Valentine's Day meals families can easily make
Anyone armed with a heart-shaped cookie cutter can make a meal worthy for Valentine's Day. Toast can be made with a heart-shaped fried egg inside. Lunch's sandwich can be cut into a heart. Desserts from brownies to Jell-O can be heart-shaped.
But, heart shapes are not the only way to celebrate food-wise. Families can celebrate with red and pink foods and even with foods that are heart-healthy.
Heart disease is the top killer of women, and health problems associated with heart disease are growing with children, so it makes sense to sneak in foods that take care of the hearts in the family in Valentine's Day meals. Foods like eggs, tomatoes, apples, nuts and grains help keep the heart healthy, according to the American Heart Association.
Try these meal ideas that are fun, colorful, and sometimes healthy.
The first meal of the day can be as simple and healthy as a batch of scrambled eggs. Add some diced tomatoes and some cheese leftover from taco night, and you've easily made the basic more special and added the benefits of the tomatoes.
With a little extra planning though, you could make a breakfast the family looks forward to each year. Cream cheese blintzes are like a fancy, lighter version of bagels, and are easier than they look to make, which is why I love making them for holiday mornings. The wrappers can be made ahead and frozen for up to a month, and the topping can be made a few days before. For Valentine's Day, I added chocolate to the cream cheese to make the meal even more special.
Chocolate Cream Cheese Blintzes
makes about 8
For the wrappers:
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups of milk
- 3/4 cup of flour
- 1 tbsp of walnut oil
- 1 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp of vanilla
Whisk all ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl while heating a small skillet over medium high heat. Pour 1/3 cup of the mixture evenly in the skillet, gently moving the skillet to allow the liquid to even out. After a few minutes, the wrapper will no longer be liquid and will be finished cooking. To remove the wrapper, turn the skillet upside down over a sheet of parchment paper cut to size. (Tip: You may want to lightly spray Pam on the skillet before adding the mixture so it is easier to remove once cooked.)
Continue this process, separating each wrapper with a piece of parchment paper. If a wrapper appears really oily, blot it with a paper towel. The finished tower of wrappers can fit in a gallon-size freezer bag and be stored until ready to use. (Allow the wrappers to thaw before use if storing in the freezer.)
For the topping:
- 16 oz. bag of frozen strawberries, slightly thawed
- 1/3 cup of sugar
- 1 tsp cornstarch
Blend or puree the strawberries until smooth, or mostly smooth, depending on your preference. Cook the strawberries in a medium saucepan with the sugar and cornstarch over medium heat, stirring often. After it starts bubbling, stir for just another three minutes. Pour the sauce into a plastic container (preferably one with a screw lid), cover, and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.
For the filling:
- 8 oz. brick of cream cheese
- 1 tbsp of milk
- 1/4 cup of chopped milk chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup of melted milk chocolate chips
Using a mixer, mix all the ingredients until fluffy and the color has completely changed to a light brown with flecks of the chopped chocolate. Slather a heaping spoonful of the cream cheese mixture along the center of each wrapper, then fold in the side edges. Spoon the desired amount of topping across the blintz.
Tip: If making the topping is more work than you'd like, it can always be substituted with strawberry (or even cherry) pie filling. Sometimes, grocery stores even sell wrappers ready to be filled.
One of my favorite kid-friendly restaurants, PB&U, has the most creative peanut butter sandwiches. For February, they once had a special of a Chocolate PB, Strawberries and Fluff sandwich.
We can recreate this sandwich at home with our favorite chocolate hazelnut spread, strawberry (or raspberry) jelly and marshmallow fluff. If you do have access to fresh strawberries, slice them lengthwise into thirds to fit in the sandwich.
Chocolate Strawberry Sandwich
On one slice of bread, slather on chocolate hazelnut spread. On the other, carefully slather on the fluff. Scoop out a heaping spoonful of jelly, and smooth it over the hazelnut spread. (If using fresh strawberries, place a layer of strawberry slices over the spread instead of using the jelly.) Place the fluffed bread on top, and cut for serving.
Dinner can go pink and heart-healthy with salmon. Grocery stores offer the fish fresh, but it's easier and cheaper to buy a ready-to-cook frozen version. Pair it with vegetables, like asparagus.
Some pasta brands offer heart-healthy versions, and, paired with tomato sauce, can be an easy, healthy meal to end the day.
- Strawberry Hazelnut Smoothie
If the same old smoothie is getting a little blah, try this variation with a little hazelnut spread inside...
© 2015 Samantha Sinclair
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