Croí Night Run Training

Get Training For the Croí Night Run!

Congratulations! – you have taken the first step to a healthier lifestyle by signing up for the 8th Annual Croí Night Run/Walk/Jog. Not only will you be helping us lead the fight against heart disease and stroke, but you will also be making a positive change to your lifestyle! It has been proven that regular exercise assists with maintaining a healthy weight and lowers your risk of developing heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Engaging in regular, routine exercise will also contribute to positive changes in your mental health and overall well being. 

So join our 10-week training programme to get you running, jogging or walking across the finish line!

Where to start? 

Our aim is to get you successfully across the finish line! You may be a total beginner or indeed you may have completed this challenge with us in the past. To meet everyone’s needs, we have developed two training programmes to suit your needs. The programme you choose depends on how you want to complete the 5 kilometers (jog/run or walk). The duration of both programmes is 10 weeks and will prepare you for the finishing line by gradually building up your ability week by week.

Programmes

Let’s begin by setting your goal. The key is to set a realistic goal!

Would you like to:

  1. Jog/run the 5km; or
  2. Walk the 5km?
Training Programme 1 – run/jog:

Each week you will need to allocate 3 sessions per week, ideally having a day of rest in between allowing your muscles and joints to recover.

Click the table below to enlarge/print. 

Week 10 - Event Day, Oct 7th!

Considerations:

  • Always include a 10-15-minute warm-up of a light-intensity walk (feels comfortable, you can still hold a full conversation)
  • A jog/run is at a speed faster than walking where both feet are not in contact with the ground at the same time.
  • Always include a 10-minute cool-down walk at light intensity (feels easy, no shortness of breath and can have a conversation easily) at the end of each session incorporating some stretching into the cool-down.
Training Programme 2 – walk:

Each week you will need to allocate 4 or 5 sessions per week, ideally having a rest day in between training days. See pace descriptions at the end of this page.

Click the table below to enlarge/print:

Week 10 - Event Day, Oct 7th!

Considerations:

  • If you need to take a break, be sure to keep the feet moving to ensure a constant steady flow of blood around the body.
  • Take a break during the walks only if needed.
  • At the end of each session, always include a 10-minute cool-down walk at pace: light, incorporating some upper body and lower body stretches into the cool-down.

 

Pace Descriptions

Tips: 

  • Walk/Run with a friend or family member as you can motivate each other.
  • Wear comfortable footwear ideally a running shoe that has some support around the heel and cushioning underneath.
  • Always keep hydrated during your sessions and throughout the day (aim for at least 2/2.5l of water throughout the day, build up to this over time).
  • Plan for rainy days, if you don’t wish to get wet,  plan on training indoors when it’s raining outside (a treadmill can be used or an indoor track) however, if you have never experienced a walk/jog/run in the rain you may be surprised how reviving it is (ps. just wear your raincoat).
  • To prevent injury, it is essential to warm-up and cool-down. A warm-up of a walk for 10-15 minutes at a light pace will help warm-up the muscles, open your arteries and prepare you for the exercise session and a 10 minute cool-down, incorporating some stretches will help you cool-down.
  • Include rest days between sessions but if this is not possible just listen to your body as the week’s progress.
  • Sometimes it is common to experience calf pain or pain in the shins the day after the session, if this occurs, apply a cold press for 15-20 minutes.
  • If you miss a day or week, do not fall off the wagon, start working from where you left it.
  • This programme is designed to ensure you will be able to complete your walk/jog/run even if you miss a week.
  • Print off your training programme and have it somewhere where it is at eye-view (e.g. on the door of your fridge) so you can mark off each week as you complete the sessions and track your progress.

Special thanks to our sponsor,
Irish Life Health.

 

Special thanks to our media partner, iRadio

Fruit juice: Friend or Foe?

Croí Nutrition & Dietetic Team

Like many of us, do you eagerly put cartons of juice in your shopping trolley in an effort to help your family achieve their Five-a-Day quota? Buyer beware – while fruit juice is tasty and refreshing, it is not a healthier alternative to whole fruit. So while we’re all keen to increase our daily fruit intake we should be careful not to load up on fruit juice.

