The Heart of Nutrition with Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RDN, FAND

Show Notes:

Welcome to another episode of the Empowered Nutrition Podcast!

In this episode, host Erin Skinner engages in a thought-provoking conversation with Amy Myrdal Miller, a registered dietitian and co-author of the renowned cookbook “Cooking à la Heart,.” Together, they dive deep into the complexities of food, health, and sustainability, addressing misconceptions, debunking myths, and providing valuable insights into making informed dietary choices.

Key Discussion Points:

  1. Challenges in Today’s Food Landscape: Amy and Erin discuss the misinformation surrounding food choices and the challenges consumers face in navigating the abundance of dietary advice.
  2. The Importance of Whole Foods: They emphasize the significance of incorporating whole, minimally processed foods into one’s diet and the benefits they offer for both health and sustainability.
  3. The Dairy Industry and Sustainability: Amy sheds light on the dairy industry’s efforts towards sustainability, debunking myths and highlighting the environmental initiatives undertaken by dairy farmers.
  4. The Heart Health Cookbook: Amy shares insights into the creation of “Cooking à la Heart,” emphasizing its focus on promoting cardiovascular wellness through delicious and nutritious recipes.
  5. Busting Myths and Misconceptions: The conversation touches on various nutrition-related myths, including concerns about seafood consumption and the fear of microplastics, providing evidence-based perspectives.
  6. Empowering Healthier Eating Habits: Amy and Erin offer practical tips for adopting healthier eating habits, including meal planning, reducing food waste, and embracing whole foods.
  7. Encouraging Sustainability: They explore the importance of sustainability in food production and consumption, encouraging listeners to make conscious choices that support both personal and planetary health.
  8. Closing Thoughts: The episode concludes with a message of empowerment, urging listeners to take control of their health by making informed dietary decisions and seeking guidance from trusted sources.

Tune in to this enlightening episode of Empowered Nutrition to gain valuable insights into navigating the complexities of food and health in today’s world. Whether you’re looking to improve your diet, enhance sustainability efforts, or debunk common nutrition myths, this conversation offers practical advice and inspiration for a healthier, more informed lifestyle.

For more information on Amy, check out her website.

Ready to dive in? Listen here.

Love it? Hate it? We’d love to hear your feedback!  


Amy Myrdal Miller. So happy to have you on the Empower Nutrition Podcast. Thanks for joining today,
Erin, it’s my pleasure to be here with you today.
So happy to meet you. And your work is so fascinating. There’s obviously a thousand things we could talk about, but maybe you can start us off with telling us a little bit about your story about why you decided to become a dietician and how you ended up in the type of work that you do.
Yeah, Erin, I feel incredibly blessed to do the work that I do. I was raised on a family farm in Northeast North Dakota, right up by the Canadian in Minnesota Borders. My business name is Farmer’s Daughter Consulting, and that’s because I am a farmer’s daughter.

