Say “I Love You” with a Healthy Valentine’s Day Dinner
Make a simple, healthy dinner this Valentine’s Day
An easy, healthy make-ahead meal to serve your diet-conscious sweetie.
Start with a plate of chilled oysters. They’re scientifically proven to be an aphrodisiac, plus they’re low in calories (half a dozen medium raw oysters are about 45 calories) and high in protein. Serve with a simple mignonette.
Move on to the main course.Sausage, onions, and leeks can roast while you enjoy the aphrodisiacal appetizers. Win, win, win.
Serve with mashed cauliflower. A hearty meal deserves a hearty side. Take the lighter road and use cauliflower in place of starchy potatoes. They taste delicious and won’t leave you feeling bloated and lethargic. Mix in some chopped fresh herbs like thyme and some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano if you’re feeling crazy.
End on a sweet note. Chocolate-dipped strawberries are a staple at Valentine’s Day for good reason: they’re delicious, they’re pretty, and they’re really, really hard to mess up. Dark chocolate and strawberries are both proven aphrodisiacs.
Julie Ruggirello is the Recipe Editor at The Daily Meal and thinks there’s nothing less romantic than Valentine’s Day prix fixe meals. Stay home and do some sexy cooking. Follow her on Twitter @TDMRecipeEditor.
Make This For Dessert!
Flourless Chocolate Cake
Finish off your meal with this incredibly rich & delicious FLOURLESS cake by Also The Crumbs Please. You’ll need only 7 ingredients to make it – no flour or gluten needed.
If you are new to baking, Sabine provides a recipe video and step-by-step photos to ensure your cake is a success!
Chocolate Mousse Cake
This Impressive cake by Also The Crumbs Please is layered with creamy chocolate mousse and soft chocolate ganache. A rich dessert that will “wow” your loved ones in looks and in taste!
Katie's Healthy Bites: Sensual Valentine's Day Dishes
Valentine’s Day is here! For me, this means chocolates and romantic dinners, but that can also mean indulging in too many calories and fat. Fortunately, you don't have to skimp on decadence tonight. Here, I've reworked a traditional Valentine's Day meal, featuring a bison steak and comforting sides, to make easier on the waistline and pleasing to your palate.
Added bonus: These recipes contain some noted aphrodisiacs to help rev up the romance.
The veggies in this seasonal winter salad are packed with fiber and antioxidants like vitamin C to drive away colds, but the fennel may bring your sweetie closer: ancient Egyptians touted it as a mega libido enhancer. Arugula and figs are also noted aphrodisiacs from the olden days.
• 1/4 large fennel bulb, quartered lengthwise, cored and thinly sliced crosswise
Whisk minced shallots, Dijon, olive oil, balsamic and lemon juice in a medium bowl to blend. Season this dressing mixture with salt and pepper, to taste.
Cut, peel and remove the white pith from the oranges. Using a small, sharp knife, cut between the orange's membranes to release segments.
Combine arugula and fennel in a large bowl. Toss with enough dressing to coat. Add orange segments, figs and goat cheese toss to combine.
Calories: 175.6 Fat: 2.5 grams Saturated Fat: 2.5 grams Protein: 5.5 grams Carbohydrates:, 19.3 grams Cholesterol: 5.6 milligrams Sodium: 4.7 grams Fiber: 4.7 grams
Bison is a heart-smart alternative to beef because it contains less saturated fat. Meanwhile, the added mustard, a noted aphrodisiac, may boost some other body parts!
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place beef on a broiler pan or in a baking dish and season with salt and pepper. Spread the mustard evenly over beef. Combine the herbs and coat the beef evenly with the mixture.
Bake at 400°F for 30 minutes or until an inserted meat thermometer registers at 145°F (this is medium-rare) or your desired degree of doneness.