The biggest problem with fruit juice is the high sugar content, lack of fibre and the quantity at which it is consumed. The main difference between whole fruit and fruit juice is the fibre content, when fruit is pressed or squeezed to make juice some nutrients and most notably fibre is lost. A small glass (100mls) of unsweetened fruit juice can provide one portion of your recommended Five-a-Day. However, if you drink more than a small glass it will still only account for one portion of your Five-a-Day!

The role of fibre

Fibre present in whole fruit has many health benefits, it promotes both heart and digestive health by helping to reduce blood cholesterol, control blood sugar levels and prevent constipation. It also keeps us feeling fuller for longer which has the added benefit for weight control. Whole fruit has moderate to high amounts of fibre, the fibre slows down the digestive process and provides a slow release of sugar in to the blood stream. Fruit juice has no fibre therefore the sugar is released in to the blood stream more rapidly and elevates blood sugar levels more quickly than whole fruit.

Be cautious of juice drinks

Many juice drinks available in supermarkets contain a small amount of real fruit juice and are often high in sugar. Therefore, it is easy to consume a large amount of calories with little nutritional benefit. Many people may consider fruit flavoured juice drinks to be a healthier alternative to fizzy soft drinks, however, a recent survey compared the sugar content of drinks regularly consumed by the public and showed that a 200ml serving of a popular juice drink contained as much sugar as the equivalent serving of well-known fizzy soft drinks. There is strong evidence to link the consumption of high sugar drinks with obesity.

Top Tips:

  • For optimum nutrition choose whole fruit over fruit juice.
  • If including fruit juice keep it to a small glass (100mls) of 100% fruit juice that contains no added sugar.
  • Remember that a small glass (100mls) of fruit juice only contributes to one of your five-a-day regardless of how much you consume.
  • If you are giving fruit juices to children, dilute it one part juice to ten parts water.
  • All fruit juices are acidic and can damage teeth so are best kept to meal times.
  • Water is the best alternative to high sugar drinks, including fruit juice.

 

Fuelling Your Croí Cycle

The countdown is on until the Croí Corrib Charity Cycle on June 12th! Fuelling for your cycle is of utmost importance so we have some tips from our Croí Dietitian, Aisling Harris, below.

Eating well for physical activity and sport can have many benefits including:

  • Allowing you to perform well in your chosen sport or activity;
  • Reducing the risk of injury and illness;
  • Ensuring the best recovery after exercise or a training programme.

A healthy diet for sport and exercise should contain plenty of starchy foods, plenty of fruit and vegetables, some protein foods and some dairy foods. It is also very important to stay hydrated.

Carbohydrates

The main role of carbohydrates is to provide energy.

When they are digested, carbohydrates are broken down into glucose to provide readily available energy for the body to use quickly and effectively. Carbohydrates are the most important form of fuel for exercise and sports activities. Starchy foods are an important source of carbohydrates in our diet. Starchy foods, especially high fibre varieties, provide a slower release of energy and take longer to digest so it’s a good idea to include some in every meal. Wholegrain varieties also provide fibre, which is important for digestive health, and a range of vitamins and minerals including B vitamins, iron, calcium and folate. We store small amounts of carbohydrates as glycogen in our muscles but use this use up during exercise. Therefore, it is important to replenish your glycogen stores after your workout so that your levels are topped up for your next session. Try to have a source of carbohydrates with your main meals. Additionally, high carbohydrate snacks such as a slice of bread with jam, a cereal bar or a banana and yoghurt are good snacks to have before or during a long training session.

Good sources of carbohydrates in the diet include:

  • Wholegrain bread
  • Breakfast cereals and porridge oats
  • Pasta and noodles
  • Rice
  • Couscous
  • Potatoes (with skins) and other starchy vegetables, e.g. sweetcorn
  • Beans and pulses

Protein

Protein is also important for health and physical activity. The main role of protein in the body is for growth, repair and maintenance of body cells and tissues, such as muscle.