I became a registered dietician because I was diagnosed with type one diabetes when I was seven, and I saw a lot of dieticians as I was growing up. But my most favorite dietician, who I saw throughout high school, encouraged me to consider pursuing a path in nutrition. So I did that and got my undergraduate degree in dietetics at the University of California Davis. Did my dietetic internship at the University of Minnesota, and then realized I wasn’t cut out for the clinical setting. I did my, I did my staff relief and kidney transplant where most of the patients were there because of diabetes complications.
Found it really depressing.
Yeah. Yeah.
So I, I needed another path and I chose to go to a graduate program focused on nutrition, communications and marketing. And that allowed me to find work with the food industry in clinical research on behalf of the food industry. And today working with a lot of farmer and grower organizations where I am very proud of the work I do on behalf of the people who grow and produce food for the rest of us.
Oh my gosh, I love hearing that. And actually, you live in the city where I was born in northern California Carmichael, right?
Yeah. What a small world.
Yes. I was born in Carmichael, California, and which people may or may not know, but that’s really the right near the bread basket of, of California where there’s just a huge, I don’t know if people realize that California is like an absolute agricultural powerhouse for the country.
Yeah. I just learned a really, really interesting fact a few months ago that the California Central Valley represents less than 1% of the farmland in the United States, but it produces 25% of our food for our country, what goes all around the world. Yeah. And it’s because it’s such a rich region for dairy, for almonds, for walnuts, for rice, and so many other crops. So yeah, I’m living right here in the center of this abundant agricultural area and have so much access to amazing food here.
Yeah, that’s so amazing. We live in North Carolina now, and I really miss the fresh produce. It’s honestly, I mean, you can get it here, but it’s not as, like if you just go to a regular grocery store, you realize how spoiled, it makes me realize how spoiled I wasn’t California. You could just walk into a regular grocery store and the produce would be amazing. And that’s not the case all over the country.
Yeah. We really take it for granted here right now. We’re harvesting citrus root from the trees in our backyard. We’re really blessed with access to a lot of great food here.
Awesome. Well, tell me, I know you shared with me a little bit already about your story with diabetes. Maybe you can share a little bit more about that in terms of how it’s impacted, like the direction you’ve gone in consulting and the type of work that you decided to take on.
Yeah. So, you know, as I mentioned earlier, I was diagnosed when I was seven years old. It was a week before my eighth birthday. My birthday is Valentine’s Day. Oh. And my first day back in class, my second grade teacher who had the best intentions but maybe didn’t execute perfectly, she brought me grapefruit sections and Ritz crackers.
My classmates got white cupcakes with pink frosting and those little hard talking hearts.
And you know, that was kind of my first experience of having diabetes is going to present some challenges in terms of fitting in and belonging and food choices. And, you know, as I Yeah. Older and advanced in my training as a dietician, I realized that I, I can fit anything into my eating pattern, but it’s kind of what do I do most of the time that’s going to have impact on my health and wellbeing, my glycemic control, my risk of cardiovascular disease, which is the number one killer of people with diabetes, both type one and type two.
Yeah. I’m, I’m thankful that you pointed that out because I think if you, I think that people often maybe don’t understand that they might think that it’s, well, you already mentioned that renal complications are common, or that they may, there may be some type of other metabolic thing, but it is actually heart health is the, the major thing to think about.
Yeah. My dad also had type one diabetes, and for him that was a huge blessing because he found out when he was drafted for World War II in 1943, was this farm kid in North Dakota in 19 years old, he got drafted and the draft board said, this kid can’t serve. There’s something wrong with him. Wow. He’s too sick to go into the army. And what they discovered was he had type one diabetes. This was, you know, shortly, a couple decades after they discovered insulin. And my dad’s early treatment with diabetes, he ate a diet that was 70 to 80% fat.
Oh, like a ketogenic diet.
Exactly. Right. Yeah. You know, and so anyway, he got out of serving in the war and ended up becoming a father of five. And, but he had a lot of habits that were hard for him to break from his earliest days of treatment and died of a massive heart attack when I was 29 years old. Oh, yeah. Right. Really hard to lose him suddenly like that. And the irony at that time was that I was working in a cardiovascular research lab with Dr. James Rippy, a cardiologist.

Yeah. And you know, it, it, it, it broke my heart for so many reasons. Right. But I realized that that point in my life, that caring for my cardiovascular wellness was critically important. You know, I needed to manage my blood sugars, but I also had to think about all the habits that have an impact on cardiovascular wellness. So what we eat, the stress, you know, and how we manage it, the quality of sleep. So I have so much personal and professional experience with this topic, and I’m getting a little emotional right now. So I’m here for you to break up my tension. Yeah. Question. Yeah,
Absolutely. You got me thinking about my dad. Ugh, sorry. So sorry. Well, what I was thinking is I wanna talk about food, but maybe before we do that, a nice way to we, maybe we should lay some more groundwork in terms of the connection here. So why would, I mean so many people of course, type one diabetes isn’t as common, but so many people have high blood sugar, type two diabetes, pre-diabetes is an epidemic even in children. I, I want everybody to understand more this connection between hyperglycemia and cardiovascular disease, because I don’t think it’s like intuitively obvious how that’s connected. So do you mind sharing a little bit more about why, why is your blood sugar level intimately tied to your cardiovascular risk?
Yeah, no, I’m happy to explain that We, we are supposed to have blood sugar running through our bloodstream, fueling our brains. But when the levels get too high, sugar in the bloodstream is like sharp little pieces of glass and we can scratch the walls of our arteries throughout our body.

