February is National American Heart Month.
It's been extra special for one of the students in my public speaking class at Valparaiso University.
Barrett Younghans just celebrated his one-year anniversary during Valentine's Day week for when he received a heart transplant.
Younghans, 20, of Goshen, Ind., is a sophomore and in fine health, all courtesy of his gift from an organ donor. Of course, every day, he takes 30 pills, many prescribed as assurance his body won't resist his new heart as it continues to adapt to his body.
Younghans was a high school athlete who played football, baseball and was on the swim team. His father, Barry Younghans, is principal of Goshen High School, and his mother, Lisa, is a sixth-grade teacher.
It was an echocardiogram, which is an ultrasound of the heart, that revealed in 2009 that not only was his heart enlarged, but also functioning at reduced capacity.
His official diagnosis was cardiomyopathy, which literally means "heart muscle disease," which weakens the heart's pumping function and can cause arrhythmia and sudden cardiac death.
Today, Younghans is happy to discuss his experience and spread education and awareness about "living heart-healthy."
For his demonstrative speech earlier this month, Barrett made his mother's recipe for "heart healthy" chocolate chip muffins, which he is letting me share with readers today.
Barrett's Mom's Heart Healthy Chocolate Chip Muffins
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup cooking oil
1 cup chocolate chips
DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven at 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and stir to combine. Add the egg, milk and oil and stir until batter is created. (Batter should be a little lumpy.) Fold in chocolate chips. If using liners, prepare or coat muffin tin with a little cooking spray. Spoon batter into muffin tin or liners about two-thirds full. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Makes 10 to 12 muffins.