The month of February is National Heart Month, and a great time to remember your special someone, too. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, here are some recipes that are as good for you as they are romantic. Try these delicious recipes all month long or, if you are preparing a special dinner on the 14th, they would make a wonderful menu that’s sure to please.
Appetizer: Artichoke Dip
Why it’s good for the heart: Contains garlic. This aphrodisiac plays hard to get, but the heart is worth it! Known to improve blood circulation, good for the heart, and other parts of the body!
8 oz. can of Artichoke hearts, drained
8 oz. pkg. of fat free Cream Cheese
¼ Cup fat free Mayonnaise
¼ Cup fat free Parmesan Cheese, grated
½ Cup fat free Ricotta Cheese
½ Cup fat free Sour Cream
1/8 tsp. NutriFit Calypso Salt Free Spice Blend
2 Tbsp. Onion, grated
1 whole round bread for presentation
Note: For each teaspoon of the Calypso Spice Blend, you may substitute: 1/2 tsp. ground chilies, 1/4 tsp. ground cumin, 1/8 tsp. black pepper and 1/8 tsp. garlic powder.
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
2. Drain the artichoke hearts, discarding the liquid. In the work bowl of a food processor, coarsely chop the artichoke hearts. Add the onion (if desired), process with 3 more short bursts. Add the remaining ingredients, process with short bursts just until blended, being careful not to over-process.
3. Hollow out the center of the bread, reserving the core for bread crumbs or another use. Fill center of bread with dip, and bake, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until dip is hot.
Salad: Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil Salad
Why it’s good for the heart: Contains tomatoes rich in Vitamin C; and basil, thought to stimulate the sex drive with its alluring scent.
¼ tsp. Dry Mustard
1 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
6 oz. fresh Mozzarella Cheese
9 fresh Basil Leaves, washed, dried and stemmed
¼ Cup fresh Italian Parsley, finely chopped
Fresh ground Black Pepper, to taste
1 Clove Garlic, minced
4 Italian Plum Tomatoes
2 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
1/8 tsp. Salt
1. For dressing, combine vinegar, garlic, salt, mustard, and pepper in small bowl. Add oil in slow steady stream, whisking until oil is thoroughly blended.
2. Slice tomatoes and cheese into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Trim cheese slices to size of tomato slices.
3. Place tomato and cheese slices in large shallow bowl or glass baking dish. Pour dressing over slices. Marinate, covered, in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to 3 hours, turning slices occasionally.
4. Layer basil leaves with largest leaf on bottom, then roll up jelly-roll fashion. Slice basil, roll into 1/4-inch-thick slices; separate into strips.
5. Arrange tomato and cheese slices alternately on serving plate or 4 individual salad plates. Sprinkle with basil strips; drizzle with remaining dressing.
Entrée One: Balsamic Broiled Salmon
Why it’s good for the heart: Salmon is high in omega 3 fatty acids and B6; and the honey, which has been connect with love and sex since Hippocrates prescribed it for vigor in the 5th century BC.
4 4oz. Salmon Fillets (1/2” thick)
3 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
½ tsp. Canola Oil
1½ Tbsp. Honey
1. Combine the vinegar, honey, and oil in a small bowl; stir well, set aside.
2. Place the salmon fillets in a baking pan sprayed with extra virgin olive oil cooking spray. Drizzle the salmon with half the vinegar mixture. Broil about 6 inches below heat, brushing several times with remaining vinegar mixture, until just opaque but still moist in thickest part; cut to test (8 to 10 minutes).
Entrée Two: Asparagus Chicken with Ginger & Oyster Sauce
Why it’s good for the heart: Asparagus, known for it’s phallic symbol properties, is also loaded with potassium, calcium and Vitamin E. Doubly potent with ginger and garlic, this dish is a sure fire-starter.
