When it came to her health, Kac Young thought she was doing everything right. She ate sensibly, worked out several times per week and maintained a healthy weight.
So she was shocked when, in 2006, she suffered a heart attack and learned that one of her arteries was 99 percent clogged and required a double-stent procedure.
She started really reading the labels on the foods she was eating, and was surprised that her diet wasn’t as healthful as she’d thought.
If you go
• What: Heart Easy seminar and lunch with cookbook author Kac Young.
• When: 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
• Where: St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 426 E. Fourth Plain Blvd., Vancouver.
• Cost: $20. Cash or check only. Checks can be made out to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church (memo “Heart Easy”).
• Information: Contact Peggy Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about this event. For more information about Kac Young and “The Heart Easy Cookbook,” go to http://www.hearteasy.com.
“I surprised myself with all the hidden things I was eating that were causing plaque to build up in my arteries,” said Young, a former television director and producer who holds doctorate degrees in naturopathy, clinical hypnotherapy and natural health.
Young set about finding ways to revamp her favorite recipes to reduce sodium and saturated fat content.
Now she’s sharing those recipes in “The Heart Easy Cookbook.” The book, which is self-published, is being released this month and is available for $29.50 through her website, http://www.hearteasy.com.
The 61-year-old Cambria, Calif., resident also shares tips on heart-healthy eating at seminars. She will be giving a talk Saturday at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Vancouver. The ticket price includes a lunch featuring several of Young’s recipes.
Among the lessons Young will impart at the seminar are what she calls the five R’s: read labels; reduce fats, sugars and salt; return to fresh; regularly exercise and revel occasionally.
Young recommends making a few key dietary substitutions to help improve heart health. For instance, she now uses cheese substitutes. Her favorites are the soy, almond and rice products from the Oregon City, Ore.-based company Lisanatti Foods.
She also uses egg substitutes instead of the real thing. Her favorite is ReddiEgg.
Rather than butter, Young typically uses oils. Depending on the cooking temperature, she’ll use extra-virgin olive, grape seed, avocado, safflower, sunflower or canola oil. Sometimes she uses Smart Balance Light buttery spread, as well.
Whenever possible, Young opts for fat-free products.
By following her new dietary regimen, Young reduced her cholesterol level from 268 to 152.
To help ensure that her lower fat, lower sodium dishes still taste good, Young likes to use lots of spices and herbs.
Favorite spices include Chinese five spice blend, cumin, cinnamon, tumeric and sumac. In terms of herbs, Young favors oregano and basil. She also uses lots of garlic.
By making strategic substitutions and amping up the flavor, people won’t feel deprived when eating lower-fat foods and less salt, according to Young.
In fact, she expects that people attending the Vancouver luncheon won’t believe that they’re not eating real cheese and real eggs.
“I want people to come and be astounded by how good the substitutes are now,” she said.
Heart Easy Stuffed Jumbo Pasta Shells
Prep time: About 30 minutes. Cook time: 45 minutes. Servings: 8.
Recipe from Kac Young
10 ounces frozen chopped spinach or 1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped fine
8 ounces jumbo pasta shells
2 cups nonfat cottage cheese, drained
2 egg whites or ½ cup ReddiEgg, lightly beaten
6 ounces shredded cheese alternative (SoySation 3 Cheese Blend)
3 tablespoons low-fat grated Parmesan, or grated Parmesan-flavor cheese alternative
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon pepper
1 16-ounce jar low-fat, low-salt, tomato basil pasta sauce (Francesco Rinaldi ToBe Healthy)
¼ cup mushrooms, chopped
Nonfat canola oil spray
¼ cup mozzarella-flavor shredded cheese alternative (Original Almond Mozzarella Shreds)
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Cook spinach, drain thoroughly. If you choose to use basil, just chop it, don’t cook it.
Cook jumbo shells according to package directions to al dente. Drain and cover with cold water.
Lightly spritz a small pan with canola oil spray. Add mushrooms and sauté for 2 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine spinach or basil, cottage cheese, egg whites, shredded mozzarella, shredded Parmesan, garlic powder, mushrooms and pepper.
Stuff mixture into shells and place in baking dish that has been lightly coated with canola oil spray.
Cover with tomato sauce.
Bake uncovered for 45 minutes or until bubbling.
In the last five minutes of cooking, sprinkle tops of shells with additional mozzarella cheese substitute.
Serve with a salad and nonfat Italian dressing.
Note: The cheese alternatives Kac Young uses are made by Lisanatti Foods in Oregon City, Ore., and are available at some Trader Joe’s, Fred Meyer and Whole Foods Market locations.
Nutritional information per serving: 3 grams of fat, 368 milligrams of sodium, according to Kac Young.
Heart Easy Breakfast Frittata
Prep time: 15-20 minutes. Cook time: 20-25 minutes. Servings: 8.
Recipe from Kac Young
½ cup chopped scallions
1 cup pre-cooked pasta (whole-grain spaghetti, rotelli, linguini)
⅔ cup broccoli florets cut into small pieces
1 cup mozzarella-flavor cheese alternative (The Original Almond)
2 cups ReddiEgg or 8-10 egg whites, lightly whipped
¾ cup low-fat, low-sodium red pasta sauce (Francesco Rinaldi ToBe Healthy)
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Place pasta, scallions, broccoli and cheese in the bottom of a 10-inch diameter round baking dish.
Pour ReddiEgg or egg whites over the mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until eggs spring to the touch and top is slightly browned.
Remove from oven, cool for 1-2 minutes, slice, top with Italian sauce if desired and serve. Serve additional sauce on the side if desired.
Nutritional information per serving: 1.9 grams of fat, 321 milligrams of sodium, according to Kac Young.