Food Porn Friday – A Heart-Healthy Valentine’s Day Meal

(Image via todayifoundout.com)

February, the month of love. And what better way to show your love than by making a heart-healthy meal. I’ve picked a variety of recipes from the Heart and Stroke Foundation to help you plan a Valentine’s Day meal. I’ve also included some information to help you have a healthier life.

When it comes to preparing healthy meals, most of us know what to do. We’ve heard the tips enough times that we probably stop listening or reading them. But for those who would like to know, or for those who would like a reminder, here is a list of the top 10 tips for heart-smart eating and by clicking here, you will find a more detailed explanation of the various tips.

  1. Cook heart-smart
  2. Choose whole grains
  3. Nix trans fat
  4. Control your portions
  5. Cut back on sodium
  6. Max out vegetables and fruit
  7. Eat more beans
  8. Cook from scratch
  9. Drink skim milk
  10. Enjoy fish more often

Do you know if you are at risk for heart disease or a stroke? To get a better idea, take this risk assessment. It says it takes about 10 minutes to do but I took it and it only took a few minutes to answer the questions.

And now for the some delicious meal suggestions. The recipe page has recipes for each meal of the day as well as vegetarian, kid-friendly and around the world favourites. I’ve picked some that I hope will inspire you to make a heart-healthy meal for you and the ones you love. Enjoy.

Hearty Tuscan soup

  • 15 mL (1 tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 10 mL (2 tsp) dried oregano leaves
  • 5 mL (1 tsp) dried basil leaves
  • 2 mL (1/2 tsp) hot pepper flakes
  • 125 mL (1/2 cup) brown rice
  • 1 can (796 mL/28 oz) no salt added stewed tomatoes
  • 750 mL (3 cups) sodium reduced chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 can (540 mL/19 oz) mixed beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 pkg (300 g/10 oz) frozen chopped spinach

Directions

  1. In soup pot, heat oil over medium heat and cook onion, carrots, celery, garlic, oregano, basil and hot pepper flakes for about 10 minutes or until softened. Stir in rice to coat.
  2. Add tomatoes, broth, beans and spinach; bring to boil. Cover and simmer for about 40 minutes or until rice is tender.
  3. Slow cooker variation: Combine all the ingredients in slow cooker and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours.
  4. Frozen vegetable option: Omit spinach and add 500 mL (2 cups) frozen mixed vegetables.

Warm wild rice and vegetable salad

  • 125 mL (1/2 cup) wild rice
  • 500 mL (2 cups) no-salt-added chicken or vegetable broth
  • 250 mL (1 cup) water
  • 250 mL (1 cup) wholegrain brown rice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 15 mL (1 tbsp) chopped fresh thyme or 5 mL (1 tsp) dried thyme leaves
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 45 mL (3 tbsp) each chopped fresh coriander and mint
  • 25 mL (2 tbsp) sodium reduced soy sauce

Directions

  1. In saucepan, bring wild rice, water and broth to boil. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. Add brown rice, garlic and thyme; stir and cover and simmer for about 25 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Fluff with fork and set aside.
  3. In large bowl, combine green onions, carrot, celery and pepper. Add rice mixture and gently stir to combine.
  4. Add coriander, mint and soy sauce; stir until well coated.

Variation: substitute 80 mL (1/3 cup) diced red onion for the green onions.

Oven-roasted asparagus

  • 24 asparagus stalks, trimmed
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) grated lemon rind
  • 1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to broil at the highest temperature. Set the oven rack to the second highest setting. Line a baking sheet with tin foil. Place asparagus in a row on the baking sheet.
  2. In a small bowl mix the rest of the ingredients together. Brush the mixture over the asparagus.
  3. Cook for 10 minutes, or until desired tenderness is achieved.

Roasted lemon and rosemary potatoes

  • 750 g (1 1/2 lbs) mini red potatoes
  • 50 mL (1/4 cup) no salt added chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 15 mL (1 tbsp) chopped fresh rosemary or 5 mL (1 tsp) dried rosemary, crushed
  • 10 mL (2 tsp) grated lemon rind
  • 25 mL (2 tbsp) lemon juice
  • 2 mL (1/2 tsp) paprika
  • 1 mL (1/4 tsp) freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 mL (2 tsp) extra virgin olive oil

Directions

  1. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise and place in large bowl.
  2. Add broth, garlic, rosemary, lemon rind and juice, paprika and pepper; toss to coat well.
  3. Spread into parchment paper lined roasting pan and roast in 220 F (425 F) oven for 45 minutes.
  4. Stir in oil and roast for about 15 minutes or until golden brown and tender.

Honey garlic roast pork

  • 2 Kg (4 lb) boneless pork loin roast

Marinade

  • 25 mL (2 tbsp) sodium-reduced soy sauce
  • 25 mL (2 tbsp) sherry
  • 25 mL (2 tbsp) liquid honey
  • 25 mL (2 tbsp) minced gingerroot
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Directions

  1. Combine soy sauce, sherry, honey, gingerroot and garlic.
  2. Trim any visible fat from meat. Place roast in large plastic bag and pour marinade over. Tie bag shut and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, rotating bag occasionally.
  3. Remove roast from bag. Reserving marinade but leave as much ginger and garlic bits as possible clinging to roast.
  4. Set roast on rack in roasting pan. Roast, uncovered and basting occasionally with marinade, in 160°C (325°F) oven for 2 hours or until meat thermometer registers 70°C (160°F).
  5. Let stand for 15 minutes before carving. Trim the fat off before serving.