Transfer the beef to a cutting board. Cover with foil and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
Calories: 218 Fat: 2.8 grams Saturated Fat: 1 gram Protein: 33 grams Carbohydrates: 13 grams Cholesterol: 88 milligrams Sodium: 262 milligrams Fiber: 1 gram
You won’t miss the fatty butter and whole milk in these light-and-creamy mashers, I promise. Truffles sport a musky scent that some say stimulates desire -- either way, your mouth will water.
Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until very tender, about 20 minutes.
While potatoes are cooking, add milk, olive oil and garlic to a small sauce pot. Simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes or so. You want the milk mixture to be hot but not boiling.
Remove the potatoes from the heat, drain them and then return them to their cooking pot. Add milk mixture to the pot along with 1 teaspoon truffle oil (*add another teaspoon if you want it stronger). Mash until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in parsley. Mix and serve.
Calories: 175 Fat: 9.8 grams Saturated Fat: 1.6 grams Protein: 3 grams Carbohydrates: 20 grams Cholesterol: 1.8 milligrams Sodium: 289 milligrams Fiber: 2.75 grams
This glorious green veggie is an excellent source of fiber, potassium, folic acid and vitamins A, C, E and K. Vitamin E has been linked to stimulating sex hormones, but we think the asparagus's shape is suggestive enough. *wink, wink*
In a large glass baking dish, toss the asparagus with the olive oil and garlic. Season lightly with salt and pepper and toss. Bake until the asparagus are tender and lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes.
Calories: 64 Fat: 3.7 grams Saturated Fat: 0.5 grams Protein: 3.74 grams Carbohydrates: 6.6 grams Cholesterol: 0 milligrams Sodium: 136.65 milligrams Fiber: 3.57 grams
These little delights are perfect for hand-feeding to your lover! Dark chocolate contains antioxidant-rich flavanoids that some studies show may help reduce high blood pressure it's flavor is euphoria-inducing, too. Berries are a low-calorie treat and great source of antioxidants like vitamin C. Though the nuts are optional, think about this: some claim the almond’s aroma excites a lady lover.
Put the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Fill a medium saucepan with a couple inches of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Turn off the heat set the bowl of chocolate over the water and stir to melt. Once the chocolate is melted and smooth, remove the bowl from the pan.
Line a sheet pan with parchment or waxed paper. Holding the strawberry by the stem, dip the fruit into the dark chocolate (let any excess chocolate fall back into the bowl — you don't want a thick coating). Set strawberries on the parchment paper. Sprinkle with almond crumbs. Repeat with the rest of the strawberries.
Refrigerate the berries for 20 to 30 minutes to set the chocolate. Enjoy!
Calories: 91 Fat: 5.4 grams Saturated Fat: 2.1 grams Protein: 1.6 grams Carbohydrates: 11.75 grams Cholesterol: 1.24 milligrams Sodium: 0.64 milligrams Fiber: 2.11 grams
6 Easy Ideas for a Healthier Valentine’s Day
1) Enjoy Healthy Dark Chocolate
There is a reason chocolate is associated with this the holiday of love. Chocolate helps boost hormones like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin that can set the stage for romance. Chocolate also contains phenylethylamine (PEA) which is a neurotransmitter that’s found in the body at higher levels for those experiencing love. While chocolate is a healthy food with many benefits, make sure it’s good quality dark chocolate. The majority of chocolate has been destroyed by overprocessing, milk and too much sugar. Find a healthy option or make these dark chocolate cherry bites. Indulge in the good stuff for a healthier Valentine’s Day!
2) Add a Steamy Mug of Coffee or Tea
Small gestures like a cup of organic coffee or tea can be a healthy, thoughtful way to take a moment to enjoy Valentine’s Day. Try one of our healthy recipes like this collagen latte or this coffee recipe. Coffee and tea without all the sugar or dairy can have many health benefits of their own and are full of antioxidants. Both are also good for circulation and can help get blood flowing for a healthy Valentine’s day activity – like one suggested in our next section. My mind wasn’t in the bedroom, yours was.
