Give a little love to your heart: A complete Valentine’s Day meal

This Valentine’s Day, do something healthy for your sweetheart — and your heart! This heart-healthy, easy-to-prepare meal is decadent enough for a romantic dinner for two, but easy and affordable enough to feed the whole family.

Below you will find recipes for a salad, main course, side, drink and dessert, all designed with your heart in mind. Enjoy, and remember to stay active!

Spinach salad with orange, beets and walnuts

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Spinach salad with oranges, beets and walnuts.

This colorful salad is as visually appealing as it is delicious. A simple homemade dressing ties the heart-healthy ingredients together.

Ingredients:

1 orange
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 small beets, no-sodium-added canned, or roasted at home
4 cups baby spinach
¼ cup walnuts

Directions:

  1. Start by segmenting your orange. If you’ve never had to supreme (segment) an orange before, here’s a quick video tutorial.
  2. Squeeze the leftover orange membranes over a small bowl, watching for seeds, to catch all of the juice; this will be the base for your dressing.
  3. Add red wine vinegar and olive oil to the orange juice and stir vigorously to incorporate.
  4. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Slice beets into wedges and set aside with the oranges.
  6. Toss spinach with dressing (using less or more dressing as desired) and separate onto two plates.
  7. Garnish with orange slices, beet slices and walnuts.

Serves 2. See nutritional info.

Honey Dijon salmon with asparagus

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Fresh salmon fillets.

Chock full of heart-healthy omega-3, salmon is a fantastic choice for dinner. A simple honey Dijon glaze and sauce turn salmon fillets into something truly special. Served with asparagus, this dinner looks impressive without keeping you in the kitchen all day.

Ingredients:

2 6 oz salmon fillets
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 garlic clove, finely minced
6 oz asparagus, washed and trimmed
1 teaspoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons low sodium chicken broth

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place two salmon fillets, skin side down, on one side of baking sheet, leaving space between them.
  3. Create a glaze by mixing together the mustard, honey, soy sauce and garlic in a small saucepan.
  4. Spread ½ teaspoon of glaze over each salmon fillet. Be careful not to cross-contaminate. Do not use your glaze utensil to touch the raw salmon.
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Spreading glaze on salmon.
  1. Place washed and trimmed asparagus on the other side of your baking sheet.
  2. Toss asparagus with 1 teaspoon olive oil and arrange into a single layer.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
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Salmon and asparagus.
  1. Bake the salmon and asparagus for 10 – 12 minutes at 450°. If you prefer a slightly browned glaze, remove asparagus from the baking sheet and briefly broil the salmon fillets, watching carefully so as not to burn them.
  2. While the salmon is cooking, create your sauce by adding 2 tablespoons of low-sodium chicken broth to your glaze.
  3. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until bubbly and slightly thickened.
  4. Serve sauce drizzled over salmon or on the side.

Serves 2 but can easily be doubled to serve 4. See nutritional info.

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Finished meal: honey Dijon salmon over quinoa and mushroom “risotto” and asparagus, pomegranate spritzer and spinach salad.

Quinoa and mushroom ‘risotto’

A take on traditional risotto, this recipe replaces traditional Arborio rice with heart-healthy quinoa. Quinoa [KEEN-wah] is an excellent gluten-free source of protein, iron and fiber. With its unique texture and slightly nutty flavor, quinoa is quite versatile, making it a perfect substitute for rice.

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Quinoa, thyme, shallots, garlic, lemon and mushrooms.

If you do not like mushrooms, consider omitting them and replacing them with peas or sautéed spinach. This recipe serves 4 and reheats well the next day, a terrific option for a healthy lunch.

Ingredients:

2 shallots, finely diced (½ a small onion can be substituted)
2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced
4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 ½ cups water (low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth are suitable substitutes)
1 cup quinoa, uncooked, rinsed
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
½ cup white wine (easily replaced with an extra ½ cup of liquid)
4 oz sliced mushrooms of your choice (crimini, otherwise known as “baby bellas” were used in this recipe)
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh lemon juice, optional

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, sauté shallots and garlic in 3 teaspoons of olive oil until softened.
  2. As this cooks, bring the water (or your choice of liquid) to a simmer in another pan and keep warm.
  3. Add quinoa and thyme to your shallot mixture, stir well and cook for one minute.
  4. Add white wine to the quinoa mixture and stir until the wine is almost completely absorbed.
  5. Begin adding the simmering water ½ cup at a time, waiting until each half cup is absorbed before adding the next, stirring frequently for 20-25 minutes. The more you stir it, the creamier it will be.
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Stirring quinoa.
  1. As your quinoa cooks, sauté sliced mushrooms in 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat.
  2. Season to taste with salt and pepper once the mushrooms are nicely browned and have released their liquid.
  3. Set aside until quinoa has finished cooking.
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Chopped ingredients: shallots, thyme, garlic and mushrooms.
  1. Once your quinoa has absorbed all the liquid and is tender and slightly creamy, stir in the Parmesan cheese.
  2. Season to taste with salt and pepper adding a squeeze of fresh lemon if desired.
  3. Stir sautéed mushrooms into quinoa and serve.

