A Beautiful Heart



“You have a beautiful heart” – said the cardiologist at the conclusion of his evaluation.

I wonder what he saw on the echocardiogram that made him produce such “diagnosis” – a bunch of blooming roses??

In his mind though I’m sure a bunch of expletives were running wild in response to my appearance in his office complaining of chest pains that were pretty bad one of the nights. “You have a marvelous theory” said the doctor to my explanations why I didn’t go to ER in the middle of the night (insert his silent comments “WTF Diana!!! You have chest pains – you HAVE to go to the hospital! That’s how it works!” ). I tried to explain to him that sometimes I put my life in the hands of the Higher Power, and if I’m meant to die on a certain day, I will, whether I’m in the hospital or not, and at times I let go of the worry and “responsibility” for my life and have faith that “what’s meant to be, will be” (so insert more of his WTF silent comments here).

Yes, doctor, I know you were worried, I agree that chest pains definitely warrant a trip to the hospital. Yes, I was explained it many times that because one of the chemo components was heart toxic (and just the fact that I had chemo and cancer, period), I’m running a lifetime risk for both heart issues and pulmonary embolism, and have to be checked every single time I present with any symptoms. And I have gone to ER before (many times), and it’s traumatic, to both mind and body, to be whirled around the second you tell them you have chest pains. So sometimes I take my chances, and stay home, and I’ve survived so far – “Just marvelous!” said the doctor.

So if one day I just disappear and become silent, it’s probably because my theory of survival didn’t work. In that case, come and play the ghost game with me: you bring pink roses to my grave, and I’ll entertain you by levitating above the ground and whispering “Boo” in your ear.

“You have a beautiful heart” said the doctor, “Take care of it please”.



What’s Cooking This Week

Much has been said of what actually constitutes a “healthy” food, low fat, low sugar, low carb guidelines have been in the news for decades. I agree with some but oppose other ones. To me, a healthy food is the one that’s the closest to the natural source, un-processed and cooked with other natural ingredients. I don’t subscribe to no fat or sugar suggestions, we need some fat to absorb certain vitamins and nutrients, and I’ll choose natural sugar sources over chemically created ones. And I don’t always believe that a heart healthy diet is the one completely void of red meat. I think the rule was created to simplify it for people who were told to refrain from fat-dripping burgers and bacon. I do believe some amount of red meat is necessary for a healthy living as it provides us with  appropriate amounts of iron and protein, along with leafy greens and other iron-rich foods of course. I think it all comes down to the actual meat source you choose, I typically get very lean grass-fed or organic beef, so to me, it’s natural and low in saturated fat, therefore it’s healthy. You may substitute beef for other meat, like turkey or chicken, if you wish, or make it with Portobello mushrooms instead to provide a vegetarian option. All fall squash provide a good option for vitamins A and C, necessary for a heart healthy diet, I chose acorn squash as it’s easy to stuff. I’m also using buckwheat in this recipe, which is one of the widely known Russian grains (actually buckwheat is not a grain at all but rather a seed, so it’s gluten free). Beef and buckwheat is a traditional pair in Slavic cuisine, but you may use other grains instead, like rice or quinoa (which is not a grain either by the way). Beef and buckwheat make a powerful pairing for extra protein and iron that are necessary to maintain healthy hemoglobin levels and have that “beautiful heart” going.

Beef and Buckwheat Stuffed Acorn Squash


2 acorn squash

1 lb of ground beef

1 cup of buckwheat (undercooked)

1/2 cup of peas

4 slices of cheese (I used cheddar style daiya)

1 tsp each minced onions and dry garlic

1/2 tsp each paprika and oregano

salt, pepper


Cook buckwheat according to the package instruction but make it undercooked. Mix together beef, buckwheat, peas and all the seasonings.

Cut the squash diagonally in half and cut off the ends so they can stand on their own.


Rub salt and pepper inside each squash half and stuff them with beef and buckwheat mixture.


Bake in a pre-heated oven at 375F degrees for about 15-20 minutes or till the tops get brown, then cover with foil and continue baking for another 20 minutes or so. Uncover and top each half with a slice of cheese, let the cheese melt over the tops.

This dish can be served as a main meal or lunch. It’s unpretentious yet looks and tastes great, plus all the added healthy nutrients make it a perfect fall option.