3) Plan a Healthy Date
Spending time with those you care about is the best way to say I love you! Plan a healthy date to show just how much you care. This time of year is perfect to get outside for a hike, sledding, skiing, ice skating or other outdoor fun. Or if you prefer to keep it hot inside, try a dancing lesson, massage, or a sauna date. There are lots of great activities to celebrate the holiday and a healthy valentine.
4) Skip the Restaurant and Cook a Romantic, Healthy Meal
It can be hard to ensure a healthy meal at a restaurant but at home you can make sure your meal is full of healthy, organic ingredients. Try one of the healthy recipes on our website or make one of your favorite dishes. Set the mood with candles (all natural of course) or flowers on the tables. If you prefer to go to a restaurant then make sure to look at their menu in advance for healthy, noninflammatory options and call ahead to see if they can accommodate any allergens.
5) Have Fun with Heart-Shaped Foods
Valentine’s day is easy because you can make so many foods into a heart. A heart-shaped cookie cutter can turn fruit, sandwiches, meats and of course cookies into the perfect holiday shape. Pancakes or a fruit pizza recipe are also fun to make. Top them with sliced strawberries that naturally look like little hearts. Sometimes the simplest things are something to love about the day.
6) Make a Healthier Dessert
Being healthy doesn’t always mean you have to give up dessert. You just have to find a dessert that fits with your health goals. For some that could mean organic, dark chocolate sweetened with stevia or fruit dipped in dark chocolate sauce. Berries like strawberries or raspberries are good options because of their low glycemic index. We also have some healthier dessert recipes like this cheesecake recipe, a strawberry shortcake recipe, or this chavocado mousse.
Heart-Healthy Valentine’s Day Desserts for Two
My favorite part of Valentine’s Day, apart from the company, is the sweets that accompany the holiday. While my sugar high is usually short-lived and guilt-laden, I still take time each year to make something really special to end our Valentine’s Day dinner. And at our age, why not make it heart-healthy too?
A special dessert doesn’t have to derail your diet. Here’s a few of my favorite heart-healthy Valentine’s Day desserts that are the perfect way to say I love you.
Because, really, what is more romantic than taking care of your loved ones with their long-term health in mind?
Plus, the individual serving presentation of each of these recipes makes them extra delightful!
Healthier Chocolate Mousse
1 cup plain yogurt (I like thick and creamy regular yogurt over tangy Greek yogurt for this recipe)
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted together with a tablespoon of milk
1 tablespoon good quality unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar or your preferred sweetener
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt
Whip all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. Pour into individual ramekins or mason jars and refrigerator for four hours. Garnish with berries and serve.
Pomegranate Parfaits with Honey and Mint
1 cup non-fat greek yogurt
2 TBS honey
1 cup pomegranate arils
1 cup low-fat store bought granola (I use this one with oats and toasted coconut)
Chopped mint, optional
Stir honey into yogurt. Start with two individual serving dishes, then let the layering begin. My personal preference is layering 1/4 cup yogurt, 1/4 cup pomegranate arils, 1/4 cup granola until I reach the top. You can go rogue on the assembly, I won’t tell anyone. I do recommend ending with the pomegranate and mint on top because, you know, its pretty.
Pillow Talk Pavlovas
Package of store-bought meringue nests like these
Fat-free whipped cream
Berries of your choice
To assemble, start with one meringue nest person, cover with a swirl of whipped cream, and top with berries of your choice. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios or mint for extra flair.
Pick out a thoughtful gift
Surprising your partner with a thoughtful gift shows that you're thinking about them and that you listen to their interests. This works especially well if your partner's love language includes meaningful presents. But only if you're thinking about what your partner actually wants: The drugstore bargain bin probably isn't going to cut it. "People make assumptions that their partner wants what they want or that they want something that they read in a magazine or they saw on TV," Gottlieb explains. "And then they don't think, 'This is the person I'm with, is this going to feel good to that person?'"