Serves 4. See nutritional info.

Pomegranate spritzer

With a few extra ingredients and your favorite no-sugar-added 100 percent fruit juice, you can create a bubbly, non-alcoholic special-occasion drink.

Ingredients and directions:

Ice (optional)
Fresh lime
½ cup pomegranate juice (or other 100% fruit juice)
½ cup seltzer water

Add ice (if desired) to two glasses and squeeze a wedge of lime over each. Add ¼ cup pomegranate juice to each glass, followed by ¼ cup seltzer water. Garnish with a slice of lime.

Serves 2 but can easily be doubled to serve 4. See nutritional info.

Hand-dipped chocolate-covered strawberries

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Dark chocolate chips, strawberries and white chocolate chips.

Do you know how easy it is to make your own chocolate-covered strawberries? Doing it yourself allows you to control your ingredients and the amount of chocolate used. In a few simple steps you can create a dessert that will really impress.

Ingredients:

3 oz dark chocolate chips
12 large strawberries, washed, completely dried, and stems intact
1 oz white chocolate, optional
1 baking sheet prepared with wax or parchment paper

Directions:

  1. Begin by creating a double boiler*:
    • Fill a small saucepan with an inch or two of water.
    • Place a snug-fitting heat safe bowl inside the saucepan, making sure the water does not reach the bottom of the bowl.
  2. Add the dark chocolate chips.
  3. Bring the water up to a slow simmer, taking care not to boil.
  4. Stir your chocolate as it melts. Chocolate must be melted slowly to stay creamy and avoid a grainy texture, scorching or seizing (a lumpy, hard mass.)
  5. When chocolate is 95 percent melted, remove saucepan from the heat to finish melting.
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Chocolate covered strawberries.
  1. Holding your strawberry by the stem — or the top if the stem is too delicate — dip them one at a time into the melted chocolate.
  2. Twist the strawberry to cover with chocolate and gently lay on the prepared baking sheet. Continue until all strawberries are covered.
  3. Place the baking sheet into the refrigerator.
  4. After the dark chocolate has had a few minutes to harden in the refrigerator, melted white chocolate can be drizzled over the strawberries using a fork or knife, or snip a corner of a food-safe plastic bag to create a piping bag.
  5. Allow the strawberries to completely set before serving.

*Chocolate can be melted in the microwave in a microwave-safe bowl. It will melt very quickly, so only heat for a few seconds at a time and stir before heating again.

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Hand-dipped chocolate-covered strawberries

Strawberries are best the day they are made but will keep until the following day.

Serves 4. See nutritional info.

Nutritional information

Spinach salad with orange, beets and walnuts

Ingredients Calories Carbs Fat Protein Sodium Sugar
Orange, 1 medium 70 21 0 1 0 14
Canned red beets, ½ cup 40 8 0 0 25 6
Baby spinach, 4 cups  27 4 0 3 87 0
Walnuts, ¼ cup  220 5 22 5 0 1
Red wine vinegar, 1 tsp 1 0 0 0 0 0
Olive oil, 1 tsp 40 0 5 0 0 0
Per serving 199 19 14 5 56 11

Honey Dijon salmon

Ingredients Calories Carbs Fat Protein Sodium Sugar
Salmon, 12 oz 483 0 22 67 150 0
Dijon mustard, 2 tbsp 30 0 0 0 720 0
Honey, 1 tbsp 64 17 0 0 1 17
Soy sauce, reduced sodium, ½ tsp 2 0 0 0 96 0
Garlic, 1 clove 4 1 0 0 1 0
Chicken broth low sodium, 2 tbsp 2 0 0 0 71 0
Per serving 293 9 11 34 520 9

Asparagus

Ingredients Calories Carbs Fat Protein Sodium Sugar
Asparagus, 3 oz 17 3 0 2 2 2
Olive oil, 1 tsp 40 0 5 0 0 0
Per serving 29 2 3 1 1 1

Quinoa and mushroom ‘risotto’

Ingredients Calories Carbs Fat Protein Sodium Sugar
Quinoa , 1 cup, dry 560 112 8 24 0 8
White white , 8 fl oz 190 5 0 0 0 0
Crimini mushrooms , 4 oz  25 4 0 4 6 2
Shallots , raw, 3 tbsp  22 5 0 1 4 0
Garlic , raw, 2 cloves 9 2 0 0 1 0
Olive oil, 4 tsp 159 0 18 0 1 0
Parmesan cheese, grated, 4 tbsp  86 1 6 8 306 0
Per serving 263 32 8 9 80 3

Pomegranate spritzer

Ingredients Calories Carbs Fat Protein Sodium Sugar
Pomegranate juice, 8 fl oz 150 38 0 1 0 32
Seltzer water, 8 fl oz 0 0 0 0 0 0
Per serving 75 19 0 1 0 16

Hand-dipped chocolate-covered strawberries

Ingredients Calories Carbs Fat Protein Sodium Sugar
Strawberries, 12 large 69 17 1 1 2 10
Dark chocolate chips, 3 oz 372 48 24 5 0 37
Per serving 110 16 6 2 1 12
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