Romance On The Menu: 9 Heart-Healthy Valentine's Day Meals

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Whether you’re happily single or conveniently coupled, Valentine’s Day is often linked with indulgences (think fried appetizers, buttery entrees and rich desserts). But it may turn out that the best aphrodisiacs, at least in the dining department, are foods that are good for your heart. After all, if you’re in a food coma after dinner, romance is likely to take a back seat to sleep.

Since Valentine’s Day is all about the romance, Henry Ford registered dietitian Darlene Zimmerman suggests selecting a simple menu that allows you to enjoy quality time with your loved one instead of babysitting simmering pots in the kitchen. A bonus: you’ll keep your healthy diet on track, too.

Check out Zimmerman’s suggestions of appetizers, entrees, sides and desserts designed for two below. Try them out as described or use them as inspiration for your own menu. Then add flowers, candlelight and a glass of red wine, Champagne or your favorite beverage, and you’ll have a heart-healthy dining experience worth toasting:

3 Heart-healthy Appetizer Options

  • Shrimp cocktail: Simple, light and store-bought, all you need for this app is chilled shrimp and cocktail sauce.
  • Caprese salad: Chop fresh tomatoes and basil, and serve with balls of buffalo mozzarella. Dress the salad lightly with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Voila!
  • Spinach salad: Toss together baby spinach leaves, crumbled feta cheese, cherry tomatoes and red onion rings. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and serve. 

3 Heart-healthy Entrée Options

  • Beef tenderloin with vegetables: Select a lean cut of meat (look for the terms “round” or “loin” on the label), and season it with a dash of salt and pepper. Pan sear it in olive oil, or create a balsamic glaze by adding a splash of balsamic vinegar and a little brown sugar to the pan. Then reduce it down to a thick glaze. Roast your preferred vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots and cauliflower, in a 400-degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes to bring out the vegetables’ natural sweetness. Serve a small baked potato on the side with reduced fat sour cream and snipped chives.
  • Pan-seared white fish: Sprinkle cod, halibut or another mild white fish with lemon pepper, and pan fry or sauté it in olive or canola oil. Steam market fresh vegetables, such as green beans, baby squash and whole carrots, and add an ancient grain pilaf made of farro or quinoa and brown rice on the side.
  • Roasted chicken and vegetables: Roast a whole chicken, rubbing the skin with herbs and olive oil instead of butter. Chop carrots, parsnips, potatoes, celery and onions. Then place it all in a roasting pan, and season with salt and pepper. After roasting, remove the skin from the chicken, and slice against the grain.

3 Heart-healthy Dessert Options

  • Chocolate fondue with 60 percent (or more) cacao served with plump, juicy berries and bananas
  • Simple sorbet with coarsely chopped almonds or walnuts
  • A bowl of delectable berries with a small side of whipped cream for dipping


For more advice on healthy eating, check out the other posts in our EatWell section.

Heart Smart® is a registered trademark of the Edith and Benson Ford Heart & Vascular Institute at Henry Ford Hospital.

Categories: EatWell