The Heart’s Perfect Valentine

Love is in the air! Valentine’s day is a great way to share and spread the love to those who are close to us. During the month of February, the heart symbol becomes prevalent on front doors, in classroom settings, and even on food products.  It symbolizes the meaning of love and is also a gentle reminder of taking care of one of the most important muscles in our bodies, our heart.  Check out our heart friendly tips with some fun recipes to incorporate in your diet this February!

  1. Diet: Our diets can directly influence the activity and abilities of our hearts. Making small changes, such as incorporating more fruits, vegetables, fiber, and whole grains can go a long way in preventing chronic and inflammatory diseases. This Valentine’s day, check out one of our heart healthy recipes below!
  2. Get Moving: Just as making small changes to our diet can have a huge influence on the condition of our hearts, physical activity is also crucial and beneficial to our heart health. The physical activity guidelines for Americans recommends 150 minutes of a moderate-intensity exercise per week. Getting out for a walk, playing outside with kids, swimming, and biking are just a few of the ways to increase activity levels and get that blood pumping!
  3. Share the Love: Mental health is just as important as our physical health. There is a saying that if you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody. Sharing a recipe, a workout, or even just a phone call with a loved one can go a long way in decreasing stress levels and increasing happiness for you and your loved one.

XOXO Smoothie:

Created by: Emily Solis, Virginia Tech Dietetic Intern

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of frozen strawberries

1 banana

1 tbsp nut butter (peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter)

2 tbsp cocoa powder

1 tbsp oats

8oz milk of choice

(add ice for increased thickness)

Directions:

Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth.

Cupids Bean and Veggie Chili Recipe:

Created by: The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Ingredients

2 teaspoons canola oil
1 pound extra-lean ground beef or extra-lean ground turkey, or 1 10-ounce package frozen meatless crumbles, thawed
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium-size green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium-size red bell pepper, chopped
1 carrot, scrubbed and sliced thinly
1 15½-ounce can dark or light kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 14½-ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 6-ounce can no-salt-added tomato paste
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon black pepper
3 green onions, sliced thinly, optional
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro, optional
½ cup fat-free sour cream

Directions:

  1. Combine the oil, meat (or turkey or meatless crumbles), onion and garlic in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Cook and stir until the onion is wilted and the meat is lightly browned. About 6 to 8 minutes.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients except the optional ones and the sour cream. Stir well, cover and reduce heat; simmer gently for 20 minutes. Adjust the chili powder, oregano and black pepper to taste.
  4. Serve with green onions, cilantro and/or sour cream.

Sealed with a Kiss, Dark Chocolate & Strawberry Bark

Created by: Emily Solis, Virginia Tech Dietetic Intern

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups dark chocolate morsels or baking chocolate

1 cup freeze dried strawberries

Directions:

  1. Line a cookie tray with parchment paper
  2. Melt the dark chocolate on the stove stop, stirring frequently
  3. Pour the freeze-dried strawberries on top of the chocolate
  4. Let the chocolate sit either in the fridge or at room temperature for 1-2 hours
  5. Break into pieces and enjoy!

Have a healthy and happy Valentines Day!

Emily Solis is a Dietetic Intern with the Virginia Tech – Northern Virginia site. She enjoys running, gardening, and baking pies on Sundays.