Health & Wellness

Cooking Up a Very Special Valentine’s Day

Written By:
Feb 11, 2022
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Written By: Tejal Parekh,
February 11, 2022

Valentine’s Day is a day of celebrating love – our love for our partners, our children, our pets and even food! Most importantly, we want to remember that Valentine’s Day can be a day to celebrate our love for ourselves.  

People, particularly those with mesothelioma or those who are immunocompromised, may not feel comfortable heading out to dine in a restaurant with an ongoing pandemic. We can, however, create a nice atmosphere and bring the fun home.

Place a few decorations or flowers around the room, light some candles and play some of your favorite music to really set the mood! For something a little more fancy, you can use your fine china or find some inexpensive Valentine’s Day themed plates at a home goods store.

5 Tips for Celebrating the Day

If cooking seems too daunting, here are tips for other special ways to enjoy this holiday:

  1. Head to a restaurant that has outdoor seating with tables spaced apart. This is especially important for those at high risk of infection.
  2. Take out a meal from your favorite restaurant so you don’t have to worry about finding a dinner reservation on a typically busy night.
  3. For something a little different (and if the weather is nice), try a picnic in a local park.
  4. If time is an issue, consider grabbing a coffee at a local café. Sometimes all you need to feel appreciated is 30 minutes of quiet time with a loved one or even with yourself.
  5. If you’re isolating on Valentine’s Day, plan a virtual date with a friend, sibling or grandchildren. Use Google Meet, FaceTime, Zoom, WhatsApp or other means of video calling to connect with loved ones near or far to celebrate a day of love.

Recipes for a Vibrant Valentine’s Dinner

A special meal doesn’t have to take hours to prepare. The recipes below are nutritious with plenty of cancer fighting phytochemicals, but they’re also delicious and simple to prepare, making them the perfect Valentine’s Day meal.

Spinach, Walnut and Strawberry Salad

This simple salad recipe uses strawberries, which are currently in season in areas like Florida. (Blackberries would work well here too.) Strawberries are full of ellagic acid and vitamin C, both potent antioxidants.   

Strawberries
Strawberries contain antioxidants.

The walnuts add a great crunch as well as a boost of healthy omega 3 fats. If you don’t like feta cheese, use goat cheese, plant-based cheese or skip altogether.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons strawberry preserves
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1 (5-ounce) package baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped California walnuts, toasted*
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

Directions

  • Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, preserves and salt in a large bowl.
  • Add strawberries and toss lightly. Place spinach in a bowl and toss again to coat with dressing. Top with walnuts and cheese and serve immediately.
  • *To toast walnuts, add the walnuts to a hot, dry pan set over medium heat, only toasting as many walnuts as fit in the pan in a single layer. Cook walnuts, watching constantly and stirring frequently, for 1-2 minutes or until the walnuts start to brown and smell fragrant & toasted. Since the walnuts will burn easily in the pan, you must stir constantly to ensure even toasting until the walnuts turn a rich, golden brown. Remove walnuts to a plate or bowl to cool.

Recipe from California Walnuts

Pan Seared Halibut with Heirloom Tomatoes

This delicious entrée would pair nicely with some potatoes and cooked greens. It uses halibut and heirloom tomatoes, which aren’t your everyday food items. This makes it perfect for a Valentine’s Day treat.

Halibut Ingredients

  • 2 5-ounce halibut filets
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • Juice of ½ lemon
Heirloom Tomato Topping Ingredients
  • 1/2 pound heirloom tomatoes, chopped (juices saved)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon shallot, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chives, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar (may substitute for regular balsamic vinegar)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Directions
  • In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes and their juices with the basil, olive oil, shallots, chives and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper (to taste) and set aside.
  • Pat the halibut filets dry with paper towels to remove extra moisture, and season with salt and pepper.
  • In a medium nonstick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil over medium-high heat.
  • Add the halibut and cook until browned on the bottom (or skin has turned crispy), about 5 minutes.
  • Flip the filets and add the butter, thyme and lemon to the skillet; spoon the liquid over the filets as they cook, about 2 minutes longer.
  • Transfer the halibut to a plate. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the tomato mixture on top of each filet.

Recipe courtesy of The American Institute for Cancer Research

Chocolate Lava Cakes

Our final recipe is a true treat for a special day. This dessert is not too difficult to prepare and will be so much nicer than any restaurant bought cake – because you made it! 

Grab your favorite vanilla ice cream (or any flavor you like). Any leftover strawberries from your salad would also work wonderfully with this dish.  

Ingredients
  • Baking spray, for spraying custard cups
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2-cup all-purpose flour
  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving
Directions
  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray four custard cups with baking spray and place on a baking sheet.
  • Microwave the butter, bittersweet chocolate and semisweet chocolate in a large bowl on high until the butter is melted, about 1 minute. Whisk until the chocolate is also melted.
  • Stir in the sugar until well blended. Whisk in the eggs and egg yolks, and then add the vanilla. Stir in the flour. Divide the mixture among the custard cups.
  • Bake until the sides are firm and the centers are soft, about 13 minutes. Let stand for 1 minute. Invert on individual plates while warm and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Recipe (and instructional video) from The Food Network

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