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What’s for Dinner?
My husband had a heart attack on 12/21. He is 42, I am 34, and we have three young children (11,8, and 4). He began having symptoms in the middle of the night and when we got to the hospital we found out that he was 100% blocked on his right side. They were able to save him and put in two stents after removing the blockage. We are all so grateful that he was one of the lucky ones, but integrating some of these changes has been difficult.
Dinner is always hard with a family of 5, but it presents a special challenge when you’re cooking for three picky kids and one picky adult with heart disease! Prior to his heart attack, my husband lived on red meat and potatoes. It was a family joke how much he loved bacon! We’ve switched to as much turkey and chicken as possible and cut the salt and fat, but I need ideas and resources for some new meals that are healthy without being mainly veggies. He is slowly learning to like vegetables lol. What do you make for dinner?
Suerapzen, January 21, 2020 10:50pm EST
Since my husband's bypass surgery, we're trying to eat more plant based. We've tried some vegetarian meal kits from blue apron and green chef and found one of our best resources to be Forks over Knives which has great recipes, a recipe app and a great website. We've been experimenting and enjoying lots of new foods. Once we find a meal we like from the kits, we're using the same recipe to make our own meals at home. We have two slices of real bacon once a week.
AHAASAKatie, January 23, 2020 11:28am EST
HI, I can share the healthy eating recipes and information that we have to help with this. It does sound like some creative cooking solutions are in order here. Best Katie
denverDen, January 23, 2020 12:27pm EST
I have been out of the hospital for 3 weeks after a heart attack and the adjustment to having to pay attention to the amount of saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, and meat in my meals has been a shock. However, there are great resources out there. We have been using the The New American Heart Association Cookbook, The American Heart Association Quick and Easy Cookbook, The Heart Healthy Cookbook for Two (by Jennifer Koslo), and 1,000 Lowfat Recipes (by Terry Golson). We also did invest in an air fryer (a gadget that we had thought about getting pre-HA). There is a good Skinny Taste air fryer cookbook. Things have been coming out delicious in that.
I was told by a lady at the cardiac rehab at my cardiologist (I have not started rehab yet, was just asking her questions) that I should eat no more than 3-4 ounces of meat protein per day. I have made some big salads with beans on them to add protein and plan my day as to when I will consume lean poultry or fish (if any).
The diet aspect is the most confusing for me. I have a family member who told me I have to go on the Ornish diet, which is pretty much vegan. The cardiac rehab I will be attending said Pritikin (which allows some meat - but again, only 3 ounces a day). I want to do what is best for longevity! At 46, I hope I can live another 30-40 years :)
JTF207, January 23, 2020 3:02pm EST
I just had a heart attack myself in September at 38 y/o, my wife and I love to cook and have been transitioning to more plant based / vegetable meals, so I know it isn’t easy to cook that way. Here are two very easy recipes that are a staple for us each week that I like and are easily modified if my wife still wants meat:
Pasta Night (Super easy):
-Red Lentil Pasta (Barilla makes one, most grocery stores have it, taste & looks just like regular pasta and has a good amount of protein)
-Rao’s Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce (I love Rao’s the ingredients are very good, it is pricier but worth it, you can always use Prego for the kids and save the healthier one for you and your husband, leftover sauce freezes very easy in ice cube trays)
Taco Night with Sweet Potato & Bean Tacos
-Diced Sweet Potato (2-3 Large peeled)
-Diced Zucchini (1 Large)
-Diced Bell Pepper (1 Large)
-Beans of choice (1-15oz can)
-Add salt-free seasoning blend (Cumin, Oregano, Pepper, Paprika, Chili Powder, Garlic)
-I like blue corn shells (https://www.ortega.com/product/good-grains-blue-corn-taco-shells)
-If you need a little extra topping homemade guacamole is always fun for a kid to make (mash up a ripe avocado, add 1-tsp lime juice and some garlic powder, it is salt free and a tasty topping)
-If my wife doesn’t want veggies we brown some type of ground meat for her in a separate pan to use.
My wife bought us “The Goodful Cookbook” for Christmas, it has many very healthy and easy recipes we have started to try (https://www.amazon.com/Goodful-Cookbook-Simple-Balanced-Recipes/dp/0593135490)
Checkout Thug Kitchen (https://www.thugkitchen.com/recipes), they are vegetarian and very Mexican food based, but reading the recipes are fun (if you don’t mind cursing!), could add some much needed humor in this stressful time.
- Roast vegetables on parchment paper, no oil or butter will be needed
- Oatmeal with any nut butter is very tasty
Best of luck and let me know if you find any tasty recipes!
Heatherm85, January 23, 2020 8:41pm EST
Thank you so much! I feel like I have some good resources to explore. I’m also thankful to have a community of people to talk with about these things. I’ve felt a little disconnected lately. Not many people in my stage of life are dealing with the same challenges. I’m sure I’m not the only spouse who worries constantly. At least that’s how it feels right now. I’m sure it will get easier once this becomes our normal way of life.
My husband has his stress test next week and then he will most likely be able to return to work. We’re teachers, so the going back to work worries me for different reasons. Stress, very limited breaks, and a tendency to put yourself and personal care on the back burner. He had his heart attack the night that we got out for winter break and I’m not really sure what a normal amount of time off after a heart attack looks like. He has done two cardiac rehab appointments and did well, but he was very tired afterward. How was returning to work for everyone else? Any suggestions for how I can help with the adjustment?
Suerapzen, January 23, 2020 9:09pm EST
Heather, I can't stress enough how important cardio rehab is both physically and mentally for him and for you. Just knowing my husband was being monitored and was getting stronger eased my anxiety so much. He just finished his 36 sessions and we are both doing much better
KMarieHF, January 27, 2020 9:14pm EST
Heather, my husband and I are cooking and living our way through the same! Since you have some good food recs here I will focus on the support side.
We are four months out after his HA, we both work full time and have substantial commutes. He is often tired and one thing we have learned very quickly is the true value of rest. Truth? We suck at rest. Like, really. We are active people who love projects, crushing chores, and making the most of the day. We can still do this but in pieces. Exhaustion (physical and mental) can creep in quickly and weaken the immune system. Then here come the residual HA symptoms.
With regard to a teaching schedule, if your husband has prep periods perhaps he can work with his employer to rest at those times? Even going for a walk can help (it does in our case.) I have found both of our employers to be extremely open and helpful. The hardest part was asking for help in the first place, both at work and at home. Now is the time to dial in to those community networks, family, and friends. It is humbling, but it helps.
As a teacher and mom I'm willing to bet you're a caregiver at heart. Please remember to take care of yourself, as well. Sending you positive thoughts!