By Betsy Bruns
Welcome to February, the month where we celebrate the heart—in health and in love—with both Valentine’s Day and National Heart Health Month! In Feb. 2016, I spent the days by my sister’s side as she recovered from open heart bypass surgery. It was her 52nd birthday.
In the year leading up to this event, I inquired with her medical team about the impact of a plant-based diet on her heart health and asked the team to consider food as a way to heal. My attempts to support my sister in recovering her health more naturally were dismissed. I can’t lay blame on health care providers. Given that our current medical system receives little training in nutrition, why would they view food as medicine?
My sister had the surgery, endured a painful recovery and ended up back in the same boat just a year later. This time she made a different choice. These same doctors were shocked to learn that, although her first heart bypass had failed and she was facing another, she chose to refuse surgery and heal with food instead.
Several months into her plant-based journey, she met with her cardiologist. Upon examination, after a nuclear stress test, it was confirmed that she no longer needed the surgery. The cardiologist was so shocked and so impressed with these results he later went plant-based too.
Eating a highly raw, whole-food, plant-based diet did for my sister what pharmaceutical drugs, five stents and invasive surgery could not do. She healed her heart disease and many other medical conditions by avoiding meat, dairy and eggs, and replacing them with fruits, vegetables, grains and beans.
My life transformation was more emotional than physical. When I gave up meat nine years ago, I noticed a greater sense of peace and my “vibe” was higher. I was more joyful and loving. I’ve come across many others, including my sister, who have had similar experiences.
What is the magic of plant-based eating which not only helps heal the physical body but also helps to heal the emotional body too? How does it help to heal our hearts?
I believe it has to do with love. When we make food choices from a higher perspective, vibration or intent, such as self-love, self-care, love of animals or for the planet, we are compassion in action. We are living love. We vibrate higher on all levels. This can only lead to a healthier heart in every way.
HIGH VIBE VALENTINE SMOOTHIE*
1 cup water or plant-based milk substitute of choice
½ cup frozen cherries
½ cup chopped raw beets
½ cup frozen strawberries
1 handful of spinach (optional)
Ice, as needed
Add liquid to the blender. Then add the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth.
ZUCCHINI NOODLES WITH GARLIC-ROASTED TOMATO SAUCE**
Makes 4 Servings
2 medium green zucchini squash
2 medium yellow squash
2 medium shallots
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
10 halved cherry tomatoes
4 tablespoons (or more) water
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Fresh basil, to taste
Scallions, for garnish
Wash and dry the squash and zucchini. Cut off the stems and cut the squash and zucchini in half. Use a vegetable spiralizer to turn the squash and zucchini into spaghetti-shaped noodles. Peel and cut shallots into thin rounds.
Add water to a 24-inch skillet and heat until smoky. Turn heat down to medium and add shallots, garlic, and zucchini and squash noodles. Stir with a wooden spoon for two minutes. Add cherry tomatoes. Cook for five minutes while stirring.
Finish by seasoning with salt, pepper and fresh basil. Serve hot in a bowl with scallions.
* Recipe and photo credit Betsy Bruns
** Recipe and photo credit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM.org)
Betsy Bruns is a plant-based health coach, “Food for Life” instructor with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM.org), and an Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) practitioner. When she isn’t making healing food taste like comfort food, or helping clients tap away stress and cravings with EFT, she’s soaking up nature and dreaming of ways to make life more delicious for all beings. Visit www.Vegsetter.com.