May 20, 2024

Feb. 22—TUPELO — Chips. Cookies. Processed foods. There’s a reason why you crave them.

“A lot of food sources depend on additives for flavor,” said Evan Gault, who works in the North Mississippi Medical Center’s Heart Institute and the Cardiopulmonary Rehab program. “They add fat, sugar and salt to make food taste good.”

But that added fat, sugar and salt can lead to heart problems, Gault warned.

“When you’re dealing with foods in cans or in packages, there are a lot of preservatives,” he said. “You have to read the labels.”

Gault was speaking in the lobby at the NMMC Wellness Center on Tuesday morning about “Heart Healthy Breakfast Choices” to promote February as American Heart Month. The program, which is offered every year, is free to the public.

Because many people won’t take the time to read a nutrition label on a package, Gault suggested a free app on smart phones called Yuka (it’s an app with a white logo and a little orange carrot in the center).

“You scan the bar code on a packaged product with your phone, and Yuka looks at the sugar, fat and calorie content and the ratio of them in the product,” said Jordan Howe, manager of the Cardiopulmonary Rehab program who helped Gault with Tuesday’s presentation. “For instance, you want the sodium content to be less than the total calories for the product. If you’ve got a frozen meal that has 400 calories, you want the sodium to be less than 400 milligrams. The app rates products on a scale of 0 to 100. Anything above 50 tends to be a good choice.”

Gault spoke with guests for about a half-hour and he and Howe answered questions afterward. They also prepared baked blueberry and apple oatmeal for sampling and provided handouts for guests to take home to help reduce harmful fats, sugar and salt in their diets.

Ways to reduce saturated fat include:

—Selecting lean cuts of meat with minimal visible fat. Lean beef cuts include round, chuck, sirloin or loin. Lean cuts of pork include tenderloin or loin chop. Lean lamb cuts come from the leg, arm and loin.

—Trimming all visible from meat before cooking.

—Broiling rather than pan-frying; using a rack to drain off fat when broiling, roasting or baking.

—Choosing chicken and turkey over duck and goose, and choosing white meat most often when eating poultry. Remove the skin before cooking.

—Limiting processed meats, such as sausage, bologna, salami and hot dogs.

—Eating more meatless meals and more fish.

—Cooking vegetables in a small amount of vegetable oil while adding herbs and spices for flavor.

—Using low-fat or fat-free dairy products in place of whole milk, cream or full-fat cheese.

Gault suggested when folks eat out in restaurants that they look for the Heart-Check mark that will be on some menus. When you see it, you know the product aligns with the American Heart Association’s recommendations for an overall healthy eating pattern.

“And if you want to make substitutions to an item on a menu, just ask,” Gault said “Most restaurants will work with you.”

For more heart healthy tips and recipes, visit


1 tablespoon canola oil

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/3 cup brown sugar

Egg substitute equivalent to 2 eggs, or 4 egg whites

3 cups uncooked rolled oats

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup skim milk

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

In a large bowl, stir together oil, applesauce, sugar and eggs. Add dry ingredients and milk. Mix well. Spoon oatmeal into a greased 9×13-inch casserole. Sprinkle blueberries evenly over oatmeal. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serves 8.

Nutrition info per serving: 205 calories; 4g fat; 105mg sodium; 36g carbs; 3g fiber; 7g protein.

Note: If desired, omit the blueberries and substitute 2 diced apples. You can also make the recipe as written, adding 1 diced apple to the mixture.


7 ounces turkey sausage

3 cups frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed

1 can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano, drained

1 (16-ounce) carton liquid egg whites or 2 cups beaten egg whites

Chopped fresh parsley

Cut sausage lengthwise into quarters, then cut crosswise into slices. Add to a nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, along with the potatoes, and mix well. Cook over medium-high heat for 7 minutes or until sausage and potatoes are evenly browned, stirring occasionally.

Place drained tomatoes in a microwave-safe dish; cover with a paper towel. Microwave on high for 1 to 2 minutes or until hot. Stir. Cover to keep warm.

Add egg whites to skillet; cook just until eggs are set, stirring occasionally. Spoon evenly onto 8 serving plates; top with tomatoes. Sprinkle with parsley.

Nutritional into per serving: 100 calories; 11g protein.


1 (16-ounce) carton liquid egg whites

1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup packed fresh spinach, finely chopped

1/3 cup roasted red peppers, drained and chopped

1 tablespoon fresh basil, minced

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Spray a 12-cup muffin pan generously with cooking spray.

Combine egg whites, cottage cheese, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a blender; blend until smooth, about 15 seconds.

Combine spinach, roasted red peppers and basil in a bowl. Pour in egg mixture and stir to combine. Ladle the mixture evenly into the muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full. Top each muffin with 1 teaspoon feta cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees until egg white bites are set, 18 to 20 minutes. Serves 12.

Nutritional info per serving: 57 calories; 3g fat; 1g carbs; 7g protein.


2 sweet potatoes, cubed

10 to 12 ounces mixed mushrooms, quartered, or 1 1/2 cups chopped bell peppers

1 bunch asparagus, tender parts, chopped or 1 1/2 cups chopped broccoli

Olive oil, for drizzling

12 large eggs or 1 carton egg whites

1/2 cup almond milk

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 to 1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

4 ounces crumbled feta cheese or goat cheese

1 bunch scallions, chopped

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

Microgreens, for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. On one baking sheet spread the sweet potatoes, on the other baking sheet spread the mushrooms and asparagus. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with pinches of salt and pepper and toss to coat. Roast the sweet potatoes for 30 minutes. Place the baking sheet with the mushrooms and asparagus in the oven to roast during the final 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, garlic, sea salt and black pepper.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Place all the sweet potatoes evenly in the bottom of the baking dish. Add half of the vegetables from the second baking sheet and spread out evenly. Sprinkle with the feta cheese, scallions and peas.

Pour the egg mixture evenly over the vegetables. Add the remaining mushrooms and asparagus.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the eggs are set and the edges are lightly golden brown. Let the casserole sit for 10 minutes before slicing. Garnish slices with microgreens, if using, and season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.

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