Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love and is a great time to have a special meal with the one you love.
But if you are watching what you eat and want to stick with a healthy approach, it can seem like a holiday designed to trip you up.
So to help you out, here are some handy tips on how to enjoy a tasty and healthy Valentine’s Day.
How to stay healthy on Valentine’s Day
Everywhere you turn on Valentine’s Day there are sugar hearts and sweet treats. But what about if you want to go for the healthier option?
There are plenty of ways to have a tasty and healthy Valentine’s Day meal with your special someone.
Keep away from bread
If there’s one thing to avoid if you want to enjoy your meal and not feel bloated, it is the bread basket. Those complimentary bread rolls or chips might look tempting but will fill you up, mean you don’t enjoy your meal and aren’t the best in terms of nutrition.
Ask for changes to a dish when eating out
Whether you are vegan, gluten-free, avoiding garlic or anything else, never be afraid to ask for changes to a dish when you are eating out.
You can even ask if a dish can be made without butter or salt which can reduce the calories of dishes. If in doubt, go for fried and baked options rather than braised.
Go for a light starter to avoid overeating
There’s been a lot said about portion sizes and when you eat out, this can be a problem. That big main course comes along after the rich starter and before you know it, you have eaten way too much.
One tip to this is to have a light starter such as a salad or soup. That way you don’t end up overeating or eating too many calories.
Don’t add a load of extras
Restaurants very kindly offer a host of extras to add to every meal – avoid the temptation! Don’t add buttery croutons and that very tasty but high-fat dressing to your salad. Or pile on cheese and bacon to your burger or potatoes.
Think red foods
A tip to help have a healthy meal which is also quite suitable for Valentine’s Day is to have red foods. This can mean anything from strawberries and cherries to red bell peppers, radicchio, red onions and tomatoes.
The reason for this is that red foods contain lots of fibre to help process other foods. They also have loads of vitamins and antioxidants which are known for their many benefits including fighting cancer.
You can even apply this to your drink with the meal. Opt for a glass of red wine rather than a cocktail which will contain a lot more sugar and a lot less good stuff. Red wine has been shown to help reduce the chance of blood clots and also help the cardiovascular system working smoothly.
Give dark chocolate as a gift
It is lovely to give a little romantic token as a gift before the meal and chocolate are popular to enjoy together afterwards. If you are going to give the gift of chocolate, aim to go for dark chocolate.
Chocolate has some surprising benefits as well as that feel good boost we get when eating it and dark chocolate doesn’t have the extra calories that come from milky versions.
Make a romantic meal at home
Of course, the other option is to make a meal at home. That way you can control just what ingredients go into the meal and keep an eye on both portion sizes and extra calories.
Must have romantic ingredients
If you decide that you want to make a meal or at least a treat for your loved one at home, then it is a good idea to look at the most romantic ingredients for some inspiration.
We all know the traditional aphrodisiacs like oysters but there are some ingredients that are easier to work with that are also known for their romantic potential.
Vanilla is one of those ingredients that seems pretty commonplace but has some surprising benefits. Plus there’s something rather luxurious about a high-quality vanilla ice cream, cake or even a special drink containing it.
As well as being a romantic ingredient, it is also a healthy one. Vanilla has been shown to help with healthy digestions which makes it a great dessert ingredient.
It also with weight loss due to its appetite-suppressing qualities and lowers cholesterol. So if you did go for something a little naughty for the main course, this is a sweet treat that will help.
Figs have a long history as an aphrodisiac – they are one of the world’s oldest trees and were so prized by the Ancient Greeks that there were laws to stop them being exported.
Figs also have loads of vitamins and minerals in them including vitamin A and K, soluble fibre to help digestion. In particular, they are good for helping to get excess salt from the system so if that meal was a little on the salty side, a dessert of figs will help out.
If you don’t like the smell of garlic, the idea of it being a romantic ingredient might seem a little weird. But the trick is to cook it slowly so that the taste and smell aren’t as strong.
Garlic is also another one with a lot of pedigree for its health benefits – Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, was a big fan of garlic and prescribed it for lots of medical conditions.
One of those was to improve the flow of blood in the body.
There are lots of ways to use honey and we will leave those to your imagination. But regardless of how it is used, honey is high in antioxidants and also some studies have shown it is safer for diabetics than normal sugar.
It is still higher in calories than your average sweetener but is a healthier and fun alternative to sugar.
You can’t mention romantic ingredients without a mention again about chocolate. Chocolate was enjoyed by the Aztecs as a drink and they added vanilla and pepper to it.
Eating chocolate as we do is a relatively new idea. Chocolate is high in antioxidants, helps with the blood flow while lowering blood pressure and has even been connected with improved brain function.
Strawberry Caprese Skewers
To finish, here’s a simple recipe that you can make as a starter or simply a tasty treat for your loved one.
It ticks the box for those red foods, isn’t too heavy and is easy to make.
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 16 fresh small strawberries, washed and cut in half
- 32 medium fresh basil leaves, washed and patted dry
- 16 mini Mozzarella balls
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 16 6 inch wooden skewers
- 2 tbsp virgin olive oil to drizzle
Thread one half strawberry onto the skewer with the hull facing up then fold a basil leaf and add it next. Add one mini mozzarella ball and then another basil leaf and the other half of the strawberry.
Repeat this until you have filled up the skewers (the recipe makes 16 but you can half it if you don’t want that many).
To make the glaze, add the balsamic vinegar in a small non-stick pan over a medium heat and cook, stirring frequently until it is reduced by around one third. Leave to cool a little then drizzle when ready to serve the skewers. You can also drizzle with a little olive oil if you like.
Healthy Valentine’s Day
There’s no reason why you can’t have a healthy Valentine’s Day whether you are eating in or out. If you are making something at home, look for those romantic ingredients to set the tone for the evening!
Angela is one half of the blogging team at Pesto & Margaritas with her chef husband Robert. They blog about enjoying food and drink in balance, making tasty dishes at home and sampling a nice cocktail afterwards!
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