Different foods contain different amounts and different combinations of amino acids (the building blocks of proteins). Essential amino acids are those that the body cannot make itself and so are needed from the diet. The full range of essential amino acids needed by the body (high protein quality) is found in:

  • Animal sources – meat, fish, eggs, milk, cheese and yoghurt.
  • Plant sources – beans, pulses, soy, tofu, and plant-based meat alternatives
  • Most vegans get enough protein from their diets, but it is important to consume a variety of plant proteins to ensure enough essential amino acids are included.
  • Consuming a healthy, varied, diet containing nutrient-dense foods will ensure you get enough protein without the use of protein supplements or special high-protein eating strategies, even if your needs are a little higher. Try and spread your protein intake throughout the day.

Fat

Fat is an essential nutrient for the body but it is also a rich source of energy. Fats in foods typically contain a mixture of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids but choosing foods which contain higher amounts of unsaturated fat and less saturated fat is preferable. Most of us eat too much saturated fat so to cut back on intake limit foods such as:

  • Pastries, cakes and puddings
  • Chocolate and biscuits
  • Some savoury snacks
  • Cream, coconut cream and ice-cream
  • Butter, lard, ghee, suet, palm oil and coconut oil
  • Processed meats like sausages, ham, burgers and fatty cuts of meat
  • Fried foods including fried chips

Replacing saturated fat with some monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat helps to maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Good sources of these fats include vegetable oils such as olive, rapeseed and sunflower oils, avocados, nuts and seeds and oily fish, e.g. mackerel, salmon and sardines.

How to stay well hydrated

Sufficient fluid intake is essential for exercise and optimum recovery. Exercising causes the body to get warmer so the body tries to cool down by sweating. This causes the loss of water and salts through the skin.

The amount an individual sweats varies from person to person and depends on:

  • Intensity and duration – longer and higher intensity exercise can cause greater sweat loss
  • Environmental temperature – in hot, humid conditions sweat loss can increase
  • Clothing – the more clothing that is worn, the quicker you are likely to heat up which may cause greater sweat loss
  • Genetics – some people are just more likely to sweat than others

Generally, the more a person sweats, the more they will need to drink.

Small water losses are not harmful. However, dehydration can cause tiredness and hinder performance by reducing strength and aerobic capacity (especially in longer duration exercise), as well as having a negative effect on any further exercise sessions. Try and stay hydrated before, during and after exercise to prevent dehydration – water is generally best but sports drinks can be useful in certain situations, particularly long exercise sessions or sessions where you will sweat a lot as these drinks will help replace electrolytes lost in sweat. Always practice your nutrition and hydration strategy during your training sessions as opposed to race day to see how your body adapts.

Content adapted from the British Nutrition Foundation

Niall Nugent is getting back to living after heart failure diagnosis

Let’s focus on living because even with heart failure you can still be you. Don’t let heart failure stop you. #HeartFailureAwareness

In September 2020, Niall Nugent’s life changed dramatically. Without any warning signs, he suffered a “widow-maker” heart attack, which had huge consequences for him and his family. Due to the damage to the heart muscle following the heart attack, Niall was later diagnosed with heart failure.

Niall, aged 49, is determined to manage his condition and get back to living a normal life. Speaking of his diagnosis, Niall said, “After my diagnosis, I told myself I would do whatever it takes not to be in this position again”. He has transformed his lifestyle with significant changes to his diet and exercise routine. “I have got back on the bike… I wouldn’t have cycled for over 30 years and now I am cycling on a regular basis. I am also going to learn how to swim. I am doing more exercise now than I ever did before.

Heart failure is a serious chronic condition but there are lots of things that you can do to help manage your condition, including adjusting your lifestyle, medical treatments and self-management.

Niall has experienced the benefits of Croí since he joined the Croí MySláinte Cardiac Rehabilitation Programme in 2020. The programme gave him the information, support and advice needed to return to everyday life after his cardiac event.