1 1/3 lb. boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 tsp. Canola Oil, divided
5 tsp. Cornstarch, divided
1 Tbsp. Dry Sherry
½ Cup fat free, reduced sodium Chicken Broth
1 lb. fresh Asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1” pieces
1 tsp. Ginger, peeled and minced
1 Clove Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. Oyster Sauce
4 tsp. reduced sodium Soy Sauce, divided
1 tsp. Sesame Oil
2 Tbsp. Water
1 Medium Yellow Onion, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
Fresh Cilantro leaves for garnish
1. Combine 2 teaspoons cornstarch, 2 teaspoons soy sauce, sherry, minced ginger, and sesame oil in large bowl; mix well. Add the chicken; stir to coat well. Let stand for 30 minutes.
2. Combine the remaining 3 teaspoons of cornstarch, remaining 2 teaspoons of soy sauce, chicken broth, and oyster sauce in small bowl; mix well. Set aside.
3. Heat 2 teaspoons canola oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add the chicken mixture; stir-fry until chicken is no longer pink in the center, about 3 minutes. Remove from wok; set aside.
4. Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil in the wok. Add onion and asparagus; stir-fry 30 seconds. Add water; cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until asparagus is crisp-tender, about 2 minutes.
5. Return the chicken to the wok. Stir the chicken broth mixture; add to the wok with chicken and vegetable mixture. Cook until the sauce boils and thickens, stirring constantly. Garnish, if desired.
Side Dish: Avocado-Corn Salsa
Why it’s good for the heart: Loaded with antioxidants, rich in omega 3 fatty acids and spiced with chilies – eating peppers gets the heart pumping.
2 Avocados, seeded, peeled and diced
2 Cups frozen Corn kernels, thawed
3 Tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
3 Tbsp. Lime Juice
1 Tbsp. Cilantro, finely chopped
½ tsp. green Chile Pepper, seeded and diced
½ tsp. Sea Salt
½ tsp. NutriFit Calypso Salt Free Spice Blend
Note – For each teaspoon of the Calypso Spice Blend, you may substitute: 1/2 tsp. ground chilies, 1/4 tsp. ground cumin, 1/8 tsp. black pepper and 1/8 tsp. garlic powder.
1. In a medium bowl, gently combine avocado, corn kernels, tomatoes, lime juice, cilantro, chili peppers, Calypso blend and salt.
2. Refrigerate until ready to be served.
Desert One: Strawberries Italiano
Why it’s good for the heart: Strawberries are high in Vitamin C and fiber – they fit perfectly between the lips and are a romantic addition to any Valentine’s Day meal.
3 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
1 Quart fresh Strawberries
Pinch of ground Cloves
1/3 Cup Pine Nuts
1 Pint nonfat Vanilla Yogurt
4 Tbsp. Sugar
1. Wash berries, remove hulls and slice. Place in bowl. Mix vinegar and 3 tbsp. of the sugar. Pour over strawberries. Let sit 30 minutes.
2. In a heavy small skillet, over medium-low heat, cook the pine nuts, remaining sugar and ground cloves. Stir constantly. Cook until the pine nuts are golden and the sugar has melted.
3. Scoop yogurt into four bowls. Add strawberries. Garnish with pine nuts.
Desert Two: Chocolate Spice Cake
Why it’s good for the heart: Now being heralded for favorable flavanols, chocoholics can rejoice – chocolate is high in Vitamin A and adds a little sugar and spice to the fourth course! This natural amphetamine stimulates the system in so many ways – it’s a tried and true staple for lovers.
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/3 Cup mini Chocolate Chips
½ Cup trans-fat free, lite stick Margarine
¼ Cup fat free Egg Substitute
1 tsp. ground Cinnamon
½ tsp. ground Cloves
1 Cup reduced fat Buttermilk
1 Cup Sugar
2 Cups unbleached all purpose Flour
Vegetable Cooking Spray
1. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Lightly spray a 9 x 13″ sheet pan.
2. Combine the flour, margarine, and sugar in a bowl. Rub the mixture together with your hands, or cut in the margarine with a pastry blender, until the mixture is crumb-like. Add the baking soda, cinnamon, and cloves and mix gently.
3. Add the chocolate chips, egg substitute, and buttermilk. Gently stir the cake batter with a fork to incorporate the liquid. Do not overmix.
4. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake until the cake springs back gently to touch, about 20 minutes.
Tip: Cook Spice Cake in a heart-shaped mold and cover with Chocolate Chip Fondue!