Recipes for a Heart-Healthy Valentine's Day
For many of us, healthy eating habits can be difficult to maintain. After all, most people don’t think of food as simple fuel, but as an integral part of our routines, traditions, and relationships. We take pleasure in eating, and we can be resistant to sacrificing what seem like small treats.
Studies have shown, however, that the consequences of poor nutrition can be wide-ranging. They include cardiovascular disease, obesity, and some types of cancer. If you’re following TRANSCEND’s Nine Steps to Living Well Forever, you already know the importance of Step Four: Nutrition. Even if you’re committed to improving your nutrition, though, you may still struggle to stay strong in the face of some traditional meals.
Prepare for Holiday Meals
Holiday meals can be intimidating when you’re adjusting to a healthier lifestyle. Thanksgiving and Christmas are well-known obstacles when it comes to maintaining a healthy diet, but Valentine’s Day can be just as tempting. Many people celebrate their relationships on February 14th by indulging, often with rich meals, calorie-laden desserts, and sugary sweets. You don’t have to give up on your dedication to healthier living to celebrate the holidays, though. Whether you’re reaffirming your commitment to your significant other or to yourself, the best gift that you can give is the promise of a longer, healthier life.
To help you make it over this holiday hurdle, we’ve put together a meal plan for your special night. In honor of American Heart Month, here’s to a Valentine’s Day dinner that is both healthy and indulgent, without being excessive!
Start with a Lean Protein
According to the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association, most healthy adults require a minimum of 50 to 60 grams of protein every day. Instead of an oversized portion of red meat, fish can be a excellent source of animal protein.
For your Valentine’s Day dinner, consider either Seared Balsamic Scallops or Nutty Salmon. Scallops are a particularly good source of lean protein, and if prepared simply—without their usual butter-heavy sauces—are very low in calories. Salmon is also rich in healthy fats. We recommend wild salmon over farmed, as it is richer in beneficial omega-3 fat and contains lesser amounts of contaminants.
Eat Your Vegetables
Kale has become popular over the past decade, due in no small part to its status as a nutrient-dense “supergreen.” Thanks to its increase in popularity, kale is now readily available at most local supermarkets.
We recommend Garlicky Kale as a quick, flavorful, and filling addition to your Valentine’s Day meal. Garlic has also been shown to have a significant impact on reducing hypertension in people with high blood pressure.
Don’t Forget Whole Grains
When consumed in moderation, whole grains are an important part of a healthy diet, and quinoa is a great source of plant protein and fiber. Fiber is particularly important in helping you feel full and aiding with digestion.
To round out your healthy meal, try our Sautéed Quinoa Pilaf. Not only is quinoa rich in fiber and protein, but it’s also a great source of magnesium. Magnesium helps relax blood vessels, prevent headaches, and promote heart health. Quinoa is also naturally gluten-free!
Finish Sweet, But Not Too Sweet
It wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without at least a small sweet treat, but that doesn’t mean you have to go overboard. Instead, try one of our healthy desserts, like Strawberry-Banana Mousse or Frozen Fruit. If your sweet tooth can’t be denied, Health 4Living’s Xylitol CoQ10 chocolates can help support cardiovascular health without any sugar.
Enjoy a Glass of Wine (in Moderation)
It’s generally not recommended to start drinking for the health benefits if you don’t already, but if you're planning to indulge, be strategic! Consider a dry red wine like a cabernet, syrah, or pinot noir to pair with your meal. Red wine contains a phytonutrient known as resveratrol, which appears to help maintain healthy DNA and work as a powerful antioxidant. The drier the red wine, the more beneficial flavonoids it contains.
For more information about resveratrol,
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Remember to Enjoy Yourself!
Holidays can be difficult to navigate, but you don’t have to sacrifice flavor or pleasure to enjoy healthy, satisfying meals. Celebrate your commitment to a longer healthier life, and have a happy Valentine’s Day!