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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Boston scientist awarded American Heart Association prize for translating bench research into identifiable markers of CVD risk

The American Heart Association awarded its 2014 Population Research Prize to Vasan R. Ramachandran, M.D., of Boston University School of Medicine, “for brilliantly seizing upon opportunities to translate cutting-edge bench science into an epidemiological context, thereby making fundamental contributions to identifying systemic markers for cardiovascular risk, both here and in developing countries.”

Ramachandran, chief of the Section of Epidemiology & Preventive Medicine in the Department of Medicine at the Boston school and director of the Framingham Heart Study, received the prize yesterday during opening ceremonies of the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2014 at Chicago’s McCormick Place Convention Center. Association President Elliott Antman, M.D presented the prize, a citation and $5,000 honorarium.

In presenting the award, Antman said Ramachandran “is widely admired as a role model for trainees and early career faculty as well as for his many important findings in translational epidemiology.” The Boston scientist’s publications of some 560 peer-reviewed articles in high-impact journals attest to his wide-ranging research productivity. Ten of his publications have been cited more than 1,000 times, and in 2013 his work was cited 6,145 times.

In the last two decades, Ramachandran has made many important contributions to cardiovascular epidemiology, Antman said. These include systemic markers of cardiovascular risk, hypertension, congestive heart failure, risk re-classification and diseases in developing countries. A native of India, the Boston scientist continues to collaborate and conduct research there.

“Dr. Ramachandran’s findings recognizing four stages of risk leading to symptomatic heart failure have been incorporated into AHA’s informational materials,” Antman noted. “This appreciation of heart failure progression represents a critical step toward preventing its emergence.”

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Heart Healthy Thanksgiving Tips

untitledThanksgiving is about enjoying time with our family and celebrating with traditional foods we know and love. However, the holiday can impact the time usually reserved for healthy routines and involve meals that are not exactly made to be heart-healthy.

To keep your diet and health in check over the Thanksgiving holiday, try these ideas below from the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women campaign, including ways to minimize stress and smart substitutions for your holiday meals.

Try healthy substitutes
These simple tricks make your favorite holiday recipes better for heart health.


  • Instead of butter, substitute equal parts cinnamon-flavored, no-sugar-added applesauce.
  • Instead of sugar, use a lower-calorie sugar substitute.
  • Instead of whole or heavy cream, substitute low-fat or skim milk.
  • Instead of using only white flour, use half white and half whole-wheat flour.
  • Instead of adding chocolate chips or candies, use dried fruit, like cranberries or cherries.
  • Use extracts like vanilla, almond and peppermint to add flavor, instead of sugar or butter.


  • Use vegetable oils such as olive oil instead of butter (even in your mashed potatoes).
  • Use herbs and spices, like rosemary and cloves, to flavor dishes instead of butter and salt.
  • Use whole-grain breads and pastas instead of white.
  • Bake, grill or steam vegetables instead of frying.
  • Instead of whole milk or heavy cream, substitute low-fat or fat-free/skim milk.

Prepare vegetables, eat a balanced meal
Now that you’ve prepared some of your Thanksgiving meal with healthy substitutes, prepare yourself a balanced plate of all your favorite holiday foods, starting with a salad and vegetables. Eating your veggies will ensure you get the nutrients you need and will help fill you up so you don’t overload on the foods your body needs less of, such as rolls, stuffing and pie.

Increase physical activity
The American Heart Association advises increasing physical activity over Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season to combat the extra calories and additional stress. Go for a family walk after each meal or gathering. Play catch with your kids or walk your dog the long route. Take just 40 minutes and go to the gym to release endorphins your body needs to stay healthy.

Keep stress to a minimum
There’s so much to do at the holidays. Taking care of family, cooking, cleaning—Thanksgiving can involve a lot of activities that not only keep you busy, but can also increase your level of stress. Keep stress to a minimum with stress management techniques. The AHA recommends:

  • Planning ahead to help you with time management
  • Focusing on one thing at a time
  • Taking time to relax & not sweating the small stuff

Get enough sleep
Part of living a heart-healthy lifestyle means getting enough sleep. Why? Because your quality of sleep can impact your heart health. The American Heart Association recommends adults get six to eight hours of sleep per night. Over the holiday, get into bed early to give yourself enough time to wind down after your day and to fall asleep faster and more soundly.

Find more ways to live healthy at Go Red For Women online: http://www.goredforwomen.orgFor healthy recipes, visit http://www.heart.org/recipes .

