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Harboring Hearts Charity Ride Recap

Thank you for working out and sweating with me at the Charity Ride to benefit Harboring Hearts this past Sunday, January 26th!  With your support, we raised nearly $2,000!  Harboring Hearts and I are truly grateful.

The funds raised through these types of events support Harboring Hearts’ initiatives to provide emotional and financial support to vulnerable heart patients and their families in dire need of our assistance.  As I briefly mentioned at the event, we are providing a need not being met by other organizations.  Our goal for 2014 is to increase our impact within the NYC cardiac community.  We will accomplish this, with the help of your donations, by increasing our community reach through hospital events and fully utilizing our Emergency Fund Program.

If you are interested in making a donation to Harboring Hearts, please visit https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/harboringhearts or contact us at info@harboringhearts.org

By the way, check out some awesome pics from our event here at our Facebook page!

 
Yuki Kotani
Harboring Hearts Co-Founder

 

Aveeno Grant Winners!

This past year, the AVEENO® Brand launched the Be An Active Natural™ Fund to award more than $300,000 in grants to individuals and organizations that create positive change in their communities.

Co-founder, Yuki Kotani, was nominated to receive one of eight Aveeno “Be An Active Natural” $10,000 grants and won on behalf of Harboring Hearts. This is an amazing accomplishment! We are thrilled to be recognized by Aveeno, a community that shares our efforts to celebrate natural and inner beauty as well as promote an active, healthy lifestyle. Harboring Hearts is using the generous Aveeno grant to kick-off our emergency fund, which is helping heart patients and their families meet various forms of transportation and other needs.

 

Meatless Monday – Round 2

If you read my first post about Meatless Monday, the general theme of the day was HUNGER.  I couldn’t seem to eat enough to keep me going until the next meal.

After I posted my first Meatless Monday blog, I received amazing advice from Meatless Monday participants and my vegetarian friends.  This time around, I was better educated and better equipped to take on a meatless day!

Looking back on this past week, I had some interesting conversations with my friends regarding food choices for our health and for the environment.  One particular conversation about meat – well, fish to be exact – stood out to me.

I love fish from sushi grade tuna to baked salmon.  There have been numerous studies about the heart health benefits of eating fish such as reduced calories and omega-3s.  However, it has been difficult for me to find fish at grocery stores that have been raised in a sustainable environment. I can find other meat products that are raised using sustainable farming methods, so why not fish?

I discussed this conundrum with one of my friends and she later sent me a link to the Monterey Bay Aquarium – Seafood Watch site.  This site provided me with in-depth information to answer my question and educated me for my next shopping trip to the grocery store. I learned that many of the world’s fisheries are in a decline and face issues such as over fishing and habitat damage. Even the use of fish farms can have negative impacts on the environment.

Now, I’m not saying I will eliminate fish out of my diet.  I will still continue to eat fish and take advantage of the omega-3s to benefit my heart.  However, to ensure the longevity of the ocean’s ecosystem while enjoying my meal, I will learn about what fish to eat so I can simultaneously improve my health and the environment’s health!  Please check out the website and let me know your thoughts.

Also, many of you emailed, tweeted and Facebook messaged me about participating in Meatless Monday.  Tell me about your experiences, send me recipes (I like to cook and bake) and/or share restaurant suggestions.

If you live in NYC and want to eat out for Meatless Monday, Michelle Javian (Co-Founder of Harboring Hearts) ordered from Sacred Chow last night.  They serve delicious vegan foods!

This is what I ate yesterday (January 30th, 2012):

Breakfast:

  • Rice cakes with almond butter
  • Greek yogurt with honey, oats and blueberries

Lunch:

  • Sautéed asparagus and brussel sprouts
  • Mashed cauliflower (This is my favorite alternative to mashed potatoes.)
  • Tomato and lentil soup with rice
  • Blue Print Green Juice

Snack:

  • Rice crackers wrapped in Japanese nori
  • Baby carrots with hummus

Dinner:

  • Shashuka with gluten-free bread

My first “Meatless Monday” experience

Have you heard of “Meatless Monday”?

Meatless Monday is a NPO in association with John Hopkin’s Bloomberg School of Public Health.  Their mission is, “to help [us] reduce [our] meat consumption by 15% in order to improve [our] personal health and the health of the planet”.  They accomplish this initiative by encouraging others to remove meat from their diet for just one day a week.

Our intern, Pareesha, brought “Meatless Monday” to my attention last week and asked if I would go meatless for one day.  The answer was immediately, “Yes”.  As a co-founder of a heart organization and an avid heart health advocate on behalf of my organization and the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women, I believe that I should practice what I advocate.

Well, yesterday was Monday, January 23, 2012 and I went meatless.

Before I get into my meatless experience, let me tell you a little about myself and my eating habits.  I am an omnivore, but I eat fairly healthy and I am very aware of the foods that I put in my body.  I continually educate myself on how to eat healthy and I am always on the hunt for healthy alternatives.

However, going meatless for a day was harder than I imagined. Maybe it was because I did not prepare my food before work and I had to find meatless yet filling dishes at restaurants.  I say filling because finding meatless options was not the challenge.  The challenge was finding food options that would keep my energy level up until the next meal.

I started the day with 2 rice cakes with peanut butter.  By 10:30am, I was starving!  I ate the baby carrots I packed for my mid-afternoon snack. By noon, I was starving again.  Trying to think on an empty stomach proved to be difficult but I was determined to find a meatless option that was not a salad.  I ended up ordering a delicious Mediterranean Shakshuka (a tomato, onion, pepper stew) at a nearby restaurant.  Yay, success!  By 3:00pm, I was starving…again!  I cursed myself for not ordering a side of rice with my lunch.  Well, next time I’ll do better.  I scrounged around my bag and found a KIND bar (a fruit and nut bar) and I devoured it. I then ran downstairs to a health food store and ordered a raw veggie juice to increase my vegetable intake for the day.

I thought dinner was going to be a challenge because I had made plans to grab dinner with friends I have not seen in awhile.  Luckily, the menu was diverse and I ate a boston bibb salad and a butternut squash pasta dish.

So, my first attempt at “Meatless Monday” was quite an adventure and a learning experience.  I know I will need to educate myself on meatless options for next week but I think it was a successful day.  I was able to engage in dialogue with my friends about what going meatless meant to me and I was able to sign up a few more people to join the movement!

So what does going meatless mean for me?

Going meatless, even just once a week, can reduce my risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes.  By not eating meat, I increased my fiber and vegetable intake in just one day.

What I learned through my experience is that reducing my risk of life-threatening illnesses such as heart disease just requires small and minor adjustments to my lifestyle.

Replace chicken with tofu.  Replace red meat with beans.  My fellow Go Red For Women sister, Gail Mates says it perfectly. “It’s about small simple changes that can save your life”.

The health benefits to reducing your meat intake are the most obvious reasons to participate in “Meatless Monday” but were you aware of the benefits to the environment?  Well, I was not aware that by cutting out meat, we can reduce our carbon footprint, minimize water usage and even reduce fossil fuel dependence.

I recognize that just one person reducing their meat intake will not affect our environment, but imagine if every single one of us cut out meat for just one day.  How would that affect your body?  How would that affect Earth?  How would that affect future generations?

I hope you would consider joining me and participate in “Meatless Monday”.  Tell me about your experiences!