Earlier this week, we shared the fascinating ways that love improves your physical health and immune health (and we’re talking about all types of love, including platonic love and serving your community). As we enter Valentine’s Day weekend, we’re continuing the theme with heart-healthy, immune-supporting Valentine’s Day recipes. They’re perfect for a romantic dinner, a get-together with friends and family you love, or as a tasty and easy self-care meal to show the most important person in your life — you! — some delicious self-love. Let’s dig in!
1. Breakfast: Morning Banana Split
Start your Valentine’s Day morning with this decadent banana split-themed breakfast. It’s so decadent, you won’t believe it’s good for you! The bananas provide exceptionally high levels of potassium, which boosts your heart health (perfect for Valentine’s Day!), while the vitamin C and vitamin B6 strengthen your immune system. The natural sweetness of the fruit pairs well with the crunchy texture of the low-sugar granola, which gets a burst of creamy flavor from mineral-rich nut butter and antioxidant-rich berries. The proverbial icing on the cake comes from the natural frozen yogurt, which turns this breakfast into almost a dessert-like treat while adding a whopping 14 grams of healthy, lean protein. You’ll feel full and revitalized from this deceptively decadent meal.
2 ripe bananas
3 tbsp cashew butter or your favorite nut butter
4 scoops natural, unsweetened frozen yogurt (preferably organic)
1/2 cup fresh or frozen mixed berries
1/4 cup low-sugar or sugar-free granola (you can substitute with chopped roasted nuts of your choice)
Peel the bananas, then slice them in half down the middle. Place each banana, cut side facing up, in two separate bowls. Smear the cut bananas with a generous serving of cashew butter, add the frozen yogurt and berries, then garnish with the low-sugar granola.
2. Lunch: Valentine’s Day Persimmons with Mint-Infused Mascarpone
Don’t let the fancy name for this meal dissuade you from serving it up at a Valentine’s Day work lunch or to share with a dear friend or partner. Persimmons are one of the few fruits that are in season during the winter months, and they’re incredibly high in critical nutrients your immune system needs for peak performance, including high levels of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, and nearly 30% of your daily needs of manganese! Even better, they’re high in flavonoids, which have been shown to significantly improve your heart health.
This dish is simple to make, and the mint in the mascarpone (a type of soft, Italian cream cheese) adds a certain level of brightness to the flavors that cut through the creaminess.
3 tbsp mascarpone
4-5 fresh mint leaves , minced
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tbsp honey (ideally local and organic)
1 fuyu persimmon, cut into disc shapes
2 tbsp pistachios shelled, unsalted, and diced
1 tbsp pomegranate seeds (you can buy pre-packaged pomegranate seeds in many delis and grocery stores)
In a bowl, combine the honey, mascarpone, lemon juice and mint leaves.
Arrange the persimmon discs on a plate. For extra flair, space them apart into a Valentine’s Day-themed heart shape. Add a dollop of the mint-infused mascarpone on each disc, then garnish with the pomegranate seeds and nuts. Enjoy!
3. Dinner: Sweet Potato and Fresh Beet Tartare
Tartare originated from China, and is now widely enjoyed in France, Italy, and the European continent. While it’s typically made with raw beef, this plant-based alternative is extremely flavorful and healthy. Plus, the red hues from the fresh beets add that special Valentine’s Day twist to really wow your guests or your lover. A serving of this delightful meal nets you lots of digestion-enhancing fiber, plus antioxidants, flavanols, and vitamins (including an incredible amount of vitamin A). Best of all, it only takes 30 minutes to prep and cook — perfect for busy weekday evenings.
2 medium beets, washed, trimmed and cut into halves (no peeling necessary)
1 large orange sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice, divided
1 red onion, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup fresh sprouts
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Fill a pot with a few inches of water and bring to a boil. Add a steamer basket to the pot and steam the beets for 10 minutes or until tender. Remove the beets and let them cool in a side bowl while steaming the sweet potatoes until tender. Remove the potatoes and let them cool, too.
Mix the beets with the minced onion, olive oil, half of the lemon juice, and a generous pinch of black pepper and salt.
In a separate bowl, add diced avocado and the rest of the lemon juice.
To make the tartare, get a small, shallow cup. First, pack the bottom of the cup with the lemon-seasoned avocado. Add a layer of the sweet potato, then another layer of the beets. Press down gently to make the contents of the cup compact, then invert the cup over a plate and shake gently to create a perfectly formed tartare. Garnish with mustard and fresh sprouts. Repeat until all the ingredients are used up, and enjoy!