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Valentine's Day Meal Options

Toni-Ann DiSantis

A Valentine’s Day meal usually means decadence: a round of appetizers and a heavy entree topped off with a rich, gooey dessert (and washed down with a sugary cocktail!). To keep your diet on track without sacrificing the romance this February 14th, surprise your Valentine with a homemade meal packed with flavorful ingredients that won't break the calorie bank. Designed for two, add flowers and candlelight, and enjoy your tastiest Valentine’s Day yet!

Cocktail idea: Watermelontinis for two

Ingredients - 1 cup cubed seedless watermelon, Ice, 1/3 cup lemon-lime flavor coconut water, 1 1/2 ounce (3 tablespoons) premium vodka, 1 lime halved, 2 small watermelon wedges

Directions -  Place the 1 cup watermelon in a blender or small food processor. Cover and process until liquified. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add pureed watermelon, coconut water, and vodka to the shaker; squeeze juice from half of the lime into the shaker. Vigorously shake the cocktail. Strain into two chilled martini glasses. Cut the other half of the lime into two wedges. Skewer a lime wedge and a watermelon wedge on each of two cocktail picks; garnish each glass with one of the skewers.

Appetizer Idea: Four-Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

Ingredients - 24 large mushrooms, 1 tablespoon oil, olive, 8 tomato(es), sun-dried not oil-packed, boiling water, 1 cup(s) cheese, ricotta, low-fat, 1/2 cup(s) spinach finely chopped, 1/2 cup(s) cheese, shredded Monterey Jack, 3 tablespoon cheese, grated Parmesan, 2 clove(s) garlic, minced, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, black ground, 1/2 cup(s) cheese, feta, crumbled, 1 tablespoon basil

Instructions Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove and discard mushroom stems. Brush mushroom caps with oil. Arrange in a shallow baking pan, stem sides down. Bake for 12 minutes. Drain off any liquid. Increase oven temperature to 450°F. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, cover dried tomatoes with boiling water; let stand for 10 minutes. Drain tomatoes, discarding liquid. Coarsely snip tomatoes. In a medium bowl, combine snipped tomatoes, ricotta cheese, spinach, Monterey Jack cheese, Parmesan cheese, snipped basil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Turn mushroom caps stem sides up; fill caps with ricotta mixture. Sprinkle feta cheese over tops. Bake filled caps in the 450° oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until heated through and lightly browned. If desired, garnish with basil leaves.

Salad Idea: Beet Salad With Goat Cheese and Walnuts

Ingredients - 4 cup(s) lettuce, mixed greens, 4 tablespoon vinaigrette, balsamic, fat-free or fat-free balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing, 1 can(s) beets (8 1/4 ounces) chilled, 1 tablespoon basil, fresh snipped, or flat-leaf parsley, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, black • 2 tablespoon nuts, walnuts coarsely chopped, toasted, 1 ounce(s) cheese, goat cheese, crumbled

Instructions Arrange salad greens on a small serving platter; drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the salad dressing. Set aside. Drain and cut up beets. In a medium bowl, combine cut-up beets, basil or parsley, and pepper. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons salad dressing; toss to coat. Spoon beet mixture onto center of salad greens. Sprinkle beets with walnuts and goat cheese.

Entree idea: Roasted Autumn Vegetables & Chicken Sausage for Two.

Ingredients - 2 1/2 cups cubed peeled butternut squash (half a 20-ounce package), 8 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved (or quartered if large), 1 small red onion, halved and thickly sliced (1/2-inch), 2 cloves garlic, minced, 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried, 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage or 1/2 teaspoon dried, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper, 2 links cooked chicken sausage (6 ounces)(any variety you prefer)

Preparation - Preheat oven to 425°F. Combine squash, Brussels sprouts, onion, garlic, oil, rosemary, sage, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes. Stir the vegetables and place sausages on the baking sheet. Continue roasting, stirring once or twice, until the vegetables are tender, 15 to 20 minutes more.

Diet-Friendly Dessert: Mango Parfait

Ingredients  - 6 ounce(s) frozen yogurt, fat-free vanilla, 1 1/2 cup(s) mango(es) (or papaya, peaches, apricots) chopped, seeded and peeled, 2 ounce(s) frozen light whipped dessert topping, thawed, fresh fruit such as kiwi or raspberries • frozen light whipped dessert topping, thawed (optional)

Instructions - Spoon yogurt into a small bowl. Fold in the 1/4 of an 8-ounce carton whipped topping. Spoon one-fourth of the yogurt mixture into each of 2 parfait glasses. Top with half of the mango. Repeat layers with remaining yogurt mixture and mango. If desired, top with additional whipped topping and fresh fruit.