Friday, March 30, 2007

Twice Baked Potato Casserole

As promised, here’s Paula Dean’s recipe for Twice Baked Potato Casserole. The recipe originally calls for butter but my mom made it with margarine and it came out fantastic!

2 cups mashed potatoes
1/2 cup sour cream
House Seasoning, recipe follows
1 small onion, sliced thin
1 small bell pepper, sliced thin
8 tablespoons margarine
1 1/2 cups grated Cheddar
4 medium potatoes, cooked
6 slices bacon, cooked crisp (you could use Turkey bacon to make this healthier)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Spread mashed potatoes evenly on bottom of casserole dish. Layer sour cream evenly over top. Sprinkle House Seasoning, to taste. Saute onion and bell pepper in margarine; evenly layer over top of sour cream. Slice potatoes and layer over onions and bell peppers. Add margarine. Sprinkle House seasoning. Finally top with cheese. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and crumble bacon over top.

Cook's Note: Leftover mashed potatoes work wonderfully in this recipe.

House Seasoning: 1 cup salt 1/4 cup black pepper 1/4 cup garlic powder

Monday, March 26, 2007

A Little TLC

Besides eating properly and exercising, I’ve found there’s another key to good heart health: being with the ones you love. Nothing heals the heart like some good old-fashioned family time!

I went home to Houston for the weekend and it was exactly what I needed! I ate TONS of food, laughed and relaxed by the pool with my parents. I’ve been a little stressed out at work lately and going home and getting away from all things stress-related was just what I needed!

Also, my mom made a delicious beef tenderloin, twice baked potato casserole and her famous Caesar salad. I’m going to post the recipe for the Twice Baked Potato Casserole tomorrow. You will love it! Plus, it’s made with margarine! It comes from Paula Dean’s recipe book, and she happens to be my favorite chef. I’m obsessed with the Food Network and watch it constantly.
I hope everyone had a wonderful and heart healthy weekend. Take care!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Pasta Ala Oglio with Shrimp

Now that the weather’s getting warmer, it seems I’m favoring a bit lighter fare for my dinners. The heavy stuff probably isn’t going to get my body bikini-ready, and summer’s just around the corner.

This recipe is delicious but also lower in calories so you can enjoy this dish guilt-free!

Pasta Ala Oglio with Shrimp


Yield: 1 servings
1 tablespoon Light margarine
1 teaspoon Preminced garlic or
2½ Cloves of minced garlic
1 cups Cooked pasta of your choice
3 oz Cooked shrimp
1 teaspoon Dill
1 teaspoon Parsley
½ teaspoon Basil
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese to taste


In a small sauté pan, sauté the margarine and garlic. Note: the author likes garlic, you may choose to add more or less as you prefer.

Once the garlic and margarine have reached a tender consistency, add the spices, and blend. Add the cooked shrimp, and sauté until shrimp is warm.

Add cooked pasta to sauté pan, toss gently but thoroughly, and transfer to warm plate. Add salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese to taste.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A Few Stats on Heart Disease

My “Healthy Emma” weekend went great!!! I spent a lot of time alone, which really seemed to clear my head. There’s nothing more calming than sitting in the park in 70-degree weather and reading a good book. I just re-read The Alchemist, which if you have not read I highly recommend.

Anyways, I found a few statistics on heart disease this morning and just though I’d post them. I know it really seems like I’m obsessed with heart disease but after seeing someone in your family have it, I’m sure you would be too. Especially when there are so many things you can do to reduce your risk for heart disease, such as choosing margarine over butter.

Did you know

80 percent do not know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for females

70 percent believe heart attack warning signs are the same for women as they are for men (when in actuality, they can be significantly different)

Only 50 percent know that menopause increases a woman's risk for heart disease

Other information on women and heart disease revealed that:

A woman who has a heart attack is one-and-a-half times as likely as a man to die from it, and, if she survives, more likely to have a second one. Framingham Heart Study

In women, the rate of death from heart disease far exceeds that of breast cancer. One woman in 25 dies of breast cancer. One in two dies of cardiovascular disease, including a heart attack or stroke. Heart disease is the number-one killer of women.

