Food Blog – Giving Thanks

As we approach Thanksgiving, there is much that Harboring Hearts and I are thankful for. Most importantly, our community of supporters and beneficiaries that constantly remind us of the strength of the human spirit and its ability to be compassionate towards others.  Thank you for being part of our heart community.

The start of the holiday season always reminds me of family and traditions.  Growing up in rural America and raised by Japanese parents led to some interesting traditions for our family.  For quite some time, Thanksgiving at the Kotani residence meant an elaborate sushi dinner.  After repeated requests from my siblings and I to have an American Thanksgiving, my parents gave into our wishes and baked a turkey with sides of mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing, sushi, and azuki soup.  Well, it was not the Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving that we had in mind but it was our family’s version of Thanksgiving – a Japanese-American dinner.

Most nights, like our Thanksgiving dinners, dinner was usually a fusion of Japanese and other worldly cuisines.  It is interesting looking back at my childhood because many of the current nutritional studies in the US are on the benefits of Japanese produce and cooking.  I cannot remember a time when I did not eat tofu (great source of protein and low in calories), drink green tea (antioxidants and heart health benefits), eat wakame (for healthy hair and skin), and eat rice (cholesterol free, low in calorie and gluten-free).

 

Spring 1988

 

Food has always been an important part of my upbringing and my mom was very conscientious about our family eating all the necessary nutrients to be healthy.  Unintentionally (or maybe it was intentional), she taught us what foods were high in nutritional value while low in calories and trained us to eat in moderation from nourishing foods to sweets.

One piece of advice from my mom that always surfaces when I cook is to make my plate colorful.  To make a plate colorful, you will always need to include vegetables and fruits.

As I shopped at the grocery store last night after work, I could hear her voice in my head.  For dinner that night, I started off with a small spinach salad with tomatoes and homemade lemon vinaigrette dressing (green and red).  Then I baked salmon (warm orange) with a wedge of lemon (yellow), sautéed some asparagus (green), and cooked some brown rice (tan).  To finish off the meal, I indulged in two pieces of raspberry dark chocolate.

While I did not take to everything my mother taught me in my youth, I am fortunate to have been given a head start in heart healthy eating thanks to the good habits she instilled in me through her choices of what to serve at our table.  After my father was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy and ultimately received a heart transplant, I became ever more attentive to what I put in my body.  I firmly believe in the importance of eating properly for the sake of my body, my heart and even for my family and friends.

 

My brother’s college graduation, Summer 2009

 

Luckily, I enjoy cooking and I like to think that I am a competent chef but most importantly, I appreciate having the responsibility involved with cooking healthy foods for loved ones.  In keeping with the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my mother for instilling in me the joy of cooking healthy foods for my family and friends because it can impact their personal eating habits and heart health in the future.

What I decide to put on my table for Thanksgiving this year affects not only me, but my loved ones as well.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Please consider contributing here to continue to show support for Harboring Hearts this holiday season.  Thank you in advance for supporting our cause and helping heart patients and families in need.

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Here are two Japanese inspired side dishes to try during this holiday season!

Sesame-Soy Green Beans

Serves 4

  • 1 lb of green beans
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons tamari sauce (gluten-free) or you can use regular soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Cut the green beans in half to get 2-3 inch pieces. Place the green beans in boiling water for 5 minutes, then drain beans. In a skillet, heat olive oil, add the beans and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the tamari/soy sauce and sesame oil and transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with sesame seeds and serve. (Inspired by Rachel Ray’s recipe)

Asian Sweet Potato Salad with Cucumber, Dates and Arugula

Serves 4 to 6

  • 4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt

Carrot Ginger Dressing

  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons Japanese rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons mirin rice wine
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari sauce (gluten-free)
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil (Regular sesame oil will work)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (For a lighter alternative, use Japanese style mayonnaise with rice vinegar – Kewpie Mayonnaise)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Begin by peeling and dicing sweet potatoes. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the potatoes, reduce heat and cook until just tender but still have a little bite. Drain and place in a bowl to cool.

