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Shrimp Tacos - Delicious Decisions

Cooking at home more often is a great way to start changing your relationship with salt. Meals on the go can be hard on your heart, because many prepared foods and restaurant foods are loaded with sodium. And did you know that meals away from home account for nearly half the money Americans spend on food?

Eating healthier (and saving money as an added bonus) isn’t as hard as you might think. This summer, try our recipe for Heart Healthy Shrimp Tacos below. 

Serves 4, has roughly 206 calories and 308 mg of sodium per serving.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup of fat-free sour cream
  • 2 tbsp. snipped, fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp. canola or corn oil
  • 13-14 oz. peeled, raw shrimp, rinsed, patted dry
  • ½ tsp. chili powder
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 6-inch corn tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded lettuce
  • 1 small tomato, diced
  • 2 tbsp. sliced black olives

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream and cilantro. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat, swirling to coat the bottom. Add the shrimp to the pan.
  3. Sprinkle the chili powder and cumin on the shrimp. Sprinkle with the garlic. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes if using large shrimp, or 2 to 3 minutes if using small, or until the shrimp are pink on the outside, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat.
  4. Using the package directions, warm the tortillas.
  5. Put the tortillas on a flat surface. Sprinkle with the lettuce, tomato, and olives. Spoon the sour cream mixture on each. Top with the shrimp. Fold 2 opposite sides of the tortilla toward the center. If you prefer a dramatic presentation instead, place 2 unfolded tacos side by side on a dinner plate. Fold each in half. Push a 6-inch wooden skewer through both tacos near the tops to hold them together. Repeat with the remaining tacos. Your family will be able to remove the skewers easily before eating the tacos.

Nutrition Tip: Shrimp are relatively high in cholesterol, but they are also very low in harmful saturated fat. Even if you're watching your cholesterol, you can still occasionally enjoy shellfish, including shrimp, as part of a balanced diet.

Click here for more low-sodium recipes.

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Mock Vending is Causing a Buzz!

We have been working on a healthy vending bill to requiring State Buildings to have healthier options in their vending machines. We put on display “mock vending machines” and it created a buzz. I have included the State House News Article below

Examining the contents of a mock vending machine displayed in his office last week, Rep. Stephen Kulik found a surprise. "Whole-grain Goldfish -- I didn't even know those existed," Kulik said, peering at a banner depicting a life-size vending machine stocked with snacks like crackers, pumpkin seeds, seltzer and hummus

The banners are traveling through the State House, making stops in or outside lawmakers' offices in an attempt to drum up awareness and support for a bill that would require any food or drinks sold in vending machines on state property "be limited to food and beverage items that comply with the nutritional standards" to be set by the Department of Public Health commissioner.

Backed by the American Heart Association, the bill (H 3988) was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee in May after earning an endorsement from the Health Care Financing Committee. The bill is a Public Health Committee redraft of legislation originally filed by Kulik (H 2005) in January 2015.  "This is a bill that I have cosponsored for I think two sessions, and the support has been growing as people are more interested in healthy foods," Kulik said.

The bill lays out three different sets of nutrition and food procurement standards that the state regulations would have to meet or exceed, ranging from a requirement that all food options be healthy to 30 percent healthy on the low end. The American Heart Association advocates for the middle set of standards, which calls for 50 percent healthy contents.

Outside Rep. Louis Kafka's first-floor office earlier this week, the banners -- which display the words, "Food for thought...Wish you could grab a healthy snack? Support Healthy Vending" -- were within the line of sight of two actual vending machines stocked with soda, potato chips and candy bars.

Kulik said his current go-to snack at the State House vending machines is one that wouldn't earn a designation of health food: Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Gesturing at the snacks displayed on the healthy vending banner, he said he thinks that choice could change with other options available.

"You know, if there was some dried fruit for example, that would be a great opportunity," the Worthington Democrat said. "I see some granola bars and things in here that I would reach for, some packages of nuts. It would be great. I would be happy to buy those."

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July Means Healthier Eating Statewide

One of the great things that happened when you flipped your calendar on July 1st was that that’s the day the state of Vermont began requiring state agencies to meet nutrition standards for the foods they sell and serve. And you’re part of the reason!

We advocated this past legislative session for legislation requiring nutrition standards for state government in vending, food service and institutions. We wanted state government to walk the walk so other businesses and organizations across Vermont would follow suit. The legislation passed, the governor signed it into law in May and the health department just released its nutrition standards last Friday!

Thanks for helping us make this a reality! Vermont is currently the only state to require nutrition standards in all three areas!

Please take a moment to thank the members of the Senate Health and Welfare and House Health Care Committees who gave their support to this effort. They were true champions and we couldn’t have done it without them. Take action at: https://yourethecure.org/aha/advocacy/actioncenter.aspx

Here’s to healthy eating in Vermont!

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Helping Us Fight the Silent Killer

High blood pressure is called The Silent Killer for a reason.  It has no symptoms, so you may not be aware that it's damaging your arteries, heart and other organs. When left untreated, possible health consequences can include heart disease, heart attack, stroke and congestive heart failure.

