Thinking about flowers and chocolates for your Valentine this year? The National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA), which represents 109 natural food co-ops across the nation, suggest romantics also consider celebrating Feb. 14 with heart healthy foods for you and your loved one.
According to the American Heart Association, more than 80 million Americans suffer some form of heart disease. While a healthy diet is important year-round, "preparing a heart healthy menu on Valentine's Day shows you care about your Valentine’s heart and are committed to a long life together,” said Mary Saucier Choate, registered dietician and food and nutrition educator at NCGA member The Co-op Food Stores in Hanover and Lebanon, N.H.
Choate’s suggested menu for the day:
Try hot steel cut oats sprinkled with ground flaxseed and topped with fresh or thawed frozen raspberries and low-fat vanilla yogurt.
Prepare a big, beautiful salad made with mixed greens and radicchio, walnuts, garbanzo beans, sliced olives, Clementine sections, dried cranberries and a tablespoon of local, crumbled bleu cheese.
To pass the afternoon in anticipation of a special dinner, choose 100-percent whole grain crackers dipped in roasted red pepper hummus along with two cups of hot, black green or white tea.
Consider grilled wild Alaskan salmon steaks on a bed of kale, sautéed in sesame garlic oil and a splash of red wine, and prepared with a side of red rice pilaf. And don’t forget to serve it with a nice cabernet.
Consider a small serving of low-fat strawberry ice cream. The trick is to dish it out with a tablespoon rather than an ice cream scoop, to make you feel like you’re having more. Try four "baby" scoops served in a wine glass, drizzled with melted dark chocolate, and a few slivered almonds.