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Kids Cook With Heart

By |June 21st, 2017|Categories: Events, Health & Nutrition, News|Tags: , , , , , , , , |Comments Off on Kids Cook With Heart

If you’re a frequent visitor to the Halle Heart Children’s Museum or follow us on social media, you may have heard of our popular Toddler Test Kitchen program, in which little ones learn to cook simple, healthy recipes in a fun, hands-on environment.

But do toddlers get to have all the cooking fun at the HHCM?

No way! We’re excited to share that now kids ages 7-12 have a cooking program of their own in the museum’s Kitchen Cafe. Chefs-in-training are invited to join Kids Cook with Heart, a brand-new series sponsored by the Junior League of Phoenix. One Saturday a month, elementary-age students can join in an hour and a half session that incorporates healthy eating education with cooking age-appropriate nutritious recipes.

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The HHCM believes that it’s never too early to start a lifetime of heart health. Research shows that the more people cook for themselves, the healthier they are likely to be. If kids in this formative grade school age group can learn the valuable skills of cooking healthy meals in the home kitchen (and share this knowledge with their families), they’ll have a head start on the prevention of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and stroke. Children in underserved communities are particularly vulnerable to increased risk of these health issues, which is part of the reason Kids Cook with Heart is totally FREE! Anyone can join by registering HERE.

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Our first session of the program kicked off this past Saturday, June 17th. A kitchen full of junior chefs was instructed by guest chef Ellen from The Farm at South Mountain, a local establishment known for its commitment to sustainable, seasonal foods. A spirit of culinary adventure prevailed, as Chef Ellen invited students to try some unusual veggies—a Persian cucumber and Zebra Stripe and Indigo Rose heirloom tomatoes. These seasonal delights were included as ingredients in the Summer Corn Salad on the menu for the day. Nothing says summer like grilled corn!

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Throughout the course of the class, junior chefs were given the responsibility of cooking ears of corn on a grill (no small task even for adults), chopping additional ingredients to add to the mix, and honing their chefs’ palates by tasting and adjusting seasonings like lime juice, salt, and pepper.

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In addition to the hands-on cooking portion of the experience, our budding chefs took a break from the kitchen and participated in one of our favorite museum activities, Video Game Olympics, which incorporates physical movement into something all kids love, video games!

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There’s more where this came from! Be sure to secure a spot for your 7-12-year-old child at any of our upcoming dates of Kids Cook with Heart.

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How Sodium Affects Your Heart

By |March 28th, 2017|Categories: Health & Nutrition|Tags: , , , , |Comments Off on How Sodium Affects Your Heart

If you’re an American adult, you’ve probably heard that too much sodium can be bad for your heart. Perhaps your doctor has asked you to cut back on sodium-heavy foods to protect your heart health, or maybe you’ve made that decision for yourself. Leaving the saltshaker off the table, cutting back on processed foods, or choosing low-sodium canned goods are all great choices, but have you ever wondered WHY excess sodium spells bad news for your heart?

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The process by which sodium affects heart health isn’t complicated. Salt attracts water. Picture your blood vessels as pipes–just like the pipes running through your home–with water (aka your blood) flowing through them. When too much salt is introduced into your “pipes,” fluid begins to build inside. If too much fluid accumulates, the pressure in the pipes will rise. In your home, you’ll eventually have a plumbing emergency. In your body, as the pressure pushes on the walls of your blood vessels, you’ll eventually develop high blood pressure.

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The strain created by high blood pressure takes its toll on the cardiovascular system. The body responds to the stress of increased pressure in the arteries by causing them to weaken or harden. When arteries are weak or hard, the life-giving blood on its way to your heart will have a much harder time reaching its destination, potentially resulting in a blockage that leads to a heart attack.

Sodium recommendations are currently set at 2,400 mg/day, and will soon be changing to 2,300 mg/day, thanks in part to the American Heart Association’s lobbying efforts. But the average American takes in 3,400mg/day–40% more than recommended! It’s not hard to do. Americans get 75% of their daily sodium from processed foods, which we all know are pervasive in our society.

There are many ways to limit sodium in your diet (and they don’t all mean eating flavorless food)! Great flavors come in many forms. Try experimenting with other flavors like garlic, herbs and spices, or lemon juice when cooking at home. Choosing fresh fruits and vegetables whenever possible, rinsing canned vegetables and beans, taking the saltshaker off the table, and simply reading food labels can all make a big difference in your salt consumption. The American Heart Association has also identified what are known as “the Salty Six”–foods that are a lot higher in sodium than most of us think.

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Whatever path you take to reducing sodium in your diet, you can feel great knowing that you have done your heart a service! Healthy blood vessels mean healthy blood pressure, and healthy blood pressure is always a good thing for your heart.