Combine the dressing ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Once potatoes are cool toss with dressing and set aside on salad platter.

Salad

  • 4 cups lightly packed arugula
  • Cucumber, finely sliced
  • 1 cup dates, pitted and cut in 1/2
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Olive Oil
  • Splash soy/tamari sauce
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine ingredients in a large mixing bowl and dress with lemon juice, olive oil, to taste, a splash of soy sauce, and a little salt and pepper. Toss well and place on top of the sweet potatoes to serve as a complete salad. (Inspired by Tyler Florence’s recipe)

Meet Hadley Mongell

We want to take this opportunity to showcase key people who have been essential in the development of Harboring Hearts. Without the help of our amazing board members, volunteers and interns, we would not be where we are today.

I met Hadley Mongell through Michelle Javian and I knew right away that she would be a perfect fit for the Harboring Hearts team. She had the energy, the entrepreneurial spirit, and most importantly, the heart and compassion to help patients and their families during a difficult time in their lives.

We asked her to join the Board of Directors as our Treasurer. During her tenure as a board member, she went over and beyond her responsibilities to help the organization get off the ground. Michelle and I want to take the time to thank her for all of her hard work, dedication and support.  We have made huge strides with Harboring Hearts but without the fundamental building blocks laid out by Hadley and the other founding members (Jessica Melore and Salwa Touma), we would not be where we are today.

Thank you Hadley for your support and for dedicating your time to Harboring Hearts!

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Name: Hadley Mongell (nickname: Hads)

Current Occupation: Director of Finance (at the Micro Precision Group)

How and why did you get involved with Harboring Hearts? Michelle Javian and I have been close friends since our high school days at Friends Academy. We had always been close, but our bond grew stronger when both of our fathers were suffering from heart related issues. I was honored when Michelle asked if I would be interested in volunteering, and my role just naturally took on a life of its own. It was a wonderful experience to work with the founding members and help develop this wonderful vision into a reality.

How do you balance your career and giving back so successfully?  I am addicted to creating lists. Haha! In all seriousness, I wake up every day being thankful for such a wonderful life. Working full time and volunteering can be extremely time consuming, but it is always more than worthwhile in the end. So many people and families face a daily battle with adversity, and in order to give thanks, I make giving back a priority. I may not always have as much time as I would like to volunteer, but  I am never too busy to help someone out or make someone feel good even in the simplest of ways.

Who or what have been your greatest inspirations in your life, your career, and your volunteer experience? My family and wonderful friends have undoubtedly been an incredible driving force in my life. Thanks to working with Harboring Hearts, I have created lifelong friendships with extraordinary people that share my love of giving back to the community. In terms of my career, I admire any trailblazer that stays true to themselves and never forgets the importance of seeing the “bigger picture.” Whether I’m reading an article about Steve Jobs, or taking the time to learn about how my local merchant is working two jobs to provide for his family, I am constantly inspired by the power of the mind and nature of the human spirit.

What are your favorite memories about Harboring Hearts? My most favorite memories of Harboring Hearts are the early days and initial accomplishments. Whether it was weekend meetings at Michelle’s apartment, or our first meeting with Bill Sullivan of Ronald McDonald house, there was always a feeling of powerful momentum. I would find myself constantly reflecting about how this special group is making big waves in the challenging NYC non profit world. My most favorite Harboring Hearts event was our first event at Haven. Despite the chaotic planning process, it was overwhelming to see the impressive number of supporters who came out to share in our big debut.

Hadley’s Favorites

  • Favorite City? New York City  (but if that’s not allowed…London)
  • Favorite Food? Italian
  • Favorite Activity? Being on the Water
  • Favorite Music? Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Guster & Coldplay
  • Favorite Museum? The Frick
  • Favorite Travel Destination? Nantucket
  • Favorite Book? The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
  • Favorite Movie? Finding Neverland and The Goonies

Food Blog – Quinoa Upma

We want to share heart healthy recipes and inspiring stories with you!

