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Valentine’s Day 2016

This Valentine’s Day, feel the love by treating your sweetie to a heart-health inspired dinner.  Michelle suggests grilled salmon and garlic gingered broccoli with pumpkin seeds. Salmon is a clean protein that boasts an impressive nutritional profile, while pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium and other heart-health boosting nutrients.  These dishes can be prepared in under an hour and use ingredients that are easy to find, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the day with your sweetheart.  Balance your plate by pairing these dishes with a starchy food, like cilantro-lime rice.

For a delicious main course, drizzle the salmon with olive oil and apply your favorite herb rub (or simply a sprinkling of garlic powder).  Grill the salmon skin side down for about 10 minutes.  You’ll also find the recipe for the garlic gingered broccoli at the end of this post.

A candlelit dinner is an important part of any date-night repertoire, but Valentine’s Day would not be complete without some sweet, chocolatey indulgence.  Dipped fruit is a treat that you don’t have to feel guilty about, so break out your double-boiler and get ready for some fondue fun.chocolate-183543_1920

What You’ll Need
Dark Chocolate Bars
Look for a dark chocolate bar with few ingredients and a high cacao percentage (ideally, over 55%).  Quality dark chocolate is a great source of antioxidants, copper, manganese, iron, and magnesium, so you can feel good about enjoying it as a treat.  Many dark chocolate bars are also vegan, as long as they don’t contain milk, casein, whey, or other dairy derivatives. Whenin doubt, check the ingredients list!
Double-Boiler (or Bowl and Microwave)
Selection of Fruit and other Dipping Materials (see below for suggestions)
Crushed Walnuts (optional; use other nuts as preferred)

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If you’re using a microwave, melt the chocolate (30 seconds at a time in a microwave-safe bowl, stirring in between).  Once the chocolate is of good dipping consistency, get to dunking your favorite fruits and treats.  If you want to dip first and eat later, you can lay them out on wax paper to cool.

If you’re using a double boiler, put water in the bottom until it is about ½ inch below the upper pan.  Put it on low heat, place the chocolate in the top of the double boiler, and stir the chocolate constantly while it melts.  After you dip your snacks in the chocolate, try rolling or dipping them in crushed nuts or coconut shreds for some extra crunch and flavor.

This simple dessert is proof that you don’t have to sacrifice health for flavor and ease.  The rich tones of the cacao are a perfect complement to the brightness of the fruit.  Strawberries, cherries, Granny Smith apples, frozen banana chunks, and pineapple slices are all popular fruit choices for dipping.  For more variety, dip pretzels, coconut macaroons, or oatmeal cookies. You can dip the desserts ahead of time and refrigerate a tray to share, or you can set up a fondue station and savor the experience with your sweetie. After you’ve dipped to your heart’s content, drizzle any remaining chocolate over some air-popped popcorn, sprinkle with a little sea salt, and snuggle up for a late night movie.

Rikki Campbell is a Penn State graduate on a mission toward personal health and wellness. Check back soon for posts on the ups and downs of her recent transition to veganism, along with helpful tips and tricks she’s learned through her journey toward clean eating and living.

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Garlic Gingered Broccoli with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
(Eat With The Seasons page 145)

  • 1 bunch broccoli
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, finely grated or minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
  • Toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 6 cups water

Wash and cut broccoli into florets.  You can use the stems, but it will take longer to cook.  Add 6 cups water to a pot. Bring to boil.  Drop in your broccoli and let boil for about 3 minutes. Remove from water and give them a quick rinse. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and sauté for several minutes until bright green and just tender.  Add tamari soy sauce and ginger.  Toss.  Top with toasted pumpkin seeds.  4 servings.

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