VIDEO | Little Choices: The Three-Tiered Challenge


Watch as Munson Healthcare Charlevoix Wellness Instructor Rachel Sytsma-Reed, PhD, explains step #1 of this heart-healthy, three-part challenge that encourages you to slowly incorporate little choices that can really add up. See her remaining two challenges following the video as well as a delicious recipe that swaps pasta for something just as delicious – with great nutrients for your heart!


Remember: If it’s pre-packaged in a box or bag, it’s probably not a whole food.

Recipe: Rachel’s Raita

In Indian Cuisine, raita (pronounced Rye-tah) serves as a cool, refreshing counterpoint to the spice and heat of many Indian foods. This traditional side dish also makes a wonderful main meal on a bed of farro – an ancient grain derived from wheat.

  • 1 cup plain Greek or non-dairy yogurt (Rachel opts for full fat if possible)
  • 1/2 large English cucumber, seeded and grated
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • Garlic salt to taste
  • A dash (or two) of ground coriander
  • A dash (or two) of cumin
  • A dash (or two) of cayenne pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoons of minced fresh mint leaves

Mix in bowl and let sit for at least 15 minutes while the flavors combine. Scoop on top a bowl of cooked farro and your choice of vegetables.

Three-Tiered Challenge: Part 2

Now that you’re in the habit of incorporating whole foods into at least half your diet, consider transitioning to part 2 of Rachel’s heart-healthy challenge: fill 50% or more of your plate, bowl, or lunch bag with plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and nuts and seeds.

Three-Tiered Challenge: Part 3

Once you’re feeling confident with a whole-foods rich diet that is at least 50 percent plant based, consider taking the next little step: transition half or more of your diet to raw (uncooked) plant-based foods. This ensures you’re getting plenty of heart-healthy fiber while not losing valuable nutrients that could be destroyed in the cooking process.

Learn More Heart Healthy Nutritional Tips

For more of Rachel’s heart-healthy nutritional tips, click one of the choices below:

Related Content: Heart Care at Munson Healthcare