Cupid takes on cancer with healthy Valentine's Day menu
Boston – Valentine's Day is right around the corner, and what better way to say "I love you" than with a decadent, delicious - and healthy - meal.
"Sitting down to an intimate dinner made with foods that are packed with cancer-fighting nutrients is probably one of the nicest things to do for someone you care about," says Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN, a nutritionist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. She reminds people that there are a lot of Valentine's Day treats that don't have to be dipped and coated in sugar and fat. In fact, choosing a few bright and tasty foods from nature is probably what Cupid had in mind.
Chef Frank McClelland of Boston's four-star restaurant L' Espalier sets the mood by providing the first two recipes for this romantic dinner. The world-renowned chef worked with Dana-Farber nutritionists to provide recipes that were not only delicious but also nutritious. The recipes that he shared are from his cookbook Wine Mondays.
All the recipes for this sensational Valentine's menu are available on Dana-Farber's nutrition services web page. This delectable meal is sure to capture the heart of anyone's sweetie. Each course is its own love potion.
A salad to endive for!
Chef McClelland gets the meal started with a delicate layered endive, roasted red pepper, and black olive salad. Rich with vitamin A, vitamin K and folate, the leafy endive has been shown to help protect against lung and oral cancers. The bright red color of the roasted peppers is loaded with carotenoids. Kennedy says carotenoids have been linked to helping prevent colon, prostate, breast, and lung cancer.
Poached Halibut à la Provençale? Mais oui!
While the name conjures up thoughts of dining in the south of France, no travel is necessary for this entree. The best part is that it's easy to make, giving you more time with your sweetheart. This dish, also courtesy of Chef McClelland, features halibut, a lean fish that is full of healthful omega-3 fats that have been shown to protect against cancer, as well as heart disease, and inflammation. Fennel, a key ingredient, has also been shown to reduce inflammation. Unlike other Parisian fare, this recipe skips the butter which helps to maintain a healthy weight.
I love you Berry much
Raspberry-honey-tea sorbet is the perfect Valentine's dessert: sweet, red, and robust with berries. What makes it even better is that raspberries are loaded with cancer-fighting antioxidants and may even slow down heart disease.
"Raspberries are high in vitamin C, manganese, and phytonutrients anthocyanins and quercetin. These nutrients may help slow cancer cell growth," explains Kennedy. They are also a tasty fruit that is lower in sugar, which is important for anyone with diabetes or high blood sugar.
What's Valentine's Day without chocolate? Try chocolate pomegranate kisses. Thanks to the ruby-red pomegranate fruit these kisses are high in the antioxidant ellagic acid, which studies have shown is related to both cancer prevention and slowing the growth of cancer cells.
Chocolate already has a reputation as an aphrodisiac, and recent studies now show it may help fight cancer. The darker the chocolate, the higher the beneficial properties. Some reports say chocolate can also elevate mood, stimulate endorphins, and prevent signs of aging. "The key is balance," stresses Kennedy. "A small piece of dark chocolate as a treat is healthy when it's in the context of a diet rich with vegetables and fruits."
Looking for a tasty night cap? If you have leftover raspberries from dessert, toast the evening with a nutrient-dense, low-calorie raspberry cream smoothie that proves opposites do attract. Made with raspberries and spinach, this drink is rich with taste and cancer-fighting properties. The red pigment of the berries contains powerful antioxidants known as anthocyanins. They protect the plant and in turn can protect humans, especially lowering the risk of recurrence in breast cancer survivors. The spinach adds antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E –plus it's a good source of calcium and iron.
"What makes this even more enticing is the lower calorie count coupled with plenty of protein and fiber which can also help promote a healthy weight," points out Kennedy. Weight management is important for everyone, but especially for cancer survivors. "By maintaining the healthiest weight possible, survivors can both improve immune function and promote anti-cancer activity in the body." So reach for the blender, whip up a batch of smoothies and serve chilled in a martini glass. Cheers!
