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Heart Healthy the fun way

By Staff | Mar 4, 2013

Dani Sayah, a certified fitness and food coach, demonstrates how to cook heart healthy meals at the Life Center on Saturday morning.

MUNCY – It was truly a day of dance at the Lycoming Mall on Saturday when Susquehanna Health, the East Lycoming YMCA and Blue Cross of Northeastern PA came together to provide a “Day of Dance for Your Health.” Over 160 participants pre-registered for a day of fitness, free health screening and a live cooking demonstration. Many more came during the program to take advantage of the many discounts offered by some of the retailers at the mall, and to learn how to prevent heart disease through informative presentations and literature from Susquehanna Health’s Heart Center.

‘Let’s Move’ is an initiative taken by the First Lady, Michelle Obama to reduce obesity rates, especially for children. Instructors from the YMCA made exercise fun by introducing and demonstrating several of their dance classes offered such as the Kickboxing, Yoga and Zumba. The music was pulsating, dynamic and many visitors joined in the classes held at center court throughout the event.

A highlight of the event was the hands-on cooking demonstration by Fitness and Recipe Coach, Dani Sayah who made 3 recipes, a macaroni and cheese dish, stir fry chicken with vegetables, and brownies made with black beans. “Surprisingly enough, the brownies were wonderful,” said Roxie Gohrig from Williamsport. “I couldn’t taste the black beans.”

Sayah is also a certified weight loss coach and offers “slim gourmet” cooking courses. She said she loves creating healthy recipes and likes to create “yummy food without all the added calories and fat. “You don’t have to eat carrot and celery sticks all day to eat healthy,” she explained. Organizing the kitchen and getting rid of the junk is a good start. Sayah was inspired to create her recipes because she was tired of battling a weight problem and wanted to eat tasty food while trying to maintain a healthy weight. In the meantime, she demonstrated some healthy cooking techniques, such as stir fry and how to select the right utensils and supplies needed to cook for busy lifestyles. Finding vegan and gluten free recipes is a challenge, but she has created some and will share them by sending her an e-mail of request at “mailto:danifoodfitfecipecoach@gmail.com”>danifoodfitfecipecoach@gmail.com.

The secret is to prep and plan ahead, according to Sayah, to make it easier. As she was cooking the chicken stir fry she suggested that all vegetables be cut in advance. She recommended putting the diced vegetables in the refrigerator the night before with the chopped garlic to infuse the flavors. Another idea she shared was adding garlic cloves and citrus to olive oil for added taste. “It’s always good to cook and saute in garlic, because it is so heart healthy,” she said. “The next day you can par-cook your carrots or slice them very thin, so they can cook with the broccoli, and all this gets added to the stir-fry chicken. You can always adjust your recipes to the way you like them,” she advised.

Instructors from the East Lycoming YMCA demonstrated some of their fitness classes during the 'Day of Dance' event held at the Lycoming Mall Feb. 23.

Sayah also offers Walkin and Rockin, a power walking and strength building program every Monday morning at 11 a.m. at the Life Center.