Warm up Your Heart Health on a Cold Winter’s Day

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February is Women’s Heart Heath Month, and Dr. Michael Fenster, MD, interventional cardiologist and chef, provides a little Southern Comfort that is also great for your heart.

“You have heart disease.” Four words spoken by a doctor can strike fear in the heart of anyone who hears it. For women, heart disease is now the number one cause of death in the United States. At about “a death a minute,” it claims the life of nearly twice as many women as cancer. What’s worse…too few women realize that they are even at risk.

“It’s important to remember that if you are diagnosed with heart disease you can make some simple changes in your life that will make all the difference,” says Dr. Michael Fenster, MD, F.A.C.C., FSCA&I, PEMBA, as well as a certified chef. “I tell my patients that by choosing the right foods and staying physically active, you can have a positive effect on your heart health.”

February is Women’s Heart Health Month and to help women become more aware, Dr. Fenster offers up little Southern Comfort to warm up your heart on a cold winter’s day.

“While recipes from New Orleans are renowned for their deep flavor, they are not often on the top ten of healthy choices. But I have made some changes to transform this recipe into a more healthful version-with no sacrifice in flavor.”

Serving Size 6 oz; 210 calories; 13g fat; 95 mg cholesterol; 8g total carbohydrate
Makes 24 servings

First Things First:

  •     Get Fresh - Use chicken from free range organic birds; free from additives, hormones and a questionable raising procedure. Free range, organic, skinless chicken is much higher in Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids as well as conjugated linoleic acids, which have positive cardiovascular effects. Buying your own free range organic chicken and breaking it down can actually be cheaper than buying processed chicken parts individually-plus you get the carcasses for stock. A video on how to break down the birds is available at http://www.whatscookingwithdoc.com. Here we used the thigh and leg meat.

o    Use fresh Andouille sausages which eliminated nitrates and other preservatives.
o    The shrimp is fresh; avoid the previously frozen offering from who knows where. While shrimp themselves do contain cholesterol, studies have shown that diets utilizing shrimp as part of a heart-healthy diet, may actually lower bad cholesterol, possibly due to shrimp’s very low saturated fat content.

  •     Be on Time and In Proportion: Make the serving a little heavier on the rice and limit to 6 ounces of gumbo (a hearty serving). Take your time and enjoy the subtle, profoundly rich flavors and you’ll satisfied (with a smaller bowl).

"In addition to the above, for this recipe I made a few changes. Many traditional gumbo recipes call for 1:1:1 proportion of sausage, chicken and shrimp. Since the sausage cooks with the roux the longest, and strongly flavors the dish, I reduced the amount by half; with no impact on overall flavor. I added the protein serving back in the form of extra shrimp, as this is the lowest fat choice of the three protein components in the gumbo. I also replaced the traditional polished rice with a serving of brown and red rice with rye and barley (Rice Select Royal Blend Whole Grain). This added a fantastic subtle nutty flavor to the earthy gumbo- and a whole grain serving as well. Enjoy!"


  •     ½ cup vegetable oil
  •     ½ cup melted butter
  •     1 cup flour
  •     1 1/2 cups chopped onions
  •     1 cup chopped celery
  •     1 cup chopped bell peppers
  •     ½ pound Andouille sausage, cut into ½ -inch slices
  •     1 Tbs hot sauce
  •     1Tbs Worcestershire sauce
  •     1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  •     3 bay leaves
  •     2 cups water
  •     4 cups chicken stock
  •     1 pound boneless chicken, cut into 1-inch chunks
  •     2 pounds shrimp, deveined
  •     2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  •     1/2 cup chopped green onions
  •     1 tablespoon filé powder


Combine the butter, oil and flour in a Dutch oven over low-medium heat. Stir constantly for about 30 minutes to make a dark brown roux. It should be the color of chocolate.

Add the onions, celery, and bell peppers and continue to stir for about 5 minutes. Add the sausage, hot sauce, Worcestershire, salt and bay leaves. Continue to stir for about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the stock and water. Mix until the liquids are combined. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer for 1 hour.

Add the chicken and continue to simmer for another ninety minutes. Add the shrimp and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.

While the gumbo cooks, skim off any fat that rises to the surface. Remove from the heat. Stir in the parsley, green onions, and filé powder.

Remove the bay leaves and serve in deep bowls on cooked rice.

Recipes may be reprinted with the following credit:
Copyright Michael Fenster


Michael Fenster combines his culinary talents and Asian philosophy with medical expertise, creating winning recipes for healthy eating. He is frequently asked to present live cooking demonstrations as well as giving numerous radio interviews on health and food shows both nationally and internationally. Michael is a certified wine professional and chef, receiving his culinary degree from Ashworth University where he graduated with honors. He has worked professionally in kitchens prior to entering medical school and maintained his passion for food and wine throughout his medical career. Mike helped manage the award winning Napa Alley in Roanoke, Virginia, and hosted a local cable TV cooking show, “What’s Cookin’ with Doc” in Dublin, GA. He has written columns for SheKnows.com, is a regular columnist for the culinary magazine Basil, as well as a member of their Council of Chefs and a monthly health and fitness contributor to The Tampa Tribune. He recently cooked up heart healthy fall soup on the nationally syndicated television show “Daytime.”

Michael Fenster, MD, is a Board Certified Interventional Cardiologist, currently on staff with the Cardiology Specialists of Florida at Hernando Heart Clinic. He has participated in numerous clinical trials and spoken nationally on a variety of cardiovascular topics to audiences ranging from lay public to peer presentations at the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology meetings. He has also published numerous professional peer reviewed articles and served as an Assistant Professor of Medicine at North East Ohio University College of Medicine (NEOUCOM). Michael recently graduated summa cum laude from Auburn University’s Physician’s Executive MBA program.

Michael holds a JuDan (10th degree black belt) ranking in Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, which he has studied over the last three decades. He lives in Spring Hill, Florida, with his wife Jennifer.

To see cooking demonstrations with Michael Fenster and more recipes, visit http://www.WhatsCookingWithDoc.com.

Trina Kaye – The Trina Kaye Organization

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