They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, so this Valentine’s Day, tempt him with a meal that will not only win over his ticker, but also keep it in tip-top shape for the long haul.
Pair this simple three-course themed menu with a selection of resveratrol-rich red wine, which is a natural antioxidant known to protect against heart disease, and you’ve got a red-hot dinner for two that’s cause for celebration!
Appetizer: Easy Caprese Salad
Heart-healthy hint: The olive oil in this appetizer helps to lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, while the tomatoes are packed with lycopene, another heart-friendly antioxidant.
- 2 vine-ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
- 1 package fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
- 10 to 20 leaves fresh basil
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
- Coarse salt and pepper
- On a large plate, layer alternating slices of tomatoes and mozzarella, adding a basil leaf between each.
- Drizzle with equal parts extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Entrée: Simple Grilled Salmon
Heart-healthy hint: Salmon provides an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which protect the heart by reducing both inflammation and the risk of blood clots.
- 1 pound salmon fillets
- garlic powder to taste
- salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- Season salmon fillets with garlic powder and salt. Grate fresh ginger.
- In a small bowl, stir together soy sauce, ginger and brown sugar until sugar is dissolved.
- Place fish in a large resealable plastic bag with the soy sauce mixture, seal, and turn to coat. Refrigerate for at least two hours.
- Preheat grill for medium heat, and lightly oil grill grate and place salmon on the preheated grill, discarding the marinade.
- Cook salmon for about six to eight minutes per side, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
Side: Berry Delicious Spinach Salad
Heart-healthy hint: Leafy greens offer a one-two punch of vitamin E, iron and folate, which helps keep homocycteine levels down, while the berries provide lots of good antioxidants.
- 2 packed cups torn fresh spinach
- 1/2 cup sliced fresh strawberries
- 1/2 cup fresh, or frozen, blueberries
- 1/2 small sweet onion, sliced
- 1/8 cup slivered almonds, toasted
- 1oz gorgonzola cheese
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Pinch pepper
- In a large salad bowl, toss together spinach, strawberries, blueberries, onion and almonds.
- In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine dressing ingredients. Shake well; pour over salad and toss to coat.
- Sprinkle with cheese, and serve immediately.
Dessert: Heart-Shaped Chocolate Valentine Cake
(Adapted from Jean Carper, USA Weekend magazine)
Heart-healthy hint: As the grand finale, this cake features a hidden ingredient: Chickpeas. Odd, yes, but delicious nonetheless, and using legumes instead of flour adds fiber and protein and reduces unhealthy spikes in blood sugar.
- 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
- 2 cups (or 19oz can) cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
- 4 eggs or 1 cup egg substitute
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 pint fresh raspberries
- In a small bowl, melt chocolate in microwave (two minutes on medium power).
- In a blender or food processor, combine beans and eggs. Add sugar, baking powder and chocolate; process until smooth.
- Pour batter into non-stick nine-inch heart-shaped cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Microwave jam in a small bowl until melted (about 45 seconds), and then stir in juice and berries to make the sauce.
- When cake is cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cut cake into 10 wedges and drizzle with sauce before serving.