Hearts are everywhere this week as Valentine’s Day approaches. I don’t pay much attention to the plush and plastic type – I prefer concentrating on ways to show my actual heart a little love.
What follows is my version of a food-blog post. Let me point out that I’m not a food blogger, for several reasons (most of which you are about to discover…) However, when the folk at Waitrose asked me to come up with some heart-healthy recipes ahead of V-day, I said I’d do my best.
Waitrose are running their heart-healthy recipes project to promote healthy meal ideas we can all cook at home.
So, here goes! (All ingredients were bought from Waitrose with a voucher they sent me for this purpose).
Smoked trout pate with baked artichoke, walnut kale pesto and a beetroot heart followed by coconut whipped cream, seeds and berries
Smoked trout pate
- 100g smoked trout
- fresh horseradish root
- one shallot
- two (or more if you like) chestnut mushrooms
- a little oil for sauteeing
- Chop the shallot and mushrooms and saute in the oil using a low heat. Add a bit of lemon peel towards the end. Allow these to cool.
- Finely chop the horseradish (don’t use much, it’s really strong!)
- Add the trout, lemon juice, horseradish and cooked/cooled veg to a blender. Blend it all up.
- Season with salt (I used smoked sea salt) and black pepper.
- Pop a bit of fresh parsley on top to make it look fancy because “it’s for the blog”.
- Eat it and wonder why on earth you don’t make this all the time because it’s amazingly delicious!
Oily fish is packed full of unsaturated omega 3 fatty acids, “good fats” which have been shown to reduce inflammation and benefit our health in many ways – including heart health. Be mindful of your omega 3 intake to help balance out our Western diets which tend to be so omega 6 and omega 9 dominant. A more common fish pate would be salmon or smoked mackerel (and I do love smoked mackerel) but my absolute favourite is smoked trout. So that’s what I made!
Walnut and kale pesto
1 fat garlic clove
(Makes a small jarful – I didn’t eat all of this!)
- Toast the walnuts in a hot pan (watch they don’t burn)
- Steam the kale then cool it quickly in cold water. Drain it well and pat it dry.
- Put everything in a blender and… er… blend it. Add just enough olive oil to loosen the mixture so it blends well.
- Use as much lemon, basil and seasonings to suit your personal pesto preference.
Heart health: walnuts and kale
Most raw nuts (not peanuts) are good for heart health, as they’re high in unsaturated fatty acids (healthy fats) as well as vitamins and minerals. They also contain Fiber. All nuts contain plenty of fiber, Vitamin E, naturally-occuring plant sterols and l-arginine. Walnuts are a particular superstar, though, with more antioxidants than any other nut.
Kale is enjoying something of a purple patch in healthy-eating circles at the moment. Like most leafy greens and brassicas, it packs a nutritional punch: fibre, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants including copper, folate and potassium. Steaming it is better than boiling it beyond all recognition.
Served with: a baked artichoke (for no particular reason other than artichokes have hearts, and their leaves are a delicious way to scoop up pesto and pate), some lettuce and endive leaves (for decoration) and a heart which I cut out of a cooked beetroot with a heart-shaped cookie cutter.
Heart health: beetroot
Beetroot juice is emerging as a popular pre-workout drink for athletes due to its high concentration of nitrates, which converts into nitric oxide in the blood. Nitric oxide widens blood vessels and lowers blood pressure. Just one of the reasons beetroot is great for heart health (and health in general).
Coconut whipped cream with berries, seeds and 100% chocolate
- Put a tin of coconut cream in the fridge overnight. This will separate the cream from the coconut water.
- Open the tin carefully and spoon out the hard cream solids (which will be at the top).
- Whip these using a food processor or a hand whisk – they will whip up just like cream.
- Flavour with vanilla if you want.
- Strew with seeds, berries and grated chocolate because “it’s for the blog”.
I served the coconut whipped cream with strawberries (because they’re traditional for Valentine’s Day, after all), pumpkin seeds, goji berries (just because they’re red) and grated 100% chocolate – my favourite!
Heart health: coconut and 100% chocolate (cacao)
The fats in coconut oil and cream are medium-chain fatty acids which are thought to be very heart-healthy despite being a saturated fat.
Dark chocolate is healthier than its paler counterparts, and 100% chocolate (or cacao) is chocolate with none of the unhealthy stuff added and all of the good bits retained. It hasn’t got any added sugar, sweeteners or fats and is a great source of antioxidants. Cacao contains theobromine, phenylethylamine and can increase your brain’s production of serotonin. It also contains vitamins and eessential minerals including magnesium, iron, calcium, zinc, copper and potassium. It’s a source of the flavonoids epicatechin and catechin. And, because it’s so strong, you barely need any to get that wonderful dark chocolate flavour.
Check out Waitrose’s healthy-heart recipes page for more ideas (and possibly some better pictures than mine!)
What’s your favourite heart-healthy ingredient?
Heart-healthy recipes for Valentine’s Day is a post from The Fit Writer blog.
Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.