- 4 sweet onions sliced
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 64 ounces vegetable broth
- 2 tbsp fresh thyme
- French bread
- Low-fat cheese your choice
Is it surprising to you that French onion soup is a top choice for Valentine’s Day dishes?
Whether you are making homemade or instant French onion soup, you won’t believe how easy this recipe is (and it’s vegetarian!)
4 healthy Valentine’s Day recipes
Save yourself from the crowds, upped prices, hoards of couples and general Valentine’s Day mania, and have an intimate utterly private dinner date at home instead.
There’s nothing more romantic than preparing a specially made meal for your significant other, in a tranquil and relaxed environment. There’s no better way to bond with your partner, or show your appreciation… And as they say, a way to a mans heart is through his stomach. Whether you want to go full-on gourmet meal, a morning retreat breakfast-in-bed or simply a healthy heart-shaped tray of Valentine’s Day treats, we’ve got the recipe for you!
Valentine’s Day Recipe Nº1
Heart Shaped Protein Cookies
*Makes 12 heart shaped cookies (if using a 2-inch heart shaped cookie cutter)
- 3 tbsp flaxseed, ground
- 3/4 cup almond milk
- 2 cups old fashioned oats
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds, raw
- 1/4 cup roasted almonds, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup pepitas, raw
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips, divided
- 1/2 cup vanilla protein powder
- scant 1/4 cup honey
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350F. In a small bowl, mix together flaxseed and almond milk. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix together oats, sunflower seeds, pepitas, almonds, raisins, 1/4 cup chocolate chips, protein powder, honey, salt, and vanilla. Pour in wet ingredients and stir until combined. Mixture will seem dry and not sticky. It’ll be okay.
- Scoop the batter into a 9 x 6 inch non-stick rectangular baking dish (spray with non-stick spray or line with parchment paper if needed). Spread batter evenly into the dish and bake for 15-17 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before cutting out 12 hearts.
- Melt the remaining chocolate in the microwave or double broiler and use a knife/fork/spoon to drizzle the chocolate over your cookies. Allow chocolate to harden at room temperature. Package and give to the people you love!
Valentine’s Day Recipe Nº2
Valentines Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes
Notes from the author:
I’ve been making a real effort this month to try and “healthify” my meals. Cutting down on butter. Using more healthy oils. Adding extra servings of fruit and vegetables where I can. I’ve cut down on the amount of white crusty bread I’ve been eating, and have been incorporating more whole grains into my diet. This recipe for whole wheat banana pancakes is one that I’ve been changing up for a while. I’ve managed to cut down the amount of oil to 1 tsp, I use a whole banana, whole wheat flour, and 2/3 cup of almond milk. With the addition of fresh fruit on the side, this is high fibre, nutritious, healthy breakfast option. And there’s the added bonus that you get to shape these pancakes into adorable hearts, perfect for the person you love. – Heather
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
- 1 small very ripe banana
- 2/3 cup almond milk
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp canola oil
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- Butter for frying
- Maple syrup
- Preheat a frying pan on medium heat.
- In a small bowl, combine the dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, combine the wet ingredients.
- Add the dry to the wet and combine, do not over-mix.
- Place a small dab of butter in the frying pan. The pan is hot enough when the butter sizzles.
- Grease the heart molds with butter. Lay them in the frying pan. Spoon the batter into the molds, filling only half way up the mold. Once you can see bubbles forming on the tops of the pancakes, remove the molds and wait a few seconds. Flip the pancakes and cook on the other side until brown.
- Serve with maple syrup, fresh strawberries and raspberries.