From the very start, Croí has been a life-saver for me. They have helped me to learn how to live with this condition and everything I learned from them was a huge benefit. The resources and information they gave me will support me for the rest of my life.

Two years on, Niall tells us, “My life since my heart attack has improved somewhat. My steps and distance are improving all the time, and I’m able to do more in my job. Physically I’m ok most days but it can be difficult mentally sometimes. It’s very challenging trying to come to terms with the actual heart event (I’ll never forget it) and then everything after it. It’s a ripple effect. Everything I knew before has changed and is completely different now.

My heart event turned my life upside-down but I have had to adapt. With my cardiology team and Croí, I am living my life as best I can.

Heart Failure Awareness Week 2022 runs from May 9th – 15th.

2022 Croí Corrib Cycle FAQs

Croí Corrib Cycle 2022_Website Banner

Where do I collect my pack?

Cycle pack pickup will be available from:

All cycle packs will be available at Peacockes Mart on the morning of the cycle.  For those of you who would like to collect your cycle pack before the event you can collect in Croí at the times listed below.

  • Croí House, Moyola Lane, Newcastle, Galway H91FF68  on Tuesday 7 June through Friday 10 June from 10am – 4pm

What is the Croí Corrib Cycle?

The 2022 Croí Corrib Cycle is a fundraising event for Croí that will take place on Sunday, June 12th, 2022. There are three routes on offer, 40km, 80km and 110km. All routes will start and finish at Peacockes Mart (H91 V520), adjacent to the Peacockes Hotel, in Maam Cross, Connemara, Galway. (Google Map)

How should I fundraise?

We encourage cyclists to use iDonate to fundraise for this cycle in aid of Croí. Once you register for the cycle, you will receive a confirmation email which will then allow you to create your iDonate profile. This is a fundraising event and we are so grateful for all the support which helps us to continue our vital work in communities throughout the region.

If you have any queries in relation to this, please contact lisa@croi.ie or contact us on 091 544310.

How much do I need to raise?

To confirm your place in the cycle, you must pay €50 registration fee and raise an additional €50 by June 10th.

When do I give my donation?

All donations and fundraising will be completed online, in advance of the cycle. There will be no money collected on the day.

What time does the event start?

The first group will leave Peacockes Mart (H91 V520), adjacent to the Peacockes Hotel, at 8 am. You will be emailed details of your start time in advance of the event. You will also receive your wristband via post in advance of the event. Please wear your wristband on the day to guarantee entrance to the start line and food stops along the way.  You can collect your jersey/water bottle at Croí the week before the event or at check-in before the cycle.

Routes start and finish at Peacockes Mart, adjacent to the Peacockes Hotel (H91 V520), Maam Cross, Connemara, Galway (Google Maps).

Please leave plenty of time to get to the event check-in as there will be a lot of traffic in the area.

Can I register on the day?

No. Due to a limit of 350 places, there will be no registration on the day. Registration for the event will close on June 10th.

Will there be bike repair on the routes?

Please ensure your bike is checked before departure. Pump your wheels and ensure you have spare tubes for your wheels. Bike mechanics will be available on the routes.

When do I get my jersey and water bottle?

Jerseys and water bottles can be collected at Croí House the week commencing June 6th or on the day of the cycle at Peacockes Mart (H91 V520), adjacent to the Peacockes Hotel. You will receive a Croí face covering and wristband via post in advance of the cycle.

Can I get a refund?

There will be no refunds as this is a charity event.

Where can I park my car?

There will be adequate parking in place at Peacockes Mart (H91 V520), adjacent to the Peacockes Hotel. Please allow extra time to park and register. It will be busy. Please do not park illegally.

Where do the routes go?

40KM Route

Cyclists will depart from Maam Cross, heading northwest towards Leenaun and turning back again towards Maam Cross. 40KM Google Map.

80KM Route

Cyclists will depart from Maam Cross, heading Northwest, towards Leenaun and turning right where you will cycle along Loch na Fooey, towards Finny. You will then continue onto Clonbur and turn back towards Cornamona (before Cong) and finish at Maam Cross. Click the link to see the route. 80KM Google Map.

