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Heart Healthy Menu for Valentine’s Day

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Happy Valentine’s Day! The widely celebrated and popular holiday has a surprisingly alluded history. Whatever its origins, today it is honored around the world as a day to be more kind and loving, especially to your significant other.

Since Valentine’s Day falls on a week day, you may be postponing your celebration until the weekend. However, you still have time to make a mid-week meal that’s a little bit special. Since it’s also Heart Health Month, I visited the American Heart Association’s recipe box and found a recipe for salmon that’s great for a weeknight. Salmon is a healthful, lean protein that cooks very quickly. This meal can be on the table inside of 30 minutes start to finish. First start a wild or brown rice. Then proceed to follow the directions for the salmon. While it bakes, you’ll have time to make up a salad and set the table.


Spinach-Stuffed Baked Salmon


1 teaspoon olive oil
2 ounces spinach
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 cup chopped roasted red bell peppers, rinsed and drained if bottled
1/4 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts Cooking spray
4 salmon fillets (about 4 ounces each), rinsed and patted dry
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (lowest sodium available)
2 tablespoons plain dry bread crumbs (lowest sodium available)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon pepper

1.In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat, swirling to coat the bottom. Cook the spinach and lemon zest for 2 minutes, or until the spinach is wilted, stirring constantly. Transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in the roasted peppers, basil, and walnuts. Let cool for 5 minutes.
2.Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Lightly spray the foil with cooking spray.
3.Cut a lengthwise slit in the side of each fillet to make a pocket for the stuffing. Be careful to not cut through to the other side. With a spoon or your fingers, carefully stuff a scant 1/2 cup spinach mixture into each fillet. Transfer to the baking sheet. With a pastry brush or spoon, spread the mustard over the fish.
4.In a small bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients. Sprinkle over the fish. Lightly spray the top with cooking spray.
5.Bake for 12 to 13 minutes, or until the fish is the desired doneness and the filling is heated through.
You can make easy substitutions if you don’t have some of the items on hand. For example, I really don’t like cooked peppers, so I would sub in a chopped artichoke or shallots instead. And, since my brother’s pecan trees performed exceptionally well this year, I would likely use those instead of walnuts.

If you have some extra time while the dish cooks, check out this short video from about the origins of Valentine’s Day.