Valentine’s Day is one of the biggest restaurant nights of the year – one that often involves high-calorie dinners and desserts. However, going out for dinner on Valentine’s Day isn’t always so desirable when you consider high-priced menus or having to find a sitter, which is why some just prefer to avoid the crowds and celebrate quietly at home with the family.
Registered dietitian, Susan Bowerman of Herbalife Nutrition, shares five tips to create a healthy Valentine’s Day meal at home—and even how to include your little ones in the fun:
1. Get the Kids Involved
Having your kids help in creating a family meal has a number of benefits. Through helping prepare your Valentine’s Day meal this year, they’ll have fun getting to help select their favorite ingredients and tap into their creative sides. They may even develop an appreciation for healthier foods. It’s also a great opportunity to encourage them to try new foods, ultimately helping them to appreciate healthy foods as they continue to grow. When they’re able to prepare something on their own, no matter how simple, and then serve it to family, it boosts their self-esteem.
2. Start with a Healthy Appetizer
Starting your meal with a salad is a great habit to get into, as long as the salad isn’t loaded down with fatty ingredients and heavy dressing. Use plenty of greens with an oil and vinegar dressing, served on the side. Dip your fork in the dressing, then pick up some greens with your fork. You’ll get a little taste of dressing with each bite, but you’ll use far less. Alternatively, a low-fat creamy dressing may help your kids get their veggies in, too.
3. Swap in Some Healthy Ingredients
Here are some swaps you can try for some common ingredients that can help you lighten up your favorite recipes. Have fun experimenting, and don’t be surprised if you end up liking the healthier version even better!
- If your recipe calls for ground beef, use ground turkey or chicken breast instead.
- Instead of butter or margarine for baking, try replacing some of the fat with apple sauce, baby food prunes or mashed bananas.
- Plan to sauté some vegetables? Instead of butter, try the broth, wine or vegetable juice.
- For a heavy cream alternative for sour cream, cream cheese or cream, use reduced-fat versions or try Greek yogurt that may also provide some probiotic benefits
4. Indulge in Homemade Heart Healthy Desserts
Fruits are a preferable substitute for sugary desserts and sweet spices like cinnamon, nutmeg or clove can add sweet notes to fruits in place of sugar. As most fruits are naturally low in fat, sodium, and calories— with no cholesterol – they’re also healthy for your heart. Additionally, fruits are your source for important nutrients such as potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C, and folate.
Here’s a fruit-based dessert to try:
Honey-Spiced Roasted Pears with Pistachio
- 3 ripe pears, peeled, halved and cored
- Maple syrup, ½ tsp. per pear half
- 1/3 cup chopped salted pistachios
- Greek-style vanilla yogurt (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange pears, cut side down in a 2-quart rectangular baking dish. Drizzle with maple syrup and sprinkle with spices to taste. Roast, uncovered, 20-25 minutes, occasionally spooning any liquid in the pan over the pears. Arrange on serving plates, drizzle pan juices over the pears, sprinkle with pistachios, and top with a dollop of yogurt.
Make it fun!
Valentine’s Day is a holiday that’s all about celebrating love. Creating something together and simply enjoying each other’s company are the more important ingredients of all.
For more tips from Susan, visit www.IAMHerbalife.com.