Celebrating American Heart Month

This February we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of American Heart Month!


Established in 1964 by President Lyndon Baines Johnson (a heart attack survivor himself), American Heart Month and the American Heart Association has worked to lower the amount of American deaths each year from heart disease through education, research and awareness. It’s a big job because heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.

Although there are a lot of risk factors (family history, diet, exercise and smoking),   most cases of heart disease are preventable (and even reversible!) through proper diet and exercise.  And that’s where MANNA comes in!

MANNA ensures that every meal we deliver is heart healthy by sending fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and using herbs and spices in place of salt as often as possible. Even our soups are made with low sodium bases to keep our sodium levels within the healthy levels of the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA).

You can follow a heart healthy diet on your own at home.  Keep your blood pressure down and your heart healthy by monitoring the amount of salt that you take in daily. Many pre-packaged foods use sodium as a preservative and for flavor, including canned vegetables. While the dietitians at MANNA would never discourage someone from eating a serving of veggies, we recommend checking the food label before eating some of those canned varieties. The best way to do this is by using your nutrition food label and paying specific attention to the sodium content.  The Institute of Medicine recommends 1500 mg of sodium per day as the Adequate Intake level for most Americans and advises everyone to limit sodium intake to less than 2300 mg per day, the Tolerable Upper Limit.  You can also look at the %RDA for a serving size of the product and if the label reads that a serving is higher than 20%, this is considered to be high in sodium.

There are plenty of ways to reduce sodium content in your canned vegetables. Pour the contents of the can into a pot of room temperature water and let sit for at least 5 minutes. After the time has passed, drain the water from your veggies and you will have lowered the sodium content!  You can also look for low-sodium labels on many products.

Enjoy February…have a wonderful Valentine’s Day…and check those nutrition labels so your heart can be ready – and healthy – for romance!

Soups On!

There is no healthier and more delicious way to stay warm than with a hot bowl of soup! Soups are a great way to be adventurous and incorporate new and different, nutrient-rich vegetables and grains all in one bowl. Soup 2014

The history of soup dates back to the beginning of cooking. When food was scarce, combining various ingredients that were seasonally available into a bowl and heating it was a cheap way to provide for a quick, nutrient-rich meal.

Today, soups come in many different varieties: canned, microwave-ready, portable and even dehydrated. However, these convenient soups can often be high in sodium which can cause a serious health risk to those with high blood pressure and heart disease. Your first choice when purchasing canned soups should be brands that are low sodium.

MANNA nutritionists suggest reducing the sodium content in canned soups by draining a portion of the broth and replacing it with water before heating the soup. You can also try adding extra vegetables or grains to canned soups to increase the fiber and nutrient content. The best way to control the amount of sodium in soup is to cook your own from scratch.

Try to use seasonal ingredients such as kale, leeks, winter squash, potatoes, and parsnips.  Consider adding whole grains such as barley, bulgur and quinoa to provide flavor, fiber and nutrients. One cup of these grains can contain up to 6 grams of fiber, up to 10 grams of protein, and plenty of B vitamins and folic acid.

Here are a few more tips from the MANNA kitchen to yours:
• Use a blender to puree beans, potatoes, or other vegetables to act as a thickening agent rather than adding cream which is high in fat and cholesterol.
• Use low-sodium broths if you are using broths purchased in a store.
• Looking for flavor? Try adding herbs and spices instead of salt.
• After preparation, the soup can be refrigerated to allow fat to harden and skimmed off the top to lower the fat content as well as calories.

MANNA will be kicking off Souper Bowl 2014 this month. We will be selling our Chicken Noodle, Creamy Corn Chowder and Minestrone – all made from fresh ingredients and cooked in our MANNA kitchen. Soups go on sale January 1st and will be available for pickup at MANNA. For more info, or to order, please visit www.mannapa.org