Would holidays and celebrations have the same flair if the cookies and cake were replaced with savory appetizers and sparkling mineral water? Would the time spent with friends and loved ones be just as special? Is there a time when it’s okay to choose the cake and cookies?
Celebrating Valentine’s Day is a beautiful tradition filled with candy hearts, chocolate, wine, and all the indulgence one happy couple could ask for! Unfortunately, many holidays, traditions, and celebrations are overrun with cake, candy, and sugary drinks. But enjoying the moment doesn’t always have to end with overindulging in sugar.
I often recall a rule I learned from my colleague Jeni Hall. “Whatever I eat, I choose it consciously, I enjoy it and then I let it go.” Jeni is the founder and creator of the RESTART Program. This program is designed to help individuals break their dependence on sugar, have the confidence to make better food choices, and begin to heal their bodies learning to eat whole foods. So, when I am faced with the choice of indulging in a beautiful birthday cake to celebrate a beautiful life, I put this “rule” into effect. I simply make the decision to enjoy it and let it go, leaving behind guilt and judgment.
Hearth Healthy Valentine’s Day
That said, if you’re looking to make heart health the focus this Valentine’s Day—and you definitely can!—I recommend preparing a delicious dinner with colorful vegetables, healthy fats, and naturally sweet berries. This perfect gift will stand the test of time with your sweetheart. You can’t go wrong if you choose foods rich in healthy fats (like Omega 3’s), dark-green leafy vegetables, whole grains, fermented dairy, legumes, nuts, berries, green tea, and—yes—even dark chocolate! Here are a few recipes for a delicious and healthy Valentine’s Day.
Walnut-Rosemary Crusted Salmon
- 2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard
- 1 clove garlic minced
- ¼ teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- ½ teaspoon honey
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound skinless salmon fillet, fresh or frozen
- Chopped fresh parsley and lemon wedges for garnish
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Combine mustard, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, rosemary, honey, salt, and crushed red pepper in a small bowl. Combine panko, walnuts, and oil in another bowl.
- Place salmon on the prepared baking sheet. Spread the mustard mixture over the fish and sprinkle with panko mixture, pressing to adhere. Lightly coat with cooking spray.
- Bake until the fish flakes with a fork, about 8 to 12 minutes, depending on thickness.
- Sprinkle with parsley and serve with lemon wedges, if desired.
Greens & Roots Salad with Citrus-Walnut Vinaigrette
- ½ cup toasted walnuts, plus more for garnish
- ¼ cup sherry vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Banyuls or red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons verjus blanc or white wine
- Zest & juice of 1 orange
- 2 tablespoons minced leek
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
- 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 cups chopped beet, turnip and or radish greens, or arugula.
- 2 cups chopped chard
- 2 cups chopped kale
- 1 cup chopped radicchio
- 3 small beets
- 3 small turnips
- 3 radishes
- 2 small carrots
- To prepare vinaigrette: Combine walnuts, sherry vinegar, Banyuls (or red wine) vinegar, verjus (or wine), orange zest and juice, leek, Parmesan, honey, mustard, parsley, salt, rosemary, thyme, and pepper in a blender. Puree until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add oil until combined.
- Prepare salad: Toss greens, chard, escarole, kale, and radicchio in a large bowl. Very thinly slice beets, turnips, radishes, and carrots; add to the greens. Toss the salad with 1 cup vinaigrette. Serve topped with more walnuts, if desired.
Dark Chocolate and Peanut Popcorn
- 1 cup air-popped popcorn
- 1 tablespoon salted raw peanuts
- ¼ ounce dark chocolate, melted
- In a small bowl combine popcorn and peanuts. Drizzle with melted chocolate.
I hope you enjoy these recipes, and I wish you a happy and healthy Valentine’s Day! And remember to Live Your Nutritional Value, one choice at a time.