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February is Heart Health Month, and with Valentine’s Day around the corner, hearts are on the mind. But we’re not just talking about roses and candlelit dinners. We mean taking care of your ticker the inside, and thinking about what it means to give your heart a some extra love beyond the chocolate box.

Thinking about your heart first doesn’t mean you have to cut back on everything, it just means being a little more mindful.

Love Beyond the Chocolate Box

If you plan to celebrate by dining out, make the experience light on your waist and wallet by sharing an entrée and dessert. Restaurant portions tend to be double the recommended serving sizes, so skip the creamy pastas and bottomless bread bowls. Choose a heart healthy meal with:

  • Protein – filet minon, a salmon filet, or try roast duck if you’re feeling fancy
  • Lots of veggies – try sautéed vegetables or steamed broccoli
  • Complex carbohydrates – a baked sweet potato or brown rice pilaf

And if you enjoy red wine, you can sip knowing you’re helping your heart if you stay within recommended amounts – one drink for women or two for men.

Make at Home Healthy Options

Not in the mood to brave the crowd? Treat the ones you love to a delicious yet healthy dinner without sacrificing taste. Not only will you spend less for dinner, but you’ll be more in control of the ingredients and portions. Try this dish for an elegant yet easy meal, full of heart healthy ingredients: Almond and Lemon Crusted Fish with Spinach.

Have a sweet tooth? Nothing says “I love you” quite like a little chocolate for dessert. Plus, it’s a heart healthy superfood. This mousse uses avocado, which contains heart healthy fat and is touted for its weight loss promoting properties, as the base. Avocados lend a rich, luscious texture with none of the guilt (and no avocado flavor). Eat it straight out of a bowl, use as a dip for strawberries, or even as a healthy cupcake frosting:

“Love Your Heart” Chocolate Mousse

Serves 2

Total time: 10min

  • 1 large ripe avocado (slightly soft when you squeeze it)
  • ¼ cup raw cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼- 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Add all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend. Start with ¼ cup honey and add more at the end after first tasting the finished product. You can also use a bowl and masher or immersion blender. Mix until a uniform color and consistency.

With these simple and tasty recipes, you’ll avoid the stress of planning the perfect dinner – and we know how bad stress is for the heart! Focus instead on taking care of your heart and the ones you love. Bon appétit!

Veronica Verhoff

About Veronica Verhoff

Veronica is our BCBSNC's onsite nutritionist who helps people address many health concerns, such as allergies, high cholesterol, diabetes and weight management. Her passion for nutrition led her to teach biochemistry at the graduate level. She takes time to explain how different foods play a role in your ability to lose weight and prevent disease. She has worked alongside many physicians and with people of all sizes and walks of life. She is committed to helping people achieve their goals. MPH, RD, LDN – Registered Dietitian

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