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Tips for a healthy Valentine’s Day menu

With its emphasis on spoiling your sweetheart and indulging your sweet tooth, Valentine’s Day tests the resolve of even the most dedicated dieters. To help stay on track, ditch the dinner reservation and cook up an intimate — and nutritious — dinner for two instead.

Below are some useful tips for turning this Valentine’s Day into your most romantic and healthiest one yet!

Go red.

February 14 is the perfect day to make your meal pop with crimson-colored foods. In addition to being festive, many red fruits and vegetables — bell peppers, tomatoes, cranberries and beets, to name a few — are high in valuable nutrients that contribute to a healthy body and mind. Choose some of your favorites and incorporate them into your menu. Suggestion: Serve grilled pink grapefruit (chilled) with a drizzle of honey and dried cranberries sprinkled on top for an appetizer. Or try tossing baby kale, sliced red apples, walnuts and red onions in a light vinaigrette for a quick and easy salad.

Try out a seafood recipe.

Fish, especially fatty fish, have long been considered great sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for heart health. In fact, the American Heart Associationrecommendsthat you eat at least two servings of fish per week. Make your Valentine’s Day meal count for at least one of those servings by trying out a new recipe that includes salmon, lake trout or tuna. Suggestion: Wrap lightly seasoned salmon in aluminum foil, top with a dollop of red pesto and bake in the oven for a main course.

Roast your vegetables.

Roasting vegetables amplifies their natural sweetness and is a quick and delicious way to take your meal to the next level. And, it’s easy. Simply chop some veggies, toss them lightly with a little bit of olive oil, season and pop them in the oven while you cook the rest of the meal. Suggestion: Spread bite-size pieces of small red potatoes, beets and Brussels sprouts on a sheet pan, add a drizzle of olive oil and light seasoning (a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper will do the trick) and roast them with a few sprigs of rosemary.

Don’t forget dessert!

Valentine’s Day simply wouldn’t be complete without a little bit of chocolate. Thankfully,chocolate has been shown to lower “bad” cholesterol (LDL) levels, increase blood flow to the brain and stimulate the production of endorphins. The darker the chocolate, the better it is for you. A little goes a long way, though, and chocolate’s fat and sugar content means you’ll want to be careful not to overindulge. Suggestion: Keep your sweet tooth in check by dipping a naturally sweet fruit, like strawberries, in dark chocolate for a simple and delicious treat that also packs a healthy punch.

Choose your plate wisely.

Selecting healthy dinner options is essential, but how much you eat is also important. A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research suggests that the size and color of your dinnerware may help you with your portion control. Serve yourself and your loved one less by using small dishes with colors that stand in sharp contrast to the food you’re eating. Lastly, plan an activity for after dinner, like a romantic movie, so that you move away from the dinner table and the food.