Every year, the Heart and Stroke Foundation dedicates the month of February as Heart Month. It is used to raise awareness across the country about the serious risks associated with heart disease and stroke. This year’s campaign is titled “Make Death Wait”, with startling and effective commercials used to raise awareness. You can check out the commercials at http://mdw.heartandstroke.ca.

According to the Heart and Stroke foundation of Canada, heart disease and stroke are two of the three leading causes of death in Canada, with someone becoming another victim every 7 minutes in Canada. Over the past 40 years, the rates of heart disease and stroke have been steadily declining, with a 25% decrease in the past ten years. What some people may not know, is that each year more women than men die from a stroke. 

Nine out of ten Canadians have at least one risk factor for heart disease or stroke. These major risk factors include: smoking, excess alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, obesity, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and diabetes. You have the power to control all lifestyle factors that might put you at risk and prevent or delay your chances. Try to fit in healthy eating and exercise as much as you can into your daily routines.

  •  Monitor portion sizes and increase whole grains.
  • Pack a healthy lunch the night before to bring to work with you the next day, so you won’t be tempted by fast food and/or the vending machine.
  • Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
  • Stock up on healthy foods in your pantry and fridge. Limit foods that are high in saturated fat, salt and refined sugars. Make the healthy choice the easy choice.
  • Go for a 30 minute walk during your lunch hour, walk to work, or try to take at least three, ten minute walks throughout the day to meet your daily physical activity recommendations.
  • Walk with a friend or join a walking/running group to keep you motivated.

 Try out this delicious Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada’s dinner recipe, with only 2 g total fat and 78 mg of sodium

 Chicken Souvlaki with dill tzatziki

  •  500 g (1 lb) boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) dried oregano leaves
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 ml (1/2 tsp) grated lemon rind
  • 45 ml (3 tbsp) lemon juice
  • Pinch freshly ground pepper

Tzatziki:

  • 160 ml (2/3 cup) 0% Greek yogurt
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) shredded cucumber, squeezed dry
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) chopped fresh dill
  • 2 ml (1/2 tsp) grated lemon rind

Directions

  1. Cut chicken breasts crosswise into 2.5 cm (1 inch) strips and cut each strip into 3.5 cm (1 1/2 inch) chunks. Place in bowl. Add oregano, garlic, lemon rind and juice and pepper and stir to coat well. Cover and refrigerate for up to 30 minutes.
  2. Tzatziki: Meanwhile, in bowl, stir together yogurt, cucumber, garlic, dill and lemon rind until combined. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
  3. Preheat broiler to high or if using grill, preheat grill to medium high.
  4. Skewer chicken onto 4 metal or soaked wooden skewers (see tip below). If broiling, place on foil lined baking sheet and place sheet in oven, about 15 cm (6 inches) from broiler. Broil, turning once, for about 8 minutes or until golden brown and no longer pink inside.
  5. If grilling, place skewers on greased grill over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Turn once.
  6. Serve with tzatziki.

Tip: Soak wooden or bamboo skewers in water for about 15 minutes before using to reduce flare ups.