Darlene and Ryan Rueter, of Carroll, and their sons, Aaron (on left) and Jonathan.
Darlene and Ryan Rueter, of Carroll, and their sons, Aaron (on left) and Jonathan.
Monday, September 17, 2012

For Darlene Rueter, of Carroll, knowing how to cook heart-healthful recipes comes in very handy. Darlene is a registered nurse and clinical coordinator for cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation at St. Anthony Regional Hospital. She enjoys cooking healthful meals and desserts at home and also likes to share recipes with cardiac patients at the hospital.

Darlene has worked at St. Anthony Regional Hospital for 32 years and helped develop the cardiac-rehab program in 1988 and the pulmonary-rehab program in 1995.

Darlene’s husband, Ryan, is a home-based agent with the authorizations department at American Home Shield.

Darlene and Ryan have two sons. Their oldest son, Aaron, lives in Addison, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, and works for Empro, an engineering firm. He has two roles, as a client analyst and in-house sales. Jonathan works for Technology Inc. (Fiserv), a financial-software company, as a senior client analyst, in Lincoln, Neb.

For about 20 years, St. Anthony had a cardiac-support group that met monthly, but the program is no longer active. Instead if cardiac patients are interested in heart-healthful recipes, there are magazines and books to borrow, or they can work with the hospital dieticians for cooking and baking ideas.

The cardiac staff at St. Anthony Regional Hospital aims to individualize the teaching process. Although the staff provides a teaching book for their patients, all patients have their own set of goals, concerns and interests, and their own medical history. Darlene said the staff truly tries to address each patient’s needs.

Darlene most enjoys helping to motivate patients to make heart-healthful lifestyle changes such as developing a home-exercise program or making dietary changes such as limiting sodium or fats in their diet.

“When patients achieve their goals and are motivated to continue, it really makes our staff feel that we are helping people make a positive impact in their lives,” said Darlene.

Granola Snack Bars

Darlene and other cardiac rehabilitation staff enjoy making these bars. The recipe was also demonstrated by St. Anthony dieticians at a holiday-cooking class. The bars contain flax seed, which is high in Omega-3 fat, protein and fiber. Flax seed is also a heart-healthful ingredient as it can lower the risk for heart disease by decreasing the total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad” cholesterol.

¼ cup oleo
4 cups miniature marshmallows
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup crushed graham crackers
½ cup flax seed
½ cup chopped raisins (or other dried fruit)
¼ cup sunflower seeds

In a large saucepan, over low heat, melt oleo. Add marshmallows and cook stirring constantly until marshmallows are melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in oats, graham cracker crumbs, flax seed, raisins (or other dried fruit), and sunflower seeds until thoroughly coated. Press into a 9x13 inch pan sprayed with no-stick spray. Let cool and cut into bars.
Yields 24 bars.

Nutrient values per bar:
120 calories
2.3 g protein
4.4 g fat
18 g carbs
1.4 g fiber
80 mg sodium

Oatmeal Cookies

Darlene has baked these cookies for cardiac-rehabilitation patients, as well as other nursing staff. These cookies can also be considered a breakfast cookie when served with fruit and milk.

4 oz light cream cheese
¼ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup or molasses
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups quick-cooking or old-fashioned dry oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup raisins
½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

In large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the first 6 ingredients. In medium-sized bowl, mix dry ingredients together with a fork until well distributed. Add dry ingredients to liquid mixture and mix well by hand. Mix in raisins (and nuts). Divide dough into 3 equal sections. Use this as a guide to make 3 dozen cookies. Drop by slightly heaping tablespoons.  Flatten each cookie with the back of the spoon. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

Nutritional information:
100 calories per cookie
26 percent calories from fat
1 g fiber
1 mg cholesterol
50 mg sodium

Easy Peanut Butter Cookies

Darlene says these cookies taste great and they mix up in a snap. The cookies contain no flour or margarine and retain their moist texture from the peanut butter.

1 cup chunky style peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
Combine peanut butter and sugar. Stir in egg and vanilla. Shape in 1 inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Press with fork to flatten slightly. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes.


Darlene and her husband, Ryan, were invited to one of her high school classmate’s home for dinner, and a similar light cheesecake was served for dessert. Darlene tweaked the recipe a bit to make it even lighter in calories.

1 (8 oz) pkg light cream cheese 1/3 cup sugar (I’ve used Splenda)
½ cup light sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 (4 oz) container of light or fat-free Cool Whip, thawed
1 graham cracker crust
Beat cream cheese until smooth. Gradually beat in sugar. Blend in sour cream and vanilla. Fold in whipped topping, blending thoroughly. Spoon filling into crust. Chill until set, about 4 hours. Serve with fresh berries or canned pie filling.

Fruit Cocktail Cake

A wife of a cardiac rehabilitation patient baked this cake for a cardiac support group potluck. Darlene has used the recipe many times when baking for family and friends due to the ease of preparation.

1 can fruit cocktail, juice and all
1 cup sugar
1½ cup flour
1 egg
1 teaspoon soda
Mix ingredients in a bowl. Pour into a 9x9 inch pan (sprayed with no-stick spray and dusted with flour). If you wish to add a topping, mix together ½ cup brown sugar and ½ cup chopped nuts. Bake in 350-degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes.