Written by Dustin Stegen, MS, SNAP-Ed Program Coordinator
As we all know, or for some who have willfully forgotten, Valentine’s Day is here again. Valentine’s Day is a great time in which we tell our loved ones how much they mean to us in a special way. Our love can go out to our friends, co-workers, parents, grandparents, our enemies but especially to the ones we call sweetheart. All of these people deserve our affection but one sweetheart is often forgotten, our own. Our heart health is critical to our overall health and quality of life. If taken care of inappropriately or neglectfully, our heart can suffer. A few changes can help create a heart healthy Valentine’s Day for you and your loved ones.
Here is a top ten list of ways you can treat your heart and your sweetheart.
Number 10: Instead of eating all of the lovely Valentine’s Day chocolate the day you receive them, put them in the fridge or freezer to enjoy them for weeks to come.
Number 9: Your heart would enjoy some lovely indoor physical activity. Since winter is still holding on with its cold grip, physical activity can be done by mall walking, taking the stairs and going to the gym regularly.
Number 8: Focus on hydration. Staying hydrated may contribute to lowering your blood pressure as well as make you feel better. Water is the perfect zero calorie drink with no added sugar.
Number 7: Rather than frying foods try cooking your favorite food by healthier means like stir-frying, roasting, grilling or steaming. Fried foods contain extra fats and calories.
Number 6: When cooking from home, use healthier seasonings and avoid store bought mixes that can contain unwanted salt. Also, it is not necessary to salt your food. Taste your meal before adding additional salt to an already tasty dish.
Number 5: Quit that smoking habit. The cessation of smoking is a great way to improve the health of yourself and your loved ones around you. Smoking is the most preventable cause of premature death. Even though you may not smoke around your family or friends, they know you do it and it can influence them to do the same.
Number 4: While going out to your romantic dinner, share your meal with the one you love. This will reduce the amount of calories and fat that is in a lot of food served at restaurants. Splitting your dinner will also help you keep that hard earned money in your pocket.
Number 3: Nothing shows love more than making a special meal at home. Making your meals from home can help you control the quality and quantity of what you eat. If you think you are terrible cook, check out some of our recipes to make your sweetheart and share some great memories together.
Number 2: Instead of surprising that special someone with chocolates, satisfy your love with a fruit basket. Fruit contain healthy nutrients along with natural sweetness.
Number 1: Showing love to someone does not have to mean food. Write a love note, sing a love song, learn to dance, or attend an event. Whatever you decide to do, make sure there are a lot of laughs and smiles. These types of memories from Valentine’s Day will last much longer than anything having to do with food.
For a healthy snack idea try this Banana in a Blanket.
Banana in a Blanket
Credit: Nutrition Education Program, Cooks Helper
- 1 (6-inch) whole wheat tortilla
- 1 banana
- 1 T. creamy peanut butter
- 1 tsp. honey or maple syrup (optional)
- 1 T. cereal, crunchy nugget type or other variety
- Lay tortilla on a plate
- Spread peanut butter evenly on tortilla
- Sprinkle cereal over peanut butter
- Peel banana and place on tortilla
- Drizzle honey or maple syrup on banana (optional)
- Roll the tortilla up
Nutrition Information per Serving: Calories 330, Total Fat 9 g (14% DV), Saturated Fat 1.5 g (9% DV), Cholesterol 0 mg (0% DV), Sodium 300 mg (12% DV), Total Carbohydrate 64 g (21% DV), Dietary Fiber 7 g (30% DV), Sugars 29 g, Protein 9 g, Vitamin A 2%, Vitamin C 15%, Calcium 2%, Iron 20%.
Valentine’s Day is a reminder to show our love to someone or people that mean so much to us. With a few subtle changes we can improve our heart health. The list above are great suggestions to make your heart healthier on Valentine’s Day, but these tips can also be implemented into your daily nutritional choices.
This post was reviewed by Morgan Hartline, MS, RD, LMNT. Recipe photo by Craig Chandler, University of Nebraska Communications.