Friday, March 09, 2007

My "Healthy Emma" Weekend

You know how some days the hours seems to fly right by and then other days, it seems as if someone’s playing a trick on you and has stopped all of the clocks around you?

I absolutely love my job and usually stay pretty busy so my days always go by very quickly – except today. I got up at 5:00 am. this morning and worked out, thinking it would energize me for the weekend ahead but all if did was make me more tired. I even went to bed at 9:00 pm. last night – I’m fairly young and I feel like I’m 80 years old!! My parents don’t even go to bed at 9:00 p.m.

Anyways, I’ve decided to make this weekend my “Healthy Emma” weekend. I know I’m a cheeseball, and I freely admit that. Taking that into consideration, I’ve decided to eat properly this weekend, do cardio and strength training and get plenty of sleep. No wild partying for me! Actually, I’ve never been into wild partying and I’m pretty much a homebody but a girl can pretend, can’t she?

Anyways, this weekend I’m going to make a sincere effort to take care of myself, physically and mentally. I’ve had a lot of stuff on my mind lately and I want to sit back, relax and think things through. Nothing bad, don’t worry. I get easily stressed and I want to make sure I return to work on Monday 100% Emma, with no nagging worries nibbling at my brain.

So, I want to wish everyone a safe and heart healthy weekend. Be mindful of what you do and what you eat!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

"Tend and Befriend" for Good Heart Health

A friend forwarded me this article today and I think it’s a relevant topic to this blog. I discuss heart health issues, and stress plays an important role in how healthy a person’s heart is.

According to a study conducted by UCLA, women respond to stress by making and maintaining friendships with other women. Scientists previously thought all people respond to stress with the “fight or flight” mechanism but it turns out that all stress-related studies have only been conducted only on men. If the studies had included women, they would have learned that “fight or flight’ is not always the case. Go figure…

According to the article,

In fact, says Dr. Klein, it seems that when the hormone oxytocin is release as
part of the stress responses in a woman, it buffers the fight or flight response
and encourages her to tend children and gather with other women instead. When
she actually engages in this tending or befriending, studies suggest that more
oxytocin is released, which further counters stress and produces a calming
effect. This calming response does not occur in men, says Dr. Klein, because
testosterone---which men produce in high levels when they're under
stress---seems to reduce the effects of oxytocin. Estrogen, she adds, seems to
enhance it.

Basically, instead of “fight or flight,” women have a “tend and befriend” notion that helps them to deal with stress.

I was thinking about this study and realized that when I get stressed out, I don’t seclude myself like so many of my guy friends seem to do. Instead, I call up one of my best friends and vent to her and usually request a girl’s night of movies, chocolate and talking. It’s really the only thing that makes me feel better and puts my mind (and heart) at ease.

If you're a woman, the next time you get stressed out, just remember to call a friend or loved one.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Margarine vs. Butter?

I happened to come upon this article this morning and I think it really helps clarify the debate between margarine versus butter. Here’s what the article had to say:

“A soft margarine spread is the healthier choice in the long-debated butter-or-margarine battle, says Dr. Jo Ann Carson, a clinical nutritionist at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Margarine, made from vegetable oil, is cholesterol-free and higher in polyunsaturated and monosaturated fats, which help reduce a person’s “bad” LDL cholesterol level. Butter, made from animal fat, contains dietary cholesterol and saturated fat, which tend to raise that “bad” cholesterol level.

But not all margarines are created equal, Dr. Carson warns.

Stick margarine contains trans fats, which are created when oils are hydrogenated to make the margarine solid. Trans fats, like dietary cholesterol and saturated fats, elevate “bad” cholesterol.

“The best choice is a soft tub margarine or liquid spread because they tend to incorporate water and other ingredients that reduce the potential for trans fats and calories,” Dr. Carson says.

If you’re having trouble selecting which soft margarine might be best, the best
thing you could do is look for a product that is low in both saturated and trans
fats, she adds.”

I think this debate has been solved for a long time now but people are still bringing it up. If you’re looking to live a long and heart healthy lifestyle, then margarine is the obvious winner.