February is the month for Valentine’s Cards, flowers and boxes of chocolate, and it is also American Heart Month, sponsored by the American Heart Association (AHA). Admittedly, it’s kind of tough to watch your weight with a big box of chocolates staring you in the face. Finding foods that taste great and are low in fat, sugar and calories can be challenging. Instead of celebrating Valentine’s with high fat, sugary foods, here are some delicious healthy alternatives to serve your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day, or any other day of the week. A broth based soup is the perfect way to start a meal. Not only does it fill you up, helping you to eat less of the rest of the meal, it can be a nutritional cornucopia. You’ll love this recipe from a new cookbook out by TV actress, Deidre Hall, called Kitchen Close-up (http://www.deidrehall.me/book.html). It’s delicious (really!), and it is very easy to make. Serve it in a white soup bowl for Valentine’s and it goes perfectly with the color theme of the day.
Red Pepper Soup
1 yellow onion 2-3 large red or orange peppers, cut into chunks 1 clove garlic 1 c. or more chicken or vegetable broth 1/2 Carrots or zucchini chunks, optional 1 tsp olive oil salt Cook the vegetable chunks in the broth until tender, then transfer to blender. Blend with other ingredients and season to taste. For the second course, consider a nice piece of salmon, rich in omega-3 fatty acids which prevents the blood from forming clots. Here is a 5 star recipe from Ina Garten for the Food Network. If there is snow covering your barbeque grill, don’t be deterred, just use your oven broiler or pan fry with a little olive oil. Serve with brown rice and Swiss chard and onions, sautéed in a little olive oil and minced garlic.
Asian Grilled Salmon
1 side fresh salmon, boned but skin on (about 3 pounds) 2 TBSP Dijon mustard 3 TBSP soy sauce 6 TBSP good olive oil 1/2 tsp minced garlic Light charcoal briquettes in a grill and brush the grilling rack with oil to keep the salmon from sticking. While the grill is heating, lay the salmon skin side down on a cutting board and cut it crosswise into 4 equal pieces. Whisk together the mustard, soy sauce, olive oil, and garlic in a small bowl. Drizzle half of the marinade onto the salmon and allow it to sit for 10 minutes. Place the salmon skin side down on the hot grill; discard the marinade the fish was sitting in. Grill for 4-5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Turn carefully with a wide spatula and grill for another 4-5 minutes. The salmon will be slightly raw in the center, but don’t worry; it will keep cooking as it sits. Transfer the fish to a flat plate, skin side down, and spoon the reserved marinade on top. Allow the fish to rest for 10 minutes. Remove the skin and serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.
Finish off your heart healthy meal with a piece of really great dark chocolate, or melt some good quality dark chocolate (60-70 percent cocoa solids) and drizzle over strawberries, sliced banana and orange segments. Sprinkle with slivered almonds, another heart healthy food, if desired. (Shown as the featured image)
Not only have you prepared and eaten a meal that is good for your heart, but it is visually tantalizing and delicious. Enjoy!