But, the sad fact is that too many people have high blood pressure. Currently in Vermont, 31% of adults suffer from high blood pressure. That means 128,688 people! And that number is predicted to climb to more than 174,000 people by 2030 if current obesity trends continue.

That’s why we’re excited by an effort by one of our Vermont partners, the YMCA, to treat high blood pressure. The Y’s Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring Program helps adults with hypertension to lower and manage their blood pressure. With the help of a Healthy Heart Ambassador, the four month program focuses on regulated home self-monitoring of a person’s blood pressure and the participant is provided with individualized consultations and nutrition education for better blood pressure management.

The program will include nutrition education seminars each month that focus on dietary approaches to reducing hypertension, reducing sodium intake, shopping, cooking and food preparation, and eating for your heart.

A really neat bonus to the program in our area is a 30 day family membership at the Greater Burlington YMCA. Find out more and see if you're eligible by contacting Kristin Magnant at kmagnant@gbymca.org or at (802) 652-8196 .

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Imagine Getting a Healthy Kids Meal Anywhere

Imagine going out to eat with your family and knowing that any restaurant you chose that had a kids’ meal would offer some nice, healthy choices. Any restaurant. That’s what we’re striving for.

But that’s not the case currently. Today, due to work demands and hectic school and sport schedules, families are eating out more than ever. But our kids are paying the price. Only 3% of restaurant kids’ meals currently meet nutrition standards and this translates to kids getting one fourth of their calories from eating out.

We’re working on an exciting campaign in Vermont to require all restaurants that advertise kids’ meals to meet nutrition standards for those meals. And we want to help them in a fun way. This summer, we’ll be recruiting chefs across the state to prepare menus based on our nutrition standards, train other chefs and hold events this fall at select restaurants across the state so families can see what it’s like to walk into a restaurant and know that anything they chose on the kids menu is going to be good for their kids. And the meals will be on us!

No sugary drink, fewer calories and salt, at least a half cup of fresh fruit and vegetables like these great Vermont strawberries and a lean protein or whole grain. Wouldn’t that be a treat?!

Stay tuned for more information as we move ahead and plan on attending one of our healthy restaurant events this fall with your kids. Email me if you’re interested in attending or getting involved at tina.zuk@heart.org.

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Advocacy Victories in the Commonwealth

We are excited that with the end of our fiscal year that we have a lot of advocacy wins to celebrate. This was a true team effort that could not be achieved without your support of our work, taking action on alerts, being part of lobby day, and you, our dedicated volunteers being tireless advocates throughout the year. 

  • We were successful in leading a campaign to secure a $500,000 appropriation for Stroke Education and awareness; including a specific earmark of $200,000 to support the state Stroke registry.  The $200,000 earmark met the Goal Guidance criteria for Stroke Registry funding.  Not only were we successful in having the appropriation included in the legislature’s budget but we also successfully led a veto override campaign. This happened in July 2015. Just yesterday we were able to secure an additional $620,00 for stroke funding in the final budget that is on its way to the Governor’s desk so we are excited that the momentum of the original funding continues!
     
  • In the early winter Boston joined almost 90 cities and towns across Massachusetts to set the minimum age at 21 and with Boston joining the movement more than ½ of the population live in cities and towns where 21 is the minimum age.  In May we were able to add to the local 21 push when the cities and Towns of Brockton, Carver, Chelsea, Essex , Falmouth, Gloucester, Hadley, Halifax, Marblehead, Norfolk, North Adams, North Attleboro, Plainville, Shelburne, Southampton, Sunderland and Tewksbury cumulatively representing 324,199 residents were confirmed to have passed T-21 policy. In June the Cities/Towns of Great Barrington, Lowell, Stoughton and Worcester passed T-21 legislation adding an additional 317,365 Massachusetts residents living in communities that now have a minimum legal age of 21 to purchase Tobacco products.  These additions mean that 121 of the 351 cities and towns in the Commonwealth have T-21 laws. We are confident that this momentum will help us pass the Statewide Tobacco 21 bill by July 31st!
     
  • For a number of years we have been working on Complete Streets to secure necessary funding and policy language so that we can create healthier communities for all of our residents. I am excited to say that the Massachusetts state Transportation Improvement plan will be dedicating a total of $110 million dollars over the next 5 years to programs and projects to improve access to safe bicycle and pedestrian programs that will help people who walk, bike, run and roll do so more safely.  This campaign involved not only working to appropriate the funds but also to influence the Capital Improvement Plan to ensure that all modes of transportation are considered in road improvement design.
     
  • Lastly we were able to secure a win for our local CPR in Schools efforts. Unlike most other states, nearly all curriculum decisions are decided at the local level which means that we have to work with local school Superintendents and School Committees to implement CPR Graduation requirements in school districts across the State.  This particular win reflects the passage of policies in the Worcester, Springfield and the Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional school districts.  These three school districts represent an additional 3,169 High School Graduating Seniors who will learn the fundamentals of CPR before they graduate.  In all, we have worked with 2 additional districts that require some form of CPR training before students graduate with an overall total of 5,317 students trained each year.  We have also identified an additional 26 school districts with over 12,000 annual graduates to focus on in FY 16-17. This is a particularly satisfying win because it took a true team effort to get this down, and without our volunteer’s dedication and outreach we would not be making the progress that we are!