Forward by Yuki Kotani

We are very excited to introduce our newest social media intern to the Harboring Hearts’ team, Pareesha Narang.  Our interns are invaluable to our organization.

Pareesha is a recent graduate of University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill’s College of Journalism and she came to us with a strong interest in working for a start-up non-profit organization.  Michelle Javian (co-founder) and I immediately saw potential in Pareesha because of her willingness to learn and take initiative on projects.   Most importantly, we felt she truly grasped Harboring Hearts’ mission and vision because of her own personal experiences.  We appreciate Pareesha for sharing her story with us today.

I hope you are inspired by her story and heart-healthy recipe!

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My family made a choice to be heart-healthy when my father was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor back in 1995.  Note that I say family, not just my father. My mother had consulted a special dietitian, and he told us that in order for this to work, we had to do it as a family.

My younger brother and I were both under 10 at the time, and we were told that we weren’t allowed to bring home cookies and all sorts of other unhealthy foods anymore, we were pretty bummed — it seemed so drastic!

As time went on, we got used to better alternatives to all the sugary, fattening foods.  We kept hearing that cancer loves sugar (just Google it and you’ll see what I’m talking about), so as a family, we became more conscious about what we put in our bodies.

I was born with a sweet tooth, so it definitely took work to get to where I am today.  Over time, I’ve limited the amount of sweet things I eat in a day, drink lots of water and eat a balanced diet filled with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, protein, and a couple of supplements.  I don’t count calories because my weight isn’t a concern, but I do read the ingredients – I like to know what I’m putting in my body!

In April 2009, my father passed away — but he proved the doctors wrong for many years.  I believe that his dedicated change in diet and meditation kept him with us for 14 years since his diagnosis.

When an illness happens to one person, it impacts the whole family.  What helped our family was sticking together and supporting each other.  After my father’s passing, my family continues to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.   It was a good reminder for me that though I’ve been blessed with good health so far, it takes work to keep it that way.

My challenge to you:

  • Replace one unhealthy food in your diet with a healthy alternative.
  • Do something for yourself everyday.

A powerful motivation for me to eat healthy and stay positive is my ability to be there for my mom and my brother – my family.

Here is the recipe for a scrumptious dish I made with my mom, with heart-healthy ingredients including quinoa and chana dal.

Quinoa Upma

Serves 6-8

2 1/2 tbsp. olive oil, we use extra light
1 tsp. mustard (rye) seeds
1 stem curry leaves (about 15 leaves), remove leaves from stem
1/4 cup of chana dal, stones/junk removed and washed (find it at any Indian grocery store)
black pepper
12 oz. quinoa, washed
8 oz. pack of frozen mixed vegetables
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp. salt (less if you’re watching your salt intake!)
1/4 tsp. red chili powder (cayenne)
24 oz. water
fresh cilantro, chopped
lime
roasted peanuts (optional)

Heat the oil in a large pan (make sure you have a lid for it), medium heat. Add mustard seeds, curry leaves and a generous pinch of black pepper.  Stir, then add the chana daal and saute for 2 minutes.  Add quinoa, dry roast for about 7-8 minutes until it gets a little color (turn down heat slightly if needed).  Add onion and frozen vegetables, saute until cooked, about 5 minutes. Add salt and red chili powder, saute for 30 seconds, then add water.  Cover the pan. Once water comes to boil, lower the heat and let cook for 20 minutes.

Sprinkle a handful of cilantro, juice of a lime, and sprinkle peanuts on top.  Enjoy it guilt-free!

Follow me at my food blog! http://itsallfoodlove.blogspot.com

2 Nights of Fashion and Art to benefit Harboring Hearts

http://www.flickr.com/photos/63317659@N03/sets/72157627984904520/show/

 

Greetings!

