USC first lady promotes heart healthy lifestyle through Mediterranean cuisine
To a crowd of about 40 people, Patricia Moore-Pastides said she always uses fresh herbs from her garden when cooking. A lucky raffle winner received a pot full of freshly-picked herbs from the President's House garden.
Heart Health Lunch attendees Nick and Allison Terracio both said they thought the revithia Moore-Pastides made was delicious. Allison said she cooks with mostly olive oil already, but the lunch was a good reminder she should try new and healthy recipes.
Patricia Moore-Pastides had both of her published cookbooks on sale after the demonstration and offered to sign them.
After Moore-Pastides' lecture, Sheila Heatley thinks she may start eating less meat, while Tsuneko Terry was surprised to learn that hopping up and down can help with bone density.
By Micaela Wendell and Taylor Halle
The aroma of sautéed onions, white wine, herbs and olive oil rose from the pan as Patricia Moore-Pastides scooped in chickpeas to make revithia, a fresh Mediterranean dish that she hopes will change the way people think about healthy eating.
The University of South Carolina’s first lady prepared the dish Thursday for her Heart Health Learn at Lunch event for February, Heart Health Month.
Moore-Pastides showed Learn at Lunch participants that heart healthy cooking doesn’t require long, complicated preparation. She prepared a full batch for tasting in less than 20 minutes.
“It’s delicious,” said Allison Terracio, one of the participants. “I could see myself eating it — just having it in the fridge all the time.”
Moore-Pastides said that Mediterranean cooking was very “forgiving,” so even beginners can cook a healthy meal.
The USC first lady explained how caring for both the body and mind connected to heart health. Moore-Pastides, who has a master’s degree in public health from Yale, identified tobacco use, poor exercise habits, stress and diet as the four main risk factors that contribute to heart disease.
Stress and diet management prove especially relevant to students and professionals who find themselves too busy to take time for mental rest or cooking healthy meals, she said.
Stress management can become difficult when many busy Americans don’t have the time to get a full night of sleep. However, methods such as the hypnogogic nap, a mind resting technique that is done sitting upright, can be done during a quick break in the day and prove refreshing without the grogginess of sleeping.
“It brings you to a place that’s a little bit between awake and asleep,” Moore-Pastides said.
A hypnogogic nap involves gently resting one’s head on a hand and breathing slowly through the nose, as if one were taking a nap on a pillow. By sitting up, though, there is still awareness of surroundings. Meditation like this “nap” can help clear the mind and body from the stress of the workweek — lowering heart rate and blood pressure that had been climbing throughout the day, she said.
Moore-Pastides said that dietary choices can also affect mental health and overall wellness. That’s why she promotes following the Mediterranean diet. Salmon, walnuts and other staples in the Mediterranean diet are sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, which have been known to benefit mental and emotional health.
“I tell my students, ‘If you’re a little blue or you’ve got a big exam, go have a piece of salmon,’” she said. “Because it really does help.”