Cooking from the heart

LaGRANGE – Nutrition expert and television chef Zonya Foco showed locals how to cook their way to healthier hearts on at the Heart Truth for Women Luncheon on Thursday.

WellStar West Georgia Medical Center hosted the annual Heart Truth for Women Luncheon at West Georgia Technical College’s Callaway Center, and with approximately 480 women in attendance, many families are likely to be affected by the healthy eating for healthy hearts tips shared at the event.

Foco shared simple tips for improving health like eating more antioxidant-rich foods – like berries, dark chocolate and nuts – and more whole foods. Foco is an advocate of eating antioxidants with every meal due to their preventative effects ranging from preventing cataracts to heart disease to some forms of cancer.

She showed the audience how to fix a meal that included a drink made with juice and soda water, massaged kale salad and white beans with tomato, basil and parmesan. But even as she made the healthy meal, she recognized that many people have bad first impressions of some ingredients like kale.

“When I started cooking with kale, I made a salad and it was horrible,” said Foco. “… What we are going to do is we are going to give our kale a massage, and that is going to make it very tender.”

Foco massaged the kale with olive oil for about a minute before adding the ingredients for a vinaigrette, dried cranberries, pecans and parmesan cheese before moving onto the next part of her meal – the white beans dish – which contained plenty of fiber to aid in digestion, but dinner isn’t the only time when healthy eating is important. Foco’s recommendations extended to every meal, including dessert, whether that dessert be fruit-based or even chocolate.

“Truly dark chocolate is chock full of polyphenols,” said Foco. “It is full of these antioxidants that are amazing for us.”

Foco did, however, warn that dark chocolate processed with alkali or Dutch processed dark chocolate removed those health benefits.

Dr. James Brennan was recognized for his years of service at the hospital at the event.

For more information about Foco and her healthy eating tips visit For more information about the Heart Truth for Women visit


Reach Alicia B. Hill or 706-884-7311, Ext. 2154.