Welcome to a very special event we are holding today. Jen of Juanita’s Cocina and myself teamed up to invite a wonderful group of bloggers to share personal stories and recipes with you today. The focus in on raising awareness for heart disease. I realize some of you are shaking your heads right now looking at these fries, and thinking I’m crazy. It’s okay, I am a little crazy, but there’s a story behind these fries that I’d love to share with you.
Today marks 29 years since the day my mom passed away. 29 long years filled with lots of missing her and wishing she was still here. My mom died when she was only 47 years old. She passed away in her sleep of heart attack. Earlier that day she had not been feeling well. My dad took her to our local clinic, they sent her home with a misdiagnosis. I think she knew something was very wrong, but thought the doctors knew better. She went to bed that night, and never woke up again. Not a day goes by I don’t miss her, or wish someone would have taken her warning signs seriously. My mom had high blood pressure, so I have always wondered how the doctor could have missed the signs, why he didn’t send her to the hospital immediately. It is truly heartbreaking to me that with proper care she might have survived. We lost a special person that day, someone irreplaceable in our lives.
My mom was a remarkable woman. However she did not lead the healthiest of lifestyles. She loved fried foods, and adored salt. With her blood pressure it was a bad combination. She grew up in Quebec, and had a huge love affair with french fries. I think it was one of her favourite things to eat. She loved to make them from scratch, and I’m not going to lie she made some kick ass fries. She was not concerned with her diet most days. One of her favourite things to make was french fry sandwiches. I’ve never been fond of those myself. I have tons of memories that revolve around her making fries, or french fry sandwiches. When we decided to do this event I fought with myself over what to make. Initially I thought salad, then I thought a pork dish would be nice. But my heart was still stuck on the fries.
I decided to make them in a way that those of us who love them can still indulge without the guilt and health risks. While fries will never be super heart healthy, there are ways to make them better. When I used to run and work out a lot I used to do oven fries often. I remember Oprah’s chef Rosie making them. I bought her cookbook and tried her unfried fries eons ago. They were spectacular and we’ve eaten them often. I’ve seen Gwyneth Paltrow’s version on the internet as well. There are a couple of ways to lighten up your fries. One thing I do is soak mine prior to cooking them. Also when you oven bake them they still get that crispy skin without tons of oil. It’s truly an amazing way to cook potatoes. You can add spices to them which are good for your metabolism and add great taste to them. You can also avoid using salt by using other spices which is nice for folks with blood pressure issues like myself.
So for those who of you who were sceptical about fries for a heart friendly post I hope you understand that I wanted to do this for sentimental reasons. And I also want to show people that eating healthy does not have to be boring. Making small changes that will stick will go a long way to a healthier lifestyle. If you force yourself to eat food you hate you are not going to want to stick with it. I hope you try these. You can jazz them up in a number of ways. I made three small batches with different spices. I loved them all.
- 4 Russet Potatoes cut into small thin strips
- 3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil I used garlic olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes use to your own taste
- optional: small pinch of salt if you do not have blood pressure issue if you do skip the salt!
Peel and cut your potatoes into thin strips.
Soak in cold water for 30 to 60 minutes prior to cooking.
Drain and pat dry.
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
You can either line cookie sheets with parchment, or don't use parchment but spray pans generously with non stick spray.
In a bowl combine the oil and spices with the potatoes, and toss till evenly coated.
Lay the fries on the baking sheet in a single layer.
Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, checking them often depending how thin you sliced them.
Flip them all over and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes depending on how you like yours. I like mine quite crisp and dark, so start keeping an eye early. They can go from golden to overcooked very quickly.
Remove from oven and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any extra oil. Pat them to remove excess.
You can sprinkle with a touch of salt if you like. With the spices it's really not needed though.
Serve with a big old smile, and perhaps some ketchup!
You have to admit these do not look oven baked. It’s just amazing how fabulously they cook up inside the oven. I honestly wanted to try them with coconut oil but I was not feeling too adventures after the flu. If anyone has made a version using coconut oil I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.
