Recognizing Heart-Healthy Lifestyle Changes

Seeking Nominations for those Committed to Heart-Healthy Activities

walkingAll across the greater Boston area, individuals, families and groups are deciding to live healthier by making changes to their lifestyle. Starting an exercise program, reducing stress levels, incorporating better eating habits, quitting smoking and managing blood pressure and cholesterol are just a few examples of the many ways that people are getting healthy.

The American Heart Association is seeking nominations for the 2015 Lifestyle Change and Walking Awards, which is locally sponsored by the CardioVascular Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC). The awards recognize people who have made changes that have impacted their quality of life and improved their health. Nominations will be accepted through Friday, March 13, 2015 and winners will be recognized on National Walking Day, Wednesday, April 1 at ceremony at BIDMC.

“We think it’s important to recognize individuals who can serve as role models for others because they have made healthy lifestyle changes. No change is too small and every accomplishment is significant,” said Dr. Kamal Khabbaz, Chief of Cardiac Surgery at BIDMC. “As a heart surgeon, I’m keenly aware that people who exercise, eat right, and don’t smoke improve their chances of avoiding or recovering from heart disease.”

According to the American Heart Association, nearly 78 million adults and 13 million children in the United States deal with the health and emotional effects of obesity every day while nearly 80% of adults don’t participate in the recommended amount of physical activity. In the United States, about one out of every three adults have high blood pressure and over 23% of high school students report using tobacco products on a regular basis.

Nominations for the Lifestyle Change and Walking Awards can be submitted by friends, co-workers or relatives or individuals can nominate themselves.  Please note that in order to be considered, individuals must be non-smokers or smoke-free for at a minimum of six months. Nomination forms are available at or by calling the American Heart Association at 781-373-4517.

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Super Simple Game Day Playbook: Setting the Scrimmage Line on Game Day Feasts

FootballIt’s time for the big game, and you know what that means!  Time to grab your jersey, don your lucky socks, get ready to talk some smack and grab some munchies before kickoff.

But can you keep it healthy at your game-watching bash?  Yes!

Whether you’re cheering on your favorite team or checking out the game day commercials, you need to check out our playbook to make sure your celebration equals a touchdown.  No need to bench the chili and wings.  With just a few minor tweaks, your menu can go from second string to starter.

We get it.  A few “bad-for-you” snacks and drinks might not seem like a big deal now, but all those empty calories add up.  Those poor choices are setting your body up for a blitz in the long haul, and putting you at risk for heart disease and stroke, the No. 1 and No. 5 killers in the U.S.

Why should you switch out your game day favorites in favor of healthier options?  Simply put, life is why.

The Playbook:

  1. Sorry to sound like a broken record, but eat your fruits and veggies.  Mom and Dad were on to something when they taught you to eat an apple a day.  Fill up half your plate with these low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods that keep you satisfied.  Choose veggies with hummus, salsa or other low-fat dip for a crunchy snack.
  2. Stay hydrated my friends.  Water is the best way to stay hydrated.  Reach for water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages like soda and sports drinks, which add extra calories with little nutritional value.  Plain water too boring?  Try sparkling water or add fruit wedges to jazz it up.
  3. Put down the double bacon cheeseburger.  Instead, reach for a grilled turkey burger piled high with veggies like avocado, tomato, onions and lettuce. In other words, choose lean cuts of meat and poultry without skin and extra fat removed.  And add lots of veggies for an extra boost of nutrients.
  4. Hold off on the wings.  A game day staple, wings are delish and often loaded with calories and trans fats.  For the same spicy kick, toss grilled or baked chicken breast strips in your favorite hot sauce.  You’ll barely notice the difference!
  5. Slow down there, slugger.  Let’s just say, drink in moderation.  Alcohol contains a lot of empty calories and can have other negative effects on your health.  We know football watching means cold ones on ice, so slow down by drinking a cup of water between each drink.
  6. Stuff your face!  With healthy snacks, that is!  If you’re celebrating all day, you’re bound to want a snack.  So when you need a bite, stuff your face with fresh fruits and veggies, unsalted nuts and seeds, and low-fat whole-grain crackers.
  7. Take your phone out.  No, not to tweet.  To check your portions.  Portion control can help you keep track of the foods you are consuming without going overboard.  For instance, a serving of chicken breast (3 ounces) is about the size of a smart phone and a medium banana is about the size of a pencil.  For more portion comparisons, check out

Looking for more healthy game day tips?  Visit

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Boston’s Prudential Tower shines Red in support of Go Red For Women

American Heart Association|  American Stroke Association Participate in Annual 31 Nights of Light

Earlier this week, The Shops at Prudential Center and Prudential Tower once again began shining bright with the help of local community organizations. Tonight, we’ll get to flip the switch to light up Boston as part of the annual 31 Nights of Light program. The top of the Prudential Tower will beam red in support of the Go Red for Women movement!

Go Red For Women is the American Heart Association’s national movement to end heart disease and stroke in women because it’s not just a man’s disease. In fact, more women than men die every year from heart disease and stroke. The good news is that 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented with education and lifestyle changes. Go Red For Women advocates for more research and swifter action for women’s heart health. The American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women movement is nationally sponsored by Macy’s and locally sponsored by Santander Bank. To join the Go Red For Women campaign please visit

The 31 Nights of Light program was introduced in 2009 to celebrate local Boston-area organizations and draw attention to the great work they do in Boston and beyond. Utilizing a state-of-the-art LED lighting system, the 51st floor of the Prudential Tower will change color daily to honor its 29 community partners.