So it can happen in your kidneys, in your eyes, anywhere in your body. And that that effective higher glucose levels scratching on your arteries leads to scar tissue, which is where plaque builds up. Cholesterol builds up in our arteries. And so that’s what happens to kidney function in people with diabetes. Those higher blood sugar levels damage the vessels in the kidneys. It’s what leads to blindness as a complication of diabetes amputation. I mean, this is some really depressing talk here, right? But just because you have diabetes type one or type two, or you’ve been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, that does not mean that you are going to have these complications.

You can do things to control your blood sugar and to protect your arteries. And that has a lot to do with the habits that you develop for the foods you choose most of the time. So, you know, what are some of the relationships between foods that we eat and better health outcomes? Research shows that people who eat the most fruit and vegetables
Of all types have the lowest risk of cardiovascular
So it doesn’t matter how they’re growing, how they’re processed, just eating more fruits and vegetables helps reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. So that’s just one example.
Yeah. Thank you. That’s so helpful. Well, it, so in private practice we, we get all types of thinking coming in and we’ve had a lot of, tell me what you think about this. There’s a lot of people coming to us, they’ve been on YouTube, they’ve gone, the algorithm has taken them down the rabbit hole and they’ve been convinced that plants are toxic. They should eat a carnivore diet. What do you, what are your thoughts?
Oh my gosh. Yeah. We as humans have, have developed over millennia to eat diets. Initially we were hunter gatherers. We were gathering whatever we could find and maybe once while getting meat, if we were able to take down a mastodon with the help of many other people in our tribe or in our family community. Today what we’re seeing is that research from cultures around the world show that people who eat more plants have better outcomes. That does not mean that you should avoid animal-based foods. Right. To be more thoughtful about the selection.
Yeah. Yeah. It really frustrates me when you see people kind of cherry pick one like mechanism from like an obscure study and say, oh, well then that means that like for example, that plants have oxalates and oxalates could potentially do this and do that. And so therefore plants are bad for you. That’s just not the way that nutrition, science or research works.

You look at the totality of evidence, you look at human trials, you look at combined meta-analysis of human trials to really form what the body of evidence says. And so I’m just thankful you are willing to help point that out, that you’re not gonna get a balanced opinion from YouTube, for example, most of the time because their, their bias is to get clicks, which is to say something more extreme. Whereas like what the research really shows is, I agree, we’re omnivores, there’s important health benefits of both animal protein and plants. And so it’s a mistake to, to exclude completely either of those groups.
Yeah, absolutely. And I, you know, I don’t do one-on-one counseling. I haven’t worked with patients since I worked in a clinical research setting where people were highly motivated to follow the study protocols and the guidance we were providing. Yeah. But interact with people every single day who have questions and concerns about health and wellbeing and wellness. And there’s this tendency to pick out a certain food to vilify a certain food group to eliminate it.

And that’s one of the worst things you can do because our bodies are designed to do best when they get great variety. Because greater variety in our food choices produces greater likelihood. We’re gonna get all the micronutrients that we need. So people for example, who say, oh, I never eat dairy. And I’m like, that’s a tragedy. Fluid milk. Yeah. Three of the four nutrients. Most Americans don’t get enough of potassium, vitamin D and calcium. Yeah.
Or I talk
To, my cardiologist told me not to eat red meat. Why not? Including lean red meat can reduce some of your risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Preach. I’m loving it.
Tell me this. ’cause I think there’s also another end of this spectrum. I, because I agree with you. I think people, there’s like some kind of like wishful thinking that there’s just some magic thing of like, oh, you know what, this whole time it’s been bananas. If I just take ’em out, life will like be amazing for me. There’s a little bit of that and like that goes into kind of like extreme thinking.

But then what do you think about the other end of the spectrum that I think is becoming more common as well, where it just kind of like, there are no bad foods, there’s no difference in terms of health benefits of anything. You might as well just eat candy. Like, just kind of intuitively go through life eating whatever tastes good and like nothing bad could possibly happen from that. Like what, what do you think about that kind of like line of thinking,
Oh gosh, that philosophy is bananas. I mean, you know, it’s just ridiculous that I think the term intuitive eating has been taken too far. You know, originally when that coined and books were produced, it tried to give people permission to stop counting calories, counting points weighing and measuring. Yeah.
Which is good. Yeah, it’s good. It’s good to do that less. Yeah.
It’s, that creates stress and anxiety, right? So we want people to be able to eat until you’re full, not stuffed. Listen to hunger cues. You know, think about, this is really boring. Like, I know people hate the term planning, but planning a meal. What does a healthful balanced meal look like? What are the colors, the proportions, the foods from different groups that create a meal, whether it’s on a plate in a bowl, in a handheld item, like a sandwich or a burrito.