110KM Route

Cyclists will depart from Maam Cross and head Northwest to Leenaun, then turning right and taking you over ‘Lally’s’. From there you will descend into Toormakeady, travelling down Maumtrasna (looking out on Lough Mask) towards Finny and cycling along Lough na Fooey. You will continue on to Clonbur and turn back towards Cornamona (before Cong) and finish at Maam Cross. Click the link to see the route. 110KM Google Map

Do rules of the road apply?

YES.  This is not a closed road event and you must adhere to the normal rules of the road.

  • Cycling on the route is maximum of two abreast.
  • The event is not a race and you are responsible for your own safety and the safety of others on the road.
  • Croí directional signs will be placed along the route and marshals will also be present. Please remember, marshals are only there to assist. You must check for oncoming traffic at all junctions.
  • All participants will be provided with an emergency contact number in the case of an emergency on the route. Please note, this is not a number for bike repairs.
  • Please ensure you have spare tubes in the event of a puncture and do not rely on the emergency number for help with changing punctures etc.
  • No earphones permitted.

What happens after the event?

There will be tea and coffee, as well as post-event burgers, provided by O’Reilly’s Bar and Kitchen, Salthill, available for all participants after the event. We encourage large groups of people not to congregate at the finish line. We ask all people to act responsibly and respect others’ personal space.

Are there showers at the finish line?

No showers are available.

Are there toilets on the routes?

There will be no additional toilets along the route.

What if I need first aid?

Irish Red Cross ambulances will be on all routes. Should you require assistance, please call the emergency number on your final confirmation email. In case of an emergency, dial 999 for an ambulance and then call the emergency event number.

Do I need to bring anything with me?

Yes, bring the following:

  • Helmet
  • Water bottle(s)
  • Puncture repair kit and spare tubes
  • Mobile phone with credit
  • Snacks
  • Sun cream
  • Rain jacket
  • Emergency money and ID

Are the routes well sign-posted?

Yes, there will be Croí directional signage on all routes, including marshals to support you. Remember rules of the road apply.

Is the jersey unisex?

Yes, and typically the jerseys are tight-fitting.

Anything else?

Yes, please respect the volunteers, marshals and medics on the route, they are there for your safety. Please bring your rubbish with you to the next refreshment stop if snacking on the route.

Enjoy the ride!

For any additional information, please contact Christine on 091 544310 or email christine@croi.ie.

Mary’s Story, Croí Programme Participant

“I found it great motivation to look at your diet, your weight and your exercise levels… it started me off on a regime of trying to get more exercise,” says Mary Lyons from Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo.

Watch now to hear how the Croí Third Age Mayo blood pressure management programme helped Mary and her husband take control of their heart health.

You can start making healthy choices too by accessing our heart health information on our website.

This programme was delivered by the Croí multi-disciplinary health team. ❤️

Couch to Wild Atlantic Way – Karen’s Story

Karen Reid, living in Craughwell, Co. Galway, was 39 when she experienced a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) or Mini Stroke in 2019. After being admitted to Ballinasloe hospital, she was diagnosed with a rare, congenital heart condition – Non Compaction Myocardium. Having always lived a healthy and active lifestyle, she was shocked by this diagnosis, thinking ‘why me?’. Karen was told by her doctors that due to her rare condition it was likely that she would have experienced stroke at some point in her life. However, it was her stress levels which caused it to happen so young. Thankfully, after counselling and a period of rest, Karen recovered well from her stroke and turned her focus to maintaining a healthy life.

In hospital, she was given an information leaflet with the Croí website. From there, she got tips on how to reduce her stress and other risk factors for stroke. She also
started attending Croí’s Heartlink West virtual chats which served as a weekly reminder to keep up her healthy habits.

