The Way to Your Heart
Healthy recipes to spice up your Valentine’s dinner
For many, Valentine’s Day means a romantic, candlelit dinner with their Valentine, followed by an evening of snuggling and whispered romantic nothings. For others, February represents American Heart Month and increasing awareness about heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of women!
If you would like to woo your honey with a homemade dinner — and in honor of American Heart Month — try out this heart-healthy meal for two.
Red and Green Gazpacho
Start your meal off with a delicious gazpacho that will add color to your table while warding off heart disease!
Makes 6 servings
3 large red and/or partially green tomatoes, chopped
2 11 ½ ounce cans tomato juice (about 3 cups)
2 medium tomatillos, chopped (optional)
½ cup chopped cucumber
1 large jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup finely snipped cilantro
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
¼ teaspoon bottled hot pepper sauce
1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and chopped (optional)
In a bowl, combine tomatoes, tomato juice, tomatillos, cucumber, jalapeño pepper, green onions, garlic, cilantro, oil, lime juice and hot pepper sauce. Cover; chill at least 1 hour.
If desired, top each serving with avocado. Serve with lime wedges.
Sublime Wine Crackers
What better appetizer for your gazpacho than homemade crackers? Additionally, research shows red wine, in moderation, contributes to heart health. So add your favorite wine and enjoy!
Makes 24 crackers
1 cup all-purpose flour
Desired herb/spice option*
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons desired wine*
2 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine flour, desired herb/spice option, salt and pepper. In a small bowl, combine wine and oil; gradually add to flour mixture, tossing with a fork until combines. Form dough into a ball. Dough will appear dry, but will come together when gently worked with hands. Avoid adding more liquid, as this will make the crackers tough.
Transfer the dough to a floured surface; flatten into a rectangle. Roll out into 12×9-inch rectangles. Transfer rectangles to an ungreased cookie sheet; sprinkle with kosher salt.
Bake about 18 minutes or just until crackers start to brown and are firm to the touch. Transfer to wire racks and cool completely.
* Wine and herb/spice sugggestions:
> Sauvignon Blanc and Basil: ¼ cup chopped fresh basil and 2 tablespoons pine nuts, finely ground.
> Riesling and Tarragon: 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon and ¼ teaspoon paprika.
> Cabernet Sauvignon and Rosemary: 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary.
> Champagne and Mustard: 2 tablespoons dry mustard.
> Chardonnay and Fennel: 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed.
Mandarin Orange Salad
Mandarin oranges add a fresh twist to an otherwise mundane salad, while assisting with heart health. Delicious!
Makes 6 1-cup servings
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 tablespoon olive, canola, or canola-soybean blend
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
6 cups mixed greens
1 10 ½ ounce can mandarin orange sections, drained
½ cup fresh raspberries
¼ cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted (toasting can be done in conventional or wall ovens, on stovetops, or in microwaves, depending on your preference)
In a screw-top jar, combine the vinegar, orange juice, sugar and mustard. Cover and shake well.
Place greens in a large salad bowl. Pour dressing over salad. Toss gently to coat. Arrange orange sections and raspberries over greens. Sprinkle with almonds.
Salmon and Asparagus
Salmon is rich in omega-3s, while asparagus is free from fat, cholesterol and sodium, making this a perfect heart-healthy main course.
Makes 4 servings
1 pound fresh asparagus spears, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 ½ teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
Course sea salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
1 pound fresh or frozen salmon fillets with skin
1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
1 teaspoon snipped fresh parsley
Place two (1 large and 1 medium) cast-iron or oven-safe skillets in a cold oven. Heat oven to 450 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine asparagus and ½ teaspoon olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brush the remaining 1 teaspoon of olive oil on both sides of fish; sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
Carefully remove hot skillets from oven. Place fish skin side down in the large skillet. Place asparagus in medium skillet. Return skillets to oven. Bake for 12 minutes, or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork and asparagus is crisp-tender.
To serve, sprinkle fish with lemon peel and parsley.
Black Cherry Sorbet
There’s no better way to end a meal than with a light sorbet!
Makes 10 servings
5 cups fresh or frozen pitted dark sweet cherries
1 ½ cups water
1 cup sugar
1 cup sparkling juice or champagne
2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel
Thaw cherries if frozen; do not drain. In a blender or food processor, combine cherries and 1 cup of water. Cover and blend or process until puréed. Press cherry mixture through a fine-mesh sieve; discard pulp.
In a large bowl, combine strained cherry mixture, remaining water, sugar, fruit juice/champagne and lemon peel, stirring until sugar dissolves. Pour into a 2-quart square baking dish. Cover and freeze 5 to 6 hours, or until almost firm. Break the frozen mixture into chunks.
Transfer chunks to a large, chilled mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth (but not melted). Return quickly to the cold dish. Cover and freeze for 6 to 8 hours more or until sorbet is firm. Use an ice cream scoop or large spoon to serve into dishes.
So, this month, forgo the drug store chocolates, and make your sweetheart a memorable, heart-healthy meal.
Sarah Wilson is a heath nut who loves Valentine’s Day and plans to spend it with her two delightful children.