You know, what does it look like when you have foods from different food groups that create beautiful flavors, aromas, textures and enjoyment and oh, also fill you up, make you feel satiated, make you feel satisfied. So, you know, I, there’s so much, gosh, I feel like this is like therapy right now. Yeah. There’s this information out there that makes me crazy as a registration dietician who wants to honor science and evidence, but also honor culture and tradition and help people appreciate that their eating patterns from around the world that are amazing. One of the things that I wrote about in, in my cookbook Cooking All a Heart, was that the Mediterranean diet pattern isn’t the only culturally relevant eating pack. Yeah. That provides benefit, right?
Absolutely. Yeah. We align on this as well. I mean, what I succinctly, the, the way I succinctly try to communicate this with my patients is just that it is ideal to be able to eat completely, intuitively, but modern processed foods are engineered at the cost of millions of dollars to be where you can’t really eat them intuitively because they’re so hyper palatable as soon as you, and then they long term often result in insulin resistance, it then disregulates your appetite regulation.

There’s endotoxemia from the microbiome is very common that further disregulates appetite and satiety. And that’s a product of like long-term low fiber diet. So if you were a hunter gatherer a thousand years ago, I’m sure you could eat perfectly intuitively, but when you’re in a modern world environment, in a first world country surrounded by processed foods, I don’t think we can expect people to be able to be very successful with fully intuitive eating of just whatever you’re in the mood for. Makes sense. And is right, because there’s just too much, I would say, like metabolic and appetite, like dysregulation produced by those foods. But what do you think?

I mean, I think, you know, the issue with processed foods is it’s a continuum from things that are like minimally processed like candy. Yeah. Amazing food. We want people to eat more foods that are rich in potassium and fiber, like to then super highly processed long ingredient list, you know, snack foods, whatnot. And in the mid range are foods that can give you convenience, nutrient richness. You know, one of the things that I have preached about for years and years is don’t be wary of processed fruits and vegetables like frozen vegetables, frozen
Harvested at the peak of ripeness, perfection, flavor flash frozen very quickly after harvested in the field. Right. Amazing. Yeah. But if you’re looking at something and the ingredient list goes on and on and you start glazing over because you don’t recognize the names of things in that ingredient list, set that back and choose something that has a shorter ingredient list that is less processed, but still needs for convenience, accessibility, affordability.
Absolutely. I’m completely with you on that. So tell me a little bit more specifically about your opinion on eating for heart health. What would you say, I mean, you kind of alluded to, you mentioned the Mediterranean diet, but maybe that’s not the only way to go. Like what do you typically suggest?
Yeah, I mean, there are characteristics of eating patterns from around the world that predict better health outcomes. And one of the most recent studies was a meta analysis of studies from 80 countries around the world looking at eating patterns of nearly a quarter of a million people from low, middle and higher income countries.

And folks in that those eating patterns had a number of things in common. There were at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. There were two servings of dairy. And the surprising outcome is that the majority of the dairy was full fat dairy. There was a handful of nuts. There was two servings of seafood a week. There was a quarter cup of beans or other legumes like chickpeas or split peas each day. So fruits and vegetables, dairy, nuts, seafood, and legumes. Yeah. Love it. We dieticians have been talking about ad nauseum, right?

So there’s that commonality. Let’s go back to the Mediterranean diet. It’s been heavily researched, it sounds kind of glamorous, you know, you say Mediterranean and all of a sudden people can envision themselves on a beach in Spain or at a villain in Italy. You know, when you Yeah. An eating pattern that sounds kind of a seductive and alluring, but one of the things I love to talk about is that the Mediterranean eating pattern is higher in fat.