Make ahead tip:

Marinate pork in refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Kale and lemon chicken en papillote

  • 250 mL (1 cup) water
  • 1 L (4 cups) chopped fresh kale leaves, ribs removed
  • 10 mL (2 tsp) canola oil
  • Half red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 mL (1 tsp) grated lemon rind
  • 30 mL (2 tbsp) lemon juice
  • 45 mL (3 tbsp) finely crumbled feta cheese
  • 30 mL (2 tbsp) chopped fresh dill or 10 mL (2 tsp) dried dill weed
  • 4 small boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 500 g/1 lb)

Directions

  1. In large nonstick skillet bring water and kale to boil. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until wilted and bright green. Drain well and return to skillet.
  2. Add oil, pepper and garlic and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until pepper is tender crisp. Stir in lemon rind and juice; set aside.
  3. In small bowl, mash together feta and dill; set aside.
  4. Using chef’s knife cut chicken in half horizontally almost all the way through. Open it like a book and press down gently to flatten and make it more even. Fill each centre with some of the kale mixture and place each stuffed chicken breast onto 4 large pieces of parchment or foil. Sprinkle each chicken breast with feta mixture.
  5. Fold parchment paper over and fold up edges to form a seal. Place on large baking sheet and roast in 220°C (425°F) oven for 20 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Let stand 2 minutes before serving.

Tip: Kale has firm, tough ribs or stems so be sure to remove them before chopping the tender leaves for this recipe.

Cinnamon coffee cake

  • 250 mL (1 cup) low-fat plain yogurt
  • 5 mL (1 tsp) baking soda
  • 50 mL (1⁄4 cup) soft margarine
  • 250 mL (1 cup) lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 5 mL 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 375 mL (1 1⁄2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 10 mL (2 tsp) baking powder

Topping

  • 125 mL (1⁄2 cup) lightly packed brown sugar
  • 15 mL (1 tbsp) cinnamon

Directions

  1. In small bowl, combine yogurt and baking soda, mixing well; set aside. (Mixture will increase in volume.)
  2. In large mixing bowl, beat margarine with sugar until well mixed.
  3. Add egg and vanilla; beat well, about 2 minutes.
  4. Mix flour and baking powder; add to margarine mixture alternately with yogurt mixture, making 3 additions of dry and 2 of wet.
  5. Spread half the batter in greased and floured 2.5L (9-inch) square cake pan.
  6. Topping: Combine sugar and cinnamon, mixing well. Sprinkle half over batter in pan. Cover with remaining batter. Sprinkle with remaining topping.
  7. Bake in 180°C (350°F) oven for 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean.
  8. Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes in pan.
  9. Cut into squares.

MAKE AHEAD: Wrap in foil or plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 1 month.

Pumpkin banana spiced custard

  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup (250 ml) canned pure pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) mashed banana, about 1 medium banana
  • 1 cup (250 mL) evaporated skim milk
  • ¼ cup (50 mL) packed brown sugar
  • ½ tsp (2 ml) ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp (1 mL) ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) allspice
  • 6 walnut halves

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325º F (160º C).
  2. Place 6 1 cup (250 mL) ramekins in a glass 13 x 9 inch (3.5 L) baking dish.
  3. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except the walnut halves. Pour custard into ramekins. Pour boiling water around the ramekins in the baking dish to a depth of 1 inch (2.5 cm). Place 1 walnut half in the centre of each custard.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve warm.

Hot mulled tea

  • 2 tea bags (black tea, rooibos, green tea or decaffeinated herbal berry tea)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1 whole star anise
  • ½ vanilla pod (optional)
  • 4 cups (1 L) boiling water, plus more for warming the tea pot.

Directions

  1. Place a small amount of boiling water in the tea pot to warm it up. Discard.
  2. Add tea bags, cinnamon, cloves and star anise to the tea pot and add the 4 cups (1 L) of boiling water.
  3. Let steep for 3 to 5 minutes and remove the teabags. Let steep for 2 minutes longer and serve immediately.

Spiced hot chocolate

  • 4 cups (1 L) skim milk
  • 4 tbsp (60 mL) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 tbsp (60 mL) sugar
  • ¼ tsp (1 mL) cinnamonFor garnish:
    • 4 cinnamon sticks
    • ½ oz (15 g) at least 50% dark chocolate

Directions

  1. Warm milk over medium-low heat. Whisk in cocoa powder, sugar and cinnamon. Heat until hot but do not boil.
  2. Divide into four mugs and serve with the cinnamon stir stick (optional).
  3. To make the garnish: Heat the chocolate in a small microwavable bowl. Dip one end of each cinnamon stick into the chocolate and place on a wax paper lined plate. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes. Use the cinnamon stick for stirring.

2 comments

  1. some of these look really good. Not what I think of for Valentines day…but perhaps I’m not that healthy…hahaha I do try.

    I was thrilled today when i found out Stuart made reservations at my favorite restaurant for V-Day…Blu a local seafood restaurant. I love crab legs, and broiled or grilled fish…and they use local veggies and grow their own herbs! how cool is that.

    but alas I found out today I am having an LP on Monday, so no sitting in a restaurant for me. Perhaps take out! Please oh please…I really want crab legs! I may just pout!

    may try a couple of these recipes…with some adaptation of course. : )

    Cheers
    w

    1. Oh, come on…I put a hot chocolate drink in there for the obligatory Valentine’s Day chocolate. ;) That’s also why I did the cheesecake post.

      Hope Monday goes well. I’ll be thinking of you.

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