My Heart Story and Heart Healthy Turkey Chili

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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!

Heart Healthy Chili

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 is 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.

North Myrtle Beach - Heart Healthy Turkey Chili

I Thought It Was Heartburn

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.

Then It Happened!

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.

Slow Cooker Heart Healthy Chili

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.

Heart Healthy Turkey Chili

Slow Cooker Heart Healthy Turkey Chili

How to Make Heart Healthy Turkey Chili in the Slow Cooker

In a large skillet, brown the ground turkey, chili powder and diced onions over medium-high heat. Drain and place the turkey mixture in a slow cooker.

How to Make Heart Healthy Turkey Chili in the Slow Cooker

Add the Hunt’s Diced Spicy Red Pepper Tomatoes, peeled and diced sweet potato, beans, chipotle chilis, chicken broth, and spices.

Heart Healthy Turkey Chili in the Slow Cooker

Stir to combine and cook on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 4 hours.

Ingredients for Heart Healthy Turkey Chili

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.

Slow Cooker Heart Healthy Turkey

Slow Cooker Heart Healthy Turkey Chili

Slow Cooker Heart Healthy Turkey Chili


  • 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 teaspoon salt


  1. 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.
  2. Place the ground turkey mixture in the slow cooker. Add all the remaining ingredients. Stir.
  3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4 hours.
  4. Garnish with low-fat sour cream, if desired.
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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?

If you like this recipe, you’ll love my homemade vegetarian taco soup!


About Alli

Southern, Morning Person, Jesus Girl, Frugal Party Planner, Writer/Blogger, Mom, Nana, Wife, Beach Bum Wannabe - Let's Have a Party!


  1. robin masshole mommy says

    Wow, thanks for sharing your story. We all need to take care of our hearts because we only get one! Your chili sounds amazing, too, btw.

  2. That chili sounds delicious. I am very low on the heart disease risk scale, but I still try to eat a very heart healthy diet. I want to be around for the long haul!

  3. Oh wow, I’m sorry to heart about that event. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed that I’ve had a lot more heartburn when I eat certain food or drink too many margaritas. I hope if this every happens to me that I’ll recognize some of the differences before it’s too late.

  4. How scary! I’m glad that you were OK and I’m glad that you shared the story. There’s a lot of people out there that ignore stuff, I am one of them, and I think this is a wake up call for all of us to get checked out.

  5. What a scary story! I’m prone to anxiety, and just reading your story made my flare up – I can only imagine what you went through. The turkey chili does sound yummy!

  6. Wow, what a story! I am so glad you got to the emergency room before anything really bad happened — you are a lucky lady! I love Hunt’s Tomatoes and keep them in my pantry too. Your Heart Healthy Turkey Chili looks fantastic, definitely saving this recipe! 🙂

    Life With Lorelai

  7. I’m so glad you went to the ER and they were able to help you. This is how my husband died, but his happened while he was sleeping. He had been in good health, but the autopsy showed that that artery was completely blocked. It is a scary thing to have to deal with, but it looks like you’re doing amazingly well since then! Keep up the good work.

  8. I could definitely go for some Healthy Turkey Chili right about now! Hunts tomatoes are my go-to for my famous (well, famous within my family) spicy beef chili.

  9. First, so glad you listened to your husband and let him take you to the hospital! That’s some scary stuff, not to be put off. Especially with the tingling in the left arm! My brother was having issues, but because our stepdad was ill at the time, he was more focused on him, than himself. While our stepdad was in the nursing home, my brother ended up going to the hospital. He ended up having a stent put in too. Second, that chili looks fantastic!

  10. I have been trying to cut down on beef, and turkey has been the best substitute. I also always make my chili with Hunt’s. There flavor is very consistent.

  11. Interesting twist to the basic chili recipe! I will have to try this. I love that I get to use my slow cooker in trying out a new recipe. Hunts is the best choice when making chili!

  12. Pam Wattenbarger says

    I love using my slow cooker to make dinner because it saves me so much time! This heart healthy turkey chili sounds pretty tasty.

  13. Oh my! I am so glad that your husband insisted you go to the ER and that you are ok! I have been tweaking a lot of my recipes to make them more healthy also, heart disease and diabetes both run in my family!

  14. That turkey looks so heartwarming and delicious. It is the absolute perfect dish for getting through the long and cold Chicago winter!

  15. That is scary, thank goodness they caught it in time. I know many people that actually prefer the flavor of turkey chili over other meats.

  16. Thank you for sharing your story. Just like you we had the same heart scare 8 years ago when my husband had a sudden heart attack. Thank God He took care of my husband!

  17. Thanks for reminding us to take care of our hearts! Sometimes its really scary whenever we will heard of heart attacks.

  18. What a scary experience! So grateful you went to the ER as well and all is well now. This is the type of recipe several in my family would absolutely love! And I love that it can easily be frozen for easy dinner another night! -client

  19. Wow, that was scary. Your words are powerful and am glad that you are able to share a positve ending. I appreciate the chili recipe. I’m sure it’s delicious. Thanks

  20. Your chili looks so good! I am a big fan of turkey chili and since I love to coupon this makes a wonderful meal for my family and I like it saves money.

  21. That is really scary, glad to know hubby didn’t listen to you and took you to the ER. He totally saved your life. It is good to know that you are taking your heart health seriously.

    I love chili, it is one of my favorite winter eats.

  22. Wow, that was a scary time for you and your family! You are still too young for that to happen! Your chili sounds so yummy. I like the addition of the yams. I have been buying ground turkey rather than ground beef for many years. I have an irregular heartbeat and have to be cautious also.
    Hunts are my tomatoes! I like the basil, garlic and oregano diced for recipes!

    • It was definitely a scary time and a total shock. I was in denial for so long and it was hard to wrap my head around it all. We have to take care of our hearts, right?

  23. So glad you got checked out at the hospital! Thanks for sharing your story. I am sharing this with my daughter as she has had a lot of heartburn lately.

  24. I found this recipe looking for a heart healthy chili for super bowl watching with my boyfriend. we are both trying to be healthier and I have to say, this recipe was probably the best chili I’ve ever had. We did tart it up with a dollop of guacamole. My bf bought the ingredients so I don’t know what the sodium count was tho.

  25. Thanx for the recipe. But, a tablespoon of salt? Wowza.

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