Valentine's food for a healthy heart

Updated on 13 February 2014 | 0 Comments

Avoid a broken heart (literally) on Valentine's Day by following The British Dietetic Association (BDA)'s perfectly balanced and romantic dinner plan.

Valentine’s Day is all about treating the one that we love. Showing how much you care can be about nurturing your loved one’s health and looking after their heart rather than loading up on heavy, high fat rich food.  Here’s the key to a perfect Valentine’s Day meal: go for light and luxurious, pushing the boat out with a few expensive ingredients that you can both really savour.

The tipple

champagneWhile the heart-health benefits of alcohol are often mentioned, these can quickly turn into an increased risk of stroke with too many units at one sitting. Plus a lighter start to the evening with a sparkling cocktail may help you to enjoy your evening for longer. Champagne is lower in alcohol than many heavier red wines and can be combined with pomegranate juice (and drop in a few of those jewelled seeds) or made into a classic Bellini (peach juice) for a lighter but still suitably celebratory drink.

To start

asparagusBecause they are best served super-fresh, scallops are a nice starter to prepare together in the kitchen over a drink and good conversation. Scallops aren’t only a good choice for their aphrodisiac properties; they are also a good source of cardio protective omega-3 fats and Vitamin B12.  Skip the chorizo, bacon and black pudding which are all popular accompaniments for scallops in restaurants and go for a lighter, healthier Asian dipping sauce. 

For a vegetarian option and one of your five-a-day, griddle fresh asparagus spears, drizzle with a little good quality balsamic vinegar and finish off with a few shavings of parmesan.

For mains

venisonFor the main event skip the traditional beef steak for lean, tasty venison steaks served with a blackberry sauce and seasonal vegetables. Venison is readily available in supermarkets and contains around a third less fat than beef. 

If you’re feeling more adventurous, I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t be impressed with lovingly homemade sushi. Sushi is very low in fat and can be made with oily fish to provide heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids. If you can’t find a good fishmonger who will sell you fish that is suitable for eating uncooked, you can cheat and use smoked salmon. For extra points go the extra mile with chopsticks and oriental-style square plates.

And so to pudding…

pavlovaA decadent pavlova for dessert can be one of your five a day and with a few tweaks needn’t lie heavily on your stomach. For a healthier topping combine half whipped cream and half Greek yogurt to reduce the amount of artery-clogging saturated fat in the dish. Top an individual meringue nest each with a little of the yogurt and cream mixture, then scatter over pomegranate seeds and roughly chopped pistachio nuts which will provide little flecks of green among the red and white. Just before you serve, drizzle over clear floral honey loosened with a little pomegranate juice. 

A dark chocolate fondue is also a fun end to the meal and can easily provide at least one portion of fruit for each of you, helping to protect against heart disease and stroke. Valentine’s Day is a good excuse to splurge on some exotic treats like fresh strawberries, kiwi berries, star fruit or papaya.

Dinner for one?

chocolateIf you are on your own for Valentine’s Day, then take advantage by making one of those dishes that are just best made for one such as a smoked salmon omelette or fish cooked en papillote. Then treat yourself to a little bit of chocolate. Just a few squares of the really good stuff. Unwrap it carefully, inhale the cocoa scent and revel in the fact you don’t have to share it.

Are you planning something healthy for your Valentine’s Day meal? Or will it be all steak and cheesecake? Let us know in the comments box below…

All top tips courtesy of Sophie Roberts from the BDA.

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