Heart-Healthy Recipes for Nourishing Love & Wellness

Heart-Healthy Recipes for Nourishing Love & Wellness

Publish Date February 1, 2024 5 Minute Read

Hosting both Valentine’s Day and American Heart Month, February is when the heart and love take center stage, and the two topics have more to do with each other than you may think. As we juggle keeping both ourselves and our relationships healthy, consider incorporating heart-healthy recipes into your next date night to show how deeply you care for your special someone and their overall wellbeing. On this page, we’ll give you tips on making healthier food choices as well as help you craft a delicious, and nutritious, multi-course meal for two.

Heart-Healthy Food Choices

When it comes to your health, your food choices matter. The food you eat influences various levels of your well-being, including your heart, brain and beyond. Making mindful and nutritious food choices is key in promoting a healthy and balanced lifestyle. When putting together your plate, try to keep these healthy tips in mind:

  • Vegetables: Enjoy a variety of colorful fresh, canned or frozen vegetables, such as spinach, cabbage, tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, kale, collards and Brussel sprouts. Remember to be mindful of the salt content when choosing or preparing any of these vegetables.
  • Fruits: Add more fruit to the mix with fresh, canned, frozen or dried varieties. Apples, oranges, bananas, mangoes, grapes, pineapple, papaya and prunes are all great, everyday options. Always keep the sugar content in mind when choosing fresh and preserved fruits.
  • Whole Grains: When possible, opt for 100% whole grain foods. Look for whole grain as one of the first ingredients on the ingredient list when shopping for things such as bread, tortillas, bagels, English muffins, brown rice, plain oatmeal, pasta, quinoa or hot or cold breakfast cereals.
  • Dairy: Move towards low-fat or fat-free dairy milk, cheese, cottage cheese and yogurt, or fortified soy versions of these foods.
  • Protein: Choose leaner protein sources more often. This includes seafood, poultry (chicken, turkey), lean meats (beef, pork), beans, peas and lentils, eggs, unsalted nuts, seeds, nut butters and soy products. When choosing ground proteins, choose a type that’s at least 90% lean.
  • Unsaturated fats: Unsaturated fats are better for your heart health than saturated fats. You’ll find unsaturated fat in sources such as seafood, nuts, seeds and avocados. When shopping for oil, opt for vegetable oils like canola, corn, peanut, safflower, soybean or sunflower. Butter, creamy salad dressings, full-fat mayonnaise, palm and coconut oil have more saturated fat, so it’s best to use these ingredients sparingly.

Now that you have the rundown on what heart-healthy foods look like and the wide array of options available, it’s time for the fun part: crafting a three-course date night that shows just how much you care about your loved one and their health.

First Course: Cozy Soup or Super Salad

Depending on the weather and your taste preferences, you may want to start the meal with a classic soup or salad. These options offer a delightful array of flavors as well as a diverse range of nutrient-rich ingredients.

  • Mediterranean Vegetable Soup: Packed with delicious vegetables and aromatic herbs and spices, this one is sure to satisfy your taste buds and warm you at the same time. You can opt for diced tomatoes and chickpeas without added salt to reduce the sodium content.
  • Massaged Kale Salad: For a cooler choice, opt for a simple yet impressive kale salad. The cranberries, apples, nuts and homemade apple cider dressing adds a burst of vibrant flavor and a delightful blend of textures that’s sure to satisfy from the first bite to the last. Use dried cranberries without added sugar for the most heart-healthy option.

Second Course: The Main Entrée

Let your cooking skills shine with a main course that delights the palate while also prioritizing health. Made with lean proteins, whole grains and colorful veggies, these entrée ideas have it all.

  • Easy Stir-Fried Pepper Steak: Steak is a great choice for special occasions, and this one is ready in just minutes. Double up on the peppers to add even more color and flavor. You can also add more fiber by swapping the white rice for brown rice or riced cauliflower.
  • Pesto Salmon Pasta: Simple yet upscale, this dinner is perfect for a party of two. The chickpea pasta and lean protein support heart health, and the flavor is elevated with the perfect blend of herbs and spices. Use low-fat milk to reduce the saturated fat, and low sodium chicken broth to reduce the sodium content.
  • Hummus Spaghetti: Catering to both taste and lifestyle, this meat-free option is nutrient-dense, smooth, savory and satisfying, all at the same time.

Third Course: A Delectable Dessert

No date night is complete without a scrumptious dessert. Consider ending your night with a treat that satisfies your cravings without compromising your commitment to wellness.

  • Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries: These delightful bites strike the perfect balance—light enough to enjoy without guilt, yet satisfyingly sweet. Be sure to refrigerate the leftovers for later enjoyment.

Practice Heart Health Every Day

Discover the richness of a heart-healthy diet without compromising on flavor. Explore our full recipe collection for more heart-healthy recipes and meals to make every day. For personalized guidance on navigating this lifestyle and creating a nutrition plan tailored to your individual needs, consult with your healthcare provider or one of our registered dietitians. Embrace the harmony of love and heart health this February, and every month after.

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and is not meant to provide healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.

Heart-healthy Dinner for Two