6 Valentine’s Day Recipes That Are Good for Your Heart, Too

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February is a month that centers around matters of the heart. The American Heart Association has deemed it as American Heart Month, and the ever-popular love-focused holiday, Valentine’s Day, falls in the middle of the month. A great way to combine both of these heart-themed events is by preparing healthy Valentine’s Day breakfasts, dinners, and desserts. By making dishes that are both delicious and nutritious, you can give your loved ones the gift of heart health this Valentine’s Day.

1. Cocoa-Espresso Waffles

Chocolate waffles | iStock.com

Make sure your loved ones have a special Valentine’s Day by preparing them a decadent cocoa-packed breakfast. Cocoa powder contains antioxidants that keep your blood vessels relaxed, which can lower your blood pressure and help with circulation, according to Web MD. In addition, Prevention notes that the olive oil in these Cocoa-Espresso Waffles contain monounsaturated fat, which can help reduce your bad cholesterol levels.

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups whole-grain pastry flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup 1% milk
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder
  • 3 tablespoons light olive oil
  • 3 egg whites
  • ⅛ tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons dark chocolate chips (optional)
  • Maple syrup

Directions: Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl until combined. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the milk, sugar, espresso powder, and oil. Whisk the ingredients together until blended. Preheat a waffle iron for 4 minutes, or according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Beat the egg whites and salt with an electric mixer at high speed just until they form soft peaks.

Fold the whites into the chocolate batter in 3 additions, folding in the chocolate chips with the last addition of whites. Fold just until the mixture is combined. Coat the heated waffle grids with cooking spray right before using. Add enough batter to almost cover the waffle grids and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Repeat with the remaining batter. Serve with maple syrup and other desired toppings.

2. Smoky Shrimp and Parmesan-Polenta Cakes

Shrimp | iStock.com

Cooking Light’s recipe for Smoky Shrimp and Parmesan-Polenta Cakes delivers a heart-healthy dinner dish that’s filled with fresh seafood flavors. It yields 4 servings. Adding 3 to 6 ounces of seafood, which is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, to your diet each week can reduce your risk of dying from a heart attack by 36%.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
  • 1 (17-ounce) tube polenta, cut into 8 ½-inch slices
  • Cooking spray
  • 8 teaspoons marinara sauce
  • 8 teaspoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions: Preheat broiler. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until done, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in wine, chives, juice, and paprika, tossing to coat. Keep warm. Place polenta slices on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Top each slice with 1 teaspoon sauce and 1 teaspoon cheese; broil 3 minutes or until cheese melts. Place 2 polenta slices on each of the 4 plates; top each serving evenly with shrimp mixture. Sprinkle with parsley.

3. Poblano, Sweet Potato and Apple Stuffed Pork Loin

Stuffed pork loin | iStock.com

This Poblano, Sweet Potato and Apple Stuffed Pork Loin is a moist, juicy, and healthy dish worthy of any Valentine’s Day dinner. Eating Well’s recipe yields 12 servings. For optimal heart health, the American Heart Association recommends cutting down on red meat and eating more lean meats, such as poultry and pork, instead.

Ingredients:

Brine and Pork:

  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 12 ice cubes
  • 1 (3-pound) pork loin, trimmed

Stuffing:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 poblano peppers, finely diced
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 small apple, such as Pink Lady or Gala, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon chipotle chile powder

Rub:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle chile powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. To prepare the brine, place brown sugar, ¼ cup salt, and 1 tablespoon cumin in a heatproof bowl. Pour in boiling water and stir to dissolve. Stir in ice cubes until melted.To butterfly and brine pork, place pork loin on a cutting board. Holding the knife blade flat, so it’s parallel to the board, make a lengthwise cut into the side of the roast just above the center, stopping short of the opposite edge so that the flap remains attached. Rotate the tenderloin 180 degrees. Still holding the knife parallel to the cutting board, make a lengthwise cut into the side opposite the original cut, just below the center, taking care not to cut all the way through. Open up the two cuts so you have a large rectangle of meat.