Six months after her stroke, the country went into lockdown and Karen felt her mood drop – “I found myself wallowing a bit, I felt like it shouldn’t have happened to me. But a stroke can happen to anybody,” she said. It was then that she saw Croí’s Couch to Wild Atlantic Way challenge and decided to sign-up. Karen completed the 6-week challenge and ended up raising over €1,000 for Croí through her iDonate page. Along with her successful fundraiser, the event also helped Karen to come out of the negative mind space she had been in. It got her into a routine of walking regularly and her mood lifted.

Coming up to Christmas 2021, Karen lost her father and grandmother. This great loss set her healthy habits back slightly, but it made her realise how important walking was to her, ‘I know now that if I miss my walking, I don’t feel as well,’ says Karen. She is now looking forward to getting back into her routine and is excited to take part in Croí’s Couch to Wild Atlantic Way again this year.

Karen’s experience with stroke has made her more grateful for life. It taught her how damaging stress can be to her health and she now puts time into taking care of her stress levels and mental health through walking. “There’s so many little things you can change – eat a bit better, walk a bit more, and stress a bit less. Anybody can do that if they put a little time into it.”

Join Karen and sign-up today for Croí’s Couch to Wild Atlantic Way 6-week virtual challenge!

Valentine’s Day – The Heart of the Matter

Valentine’s Day has many of us thinking of matters of the heart, but it might be a good time to consider your heart health and assess how healthy your heart actually is.

While heart disease remains one of the leading causes of death of men and women in Ireland, and worldwide, warning signs are not always obvious.

Prioritise your heart, and the hearts of your loved ones, this Valentine’s Day, by being proactive about your heart health and supporting your loved ones to do the same.

 

Do you know your numbers? If you don’t know any of the readings below, we encourage you to make an appointment with your GP to get informed and take control of your heart health.

Blood Pressure: The ideal is 140/90 mmHg or below. Higher levels increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Total Cholesterol: Levels of five or above increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Weight: Carrying excess weight can increase your risk of heart disease. Did you know that if your Body Mass Index (BMI) is above 25, losing 5-10% of your starting weight can reduce your blood pressure and cholesterol?

Waist Size: Carrying most of our weight around our middle can increase our risk of heart disease and stroke. For men, aim for a waist circumference of less than 94cm, and for women, aim for less than 80cm. Note – measure about an inch above your belly button.

 

80% of Heart Disease and Stroke Can Be Prevented

A risk factor is anything that raises a person’s chance of developing heart disease and stroke. There are two types of risk factors, those you cannot change, e.g. age and family history, and thankfully those you can change, e.g. blood pressure, cholesterol and physical activity. All of the risk factors above are in our control and 80% of heart disease and stroke can be prevented by being proactive and making the necessary lifestyle changes.

 

Listen To Your Heart

If you would like more information about risk factors or support on taking care of your heart health, Croí’s FREE telephone helpline, Heartlink West, is live weekdays from 9 am – 5:30 pm on 091 544310. When you call, you will be connected with one of our Cardiac Nurse Specialists. Alternatively, you can email the Croí Health Team at healthteam@croi.ie or join our weekly Heartlink West Virtual Chats.

Freezer Friendly Foods

Making the most out of your freezer is a great way to keep a well-stocked kitchen while minimising food waste. A well stocked freezer also serves to reduce the frequency of supermarket trips.

Traditionally, frozen foods have been viewed as processed or seen as less healthy, however, these days there is so much choice when it comes to frozen healthy food as well as many fresh foods which freeze surprisingly well!

Here are our top tips to healthy, freezer friendly foods and two useful kitchen skills explained.

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Blanching:

Here is how to blanch vegetables before freezing. Blanching is a process in which you boil or steam vegetables briefly until they are partially cooked. It is an essential step before freezing many vegetables like starchy vegetables (such as potato, sweet potato, carrots and parsnips).

  1. Place the chopped vegetables in a saucepan of cold water.
  2. Put in on the stove over a high heat until boiling.
  3. Once boiling, remove from the heat and run under cold water to cool.
  4. Place the blanched vegetables into freezer bags or containers and place in the freezer.