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Local Residents Recognized for Their Dedication to Building Healthier Lives

The American Heart Association honored eight local volunteers for their passion and dedication in helping further the American Heart Association’s mission of promoting healthier lives free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Each honoree was recognized on Thursday, October 23rd at the American Heart Association’s Heart of Our Mission reception at the State Room in Boston.

The recipients of this year’s ‘Heart of Our Mission’ awards were: Rich Adduci, SVP and Chief Information Officer at Boston Scientific; Marcela Garcia, Journalist at The Boston Globe ; Rob Tatro, Elementary Wellness Teacher at Hillside Elementary School; Senator Benjamin Downing, Representative Denise Garlick, Marie McCune, RN, Stroke Coordinator at Mount Auburn Hospital; and Nancy Couts, MA SLP, Director of Rehabilitation Services at Mount Auburn Hospital. The Ray and Gina Driscoll Hearts and Minds award was presented at the event to longtime volunteer and advocate, Diane Pickles.

“Our volunteers are truly the lifeline of our organization and are at the very heart of our mission,” said Penny McGuire, Director of Community Health Strategies at the American Heart Association. “It’s an honor to be able to recognize our amazing volunteers, who continuously go above and beyond in their dedication to our cause.”

The annual Heart of Our Mission reception is an event to commemorate key volunteers who have demonstrated passion and commitment for moving forward the American Heart Association’s mission of building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

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Go Red in Your Own Fashion with the American Heart Association and Lowell General Hospital

2014 Event Co-chairs Lead Go Red Movement in Merrimack Valley

 The American Heart Association has once again teamed up with Lowell General Hospital to bring its nationwide Go Red For Women® movement to Merrimack Valley. The 2014 Go Red In Your Own Fashion event will take place on Thursday, November 13th at the Westford Regency Inn & Conference Center.


Richard Birkhead, MD, FACC, Chief of Cardiology at Lowell General Hospital and Cecelia Lynch, RN, MS, NEA-BC, FACHE, Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief Nurse Executive at Lowell General Hospital.

The American Heart Association is pleased to announce that Amesbury resident, Richard Birkhead, MD, FACC, Chief of Cardiology at Lowell General Hospital and Westford resident, Cecelia Lynch, RN, MS, NEA-BC, FACHE, Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief Nurse Executive at Lowell General Hospital, will serve as co-chairs for this year’s event.

Birkhead has worked at Lowell General Hospital for 25 years and has been President of Lowell General Hospital/Merrimack Valley Cardiology, Inc. since 2011. He earned his undergraduate from Oberlin College and his Doctor of Medicine degree from SUNY Upstate Medical University.

Lynch came to Lowell General Hospital from Ellis Medicine in New York where she served as Vice President of Nursing and Chief Nursing Officer from 2008 to 2014. Prior to her work at Ellis, Lynch worked in Rhode Island as Nurse Manager of Emergency Services at South County Hospital; Director of Customer Service at Northwest Community Nursing and Health Service; and held various nursing leadership roles at The Miriam Hospital. Lynch earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Rhode Island and a Master of Science in Health Services Administration from Salve Regina.

As co-chairs, Birkhead and Lynch will provide leadership for the event planning and recruitment of participants and sponsors.

“Heart disease and stroke cause one in three women’s deaths each year, killing approximately one woman every minute,” said Birkhead. “The Go Red In Your Own Fashion event will give Merrimack Valley the opportunity and strength to fight back against heart disease and stroke, and demand change.”

This year’s Go Red In Your Own Fashion event is expected to bring together more than 200 men and women from Merrimack Valley to promote women’s heart health. The events “Paint the Town Red” theme will celebrate the Go Red For Women® campaign with a cocktail reception and fashion show. Anna O’Donnell, 13-year-old congenital heart disease survivor, will be the event’s passion speaker.

Go Red For Women is the American Heart Association’s nationwide movement that celebrates the energy, passion, and power of women to band together and wipe out heart disease. Thanks to the participation of millions of people across the country, the color red and the red dress have become linked with the ability all women have to improve their heart health and live stronger, longer lives. Lowell General Hospital has helped bring the movement to life in Merrimack Valley as the local Go Red For Women sponsor.

Go Red In Your Own Fashion will be held on Thursday, November 13th at the Westford Regency Inn & Conference Center. The Cocktail Reception will begin at 6:00 p.m. followed by a Passion Speaker and Fashion Show at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are available for $50 each by calling 781-373-4555 or visiting www.heart.org/MerrimackValleyGoRedInYourOwnFashion.

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