This past week has been a whirlwind. I’ve enjoyed having the distraction of work. Usually every year as March 5th approaches I tend to get a little edgy. I start to really think about what my life would be like if my Mom was still here with us. How my life would be different, how my kids lives would be different. Thinking about her being at my wedding, being a grandmother to my kids, having someone to talk to when life gets rough, or when great things happen. This is all a life that is not mine. I realize this may seem like a pointless exercise in disappointment. Yet for some reason once a year it gives me great peace to think about what might have been. I spend the day quietly thinking about all the “what if’s”. When the day is over I just as quietly shelve those thoughts for another year.
Anyone who has lost a loved one knows these days are never easy. Yet you cannot wallow in it. You need to celebrate the person’s life and remember them with fondness. For me it’s a bittersweet day. I know how lucky I am to have had a mother who was so devoted to her kids. I know I am lucky to have had a mother who made us all smile, and laugh like crazy. Her sense of adventure and fun was limitless. She was always up for a giggle, for enjoying life’s little moments and spending time with us. I am so grateful to her for showing me how to be in the moment with my own kids. To let your guard down and be silly, just for the sake of a good giggle. That gift is priceless to me. I hope my kids take it and share it with their own kids one day in the future. Being able to let the walls down and not worry about looking stupid while you play and laugh is just an amazing thing in life. Living fully, each and every moment you can.
My mom loved to sit on the porch. We’d eat french fries in paper sacks and talk. We’d watch neighbours go by and gossip. She would tell us stories about her own life and listen to our tales. We would laugh and yell, and basically raise holy hell every chance we got. We spent so much time with her. She was not the kind of mom you didn’t want to spend time with. She was the kind of mom who you loved to hang out with, bring your friends around and just enjoy each other’s company.
I miss those days. I miss her laugh. I miss talking to her. I miss her causing trouble with that look in her eye. I miss her. Every single day.
So if you have your mom near you right now, I suggest giving her a big old hug. Tell her you love her and spend time with her. Simple because you can.
For those of you who have stories of heart disease of your own I encourage you to share those with us today. Life is easier when you share openly and love with a big heart.
I’d like to thank Jen of Juanita’s Cocina for being my co-host today. Jen is an amazing lady and someone I count among my dearest of friends. She is the type of gal who has your back when you need her. And she’s wickedly funny. My mom would have loved her.
I would also like to thank all the lovely ladies who are participating in today’s event, sharing their recipes and stories with us with an open heart. I encourage everyone to go visit them all. Show them some love. These ladies have been so supportive and kind during this process. I cannot thank them enough for all their heartfelt emails the past few days. Their support has been made the days leading up to today more tolerable than normal. That means so much to me.
The Recipes from the Heart Crew:
Today we are joining together to help raise awareness for Heart Disease. I lost my Mom to heart disease when she was 47, and I was 15. Each year on the day Mom passed I share stories and photos of my Mom. This year I joined forces with Jen of Juanita’s Cocina, whose life was also touched by heart disease when her Stepfather had a heart attack. Jen’s Stepfather is alive and well more than a decade later, and for that, Jen is thankful every day. We got in touch with other bloggers to ask them to share their own stories about how heart disease has touched their lives. So today we share stories and recipes from our hearts to yours, in memory and honour of Momzie, my Mom. We hope you will share your stories with us today as well.
Thank you to everyone who read this today. It is definitely one of my longer posts, but with very good reason. I encourage anyone who has a story to tell to share it with us today. I would also like to encourage anyone who is having issues with their heart to seek medical attention immediately. Do not wait, do not pass it off as no big deal. Get your butts to the doctor and find out what is wrong. Life is an amazing gift, and it can turn on a dime. Make the most of it and do not take it for granted.
There are so many wonderful heart organizations out there to get information from. You can browse around The Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada. They are such a great resource for information. There are also recipes on their site for those looking for heart healthy meal options. Hamilton Beach Canada is another great resource for healthy eating and recipes. I am not associated with either company, I just like and trust their sites. So I thought I’d share them with you.
Toodles and smoochies! xx