Valentine’s Day meal ideas: Food for the heart

Stuck on coming up with Valentine’s Day meal ideas? Test your inner foodie with this divine three-course meal that’s made of ingredients that are particularly good for the heart – making them part of the ultimate Valentine’s Day spread!

Starter: Beetroot and feta salad

Apart from its pretty Valentines Day colour, beetroot is packed with vitamin C, iron, folate and magnesium. It’s also rich in betacyanin, an antioxidant that’s essential for a healthy heart.
2 cups beetroot, cooked and sliced
1 bunch of salad leaves like baby spinach or mixed leaves
1 handful of feta cheese, crumbled
2 tbsp cranberries or pomegranate seeds (optional)
Assorted nuts for sprinkling
Honey mustard dressing (optional)
Method: Arrange the salad with leaves as the base, then top with beetroot slices, feta and nuts. Sprinkle the cranberries and drizzle with your favourite salad dressing.

Main: Creamy herby chicken

Valentine's Day meal ideasLean meat like chicken breasts, is one of the best options for protein. Lean meat is known to lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases, making it not only a more affordable protein option, but also good for the heart. Impress with this hearty recipe by The Lazy Makoti, for Valentine’s Day or any day you want to shower those you love with some good food.
4 chicken breasts (sliced lengthwise to make them thinner)
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil/cooking oil
1 small onion, very finely chopped
4 tsp crushed garlic
1 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
½ tsp each of dried thyme and dried rosemary
2 tsp dried Italian herbs
2 tsp lemon and herb spice
½ cup milk
½ cup cream
1 tsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tbsp water until smooth
A  cup of blanched vegetables (spinach or green beans)
A cup of mushrooms, fried

Method: Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pan over medium-high heat and cook chicken breasts until no longer pink inside (about five minutes each side, depending on thickness). Then, transfer to a plate and set aside and in the same pan, heat another 2 teaspoons olive oil and sauté onion and garlic until fragrant.

Add the herbs and spices and fry for a minute, then stir in milk and cream. Bring to a boil and then add the corn starch mixture to the centre of the pan, stirring immediately until sauce has thickened slightly. Reduce heat and simmer gently for a further minute to allow the sauce to thicken some more.

Return chicken to the skillet and sprinkle with extra herbs if desired. Add the cooked vegetables and mushrooms, heat through and serve with rice.

Dessert: Microwave chocolate coffee cake

Valentine's Day meal ideasIt’s hard to believe that something as delicious as chocolate can actually be good for you! Cacao, the bean from which chocolate is made, is filled with antioxidants that improve cholesterol, blood vessel circulation and lower blood pressure. Dark chocolate is a great supplement to a healthy diet.
Chocolate always features in Valentine’s Day meal ideas. Eat dark chocolate as is or use it in a yummy dessert like individual chocolate cake in a cup. (Simply replace the cocoa with 30 grams of grated dark chocolate).

Images:  Quivertree Publications | Gallo/ Getty Images | Penguin Random House
Chicken Recipe: The Lazy Makoti’s Guide to the Kitchen | Penguin Random House
Valentine's Day meal ideas