On Valentine’s Day, we all like to treat ourselves to a box of chocolates or something sweet. However, there are great recipes that allow you to stay on track by eating healthy, delicious meals. This year, we recommend the following three-course, nutritious meal you can cook for your Valentine:
Salad Course: Holiday Quinoa Salad
This quinoa salad departs from the traditional iceberg-ranch combination, mixing fluffed quinoa with chopped apples, pomegranate seeds, and cilantro into a refreshing blend. Low in calories and high in protein and dietary fiber, this dish is an easy-to-make, nutritious first course.
Makes 4 servings.
3/4 cup quinoa
3/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, divided
1/2 medium Fuji apple, cored and finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh pomegranate seeds
1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup finely chopped scallions, green and white parts
1/4 cup blood orange juice or orange juice plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Rinse quinoa in strainer; drain well; and place in heavy, medium saucepan.
- Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with wooden spatula until grains stick to bottom of pot and then start to move freely and smell toasty, about 5 minutes.
- When grains of quinoa start to pop, move pot from heat and pour in 1 3/4 cups water, standing back as it will splatter. Immediately return pot to heat and reduce heat to medium.
- Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes or until quinoa is almost tender.
- Off heat, let grain sit covered for 10 minutes.
- Using fork, fluff quinoa and transfer it to mixing bowl. There will be about 2 1/4 cups cooked quinoa.
- Let quinoa sit until it is room temperature. Add apple, pomegranate seeds, cilantro, mint, parsley and scallions to grain, and, using a fork, mix to combine.
- In small bowl, whisk orange juice or two citrus juices with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt until it dissolves. Add 4 to 5 grinds pepper; then whisk in oil.
- Pour dressing over salad, and toss with fork to distribute evenly.
- Serve within 2 hours. The quinoa and dressing parts of this salad can be made up to 8 hours ahead and then covered and refrigerated separately and combined shortly before serving.
Serving size: 1/4 of recipe. Amount per serving: 179 calories, 4g total fat (less than 1g saturated fat), 32g carbohydrates, 5g protein, 3g dietary fiber, 366mg sodium.
Entree Course: Oven-Baked Salmon with Snow Peas
Low in total fat while high in nutrients like protein, vitamin A and B, seafood makes a healthy and appetizing entree. The following salmon recipe, baked with finely chopped leeks, peeled carrots, snow peas and more, will provide a delicious meal you and your Valentine will love.
Makes 4 servings.
3 leeks (white parts only), finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
1/2 pound snow peas (fresh or frozen)
4 salmon fillets (4 ounces each)
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
1 bag baby spinach leaves (6-ounce)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 lemon, cut into quarters (for garnish)
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Tear off 4 large sheets (18 by 12 inches) of heavy-duty aluminum foil, and lay each piece on your workspace.
- Divide the leeks, carrots and snow peas into 4 equal portions, and place a mixture of each onto each sheet of foil.
- Top each mound of vegetables with a piece of salmon.
- Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of ginger on each piece of fish, and drizzle each with 1/2 tablespoon of vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon of sesame oil.
- Fold the foil to form a packet around each piece of fish, leaving enough room for heat to circulate. Roll the edges to seal tightly.
- Place the packets on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
- Meanwhile, place the spinach leaves in a microwave-safe bowl or platter.
- Drizzle the greens with fresh lemon juice and the remaining sesame oil.
- Heat the spinach in the microwave at high power for 3 minutes, checking every minute to make sure the spinach is tender but not overcooked.
- Divide the greens equally among 4 plates.
- When the salmon is cooked, open the packets carefully to allow the steam to escape.
- Empty each packet onto each of the beds of spinach.
- Garnish each plate with a lemon wedge and serve.
Each serving provides an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, magnesium and potassium and is a good source of calcium and dietary fiber.
Serving size: 1/4 recipe. Amount per serving: 256 calories, 7.8g total fat (1.2g saturated fat), 59mg cholesterol, 20g carbohydrates, 27g protein, 5g dietary fiber, 145mg sodium.
Dessert Course: Very Berry Whole-Wheat Bread Pudding
We recommend taking a healthy approach to desserts this Valentine’s Day with a freshly baked, whole-wheat bread pudding. Full of cinnamon, cherries and blueberries, this course provides more dietary fiber than the traditional dish while having the same delicious taste.
Makes 6 Servings.
1 cup frozen or fresh cherries (tart or sweet), pitted
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 ounces fresh whole-wheat bread, cubed (about 3 cups)
3/4 cup low-fat milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
Canola oil cooking spray
1 ounce sliced almonds
1 teaspoon powdered sugar, garnish
- Combine cherries, berries, sugar and cinnamon in mixing bowl.
- Stir well to coat berries; add bread cubes.
- In another bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla and salt.
- Pour egg/milk mixture over berry/bread mixture and stir to coat bread thoroughly.
- Let mixture stand for 15 to 30 minutes to enable ingredients to combine and the bread to soak up the egg mixture.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Spray a 9-inch baking dish.
- Pour pudding mixture into baking dish.
- Bake 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven and evenly distribute almonds over pudding.
- Return to oven and continue baking until pudding starts to set, about 25 to 30 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Garnish with powdered sugar. Serve warm.
Optional fruit sauce topping
1 pound (16-ounce) bag frozen unsweetened mixed berries
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
- Thaw berries; save drained juice and mix with cornstarch.
- Cook berries over medium-low heat for about 3 minutes.
- Add juice mixture to berries and heat until thickened.
- Serve over or alongside pudding.
Serving size: 1/6 of recipe. Amount per serving: 183 calories, 5g total fat (1g saturated fat), 27g carbohydrates, 8g protein, 3.5g dietary fiber, 248mg sodium.
This Valentine’s Day, stay on track and share a nutritious meal with your favorite person. Maintaining your healthy eating, especially through the holidays, can help you reduce risks of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Find more healthy recipes.