Tray freeze:
Use this method for freezing your own fruit and non-starchy vegetables without them clumping together.

  1. Chop your veg and lay flat in one layer on a baking tray.
  2. Place in the freezer.
  3. Once frozen you can transfer to Tupperware boxes and pop back into the freezer.
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Frozen vegetables are equally as nutritious as fresh vegetables. Where they can differ is in texture with some being more suitable for freezing than others. Generally speaking vegetables with a higher water content don’t freeze as well and certain vegetables such as broccoli and asparagus can become stringy in texture. Aside from the usual: frozen peas, sweet corn and mixed veg, there are so many other vegetables that can be frozen to help make life that bit easier! Starchy vegetables (such as potato, sweet potato, carrots and parsnips) freeze best when blanched before freezing.

Diced onion:
A great idea for those who want to avoid the tears and save themselves from all that chopping! You can buy bags of frozen chopped onion and add to dishes as needed where they will quickly defrost while cooking.

Peppers:
Sliced peppers freeze very well and can then be thrown into a wok or saucepan as needed where they will defrost while cooking.

Stir-fry mix:
Whether shop bought or freeze at home, thinly sliced peppers, onions, carrots, broccoli, sweet corn and beansprouts all work well.

Spinach:
While frozen spinach won’t make for a great salad, it works well in cooked dishes such as pasta, casseroles or soups.

Tomato-based sauces:
With or without vegetables, these freeze really well. Simply defrost and serve with chicken or fish for a heart healthy meal with minimal effort.

Fruit:
Berries freeze especially well as do grapes. Frozen berries can then be added into warm porridge, grapes can be eaten frozen and bananas added to smoothies.

Avocado:
While you can freeze avocados, it does change the texture of them. They are best used from frozen for sauces or smoothies rather than on toast, for example.

Fish:
Frozen fish is convenient, less expensive and just as tasty as fresh fish.  Salmon, cod, hake, plaice and prawns are just some of the options available to us. Try to avoid breaded or battered fish and instead opt for plain or lightly seasoned. You can bake it in the oven straight from frozen with lemon and herbs and serve with vegetables and potatoes for a delicious, heart healthy meal.

Lemons:
Pre-cut slices of lemons or limes can be frozen and then used to add to dishes such as baked chicken or fish. Lemon juice can be frozen in an ice-cube tray and the cubes added to dishes or to a refreshing glass of water.

Herbs:
Fresh herbs like parsley, coriander and mint can be easily frozen and cut as needed. Alternatively you can freeze them with a little water in an ice-cube tray. Fresh ginger can be frozen and easily grated into dishes as needed. Chopped garlic can also be frozen which is a great time-saver. Equally you can buy herbs and spices frozen, however it is generally more cost effective to do so yourself.

Potatoes:
Yes, potatoes can be frozen! It’s best to chop to your desired size and avoid using very large potatoes. Blanch them first then place them in the freezer. You can then microwave, fry, bake or boil them from frozen with reduced cooking time. A great idea to pre-prepare homemade wedges.

Rice:
It’s best to slightly under-cook rice that you intend to freeze as otherwise it can crumble. Use the tray freeze method to freeze in one layer in zip-lock bags which will then defrost in very little time and can easily be added to dishes as needed.

Bread:
While some of us freeze bread regularly, most of us defrost it by the loaf which then has to be used in a couple of days. To reduce waste why not store your bread in the freezer and defrost slices as you need them?

Beans and lentils:
You can make a whole bag of dried beans or lentils at once, let them cool and then divide into zip-lock bags and store them in the freezer. When you’re ready to use them, smack the bag on the counter a few times to loosen and add directly to whatever you’re making. For best results, under cook them slightly initially and they’ll cook a little more in whatever dish you add them to.

Home baking:
With more time at home, you may be finding yourself with more homemade treats like cakes, biscuits or buns. A great way to ensure you enjoy the treats in moderation without overindulging is to freeze some to have for later. This was you won’t feel tempted to finish them off while they are still fresh!