You know, it’s traditionally about 38 to 43% calories from fat, which people go, oh my gosh, that’s too much fat. No, it’s not. It’s the type of fat. Yeah. But what we’re learning is that it’s not just those plant-based fats, but that the fat integrated into a whole food matrix from things like whole milk, you know, Greek yogurt made with whole milk cheeses. Those are protective as well.

And it’s because of that overall nutrient package. So, you know, black and white and nutrition science is really hard. It’s kind of all shades of gray. And looking at the body of evidence that gets us to a picture of these eating patterns that are beneficial. There is no super food, there is no magic food. It’s what you do the majority of the time that will create an eating pattern that can protect your health or harm your health.
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I mean, I love how you brought about that we have to consider like human history, especially before like food industrialization, like we talked about. It was the hunter gatherer diet or omnivores. And then taking that a little bit forward to like traditional cultures, like you said, there are some very common threads in terms of what you see in traditional cultures. It’s gonna be a high plant intake, a high fiber intake, a a, a moderate, not low amount of healthy fats.

There’s gonna be a variety of animal proteins, often including red meat. And then I love how you pointed out full fat dairy in our house. It is wild. We have three boys ages six to 12, and we’re up to three gallons of whole milk every week. And I swear it is my secret sauce. These kids crush it in school and like sports and they’re huge. I, I really feel like it’s the whole milk. I’m like, I don’t think parent, like I see clients all the time. They’re buying their kids non-fat milk. I mean, I’m no exaggerating. It’s just the milk in their diet. But I, I totally agree with you. And I, I think a lot of people are scared to give, to buy full fat dairy e even for children. I really wish people would understand this better,
You know, if we could get people in the US to add one more serving of dairy a day, one more glass of milk, that would be phenomenal in terms of meeting micronutrient needs.
You know, for kids, if they don’t like the flavor or mouthfeel of non-fat or or reduced fat milk, yeah. Give them the whole milk knowing that you are giving them a fantastic beverage. But I would celebrate any parent that’s buying and giving their kids milk right now. But if the kids are like drinking with kind of that, yeah, I don’t like skim milk. I’ve always not liked skim milk. So this research on fuller fat dairy, you know, I buy the ultra processed, it’s much more expensive, but we don’t have kids in our home. So we can afford, you can,
You’re not buying three gallons a week.
I’m buying three gallons a week. But when I buy that, I’m getting more protein, less carb, which is beneficial for me with my type one diabetes. And I’m getting creamy mouth feel that makes drinking a glass of milk really lovely. I also love, one of the companies makes a chocolate milk and the chocolate flavor is so good. That is a huge treat for me to have a shot of espresso for my Keurig in a glass of chocolate milk over ice for like my after, you know, lunch pick me up as I’m work in the afternoon. So anyway, just one of my corks as a dietician who thinks about stuff all the time, I
Have so many weird corks like that. I think that’s tro like you haven’t tried sauerkraut on avocado, is
Your okay? Oh my gosh, I love sauerkraut. Oh, Erin, let’s talk about cabbage and sauerkraut for a while.
Put it in hot avocado. It’s gonna give you life.
Yeah. The milk thing is real. ’cause like to your point, if they might, a lot of parents aren’t even buying non-fat milk. They’re buying like fake milk because it’s like got the emulsifiers and the sweeteners and everything in it, and it doesn’t have the nutritional qualities that real milk has. And then I, I don’t know how much you follow this research, but with the emulsifiers, it’s, it’s very concerning what the research on that in terms of the microbiome, because it lives, the, the bacteria in the gut lives in this mucus layer in the gut that is damaged by emulsifier. So I’m really concerned about the way that people just seem to have no concerns about buying a process like artificial milk that always has an emulsifier in it almost whenever I see it,

I think it’s tragic because there are a lot of activists as well as marketers who’ve used information to make people think the dairy industry is harming the environment. And that is not true. I mean, I live here in California where we are the largest fluid milk producing state. Our dairy producers, for the most part are contributing to systems called dairy digesters that break down the methane that cows produce and are turning that into energy to cool and chill their dairy farms to keep the cows comfortable, to chill the cooling tanks for the milk to power the equipment that takes the milk from the farm to the processors.

