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February has a special place in my heart. It’s Heart Health Month and I’m finally ready to tell the story of my own heart. I also want to share my family’s favorite Slow Cooker Heart Healthy Turkey Chili. Here goes!
September 13, 2011, will be forever imprinted on my mind. It’s the day a stent was implanted in the left anterior descending artery (LAD) of my heart. When the main artery down the front of the heart (LAD) is totally blocked or has a critical blockage, it is often referred to as the Widow Maker. Mine was 99% blocked. Yikes!
When people ask me what symptoms prompted me to rush to the emergency room on the night of September 11, 2011, I immediately blurt out, “Severe heartburn.”
Let’s Back Up and Start at the Beginning
In late August of 2011, I was enjoying a week at the beach with the entire family. Our condo was on the 7th floor and I’d take the stairs instead of the elevator in order to get my daily steps in. My son-in-law noticed I was out of breath one day after walking up seven flights of stairs and asked me if I was OK. I exercised on a fairly regular basis and I joked that I must be more out of shape than I thought.
After we returned home, I began having constant indigestion. I’ve never suffered from indigestion before and thought it a little strange. Then the “heartburn and indigestion” got worse.
On the evening of September 11, I was busy packing my suitcase for a business trip the next day. I ran out to the mailbox (I mean I really ran, not walked) to check the mail and when I returned to the house, I was out of breath – much more than I should have. The heartburn was worse and I felt a tingling pain running down my left arm.
My husband had been bugging me to make an appointment with my doctor. I kept telling him it was heartburn and would eventually go away. I’m so stubborn! When the tingling began in my left arm, my husband rushed me to the emergency room.
The emergency room takes heart-related pain seriously, so I was immediately taken back to a room. As they prepared to run an EKG, I kept telling them it was just severe heartburn. The EKG showed that something was up and they took me to a room that was a step up from the emergency room for overnight observation.
The Saga of my Heart Continues
At 5 AM on September 12th, a cardiologist stopped by to check on me and informed me they were taking me to the Cath Lab to have a look around. A catheter was inserted into a vein in my wrist and threaded through my blood vessels to my heart. That’s when they found out my Widow Maker artery was 99% blocked.
Because the hospital I was in didn’t actually perform stent implants, I had to be transferred to a larger hospital. On September 13th, the stent procedure was done.
Thankfully, all went well. My doctors and nurses kept saying I was too young to go through this and had no pre-existing reasons for me to have a clogged artery. It was beyond scary and I admit I cried off and on for two solid weeks after having the procedure done. I’m so glad that I didn’t have a heart attack because of my husband’s insistence that I go to the emergency room. After that ordeal, I decided to get as healthy as possible.
A Heart Healthy Diet
These days I try to eat right 80% of the time and I’ve learned to tweak my favorite recipes in order to make them more healthy for my heart. For instance, my Heart Healthy Turkey Chili is delicious and the family doesn’t know that it’s better for them.
Whenever I’m shopping at Walmart, I always stock up on fresh produce and Hunt’s Tomatoes. I’ve found that keeping my pantry stocked with staples that are good for me keeps me on track when it comes to fixing healthy dishes for my family.
Helpful Hint: Be sure and check out this Ibotta offer for Hunt’s Tomatoes. Buy four cans of Hunt’s Tomatoes and earn $1.00.
Slow Cooker Heart Healthy Turkey Chili
In a large skillet, brown the ground turkey, chili powder and diced onions on medium-high heat. Drain and place the turkey mixture in a slow cooker.
Add the Hunt’s Diced Spicy Red Pepper Tomatoes, peeled and diced sweet potato, beans, chipotle chilis, chicken broth, and spices.
Stir to combine and cook on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 4 hours.
Helpful Hint: My Heart Healthy Turkey Chili is even better the next day. You can freeze the leftovers in family-sized portions for up to six months. Scoop each portion into a freezer container or bag, leaving 1/2″ empty space at the top.
- 2 pounds ground turkey
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 can white beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 cans Hunts Diced Tomatoes (Spicy Red Pepper)
- 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed
- 1 can low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 chipotle chilis in adobo sauce
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon salt
- In a large skillet, add the ground turkey, diced onion and chili powder. Cook on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the turkey is browned.
- Place the ground turkey mixture in the slow cooker. Add all the remaining ingredients. Stir.
- Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4 hours.
- Garnish with low-fat sour cream, if desired.
February – American Heart Month
As I mentioned earlier, February has a special place in my heart. I make a point to donate to the American Heart Association every year. I’m beyond excited to learn that Hunt’s is donating $50,000 to the American Heart Association in support of American Heart Month during the month of February.
Now that I can talk about my experience without breaking down, I’m on a mission to educate women about the importance of taking care of their heart and getting regular checkups.
Be sure and try my Heart Healthy Turkey Chili. It’s delicious, nutritious and a family favorite.
Do you or someone you know have a heart story?