While Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to share the love, February is American Heart Month, a time when all people can focus on their cardiovascular health. With that in mind, embrace your heart and enjoy a healthy and delicious meal this Valentine’s Day.
To cover all your heart-healthy bases, you need the right nutrients. Even if you deviate from your eating plan a bit on this special day, it is important to ensure you are getting the nutrients that your heart requires to thrive all year long.
Did you know that Valentine’s Day is the second-most popular day to dine out in America, second only to Mother’s Day? These simple strategies will help you choose foods your heart requires to stay healthy for Valentine’s Day, and all year long.
- Check out the menu in advance: This will provide an opportunity to explore all options, from appetizers to dessert. Planning out your meal in advance is a good step in the right direction for a heart healthy approach.
- If you have special dietary requests, reach out in advance of your reservation to see if individual needs can be met.
- When ordering, ask questions, with your heart in mind: Find out how the food is prepared. Can sauce be served on the side? Can extra vegetables be substituted for pasta or potatoes? Can meals be made without salt? Meal modifications are key – and often easy for the kitchen to accommodate.
- Watch the pre-meal options: Bread sitting at the table can be dangerous. Ask the server to leave single servings of bread rather than an entire breadbasket.
- Start out on a good note: Consider ordering a light salad or soup to kick things off. This may help limit overall intake, keeping appetite at bay before diving into a big meal.
- Less is more: Avoid adding extras to your meal. When it comes to a salad, avoid the buttery croutons, grated cheese, and dollops of high-fat dressing. The same goes when ordering a burger, a baked potato, or any number of entrees.
- Portion control is key: Restaurant serving sizes are often larger than normal. Split appetizers, entrees and/or desserts with your significant other. Consider eating half of your meal and putting the rest in a “to go” container.
- Hydration: As always, stay well hydrated and drink alcohol in moderation. As part of a healthy lifestyle, women should consume no more than one drink each day, while men may consume two. Red wine is always a good option as it contains antioxidants that may support heart health.
Cooking at home on Valentine’s Day is a great way to ensure a nutritious and heart healthy meal. Set the table, light the candles, and enjoy a heart healthy meal.
- Treat yourself and your loved ones to a meal that incorporates lean meats, poultry or fish. For a main course, consider this tasty Glazed Salmon served over brown rice
- Include the colors of the rainbow for a variety of vegetables and fruits. Start off dinner with a simple Arugula Salad drizzled with olive oil or try this Kale Salad with Brussels Sprouts.
- Prepare foods using healthy oils such as avocado and olive oil. This sauteed Garlic Green Bean and Tomato recipe is a perfect complement to any fish, poultry, or meat dish.
- Dessert is a must on Valentine’s Day. Make healthy substitutions when baking. Try using whole-wheat flour in baked goods and healthy oils instead of butter. Drop sugar called for in a recipe by a third or replace half of the fat with pureed fruit, such as applesauce or canned pumpkin. For a win-win, indulge in these delicious Chocolate Covered Strawberries.
And, for those who want to eat in but do not want to cook, consider ordering a meal from McCaffrey’s this Valentine’s Day.
Remember, Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to become more aware of your heart health. To learn more about Heart Health and diet, check out our free and informative nutrition events at McCaffrey’s.