Meals:
Many soups, stews, casseroles, chilies, curries, burgers and meatballs (raw or cooked) and pancakes (defrost in the toaster) are all popular, freezer friendly meals. Milk, raw egg (not in its shell), butter, cheese and nuts can all be frozen as well.

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Foods to avoid freezing:

  • Cream-based soups
  • Fried foods
  • Vegetables with a high water content such as cucumber and cabbage
  • Fully cooked rice or pasta
  • Hard boiled eggs.

For advice on food safety while freezing please visit Safe Food.

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A Christmas message from Croí CEO, Neil Johnson

Dear friends,

 

As we come to the close of another year, I wish to could convey our heartfelt thanks to all those who supported us this year.

Neil Johnson – Chief Executive

Like all organisations, especially in the non-profit sector, 2021 was another difficult year. Since the beginning of the pandemic, both those in need of healthcare and those providing it have been faced with huge challenges. In our work, we see at first hand the impact of COVID-19 on those living with or affected by heart disease and stroke. Not only are these conditions difficult in their own right but add the stress and worry of delayed access to care, postponed or cancelled appointments and procedures, growing waiting lists or the fear of contracting COVID-19 and you realise how important it is to be able to provide support to those who are feeling unwell and vulnerable.

Over the past year, Croí provided a lifeline to 80-100 callers a week to our HeartLink West support service which is led by our Cardiovascular Nurse Specialist and supported by our multi-disciplinary health team. This is a support, sign posting and education service which we launched when COVID-19 first struck in 2020 and we were delighted that this initiative was recognised nationally last month by winning an Irish Healthcare Award as the Best Patient Organisation Project of the Year. In the early part of this year, due to the continued shutdown of our heart and stroke centre in Newcastle, Galway, we launched a range of online recovery and risk factor management programmes which allowed us engage with hundreds of individuals throughout the west of Ireland. Last month for example we completed a very successful online lifestyle change programme called ‘Farmers on the Move’ working with the farming community in Mayo and Roscommon and we also completed a very successful face to face public blood pressure screening programme as part of our Mayo Third Age Programme in a unique collaboration with Pharmacies throughout the county. Through these opportunistic blood pressure checks, we discovered that over half of those who participated had high to very high blood pressure, a known risk factor for a heart attack or a stroke. These individuals are now on a pathway to better blood pressure control.

In November, we began a phased reopening of the Croí Heart and Stroke Centre to several hundred people where we recommenced targeted exercise and wellness classes delivered under guidelines restricted capacity. Recognising that it has been an extremely difficult time for everyone impacted by heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity, we reshaped our exercise programmes to focus on those most in need of support following the impact of the pandemic, something we are now calling our ‘wellness revival’ programme. Sadly, we have seen that some of the unintended consequences of the public health messaging to ‘stay at home’, has been increased physical inactivity, increased weight gain, poor dietary and sleeping behaviour and an increased prevalence of low mood and anxiety – all, individually and collectively, known risk factors for heart attack and stroke. With the easing of restrictions in recent months we were delighted to welcome back to our Croí Courtyard Apartments the families and loved ones of those receiving emergency cardiac and stroke care at GUH. These apartments offer a home from home at a time of crisis and strain when relatives need to be near their loved ones in hospital.

Despite the economic and financial burdens imposed by the pandemic on so many, we are inspired and heartened by all those who continued to contribute financially to our work throughout this difficult year. We are so grateful to everyone who got involved with our virtual fundraising events, from the Couch to the Wild Atlantic Way, to the Croí Cycle and the ever-growing Croí Night Run. As we rely totally on our own capacity to generate the funds necessary to do our work, we never take the support we receive for granted. We owe a deep debt of gratitude to all our donors, volunteers, corporate and business supporters who continue to give so freely year on year. We are also very fortunate to have an extremely dedicated and committed staff, voluntary board of directors and a large team of tireless volunteers.

It’s appropriate therefore to convey our sincere thanks to all and to wish everyone a very happy, healthy and safe Christmas.

 

Yours sincerely,

Neil Johnson
CEO, Croí