Focus on a healthy heart all month

Although the recipe has been tweaked to reflect health-eating preferences, this salmon pattie is very much like Mom used to make.

If February has you thinking about your heart, whether figuratively or literally, you are not alone.

Valentine’s Day has us rushing to the store to scoop up those cards, flowers, and shiny red boxes of chocolates for our special someone, who makes our heart go pitter patter. Since February is Heart Health month, cardiologists and other health professionals are hoping we will be thinking about what really keeps your heart pumping as it should.

Keeping a relationship strong is much like keeping your heart strong. Finding ways to incorporate lasting habits that show you care goes a long way with that special someone.

Your physical heart requires the same level of care and commitment with healthy habits, such as a diet with adequate amounts of Omega 3 fatty acids. According to Cleveland Clinic, Omega 3s are an essential fat our body only can obtain through foods we eat.

Physicians Committee for Respon­sible Medicine says Omega-3s can be found in a wide variety of plant-based sources, such as walnuts, brussel sprouts, flax and chia seeds. However, another good source of Omega 3 is salmon and other fatty fish.

For the most part, I follow a plant-based diet, primarily to keep my heart healthy. I don’t consider myself a vegan or vegetarian, but I do rely heavily on plants for the bulk of my diet and make substitutions to move away from meat and dairy when I can.

Wild-caught salmon is one of my favorite exceptions, about once a month.

While a nice piece of broiled salmon with lemon and fresh herbs is my usual go-to, I do find myself craving my mother’s salmon patties. I learned to make these when I was about 11 or 12 and they have been a standard for my kids as well.

I would make salmon patties on busy weeknights after work and could have dinner on the table quickly with the help of a few pantry staples such as canned mixed greens, black-eyed peas and a box of Jiffy corn muffin mix.

They called this our can-can dinner. They now are grown and on their own but still remember those dinners. I told my daughter I was using this recipe and she replied, “Wow, I miss that can-can dinner, I think that’s what I will make tonight.”

Today’s recipe is pretty much just like my Mom’s with a few deviations to keep them a little on the healthier side.

By keeping oil to a minimum, they can be pan fried in minutes but with a spritz of olive oil on a baking sheet, this recipe works in the oven as well.

Notice, that I use saltine cracker crumbs instead of panko or other breading. This keeps that familiar taste and texture that makes me nostalgic.

These days, I add more veggies but every bite still tastes like love, not only for our physical heart but for the one who makes it skip a beat – in a good way.

Kathy Nicarry, former chef at Bernheim’s Isaac’s Cafe, unites her passion for cooking with a love of the natural world. She can be reached at

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