Heart Healthy Valentine’s Day Dinner Recipes

Author

Florida Medical Clinic

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, which means it’s time to start thinking about how you’ll celebrate with your sweetheart. With many indoor dining options still limited, more couples will be opting to spend the holiday at home this year—but that doesn’t mean you still can’t enjoy a 5-star dining experience! 

To help you plan the perfect Valentine’s Day dinner, we’re sharing three of our favorite recipes—an appetizer, a main course, and a dessert—that are as healthy as they are delicious. After all, what better way to celebrate love than with food that’s good for your heart?

To Drink: Red Wine

According to Mayo Clinic, moderate amounts of red wine (no more than one glass per day for women and men over 65, and no more than two glasses for men under 65) can help bolster your heart health when included as a part of a balanced diet.

That’s because red wine can help improve your blood lipid profile, which refers to the types of cholesterols found in the body. Red wine can help lower LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) and raise HDL (the “good” cholesterol). There’s also some evidence to suggest that alcohol can help reduce the risk of blood clots.

If you’re trying to cut back on alcohol, don’t turn to sugary fruit juices or soft drinks. Instead, stick to water—and consider adding in some slices of fresh citrus fruit if you need a little extra flavor!

Appetizer: Strawberry & Walnut Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

This refreshing and light salad features dark leafy greens, strawberries, and walnuts—all heart-healthy ingredients. Plus, it’s simple and easy to make, meaning you can enjoy this salad even when there isn’t a special occasion!

Strawberries are full of antioxidants, which some studies have shown to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Their sweetness pairs well with dark, leafy greens, another important source of vitamins and minerals. Finally, walnuts can help reduce cholesterol levels thanks to their polyunsaturated fats.

Makes: 2 servings

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 0 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups packed spring mix, baby spinach, or arugula, rinsed and dried
  • 1 cup strawberries, rinsed
  • ⅓ cup walnuts (or sliced almonds)
  • ⅓ cup feta cheese crumbles (optional)
  • Balsamic vinaigrette (to taste)

Directions

  • Thoroughly rinse salad greens and dry in a salad spinner or pat lightly with a paper towel.
  • Thinly slice strawberries. If the walnuts are very large, roughly chop them down to size or crush them in a food processor.
  • Toss salad greens with strawberries, nuts, and optional feta cheese crumbles. Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette just before serving. Enjoy!

Turkey meatballs with whole grain pasta

Main Dish: Whole-Grain Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce & Meatballs

This Valentine’s Day main dish features the classic spaghetti and meatballs combo that’s been updated with a few better-for-you ingredients. 

Tomatoes are packed full of heart-friendly ingredients, including lycopene, folate, potassium, and other vitamins. This sauce uses sun-dried tomatoes, which add an extra level of flavor and retain many of the nutrients that whole tomatoes begin to lose after being picked.

You can choose between ground turkey, ground chicken, ground pork, or ground beef for these meatballs—but whatever you go with, make sure you’re choosing something that’s at least 93% lean. Lean meats are lower in saturated fats, which is better for your heart

Tip: If you want to deal with even less prep, you could sear scallops instead of making meatballs. Just sprinkle dry-packed scallops with salt and pepper and sear in a pan with olive oil until brown and crisp on each side.

Makes: 3-4 servings

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour

Ingredients

For the pasta:

  • 8 oz.  whole-grain pasta noodles
  • Kosher salt

For the meatballs:

  • 16 oz. at least 93% lean ground turkey, ground chicken, ground pork, or ground beef
  • ½ medium yellow onion
  • 2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • Black pepper, to taste

For the sauce: 

  • ½ of a large can (about 16 oz) of whole, peeled tomatoes (look for kinds with no sodium added)
  • 2 Tbsp oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Grated parmesan cheese (optional)
  • Fresh basil leaves (optional)

Directions

  • Start by preheating the oven to 350˚ and lining a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Fill a pot with salted water and bring to a boil.
  • While the oven is preheating and water is coming to a boil, prep your raw ingredients. Mince garlic and onion. Whisk egg in a small bowl. If using dry sun-dried tomatoes instead of oil-packed, soak in a small bowl of warm water until ready to use.
  • In boiling water, cook whole-grain pasta according to package directions and drain. 

Make the meatballs:

  • In a large mixing bowl, use clean hands to combine ground meat, Italian seasoning, kosher salt, chopped onion, beaten egg, bread crumbs, and grind in some fresh black pepper.
  • Roll into evenly-sized balls (about 1 in. to 1 ½ in.) and place meatballs on a lined baking sheet. Drizzle each with a little olive oil.
  • Bake meatballs in a preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until the meatballs reach an internal temperature of 165˚. Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm until they are ready to add to the sauce.

Make the sauce:

  • While the meatballs are baking, it’s time to make the sauce. In a large pan over medium, heat olive oil until it begins to shimmer.
  • Add in garlic and cook until fragrant and softened. Stir in sun-dried tomatoes and cook until they darken in color, around 2 minutes. Pour in whole, peeled tomatoes with juices and use a spoon to break up the larger pieces of tomato. Add in Italian seasoning, black pepper, and kosher salt.
  • Simmer the sauce over medium-low until it thickens, about 20-25 minutes. If the sauce gets too thick, add in a little water or chicken stock and stir.
  • When the meatballs and pasta are finished, add them both to the sauce and turn off the heat. Use tongs to transfer each portion to a plate. If desired, top with grated parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves and enjoy!

Dessert: Dark Chocolate Mousse with Fresh Berries

Following a heart-healthy diet involves limiting the number of refined sugars you consume each day—but that doesn’t mean you have to completely cut out sweets.

Eating more fruit and limiting the amount of added sugar you consume from cakes, cookies, soft drinks, and other processed foods can be beneficial for your heart. In particular, berries can satisfy your sweet tooth while also providing lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

The American Heart Association recommends men consume no more than 150 calories (36 grams) and women no more than 100 calories (25 grams) of added sugar per day—but that doesn’t include sugars naturally found in fruits.

This recipe includes tasty dark chocolate, which has less overall sugar than milk chocolate and can be part of a healthy diet when consumed in moderation, and strawberries, which contain plenty of heart-friendly nutrients.

Tip: This recipe requires chilling the mousse for at least an hour, so you may want to make this dish first.

Makes: 2 servings

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes active, 1 hour inactive

Ingredients

  • 6 oz. high-quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup strawberries, rinsed

Directions

  • With a hand mixer, combine eggs and sugar together until smooth (about 3-5 minutes).
  • In a small saucepan over low heat, heat the heavy whipping cream, making sure not to let it come to a boil.
  • Slowly pour in the egg and sugar mixture, stirring constantly to ensure they combine. After the mixture has thickened (about 5 minutes), remove from heat and set on a heat-safe surface.
  • Break off pieces of dark chocolate and add them to the mixture. Stir until all the chocolate is melted. Scoop into a serving bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
  • Set the bowl in the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour or until you’re done with dinner. Serve with fresh strawberries for dipping and enjoy!

If you try one of our heart-healthy Valentine’s Day recipes, we’d love to see! Just snap a pic and tag us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

While celebrations may look a bit different this year, we hope your day is filled with love, family, and friendship. Happy Valentine’s Day from Florida Medical Clinic!

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