 Lastly as some of you know our legislative session is not over yet, we have until July 31st at midnight to get a few more policies passed. We are working towards:

  1. Statewide Tobacco 21
  2. Healthy Vending in State Buildings
  3. $6 million for Healthy Food Financing
  4. A Comprehensive Stroke System of Care
  5. Quality Physical Education
  6. AEDs in all Public Schools

 

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First Major City To Pass Sugary Drink Tax Is..

Earlier this month, Philadelphia became the first major U.S. city to pass a sugary drink tax, scoring a significant win for kids and public health- while defeating a very formidable opponent, Big Soda, which spent millions of dollars trying to defeat the proposal. The City Council has approved a budget, which includes a 1.5 cents per once tax on sugary drinks to fund citywide Pre-K, community schools, parks, libraries, and recreation centers.

With this win, Philadelphia joins Berkley, CA (the first U.S. city to pass a sugary drink tax), Mexico, the Navajo Nation, and the United Kingdom in passing a measure to help reduce sugary drink consumption and lower rates of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and other chronic diseases.

As governors and mayors struggle with budgets and the high costs of chronic diseases, considering taxes on sugary drinks are an effective strategy to fund much-needed health programs throughout their communities. As the fifth largest city in the nation, Philadelphia’s exemplary public health leadership provides an inspiring example for other cities from coast to coast!

 

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Tobacco Policies Coming to DC Council

Tobacco control policies are heating up at the DC Council, with two bills set for hearings in early July. You’re the Cure advocates can influence policy that will further strengthen the District’s smoke-free environment.

The Prohibition Against Selling Tobacco Products to Individuals Under 21 Act would raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 in the District. The bill would make it more difficult for youth to get their hands on tobacco products and stop them from becoming lifelong users. DC would join other states and major cities that have raised the purchase age, including Hawaii, California, New York City, Boston, and Chicago.

The second bill, the Sporting Events Smoking and Smokeless Tobacco Restriction Act would eliminate smokeless tobacco use from all sports venues in the District. Youth shouldn’t have to see their favorite professional athletes on the field using tobacco This would be an important policy to show kids that tobacco and healthy lifestyles don’t mix.  New York City, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, and Los Angeles already have similar restrictions in place.

You’re the Cure advocate Gail Mates says: “In light of the impact, it’s mind-boggling to think that smoking is the most preventable risk factor for heart disease and lung cancer. No stone should be left unturned to fix this issue!”

A hearing for both of these bills will occur on July 7th at the DC Council. Make your voice heard, and come testify to tell Councilmembers that you support strengthening laws to keep tobacco away from kids!

To sign up to testify or for more information, go to: http://www.dcregs.dc.gov/Gateway/NoticeHome.aspx?noticeid=6084536

Can’t come to the hearing?  Support the effort with the click of a button at the links below:

<Thanks to You’re the Cure intern Spencer Davis for help developing this blog post>

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NH Governor Responds to Advocates Request for a Veto

In an 'end of session’ twist, NH You’re The Cure advocates had to rush into action to oppose a bill which threatened our Smoke-free Restaurant law - and succeeded in securing the Governor’s veto!  In May the NH Legislature passed a bill, amended to add a provision loosening the license criteria for Cigar Bars.  When this specific class of business was created by legislation several years ago, Cigar Bars were not permitted to sell or serve free food to customers, to prevent unfair competition with restaurants abiding by the Smoke-free Law.  AHA volunteers made phone calls into the Governor’s office urging her to veto SB495, and Governor Hassan agreed this would be a significant rollback to NH's Smoke Free Bar and Restaurant law.  Advocates’ prompt action made a difference in protecting public health policy.

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Significant Funding Headed to NYC Schools for Physical Education!

Thanks to the incredible efforts of American Heart Association advocates and our partners in the Phys Ed 4 All coalition, New York City is investing some serious funding in our mission to improve physical education for every student!

New York City Council approved a $9 million appropriation, originally proposed in the Mayor's executive budget proposal, that will ensure every elementary school has a certified PE teacher, and enough training and resources to make sure every school complies with the state standards for quality physical education.

This is a significant win that wouldn't have been possible without the years of effort that has come before it.  From the moment the American Heart Association's Advocacy Committee in NYC released the results of our survey research which showed rampant non-compliance in early 2013, we have been pushing the city to help find a solution.  The passage of the city's new PE Report Card law in November has instigated a remarkable focus by this administration to work proactively toward PE improvements.  The PE Works initiative, funded by Council last year, and the Mayor's new investment, will go a long way to change the current reality for NYC kids.  Thanks to their leadership, our mission to make sure every student has access to quality PE will soon be realized!

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