Hearts and that little red dress are not just for Valentine’s Day. They are for all of February as the American Heart Association dedicates the month to awareness and prevention of the number one killer of women—heart disease. February has a special, personal place in my heart. I lost my mother to a massive heart attack 18 years ago this month. She was 49. Every year on Feb. 8th I go to her grave and tell her about all the things she has missed. My victories and struggles come out in a massive, private catharsis. Over the years she has missed a lot—my graduation from college, my first day of teaching, my wedding, and the birth of her granddaughters. I cry more now for the things that she will never know than for the things that once were. Heart disease, you can say, broke my heart.
|Jennifer with her mom Paula.|
With my marriage and birth of my daughters I felt my heart begin to heal and it filled me with a resolve to keep my heart healthy enough to see all the things she did not. I started eating healthier and exercise more. Last year it seemed the moon and stars aligned when, encouraged by my sister-in-laws, I started running. In one year I went from running three miles to finishing the NYC Marathon. On my runs, I often hear my mother’s voice whispering words of encouragement and I think of all the reasons to stay healthy: To see my daughters graduate, shop for their wedding dresses,
and hold my grandbabies.
But exercise and a positive attitude are not enough in the fight against heart disease. We must also eat right and make healthy choices such as cutting back on salt and fat. For example, instead of indulging in chicken parmigiana, have grilled eggplant over mixed greens. Small, positive choices and slight changes add up to healthier you. Take care of your heart and it will help you take care of those who need you. —Jennifer
What you’ll need:
1 bag mixed greens
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tsps. and 2 tbsps. garlic powder
1 package cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 package of low-fat mozzarella cheese
Pepper and salt
Skin the eggplant and cut long ways into thin strips.
In a large bowl mix the oil and and three teaspoons of garlic powder, then coat the eggplant in the mixture.
Grill eggplant on outside grill or stovetop.
For the salad:
Clean your greens. Add the onion and tomatoes. Go twice around a bowl with olive oil. Add a pinch of pepper, pinch of salt, 2 tablespoons of garlic powder and toss.
Top the salad with the grilled eggplant and place a slice of low-fat mozzarella on top to melt. It’s a delicious, healthy alternative to eggplant parmigiana!