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Eating healthy ‘fast food’

By Staff | Mar 12, 2010

Carolyn Pyska, a dietetic intern at Iowa State University, presented the concepts behind the Healthy Meals in a Hurry cookbook at the meeting held in Algona at the Kossuth County Extension office.

ALGONA – There is fast food and then there is food served quickly and easily.

Then there’s food that helps keeps one alive, as Doug and Teresa Kollasch discovered after he sustained a stroke.

The Kollasches and 16 other people, all seeking how to have nutritious meals that can be served on short notice, attended Tuesday a healthy foods meeting at the Kossuth County Extension office.

The meeting used a popular Iowa State University Extension publication titled “Healthy Meals in a Hurry.”

The approximately 18 people in attendance covered the ages from school-aged to retired. When asked why they were attending, one woman said her husband had started kidney dialysis and learned there were certain foods he should avoid.

Doug and Teresa Kollasch, of Algona, have been using the Healthy Meals in a Hurry cookbook since Doug's stroke in January with results in weight loss for both of them and reduction of Doug's blood pressure medicine dosage by half.

The Kollasches, who live in Algona, said they were vacationing in Florida earlier this year, when Doug, age 41, passed out. It was determined he had suffered a stroke.

Teresa Kollasch said her husband had been identified with high blood pressure and cholesterol this past December. There is a family history of blood related problems, she said.

He was taking medicine for his blood pressure when the stroke happened. Fortunately, the stroke, which occurred on the left side of his brain, was in an area where Doug Kollasch would not suffer long-term effects.

Returning to Algona, the Kollasches’ friend, Carrie Gatton, at the Extension office told them about the eating healthy program. The Kollasches purchased a copy of the book and started following instructions.

The Healthy Meals in a Hurry publication stresses the importance of a low sodium diet. ISU dietetic intern Carolyn Pyska told the group that a person having normal blood pressure at age 55 has a 90 percent chance of developing high blood pressure in his lifetime. Over 50 percent of the population will have high blood pressure before qualifying for Medicare.

At the end of the meeting, Extension Nutritionist Nancy Clark had the attendees prepare food from the Healthy Meals in a Hurry cookbook.

A person needs about 500 milligrams of sodium daily with people over 55 not having more than 1,500 milligrams each day. Food bought at fast food outlets typically contains 4,000 milligrams of sodium at one sitting.

To lower the sodium content in a meal, ISU’s Pyska advised to keep the milligrams of sodium less than the number of calories at a meal. Use low sodium ingredients in cooking and baking, she said. Minimize the number of processed ingredients and dilute high sodium food with other ingredients that are low in sodium.

The Kollasches went through their cupboards removing many items in cans that showed high sodium content. When cooking, they use garlic powder in place of garlic salt and onion powder in place of onion salt.

Before Doug Kollasch’s stroke, Teresa Kollasch said they “used to eat out all the time.” They have prepared the recipes in the cookbook and Teresa, who describes her cooking ability as lower than average, testify to the good flavor of the recipes they have prepared. “The recipes are great,” she said.

The Kollasches have enjoyed tacos, pizza, and a frozen turkey patty cooked on the grill. Dustin Kollasch, 12, is a fan of the book’s chicken cordon bleu recipe said Teresa Kollasch.

The Healthy Meals in a Hurry cookbook is a plan with advice for preparation, a list of all the ingredients for the recipes, and 14 recipes that span a two-week period. The meals are intended to be pre-made and frozen in individual serving containers that can be thawed quickly.

Another advantage of the Healthy Meals in a Hurry cookbook, besides nutrition, is the low cost of the meals. If all the recipes were prepared in one day, there would be 120 servings at a cost for all the ingredients of $155.60, less than $1.00 per serving.

Since making the Eating Healthy cookbook their guide to meal preparation, the Kollasches have each lost 10 pounds in less than a month, Teresa Kollasch claimed. Doug Kollasch was told by his doctor that he could reduce the dosage of blood pressure medicine to half due to his improvement.

Teresa Kollasch said, “It was tough the first month” adjusting to whole grain ingredients and adapting to a different way of eating. Following the cookbook, there were “very few surprises” she said.

Doug Kollasch was told to change his diet and increase his exercise following his stroke. He credited the Healthy Meals in a Hurry cookbook for his improved health. He said, “It’s the only thing I have changed.”

Healthy Meals in a Hurry is Extension publication number 2035 and available from Iowa State Extension. It is one of ISU’s top 10 sought-after publications.

Contact Clayton Rye by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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