Celebrate National Heart Day and Valentine's Day with these three delicious recipes.
Valentine’s Day is a special time to celebrate and show your love, but it doesn’t have to be filled with unhealthy treats. This February, why not celebrate National Heart Health Month and show your sweetheart that you care about them by preparing a heart-healthy recipe?
Cooking at home can be an enjoyable way to spend quality time together while creating delicious foods and sweet memories. To make this Valentine's Day even more special, we've put together some of our favorite heart-healthy recipes that are sure to impress!
Curated with care by the Sesame team, these healthy dishes will ensure love at first bite.
Recipe 1: Citrusy Beet and Brussels Sprout Salad
This colorful salad is delicious on its own or as a starter for a romantic Valentine’s day course. The juicy burst of grapefruit, the earthy sweetness of the beets, and the crunch of the Brussels sprouts are a match made in heaven. It’s crisp, tangy and filled with a plethora of heart-healthy ingredients:
- Ruby grapefruits: Grapefruits are rich in vitamin A, flavenoids (plant compounds that studies show can reduce your risk of heart disease) and fiber (which can reduce inflammation and ease high blood pressure). High blood pressure can reduce blood flow and oxygen to your heart, which can cause heart disease, making grapefruit a healthy addition to your diet.
- Beets: Beets contain nitrates, which are converted to nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide helps to open blood vessels, which can relieve high blood pressure.
- Brussels sprouts: These veggies have been shown to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, a disease caused by fat, cholesterol and other substances in the artery walls. Diseased arteries can be extremely dangerous to your cardiovascular health, so Brussels sprouts are your friend when it comes to protecting your heart.
Prep time: 1hr 20 minutes
- 6 medium beets
- 24 oz raw brussels sprouts
- 1 ruby red grapefruit, peeled and segmented
- 2-3 oz of crumbled goat cheese
- ⅔ cup roughly chopped candied pecans (these can be subbed for almonds, walnuts or another crunchy topping of your choice)
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons dijon mustard or grainy mustard
- 1.5 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Wash and trim your beets. Dry them and wrap them in aluminum foil (place two beets on each piece of foil so that there are three packets in total). Drizzle beets with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, and then seal the foil packets tightly and place them on a baking sheet. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until beets are tender, then remove from foil and allow to cool. Once cooled, you should be able to peel the skins from the beets. Set aside.
- While beets are baking, prep your brussels sprouts. Use a sharp knife to cut away the ends, and then use a food processor, knife or mandolin to thinly slice around the core of the sprouts. Discard the cores and place the Brussels sprouts in a large bowl.
- Cube your beets (about 1/3 to 1/2") and sprinkle into the bowl on top of the brussels sprouts.
- In a separate bowl, make your dressing. Combine olive oil, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, maple syrup, garlic, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Whisk and adjust to taste. Pour over the salad and toss well to coat. When ready to serve, assemble your grapefruit segments on top of the salad and sprinkle with goat cheese crumbles and chopped pecans. Enjoy!
Recipe 2: Lemon Zest + Tomato Pappardelle
This fragrant pasta dish is the perfect entree for a romantic dinner - the sauce will fill your kitchen with the aroma of fresh lemon and oregano as it simmers, and it also contains two key heart-healthy ingredients: tomatoes and garlic.
- Tomatoes: Tomatoes contain an antioxidant called lycopene, which can help lower the risk of heart attack by lowering bad cholesterol (LDL-cholesterol) and inhibiting cholesterol synthesis in the body. Studies have also shown that lycopene may protect your cells from being harmed by free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can cause aging, disease and even cancer.
- Garlic: Garlic has been shown to prevent cell damage, regulate cholesterol and lower blood pressure by reducing fat buildup in the arteries, which can also protect against atherosclerosis.
Prep time: 30 minutes
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, whole
- 4 tsp tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons of finely grated lemon zest
- 1/3 cup red wine such as a Cabernet or Merlot (optional)
- 2 ½ cups of canned crushed tomatoes (avoid brands with added sugars)
- ½ tbsp freshly chopped basil
- 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon freshly chopped oregano
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 10-oz package of pappardelle pasta
- Put a large pot of water on to boil for pasta.
- In the meantime, add olive oil and garlic cloves to a large skillet and heat over low heat. Toast the garlic in the oil for about 15 minutes, or until it begins to turn brown (be sure to avoid charring or burning the garlic, which can cause it to taste bitter). Remove garlic from the pan and mash with a fork in a separate bowl. Set aside.
- Add lemon zest to the oil and increase the heat to medium. Stir until fragrant, about 1 minute, and then add tomato paste, stirring for 3 minutes or until paste has darkened.
- Add the smashed garlic cloves, wine (optional), tomatoes, chopped basil, sugar, salt, pepper, and oregano to the tomato paste mixture. Stir until well-combined, about 2 minutes.
- Turn off heat and season to taste with more salt or pepper.
- Once water is boiling, add pasta and cook according to packaging instructions.
- Add pasta to the skillet with sauce, mix, and serve garnished with basil leaves. Enjoy!
Recipe 3: Chocolate Antioxidant Bites
These sweet bites are perfect for sharing with a loved one on Valentine’s Day. The tartness of the berries combined with the sweetness of the chocolate will make you forget that these bites are full of powerful antioxidants and other heart-healthy ingredients:
- Raspberries: Research suggests that eating raspberries may help lower cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation, improve circulation and decrease your risk for a heart attack or stroke. The powerful antioxidants found in raspberries also help protect against oxidative stress and cell damage, which further reduces the risks associated with cardiovascular disease.
- Pomegranate seeds: Pomegranates contain polyphenols, anthocyanins and tannins, which have been proven to reduce cholesterol levels and help protect against atherosclerosis. Studies have also linked pomegranate consumption to improved blood pressure and circulation. Pomegranates are also a great source of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which all contribute to better overall heart health.
- Dark chocolate: Dark chocolate contains polyphenols and flavonoids, which have both been linked to lower blood pressure and improved circulation. The cocoa content of dark chocolate can also help reduce ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease (that said, it is important to remember that all forms of chocolate contain saturated fat, so it’s best to enjoy it in moderation).
Prep time: 15 minutes, plus 1 hour of refrigeration time
- 16 ounces (2 cups) coarsely chopped dark chocolate or dark chocolate chips
- 1 pint fresh raspberries, washed and dried
- Seeds from 1 pomegranate (about 1 ¾-2 cups)
- 1 tablespoon of flaky sea salt, for sprinkling
- Spray a mini muffin tin with cooking spray (coconut or canola oil are good options for this)
- In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate, stopping every 30 seconds or so to stir until fully melted.
- Spoon a teaspoon of chocolate into each mini muffin tin, then add 2-3 raspberries and a spoonful of pomegranate seeds. Top with another spoonful of melted chocolate. Continue until the muffin tin is filled. If you have excess berries and chocolate, you can continue layering until they’re used up
- Sprinkle the bites lightly with flaked sea salt and refrigerate until the chocolate is firm, about an hour
- When ready to serve, remove the bites from the muffin tin with a knife and serve immediately.
- If you end up with extras, freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Enjoy!