Houston chef Amanda DeJesus combined her culinary training with her heart disease experience to inspire heart patients to eat a heart-healthy diet without giving up the foods they love.
Even though she had open-heart surgery for a congenital heart defect when she was 2 weeks old, Amanda spent most of her childhood playing sports. But her dreams of basketball stardom were crushed at age 13 when she was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy and received a pacemaker. After getting a pacemaker, Amanda had to modify her diet, eliminating salt and saturated fats.
Two years later, she was diagnosed with congenital heart failure and underwent transplant surgery. It was a difficult recovery for the high school sophomore, who had to be very careful to avoid large crowds for six months to avoid infection.
The isolation at home left her feeling out of place among her peers, but became a time to experiment in the kitchen and develop a love for cooking that would drive her career ambitions.
Amanda completed an Associate Degree in Culinary Arts and got a brief taste of adventure with a semester in China. When she returned she started working at a local hospital, determined to make the food taste better. But less than three years later, her health sidelined her again. Her body was rejecting her donor heart, requiring intensive medical treatment for 18 months. The treatment was a success, but it left Amanda unable to return to work full-time.
Today Amanda, who was 28 in 2016, teaches heart patients how to modify their favorite recipes, fi nd heart-healthy foods at the grocery store and change their eating habits.
Blueberry Mango Smoothie
Calories188 Per Serving
Protein13g Per Serving
Fiber3g Per Serving
1 1/2 fruit, 1/2 lean meat, 1 low-fat milk
3/4 cup plain, fat-free Greek yogurt
3/4 cup fat-free milk
3/4 cup frozen, unsweetened blueberries
3/4 cup frozen mango chunks
1 tablespoon honey
splash vanilla extract
Add all ingredients to a blender. Process until the mixture is completely smooth. If the smoothie is too thick, add additional milk. Pour and serve immediately.
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