I had a heart attack a couple of months ago, which required triple-bypass surgery. As I am a widower, I do all my own cooking. This wake-up call caused me to re-assess my eating habits. So instead of the junk-food that I had been living on, I now want to eat delicious, heart-healthy foods that are simple to prepare. If they will last more than one meal, that's a bonus that I like.

Frankly, my beef stew is not only heart-healthy and very delicious, but is very easy to prepare.

And you can freeze it in individual portions to thaw in the microwave and enjoy any time you wish a quick and easy, satisfying meal. Just add a couple of slices of whole wheat bread and there you go.

While my beef stew is easy to make, it does take some time. So allow about 3 hours or so of cooking time. I start my stew at 2:00 to enjoy it for a 5:00 mealtime.

I look over the stewing beef chunks at the local supermarket trying to purchase a package that looks as lean as possible. Then I use a paring knife and a carving board to cut away any bits of anything that isn't meat. This includes fat, gristle, etc. I cut the chunks into smaller pieces about the size of the last joint of my thumb.

I use a large pot that has a lid and fill it 1/3 with hot water out of the tap. I put in the beef chunks, put on the lid, and put it on the stove-top at ¾ heat. Keep an eye on it for the next 15 minutes or so, and if it shows signs of boiling over, reduce the heat until it just simmers with the lid on. At this time (after 15 minutes of boiling), use a spoon to scoop away any fats that have been boiled off and rose to the surface. Beef fat is just not heart-healthy, but the beef itself is.

After about 2 1/4 hours of boiling (stirring occasionally), start preparing the vegetables. Peel 2 to 3 medium sized white potatoes and cut them into bite-size chunks. Add to the pot. Peel and slice a medium cooking onion and plunk it in the pot together with a package of brown pre-sliced mushrooms. Add any other vegetables you like. I like slicing up 4 celery stems, opening a small can of kidney beans, taking frozen wax beans and slicing up a couple of carrots. Into the pot they go.

Turn the heat back up until it boils, then turn down to a simmer, as before. Leave the lid on.

At this time, I add spices... but NO SALT!

I like to use some minced garlic (bottled... no preparation required), ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, ground vegetable seasoning, dried parsley and rosemary.

Finish cooking until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork, then remove the stew pot from the heat.

If there is too much liquid left, I don't want to dump it because it contains all sorts of nutritious ingredients, so I add some flour to thicken it up.

I eat what I want for supper (usually too much), and freeze the rest in individually sized Tupperware containers.

That way, all I have to do is put the container in the microwave for 1 minute, to loosen it up so I can easily dump it in a bowl. I microwave the bowl for a further 4 minutes to thaw and heat the stew. Then off to the table for more eating enjoyment.

Oh, yeah... while the stew is cooking I prepare some Jell-O pudding... the kind that is sugar-free. I make it with skim milk for a heart-healthy dessert that compliments the stew perfectly.

Enjoy your meal!