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SUBMITTED PHOTO Salmon, with its generous array of high-quality protein assets, becomes a quick main dish for serving during the week or on a special occasion. Adding vegetables and high-fiber side dishes fills the plate for a healthy, homey meal. The sauce used on Smoky Mustard-Maple Salmon can be baked on the salmon, or part or all of it used as a sauce after the fish is cooked.

Often people talk about a "broken" heart. Mercy Hospital St. Louis wants to avoid that. Its annual free Heart to Heart Fair this weekend connects and strengthens hearts with health screenings, stage demonstrations, one-on-one consultations and buckets of information and fun.

The event that celebrates American Heart Month will be held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at West County Center, the mall at I-270 and Manchester Road in Des Peres.

This is the fourth year Becky Doss of Mercy Dietitian Services has presented ideas for heart-healthy lifestyles and eating.

"We have kind of retired the old Food Pyramid by this time," she said. "MyPlate is how we envision healthy eating. There are three key messages. Balance calories, enjoy your food, but eat less."

She envisions a plate divided in half, one portion filled with fruits and vegetables. The other half holds whole grains and keeps dairy foods low-fat or nonfat and chooses lean meats and other protein, while slimming the sodium, sugar and solid fats in these items.

"The look of a plate does simplify the goals. This makes sense," she said.

Doss, who counsels people referred through the Mercy system, sees the average person "a little bit more aware of being healthy" from an eating standpoint. More now read labels more often and try to provide foods that are more wholesome and prepared closer to home.

Just as divisions of a plate — 9-inch diameter for adults, about 7 inches for a child — are visual reminders, so are her ways to demonstrate "portions."

Three ounces of protein is the size of a deck of cards. Cup your hand, she says, and you have the correct portion of a side dish. A serving of fruit or veggies should be the size of your fist. Then vary the portion size for a larger or smaller person.

More than 1,300 people last year participated in the Mercy Heart to Heart health screenings, reserved in advance by time, although walk-ins are welcome to fill openings. No fasting is necessary for evaluation of total and HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, TC/HDL ratio, blood glucose, blood pressure and body mass index. Health screenings take place in Macy's and Nordstrom Courts.

Presentations by medical experts, fitness demonstrations of zumba and tai chi, cooking demonstrations, interactive fun, nutrition information from the American Heart Association and other sources, and attendance prizes throughout the shopping center are available to women and men.

To encourage meals that are as delicious as they are healthy, Doss suggests choosing salmon, rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, with appealing seasonings both smoky and sweet as a main part of the plate.

Smoky Mustard-Maple Salmon

3 tbsp. whole-grain or Dijon mustard

1 tbsp. pure maple syrup

1/4 tsp. smoked paprika or ground chipotle pepper

1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

1/8 tsp. salt

4 (4 oz. each) skinless, center-cut, wild-caught salmon fillets

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with nonstick cooking spray.

In small bowl, combine mustard, maple syrup, paprika, pepper and salt.

Place salmon fillets on prepared baking sheet. Spread mustard mixture evenly on salmon. Roast in preheated oven 8 to 12 minutes just until thoroughly cooked.

Makes 4 servings; 148 calories, 4 g (1 g saturated) fat, 53 mg cholesterol, 4 g carbohydrate, 23 g protein, 276 mg sodium and no dietary fiber each.

Quick ideas: Smoked paprika, made from smoke-dried, red peppers, adds smoky flavor. Other types of paprika add less earthy flavor and vary flavors in savory dishes. Wild-caught salmon from the Pacific Northwest (Alaska and Washington) tends to be more sustainably fished than other areas of the world with a larger, more stable population.

Mercy Heart to Heart

Register: mercy.net/stl or (314)856-0502

Online aids: www.ChooseMyPlate.gov, www.heart.org (Getting Healthy)