Do you like fashion and art?!  We have a couple of very exciting events coming up to benefit Harboring Hearts.

SASAKI at Ivy Brown Gallery

  • October 24th, 2011 from 6:00pm – 8:00pm at Ivy Brown Gallery at 675 Hudson Street, Floor 4, NY, NY

A. Turen Fat Free Fashion  

  • October 25th, 2011 from 6:00pm – 8:00pm at A. Turen at 85 Stanton Street, NY, NY

 

Read below for more information.  We hope you can join us for TWO nights of fashion, arts and philanthropy!

Warmest regards, Yuki and Michelle

SASAKI at Ivy Brown Gallery  

Your heartbeat and art? SASAKI is a Japanese artist who records your heartbeat in a project called HEARTBEAT DRAWING.  Come join us on Monday, October 24th from 6:00pm – 8:00pm at Ivy Brown Gallery (675 Hudson Street, Floor 4) for an evening of heart disease awareness and art!

ivy

A. Turen Fat Free Fashion

Come join us Tuesday evening, October 25th from  6:00pm – 8:00pm at A. Turen (85 Stanton Street)  for a night of fashion and art!   

Ashley Turen is a designer who takes old clothing from your wardrobe and makes them over!  Bring an old item from your closet and Ashley will turn it into a one of a kind piece!  Check out her website here.

$25 for Ashley to create a one of a kind piece and 10% of every purchase made will benefit Harboring Hearts.

A. Turen

 

Meet Tamara Jerardo!

We want to take this opportunity to showcase key people who have been essential in the development of Harboring Hearts.  Without the help of our amazing volunteers and interns, we would not be where we are today.

I have known Tamara “Tam Tam” Jerardo since our college days at the University of Virginia and I have always been in awe of her artistic talent and vision.  When Michelle and I started Harboring Hearts, we knew we needed help with our logo and brand.  I immediately thought of Tamara and asked for her creative input.  We met at a coffee shop in Soho, NYC to discuss our preliminary ideas for our brand. (See below for our first logo!)

We have revised our logo since those formidable days of working in coffee shops (with wi-fi!) but the essence of the first logo is still evident in our logo and brand today.

Tamara has continued to support Harboring Hearts in various ways from creating event invitations, taking photos at events, volunteering at community events and co-hosting fundraising events on behalf of Harboring Hearts.  Learn more about our “Super Volunteer”, Tamara! – Yuki Kotani