Cover with plastic wrap and pound to an even thickness of about ½ inch. Place the pork in a sealable gallon-size plastic bag and pour in the brine; turn to coat. Place in a dish and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 4 hours. To prepare the stuffing, about 1 hour before you stuff the pork, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add poblanos, sweet potato, apple, 3 cloves garlic, ½ teaspoon cumin, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon each pepper and chipotle and cook, stirring, until the potato is just tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for about 15 minutes. To rub and roast the pork, line a large baking pan with foil and coat with cooking spray.

Remove the pork from the brine and thoroughly pat dry. Combine 2 tablespoons oil, 2 cloves garlic, cilantro, chipotle, and ½ teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Mix thoroughly, then rub the mixture all over the pork. Spoon the stuffing mixture over the pork, leaving a 1-inch border all around. Roll up from long side to long side and secure in several spots with kitchen string. Transfer to the prepared pan seam-side down and let stand at room temperature while the oven preheats, 15 to 20 minutes. Roast the stuffed pork until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the meat registers 145 degrees, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let rest on a cutting board for 15 minutes. Remove the string and slice the pork into thick rounds.

4. Roasted Salmon With Pesto Vegetables

Salmon and pesto | iStock.com

To ensure you and your loved ones are celebrating a heart-healthy Valentine’s Day, we suggest making Real Simple’s Roasted Salmon with Pesto Vegetables for dinner. The Mayo Clinic states that fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, a type of unsaturated fat that may reduce inflammation that can cause damage to your blood vessels and lead to heart disease.

Ingredients:

  • 2 bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 slices bread, torn
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless salmon fillets
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • ¼ cup pesto

Directions: Heat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the peppers, onion, and bread with the oil. Nestle salmon fillets in the mixture; season with ¾ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Roast until the salmon is opaque throughout and the vegetables are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve topped with the pesto.

5. Mocha Custards

Chocolate Mousse in two white bowls

Chocolate mousse | iStock.com

The cocoa powder in Better Homes and Gardens’ Mocha Custards provides your heart with plenty of health benefits. This dessert dish also contains eggs, which are a good source of protein, iron, vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids. The recipe yields 6 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 2¼ cups milk
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee crystals
  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla
  • Frozen whipped dessert topping, thawed (optional)
  • Coffee beans (optional)

Directions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium saucepan, combine milk, sugar, cocoa powder, and coffee crystals. Cook and stir just until cocoa and coffee are dissolved. In a medium mixing bowl, gradually whisk hot mixture into eggs. Add vanilla. Place six 6-ounce cups in a 3-quart rectangular baking dish. Place on the oven rack. Pour egg mixture into the custard cups.

Carefully pour boiling water around the custard cups into the baking dish to a depth of about 1 inch. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Remove the custard cups from baking dish. Cool to room temperature. Chill in the refrigerator 2 to 24 hours. If desired, top with dessert topping and coffee beans.

6. Vegan Cherry Chocolate Cake

Chocolate cake | iStock.com

End Valentine’s Day on a sweet note by preparing Cookie and Kate’s Vegan Cherry Chocolate Cake. This dessert dish, which was adapted from Moosewood Restaurant, is packed with healthy ingredients such as coconut oil. According to Authority Nutrition, coconut oil increases the HDL (good) cholesterol in the blood and may lower your risk for heart disease.

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups whole-wheat pastry flour
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 scant cup raw sugar
  • ½ cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 cup coffee
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1¼ pounds dark cherries

Chocolate Icing:

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons hot water
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Pit the cherries. Line the bottom of your pan with parchment paper. Whisk together the flour, cocoa, soda, salt, and sugar directly into the cake pan. In a measuring cup, measure and mix together the oil, cold coffee, almond extract, and vanilla extract. Pour the liquid ingredients into the baking pan and mix the batter with a fork or a small whisk until it is smooth. Add the vinegar and stir quickly.

Stir just until the vinegar is evenly distributed throughout the batter. Mix in your cherries with minimal stirring. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool. For the icing, microwave the chocolate chips in 20-second intervals, stirring after each. Thin the chocolate with a little bit of hot water, and mix in ½ teaspoon vanilla extract. When cake is cool, spread icing on top.

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