I just, I find it absolutely infuriating the misinformation campaign against the dairy industry because dairy farmers across this country are family farmers. 98% family owned and operated. Yeah. These are small towns throughout our country. And okay, you’ve set aside the environmental misinformation then the information on human health benefits for dairy milk dairy products makes me crazy. So I’m gonna, I’m gonna, I’m gonna settle down,
Erin. Yeah, I know it looking too, have you heard of the Sacred Cow book by it’s another dietician name’s Diana Rogers.
No, the Sacred Cow. Okay. I’m writing this down.
She’s all about like preaching this message around like the sustainability of, of animal protein and of dairy and the like, just completely breaking apart the argument that like methane from cows is a part of global warming. Not the global warnings not a thing, but it’s like, stop trying to blame cows that have always been here and start looking at the real producers.
Yeah. No, I mean, the issue with greenhouse gas emissions, the truth is we all have a role to play. So if you’re driving a fossil fuel burning vehicle, you’re putting carbon dioxide into the environment, you know, so Yeah.
And if you buy a highly processed milk,
It has higher carbon footprint than a real
Milk. Exactly. Yeah. And where are those ingredients coming from? Are they using, you know, a product that’s grown in a foreign country shipped into the US being processed, shipped around? Or is it milk from a local dairy that’s coming into your state or region? Anyway, the issue of sustainable food production is wildly complex. And sadly today most of the conversations I’ve driven by misinformation, not based on fact and perspective about the complexity of our system. Yeah,
Exactly. I mean, sustainability is so important, but I just agree with you that I think the messaging is crazy that processed vegetarian, vegan burgers are touted as more environmentally friendly than like a real food because that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Right. Right. Yeah. You know, and when it comes to sustainability, one of the biggest ways that every single person listening to this can have impact is reducing food waste. Yeah. When we consider the resources that it, that goes into producing food, transporting food, if you are buying it because it’s inexpensive and you throw it in the trash, it goes into a landfill and it becomes a methane producing waste product. Absolutely. So fighting against food waste is so critically important.
Yeah. And there’s so many things that you can do, even if you live in an apartment, like we have a worm bin where the, the, that like it was made for an apartment, even though we have a house where the worms compost our food and we use the soil for our plants.
That is so awesome.
It’s amazing. That doesn’t smell or anything. It’s super cool. My kids love taking care of it. And then a lot, I don’t, it depends on where you live, but where I live, a lot of people are able to have a small flock of chickens. Our chickens eat the rest of our tons of our food waste, and then they get turned into eggs that our family can enjoy and oh my God, it’s like a great cycle. You have like a have of farm to do that. Yeah,
Yeah. There’s like so many things you can do, but also like also just eating more like whole foods and less processed foods, which does take a little bit more planning, like you said, which isn’t as sexy, but what’s cool about planning is that you can, you can in the long term have better health and, and, and better really like long-term happiness from that, you know. Well,
And you can also have more money in your pocket or your bank account. I mean, the latest estimates are that the average family of four in the US wastes over $1,600 a year. If your kids are saying, mom, mom, I wanna go to Disney, there’s your Disney fund. Right. For maybe a couple days. Yeah. Anyway, so

Yeah, planning is so key. ’cause I find that my clients like, what if you get them to just, if you get them to commit to eating, cooking at home and eating more whole foods, but they’ll, if they just randomly go out and buy stuff, it will rot that because they don’t have the, the, the routine in place. The key is to get a weekly routine and a rhythm to this where there’s like, here’s the times when I shop, but before that, here’s the times when I plan.

And so when I’m buying things, I’m buying it for a plan that I have time to execute. So there’s a little bit more that goes into it, I think, than just go out and buy more produce or like sign up for a CSA box. Because that doesn’t always translate into like eating all of it unless you have that plan in place.
Yeah. I used to get a CSA box and I, this is back when I traveled 40 to 60% of the time for my job. And it was so for me because I was like, okay, now what am I gonna do? You know, and I do my own kind of processing and preserving, so I don’t do that anymore.

But I am blessed that I can go to a farmer’s market almost every month of the year here and do that. Yeah. But yeah, you’re right. It’s not only taking the time to do the shopping and the meal prep, but to take the time to do that evaluation of what do I have in my fridge? What do I need to use up? How can I use it and integrate it into a great meal that I’m gonna enjoy others I’m cooking for will enjoy.
I wish more schools had home ec because I think, you know, yeah. The skills of how to manage food as well as prepare food are so critically important.