  1. Name: Tamara Eve Jerardo (I often go by “Tam” or…”Tam-Tam”)
  2. Current Occupation:  Freelance Graphic Designer and Visual Design Intern at Blenderbox, Inc.
  3. How and why did you get involved with Harboring Hearts?:  I met Yuki when we were both students at the University of Virginia, and we’ve remained friends into our years as NYC-dwelling twenty-somethings. Yuki explained her idea for Harboring Hearts to me in a Soho coffee shop in 2008, and I instantly wanted to be a part of this touching cause. I had a vision for the branding, and how this broad idea could be summed up visually. It wasn’t a question for me – to be able to do something I love to serve the greater good was an obvious opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
  4. How do you balance your career and giving back so successfully?:  When I started volunteering with Harboring Hearts, I was working as a project manager for a start-up company. I blocked out time after work or during weekends to work on projects for Harboring Hearts. It’s a commitment, but if you really care, you can make time for these things.
  5. Who or what have been your greatest inspirations in your life, your career, and your volunteer experience?:  The people who have inspired me most have one thing in common: fearlessness. There are so many dimensions of fear, and to take action in spite of possible negative outcomes is a risk, but you have to know that you can recover from failure if that becomes the case. Once fear is eliminated as an obstacle, possibilities abound. This form of boldness doesn’t come without work, however. I think the best risk-takers are also well-informed and dedicate a lot of time to knowledge acquisition.
  6. What are your favorite memories about Harboring Hearts?: I would have to say volunteering at the Children’s Hospital uptown teaching the kids arts and crafts. I would do that any day. It was heartbreaking to learn of what some of those kids were going through, but you’d never know; they were so bright-eyed, cheerful and eager to learn. To see the smiles and sense of accomplishment the children felt from creating things was an extremely rewarding experience. That in and of itself was an inspiration. Such simple gestures can make a huge difference. It’s up to the rest of us to take the opportunities to do these things as they come.
  7. Tam’s Favorites
    • Favorite City? Can’t choose just one. San Francisco, New York City, Paris, Florence. The almost palpable sense of ambition and culture in SF and NYC is what attracts me to these cities, and the sense of history to European cities.
    • Favorite Food? Again, undecided. But I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of Vietnamese food. Healthy, fresh and delicious.
    • Favorite Activity? Exploring, in many senses of the word. Making art and music, reading, biking, conversing and traveling are at the top of my list.
    • Favorite Music? Mood-dependent. Old jazz standards and their modern interpretations, 90s alt rock, motown, female r&b vocalists are among my favorites.
    • Favorite Museum? A tie between Musee d’ Orsay in Paris, The Tate in London, and MoMa. I have a love affair with modern art because I feel like much of it is a harmonious marriage between art and graphic design, and I’m a big fan of conceptual work.
    • Favorite Travel Destination? Pacific Northwest/West Virginia. I’m quite fond of adventure sports and the great outdoors. Yosemite in CA and the Gauley River in WV are the origins of great memories for me. Both places are mindblowingly beautiful.
    • Favorite Book? A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry is one of my favorites in the fiction realm – it’s just one of those books that forces you to age intellectually, in a good way. For entertainment purposes, I enjoy the anecdotal memoirs of the sardonic, self-deprecating type authors: Sedaris, Sloane Crosley, Augusten Burroughs, etc. I willingly suffer the consequences of embarrassing hysterical laughter on the subway.
    • Favorite Movie? The Before Sunrise/Before Sunset series. The introspection, the sense of adventure and spontaneity. I googled Before Sunset and read all this literature on it after watching the movie. Highly recommend. I also love all the hilarious Judd Apatow movies.

A couple of examples of her work. She is available for freelance work too!

Her design portfolio is available here.

Latest News from Harboring Hearts – August 26, 2011

We can’t believe it  is already the end of August.  This summer has been very exciting for us.

Our big developments this summer have been the launch of our newly re-designed our website and our Summer Fete in the Hamptons. We have also been fortunate to receive significant press which continues to help raise more awareness about Harboring Hearts and enables us to provide support to more heart patients and their families.

We want to thank everyone for their continued support.

Warmest regards,

Yuki and Michelle

Harboring Hearts Summer Fete

New Yorkers came out in full force for Harboring Hearts Summer Fete on August 13th, 2011. Despite the last minute venue and food vendor change, 250+ guests attended the event to celebrate a night of fun and philanthropy.

The event was held at Capri Hotel in Southampton, NY, food was sponsored by Nobu of Southampton, NY, open bar was sponsored by Moet Hennessy and music was provided by DJ Samantha Ronson.

We want to thank our corporate sponsors Phoenix Foundation and Paige Management for making this event possible.

Check out photo from the event below.

Providing a Haven for Heart Patients and Families

On August 13th, 2011, Wall Street Journal featured Michelle Javian and Yuki Kotani, co-founders of Harboring Hearts.

Original article written by MELANIE GRAYCE WEST

The hospital waiting room is no place to live. So Michelle Javian and Yuki Kotani are providing a home for families in need.

Ms. Javian, 28 years old, and Ms. Kotani, 27, are the founders of Harboring Hearts, a two-year-old nonprofit that provides housing for people who have been hospitalized for cardiac-related disease and for caregivers who are traveling with a patient that is receiving care.

Harboring Hearts has provided grants totaling $40,000 to more than 200 people. Grants are provided on a case-by-case basis in consultation with hospital social workers. …