nitrogen pill under his Dad’s tongue as he was dying from a massive heart attack. His grandfather died of a heart attack in his early 60’s.
Okay, back to the tests.
After blood tests and a cardiac stress test, he went for a CT scan to check for blockage in his veins. At 1000, veins are essentially closed. He was at 960! Let that sink in…960! He was guaranteed to have a heart attack very soon. His doctor gave him two alternatives; a bypass or a drastic change in diet/lifestyle. He didn’t want a bypass. They cost about $10,000, have to be re-done after several years, and it certainly didn’t help his Dad. He chose a drastic diet and lifestyle change. As his wife and partner of more than 35 years, I was all in. I cleaned out our cabinets and fridge. I got rid of everything and anything fatty, unhealthy, and/or processed. I even got rid of a new container of cheese balls, my personal crack cocaine. And then I educated myself.
Steve’s doctor, Cherese Tarter, DNP, recommended two books to start with right away; “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease” by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and “UnDo It!” by Dr. Dean Ornish and his wife, Anne Ornish. The information, real-life stories, and recipes were life-changing. I highly recommend them.
I was a pretty good cook before the change. In fact, we rarely ate out or bought processed food, so I thought we were healthy. Not even close! Now I had to learn how to cook all over again, and with NO FAT, not even nuts or avocados. Peanut butter once a week was a real treat.
I had no idea that onions/veggies could be sautéed in vegetable broth, and I watch a LOT of cooking shows.
I will admit that eliminating dairy was pretty tough; Italians love cheese after all. The truth is, it didn’t take long to get over that, now I don’t miss it all. In fact, the WFPB diet is really satisfying, and I lost almost 20 lbs. without trying or going hungry. Flavor Town isn’t found in fats. Flavor Town is found in simple, fresh food and herbs. We eat a lot but feel better. In the first 6 weeks, Steve’s LDLs went from 170 to 51. His cholesterol medication was cut in half. That is huge!
Please know that healthy eating is a START on the journey to better health. We still have lifestyle changes that need to be added or eliminated. The point is to start somewhere. We started with a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet based on specific medical issues. This blog and the recipes are meant to help you on your journey to better health. Hopefully, I can help inspire you to cook healthy food that is yummy AND nutritious. Mangia!