All polyunsaturated fats, including the omega-3s, are increasingly recognized as important to human health. However, the body cannot produce them on its own. For this reason, omega-3s must be obtained from food sources like fish, thus making these fats "essential."

Did you know that heart disease is the number one killer in the U.S. with over 700,000 deaths annually?

We often take our lives for granted, but there is a large percentage of people who have a variety of heart and lung problems that slow down and impair their daily lives. Sometimes, modern medicine can achieve repairs. When these repairs are combined with proper dietary change and exercise, a person can lead a productive and active life.

February is National Heart Month. Locally, Cardiac/Pulmonary Rehab. Alumni Inc. (CPR Inc.) provides financial aid to those with proven needs, educational and outreach initiatives, and community events promoting healthy lifestyles. They also support several seminars each year with the assistance of CMC and St. Thomas of Nashville. They also have several events aimed at gathering all former cardiac and pulmonary patients together to socialize, reacquaint and educate them and their families on what is new and innovative.

They also offer some healthy heart tips for everyone:

•Check your blood pressure regularly

•Don't smoke

•Eat a healthy diet

•Be physically active

•Recognize and treat diabetes

•Reduce alcohol consumption

•Have regular medical checkups

•Maintain or achieve a healthy body weight

There are many ways to cook healthy and encourage a healthy heart.

For more information on CPR Inc., call Vickie Myers, RN, team coordinator, at 459-7379.

In the meantime, take time to think of your heart and have a try at these tasty recipes.


Fresh Tomato Salsa

4 cups diced tomatoes (5-6 medium)

3/4 cup finely diced red onion (about 1 small)

1/4 cup red-wine vinegar

1-2 jalepeño peppers, seeded and minced

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 tsp. salt

Pinch of cayenne pepper, or more to taste

Combine tomatoes, onion, vinegar, jalepeño, cilantro, salt and cayenne in a medium bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Stuffed Peppers

4 green peppers

6 tbsp. chopped onion

2 tbsp. low-sodium corn oil margarine

1 cup long-cooking white or brown rice, uncooked

2 cups water

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. pepper

1/2 tsp. paprika

1 can (8 oz.) low-sodium tomatoes, undrained

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. dried sweet basil

egg substitute, equivalent to two eggs

1/2 of 10/ounce package frozen cut green beans, thawed

1/2 cup low-sodium, low-fat cheese, cubed

Preheat oven to 350°. Cut off top of green peppers. Remove seeds and membrane. Boil in water for five minutes and drain. Cook onion in margarine until tender. Add rice, water, garlic powder, pepper, paprika, tomatoes, oregano, and basil. Cover and cook until rice soaks up all the liquid and is tender. Stir in egg substitute, green beans, and cheese into rice mixture. Stuff green peppers and stand upright in a baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes

From the kitchen of Minnie Halmontaller

Main dish

Barbecued Chicken Drummettes

16 chicken wings, skin and fat removed

1/4 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. pepper

2 tbsp. tub margarine

2 tbsp. brown sugar, firmly packed

1/4 cup catsup

1 tbsp. prepared mustard

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 400°. Cut off wing tips and straighten remaining sections to resemble a small drumstick. Place in a baking dish and season with salt and pepper. Combine remaining ingredients and spoon half of mixture over chicken. Bake 15 minutes. Take drummettes and spoon half of mixture over chicken. Bake an additional 15 minutes until chicken is tender.

From the kitchen of Minnie Halmontaller

Main dish

Easy Salmon Cakes

3 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 stalk celery, finely diced

2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

15 oz. canned salmon, drained, or 1 1/2 cups cooked salmon

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 3/4 cups fresh whole-wheat breadcrumbs (see Tip)

1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

1 lemon, cut into wedges

Preheat oven to 450°. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Heat 1 1/2 tsp. oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and celery; cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in parsley; remove from the heat.

Place salmon in a medium bowl. Flake apart with a fork; remove any bones and skin. Add egg and mustard; mix well. Add the onion mixture, breadcrumbs and pepper; mix well. Shape the mixture into 8 patties, about 2 1/2 inches wide.

Heat remaining 1 1/2 tsp. oil in the pan over medium heat. Add 4 patties and cook until the undersides are golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a wide spatula, turn them over onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining patties.

Bake the salmon cakes until golden on top and heated through, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve salmon cakes with sauce and lemon wedges. To make fresh breadcrumbs: Trim crusts from firm sandwich bread. Tear the bread into pieces and process in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. One slice makes about 1/3 cup.

Main dish

Oven Fried Chicken

Cooking spray

20 crackers, whole-grain, saltine-like, pulsed in a food processor to fine crumbs (about 1/2 cup)

2 1/2 cup(s) cereal, Corn Flakes, pulsed in a food processor to fine crumbs (about 1/2 cup)

2 tbsp. sesame seeds

3/4 tsp. pepper, cayenne

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

2 large egg white(s)

1 cup(s) yogurt, low-fat plain

1 tbsp. mustard, dijon-style

1/2 tsp. salt

4 chicken breast halves, bone in, skin removed, rinsed and patted dry

4 chicken thighs, bone in, skin removed, rinsed and patted dry

Preheat oven to 375°. Lightly spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Combine saltine and Corn Flake crumbs, sesame seeds, cayenne, and garlic powder in a shallow bowl. In a large bowl, combine the egg whites, yogurt, mustard and salt. Add the chicken pieces and coat thoroughly with the yogurt mixture. Then, one at a time, dip the chicken pieces in the cracker mixture, packing the crumbs evenly onto the chicken. Arrange the chicken on the prepared baking sheet and spray the tops lightly with cooking spray. Bake until the juices run clear when the chicken is pierced with a knife, 45 to 60 minutes.


Fruit Truffle Supreme

3 cups skim milk

1 1/6 oz. package vanilla sugar-free/fat-free pudding mix

1 12 oz. can light sliced peaches in juice, drained, reserving juice

3/4 cup strawberry fruit spread (no sugar added), heated

2 cups assorted fresh fruit (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, sliced kiwi fruit, etc.)

1 8 oz. fat-free whipped topping

1 tsp. vanilla flavoring

Assorted fruit for garnish

In a medium bowl, using nonfat milk, prepare pudding mix according to package directions. Fold in vanilla flavoring and refrigerate. Line the bottom of a deep glass dish or trifle bowl with half of the cake pieces. Sprinkle the cake with half of the retained juice from the canned peaches. Pour half of the whipped topping into the pudding mix and spoon half the pudding mixture evenly over the fruit and cake. Repeat layers, ending with the pudding. Top with the remainder of the whipped topping and garnish creatively with a fresh fruit. Chill at least 2 hours before serving.

From the kitchen of John Hauck