Absolutely. Yeah. And I mean that’s why in my house, even though all the years I’ve been in nutrition and I can cook without even being fully awake, I still use a cookbook every week because I’m gonna, that’s where my meal plan starts. It’s just easier for me to meal plan out of a cookbook than to have to figure it out myself. So tell, but like if I do see a, here’s the thing. If I see, if I’m out looking for a cookbook and I see like a heart healthy cookbook, I’m usually gonna pass because I’m assuming that I’m gonna see low, extremely low fat, probably two high carbohydrates, maybe refined carbohydrates for what I think is optimal.

A la a complete lack of red meat. And I’m just not there for it. So tell me about your heart health cookbook. What I’d ex, what I would see if I like took a little peek in there.

So cooking All a heart that I wrote with another dietician named Linda Feld is all about foods and, and meals and recipes that promote cardiovascular wellness. It is not about lowfat cooking, it is not about high carb cooking. It is about combining ingredients to create delicious meals, snacks. We focus so much on flavor in the book. The opening chapter is just on spice blends that will add more flavor to your food without adding sodium.

We have a chapter with sauces, vinegars dressings, aioli, things that add creamy mouth feel, healthy fats, potentially extra fruits and vegetables. We have chapters on things like whole grains, teaching people how to cook whole grains from the basic, you know, how long do they cook, what do you need to add to add a little flavor in terms of a little vinegar, maybe a little salt. We have chapters on seafood and what we tried to do throughout is we called it matchmaking.

’cause a lot of people don’t really know, like, how do I put together a meal? So most of our recipe head notes have matchmaking chip, you can serve this, you know, seafood dish with this salad to have a more balanced meal. You can add this dessert to this entree to have a sweet treat at the end of the meal. Cooking All A Heart has been around since the mid 1980s. It started as a cookbook that was a gift to people participating in a study in three communities in Minnesota.

My co-author has been with it since the 1980s. She started her own publishing company, produced the second and third editions, and then I was brought in to do this fourth edition, which in includes color photography, beautiful design, over 500 recipes. One of the best reviews that we’ve gotten for the cookbook was from somebody who bought it on Amazon.

And the review said, I don’t need any other cookbook. I have everything I need in one book for the rest of my life. I’ve also heard, there’s one recipe in particular that people give me feedback on more than anything else. And it’s called Greek inspired baked chickpeas with tomatoes and feta. Ooh. It’s a recipe where you open up two cans of chickpeas, drain and rinse it, open up a can of diced tomatoes, combine that in the cooking pan, can be a pot, it can be a nine inch square baking pan with some honey, some oregano, little lemon juice, feta cheese.