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Remembering Ray Driscoll with Gratitude

This week the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association lost an incredibly special and passionate volunteer, stroke survivor and member of our family, Ray Driscoll.

Ray (left) and Gina (right) pose with Dr. Gerald Marx, 2012 Ray and Gina Driscoll Heart and Minds Award Recipient.

Ray (left) and Gina (right) pose with Dr. Gerald Marx, 2012 Ray and Gina Driscoll Heart and Minds Award Recipient.

Ray, his wife Gina, and extended family have been a force to be reckoned with in the stroke community for nearly 20 years since Ray suffered a stroke in 1994.  Ray’s family completed fifteen marathons and half marathons with the American Stroke Association’s Train to End Stroke and Tedy’s Team programs.  Ray ran a stroke support group out of five star rehab in Woburn and delivered over a hundred speaking engagements on behalf of the American Stroke Association.  In addition to their indomitable spirit, passion for the cause, and unending support of the stroke community, Ray and Gina raised over $100,000 for the American Stroke Association’s lifesaving mission since 2001.

The Driscoll’s insurmountable contributions to the American Stroke Association led us to develop the Ray & Gina Driscoll Hearts and Minds Award, which since 2012, has been presented annually, to an outstanding volunteer whose ongoing, long-term commitment to the organization’s core values of integrity, excellence, vision, dedication, inclusiveness, and sensitivity, across multiple areas of the organization, has made a lasting impact on our mission and culture.

On behalf of everyone at the American Stroke Association, our staff, volunteers, survivors and caregivers,  we extend our deepest sympathy to the entire Driscoll family; Gina, Dan, Colleen, Shawn, Logan and Parker and our heartfelt gratitude for the many events, races, meetings and volunteer engagements Ray and his family have taken part in support of the fight against stroke.

Funeral arrangements for Ray can be found at

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Favorite Heart-Healthy Recipes submitted by Volunteers

For most of us, this week marks one of the biggest feasts of the year! Keep your heart-healthy by swapping some of those heavy or sugary side dishes with a healthier option and packing an extra punch of veggies into appetizers. A few of our amazing volunteers, recently shared their heart-healthy favorites with us.

Quinoa Salad with Dried Cranberries and Nuts
submitted by Paula Quatromoni

Made with heart healthy olive oil, fresh herbs and spices and without added salt, this high-protein grain packs a punch as a tasty side-dish or a simple lunch entrée when paired with other fruits or vegetables. You can vary the dried fruits and nuts, depending on your preference and on the season.  Dried cranberries and pecans fit in nicely on a holiday table! Try dried cherries, chopped dried apricots, or raisins instead of cranberries. Substitute chopped walnuts, sliced almonds, or pine nuts in place of pecans. Enjoy!

1 ½ cups quinoa
3 ½ cups water
1 bunch green onions (scallions), chopped
¾ cup chopped celery
½ cup dried cranberries
a pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon distilled white vinegar
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons sesame oil
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
¾ cup chopped pecans

Bring quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the quinoa is tender, about 20-25 minutes. Scrape quinoa into a large bowl and allow it to cool for 20 minutes. Stir in green onions, celery, dried fruit, cayenne pepper, both oils, vinegar and lemon juice. Allow to stand at room temperature for 1 hour so that the flavors will blend. Stir in the cilantro and nuts before serving. Enjoy!

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
submitted by Alex Black 

1 carton cherry tomatoes
2 TB Olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tin foil. Toss cherry tomatoes in oil, salt, and pepper, and spread over the baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes or until tomatoes have begun to shrivel and caramelize. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Eggplant Appetizer
submitted by Dan Foley

1 tbsp olive oil
1 red pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
1 eggplant, peeled and diced
1 med zucchini, diced
8 oz package mushrooms, chopped
1 tsp garlic
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/3 c water
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried basil
1 tsp sugar
Salt & pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in large skillet.  Add pepper & onion and cook 2-4 minutes or until beginning to soften. Add the eggplant, zucchini and mushrooms, stirring occasionally until all vegetables are cooked through. Mix in garlic and let cook another minute. Add tomato paste, water, sugar and seasonings to pan and mix until combined.  Let mixture sit for a couple minutes to thicken. Serve like bruschetta on crackers or melba toast.

VegVeg Dish
submitted by Mahdi Garelnabi

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups finely chopped onion
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups organic vegetable broth
1 cup water
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 (15-ounce) cans no-salt-added Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1 (1 1/2-ounce) piece Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind
8 cups chopped escarole (about 1 pound)
1 cup chopped carrot
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
6 tablespoons shaved fresh Parmesan cheese

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion, and sauté for 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic, and sauté for 30 seconds. Add vegetable broth and the next 5 ingredients (through cheese rind); bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in escarole and carrot; cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until carrot is tender. Stir in red pepper, salt, black pepper, and vinegar. Remove and discard rind; sprinkle soup with shaved cheese.

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