Healthy Living Blog

Valentine Foods That Love You, Too!

Tina Miller, MS RDN, Meijer Healthy Living Advisor, www.Meijer.com/ahealthieryou

 

Enjoy foods of love this Valentine’s day that will love your heart too!  Traditional Valentine’s Day foods that offer heart healthy benefits include:

  • Dark Chocolate: Antioxidant compounds in cocoa aid in reducing stress and act as anti-inflammatory agents.  Those who consume modest amounts of dark chocolate (1-2 oz. / day) are less likely to develop heart disease, strokes and hypertension.
  • Almonds: Packed with B Vitamins and other nutrients that neutralize harmful oxidative compounds which can harm arteries and other tissues in your body.  Enjoy an ounce of almonds (about 18) every day.
  • Lean Beef: Loin and Round cuts of beef are an excellent source of protein, zinc and iron, with lower levels of saturated fat – all important nutrients for heart health.  Enjoy lean meats a few times each week, including a yummy grilled sirloin steak on Valentine’s Day.
  • Avocado: Creamy and delicious, the avocado provides 20 different nutrients, including healthy monounsaturated fat which helps lower cholesterol.  The Avocado has had a serving size makeover, increased to 1/3 an avocado (up from 1/5) which provides about 80 calories and 7g fat (mostly healthy monounsaturated fat.)
  • Berries: Enjoy berries every day to reduce your risk for heart attack. Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, cranberries, all berries provide fiber and important nutrients that promote heart health, including healthy blood pressure.

If you’re looking to give a sweet treat to your loved one this Valentine’s Day, try making something at home as a welcome alternative to the standard heart-shaped box of chocolates. Try these simple chocolate-inspired recipes to try at home this year:

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

  • 4 oz. white chocolate
  • 4 oz. dark chocolate
  • 12 dipping strawberries with long stems
  1. Place parchment or wax paper on a baking pan.
  2. In separate bowls, melt each chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir; then let melt for another 15 to 30 seconds. Stir until smooth. Dip clean and dry strawberries in chocolate(s), using decorative design or drizzle patterns, as desired.
  3. Carefully set coated berries on the prepared pan. Refrigerate a few minutes until hard. Store berries in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Nutrition information per berry: 102 calories, 6g fat, 1mg cholesterol, 13g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 10mg sodium, 1g protein

Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

Heart Healthy Substitutions: These vanilla-infused cupcakes are made with applesauce as a fat-replacement for butter, and Greek yogurt is a delicious substitute for frosting.

  • 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 whole vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ cup low-fat evaporated milk, divided

Yogurt-Chocolate Frosting

1/2 cup Chobani Low-Fat Greek Yogurt
1/2 cup Semi-sweet chocolate chips

Sprinkles for decoration

  1. To prepare cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 12 (1/2-cup) muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. Whisk whole-wheat flour, cake flour, baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl.
  3. Beat granulated sugar and oil in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Scrape the black paste out of the vanilla bean into the sugar mixture. Add applesauce, egg, egg yolk and vanilla extract and beat until well combined. With the mixer on low, alternately mix in the dry ingredients and 1/2 cup evaporated milk, starting and ending with dry ingredients and scraping the sides of the bowl as needed, until just combined. Divide the batter among the prepared cups (they will be full).
  4. Bake the cupcakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
  5. To prepare frosting: Measure yogurt and let come to room temperature. Melt chocolate in double boiler or in microwave. Cool chocolate to room temperature. Fold in yogurt, 1/4 cup at a time, until the mixture is smooth. Frost cupcakes and enjoy!

Source: Adapted from Eatingwell.com