You bake it in that pot. It’s great the day you make it. It’s even better the next day when the flavors marry a little bit. It can be a main dish, a side dish. And for some reason I think it’s because it’s that one pot, you know, it uses foods you always have available, except maybe you go out and buy the feta.
But yeah. So I’m so proud of the cookbook, I hope. Yeah. We’ll take a look at it. If you go to the, the page for it on Amazon, they, we share five recipes there, so you can try before you buy, but we also have two chapters on, you know, what’s the science to support cardiovascular wellness and health bleeding patterns. And then the second chapter is, how do you do this? And then I also did some myth busting in that chapter about things that, you know, people are confused about. Like, are eggs good or bad? They’re good people.
Eat your eggs.
Preach. Yes. I still get that question all the time. I’m like, it’s been since 2015 that even the federal government like took away that
Out of the federal guidelines, like eat, eat eggs, please.
When I go out and I see restaurants offering egg white omelets, I just wanna scream. No, I know milk is so valuable. It’s where most of the choline is, which is so good for our brains and our hearts. You know, eating the whole egg respects what that chicken has done for you. Yes. Food waste enhance enrichment. It makes it more delicious. It makes it more colorful. Yeah. Yeah.
Yeah. I, I was researching choline more for this doctorate I’m doing, and it’s like really wild. It’s more than 80% of women of childbearing age don’t eat sufficient choline. And choline has been shown to make a significant impact on children’s cognitive development, like what the mom ate when she was pregnant. So
It’s just not even on people’s radar.
Yeah. We need moms eating more eggs. We need moms eating more seafood that contains of a lot of egg freeze to protect the brain development of the baby and potentially reduce risk of postpartum depression. Yep. But again, seafood, you know, I’m gonna talk again about the benefits of canned things. You don’t have to cook seafood, you don’t have to buy a filet in the store and worry about your mouth smelling weird and overcooking it. You can use canned tuna, you can buy canned salmon, you can use those little pouches, those little cups that are like, you know, lemon basil flavored. Right. So delicious. The little spoon is there in the lid. I get a kick. Yes. Putting the spoon together. That little snap. I know, it’s very,
I mean, we could just go off, I mean, because what that makes me think about is I, I get this all the time. Like, oh, now I saw some videos online and I’m afraid of seafood because of microplastics. So that’s why they’re not eating any seafood is ’cause they’re afraid of microplastics. It’s like, what do you say about that?
I think there’s a lot of fear mongering in the world. And when you pull back and you look at the risk of something happening, like, okay, we’ve been hearing in the news lately about these failures with airplanes. You know, a side panel coming off a southwest flight. All of a sudden people start fearing the risk of flying in an airplane. But your risk of being in an automobile every day is far greater than your risk of something happening on an airplane. Your risk of something happening to your health because of microplastics is far less than your risk of dying of a sudden heart attack or another cardiovascular event. One person dies of heart disease every 33 seconds.
United States. Yes. Every 33 seconds. So you have to look at what’s your overall risk and what are the things you can do every single day to have better health outcomes, less stress and anxiety. People need to stop worrying about these very granular things and pull back on the bigger picture of health and wellness.
Exactly. They’re there, there’s so much research showing the connection between Omega-3 fats from seafood and cardiovascular improve as it improves cardiovascular risk. How many studies have you seen showing that tune our salmon is gonna kill you from microplastics? So it’s like just so important to like, think about the big picture.
Absolutely. And you know, going back to pregnancy and seafood intake, you know, there are a lot of, of moms worried about mercury. Okay. If you’re eating a lot of swordfish or marlin, maybe that’s a concern, but moms need to get more omega threes from marine sources. And so

Yeah, I, I used to work at a clinic where every single patient was tested for heavy metals and I saw, so I saw like hundreds and hundreds of these tests. I never once saw somebody high on mercury. Yeah. Now is it possible to get high? Yes. But these, oh, many of these people were eating seafood regularly and that that was not contributing.

So I just really think that that concern is overblown. Like you said, there are specific fish that are less common fish that you might limit, but there’s plenty of Omega-3 rich fatty fish that are low mercury. So Absolutely. Yeah. The big picture. Yeah. Well, Amy, I feel like you and I are like sisters from a different mister like we think alike. And I could chat with you all day. It was just such a joy. I can’t wait to dive deeper into your cookbook. And I’m sure there’s other people who feel the same. Do you mind sharing a little bit more details, little with people about how they could find your cookbook and other ways they can get in touch with you?

Yeah, I mean, cooking All a Heart fourth edition is available everywhere. Books are sold. Some books, sellers may have it in stock. The big ones like Amazon, Barnes and Noble target.com have it available online. If you go to your local book seller, you wanna support an independent, just ask them to order it. It’s distributed by WW Norton. If you wanna read more about it, you can visit my website, farmers dotter consulting.com.

And there’s a page there about the book I, I am, I am delighted by people buying the book, but I’m more so delighted by people who wanna take control of their health and wellbeing and do more to develop eating patterns that are going to promote better cardiovascular wellness. And also, I’m supportive of people who seek the help of a registered dietician to go through all the complexity of what is good, better, best in terms of our food system and our food choices. So Erin, I love that you’re doing this work with people every day. Thank you for your commitment to your patients and your community.
Thank you. I feel like the world is more confusing than ever with nutrition. And so there’s more need than ever for a trusted guide and also resources that people can use to make this all work on a busy schedule where it’s like there’s jobs, there’s kids, there’s parents to care for. There’s just so much going on. And so your cookbook is an amazing resource. I’m so thankful to have a trusted heart health cookbook that won’t vilify healthy foods. So thank you.
Thank you.
All right, Amy. Well it was great to talk with you and look forward to talking to you again soon. Thanks,
Erin. This was a pleasure.

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