Valentine’s Day Recipe Nº3
Parmesan Marinara Baked Mussels
Notes from the author:
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, when I think of special dinners to cook for your sweetheart, I always seem to default to seafood recipes. That goes for the appetizer course too, like in this incredibly tasty baked mussels recipe. I often have leftover marinara sauce or other simple tomato sauce in my freezer to use in quick recipes like this but if you don’t, any good quality jarred simple tomato sauce will do. A garlic and herb sauce is probably a very good choice.
These delectable mussels would make an impressive starter course for your next dinner party too. Prepare them in advance, refrigerate and then pop them into the oven for 15 minutes before dinner is served. You can try this easy recipe with large clams or small oysters too.
- 2 dozen large mussels
- 1 cup marinara Sauce
- 1/3 cup butter melted
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 1 1/2 cups crusty bread crumbs
- 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
- pinch coarsely ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese finely grated
- Wash the mussels and pull off any beards that may still be attached to the shell. A pair of needle-nose pliers works well for this. Discard any mussels with cracked or broken shells and those that do not remain closed after a minute when you pinch them together. Also discard any mussels that do not open during the cooking time.
- Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a large covered pot. Add the mussels, cover the pot and let them steam for only 3 minutes to open the shells.
- Remove the top shell and loosen the mussels from the half of the shells that they are attached to before laying them in a baking dish.
- Spoon about a teaspoonful of marinara sauce over each mussel in their shells.
- Over medium heat melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the the garlic. Cook for just a minute to soften it.
- Add the bread crumbs, chopped thyme and black pepper. Stir to combine well, then toss in the Parmesan cheese. Spoon the crumbs evenly over the marinara sauce covered mussels. Press the crumbs down gently and bake at 375F for 15 minutes. Serve immediately.
Valentine’s Day Recipe Nº4
Notes from author:
“Me and Jools absolutely love making and eating this dish. The inspiration came from a Japanese gyoza recipe, but I’ve gone for more of a Vietnamese-style filling, which works so well. It’s light, full of flavour and a real pleasure. Pop them in the middle of the table, then get sharing and dipping – it’s about as romantic as it gets.”
- 200 g raw peeled prawns, from sustainable sources
- 1 large shallot
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 4 spring onions
- ½ a bunch of fresh coriander
- 16 round dumpling wrappers
- 100 g glass noodles
- 1 tablespoon unsalted peanuts
- 1 soft lettuce
- a few sprigs of fresh basil
- a few sprigs of fresh mint
- Lingham’s chilli sauce
- 1 fresh red chilli
- 1 lime
- 4 tablespoons caster sugar
- 4 tablespoons fish sauce
- Start by making the dipping sauce. Finely chop the chilli, then combine with the lime juice (about 2 tablespoons), sugar, fish sauce and 8 tablespoons of water.
- Pour half into a cute bowl for dunking, and save the rest to dress your lettuce, herb and noodle salad.
- Smash the prawns with the side of your knife, then finely chop them. Peel and very finely chop the shallot and garlic, then trim and finely slice the spring onions (keep the white and green parts separate). Pick and finely chop the coriander leaves.
- Pop the prawns, shallot, garlic, coriander and the whites of the spring onions in a bowl, generously season with black pepper and a pinch of sea salt, and give it a good mix.
- Lay out your wrappers and spoon a teaspoon of filling into the middle of each. Brush the edges of one wrapper with water, fold it in half, then pleat and pinch the edges together to secure. Repeat with the others.
- You can steam the dumplings for 5 minutes, then fry the base until crispy. But the method I use is how I’ve seen it done in Japan. Place an oiled pan over a medium heat, add the dumplings and a splash of water, and cover. They’ll steam for 2 to 3 minutes, then once the water has evaporated, take off the lid and fry for a further 2 minutes.
- Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions. Toast the peanuts in a dry frying pan, then crush.
- Pick off and arrange the lettuce and herb leaves with the glass noodles on two plates, dress with the sauce and scatter the peanuts on top.
Serve the dumplings sprinkled with the sliced green part of the spring onions, with bowls of dipping sauce and chilli sauce on the side.