Men, I have an invitation for you

The potatoes and kale in this recipe are good sources of potassium, which is critical for heart function. NDSU photo

By Julie Garden-Robinson
Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

The other day, I received an email message from a woman who tried a soup recipe featured in a column. She really liked it and told me about her adaptations. About a day later, a man at a workshop mentioned he had read a “bajillion” of my columns.

I always enjoy when those of you who read my weekly column let me know. I try not to put out “duds,” but I suppose that happens on occasion. Thank you for keeping me motivated to continue.

My family often inspires me, but you can inspire me as well. If you think of something you want to learn about related to nutrition and food safety, drop me an email ([email protected]).

As I opened a blank document to begin writing this week’s column, I decided to issue an invitation to all of my male readers age 18 and older. We just launched a men’s health survey, and we’d love to know what you’d like to learn about nutrition, fitness and health, and how you would like to learn it. That will inspire a lot of us in the NDSU Extension Service Family and Consumer Sciences programs throughout North Dakota.

Here’s the link to the men’s health survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/menhealthNDSU. This survey platform works best on a desktop or laptop computer, we have found. If you can’t access it, feel free to drop me an email and I will send the link. By the way, we will have random prize drawings for those who provide their contact information in a separate data entry port after submitting their responses. We do not connect your responses to your name.

Let’s consider health for a bit. February is American Heart Month, and heart disease happens to be the leading cause of death for men and women. Taking care of our “ticker” certainly makes sense for all of us, especially because, on average, it beats more than 100,000 times per day.

The American Heart Association provided an interesting online piece, “The Top 10 Reasons Men Put Off Doctor Visits” and I have listed them below. Are any of these excuses true of you?

• “I don’t have a doctor.”

• “I don’t have insurance.”

• “There’s probably nothing wrong.”

• “I don’t have time.”

• “I don’t want to spend the money.”

• “Doctors don’t ‘do’ anything.”

• “I don’t want to hear what I might be told.”

• “I’ve got probe-a-phobia.”

• “I’d rather tough it out.”

• “My significant other has been nagging me to get a checkup.”

Don’t let these common excuses keep you from potentially life-saving interventions. If your significant other nags a little, just know that means the person cares about you. Be sure to see your health-care provider regularly and consider some lifestyle changes you can make to nourish and exercise your heart and the rest of your body.

Men, after you take our survey, please check out the heart-related resources at https://healthyforgood.heart.org/, where you can learn to eat smart, add color and move more through videos, articles and other resources. Ladies, check out the resources, too, because the recommendations apply to all of us.

Visit https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/food to check out the variety of resources we have for you, too.

This week’s recipe was a big hit during the Super Bowl at the Robinson home. I was inspired in the kitchen that day as I adapted the recipe to be more heart healthy than the original recipe.

I added more potassium-rich potatoes and kale. Potassium is critical for heart function because it plays a role in muscle contraction. I also used chicken broth with less sodium and changed the heavy cream to half and half. These changes cut calories, cut sodium significantly and boosted nutrition. Chicken broth tends to be high in sodium, though. To reduce sodium further, use a sodium-free broth or make your own chicken broth without added salt.

Italian Potato-Sausage Soup

1 pound lean ground Italian pork sausage, browned and drained

2 tsp. garlic

2 c. onion, chopped

1 quart chicken broth, reduced sodium

2 c. water

4 c. cubed potatoes

3 strips bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled (optional)

3 c. chopped kale

1 c. half and half

Pepper (to taste)

In a large saucepot, brown the sausage and drain well. Add garlic and onions and cook until softened. Add chicken broth, water and potatoes and cook until potatoes are tender. Add bacon if desired, and chopped kale, half and half and pepper (to taste). Simmer about five minutes and serve.

Makes 10 servings. Without bacon, each serving has 250 calories, 15 grams (g) fat, 12 g protein, 17 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber and 810 milligrams sodium.