“V” is for Vegetables on Valentine’s Day

Fruit & Veggies Heart

Fruit & Veggies Heart

I like to think of Valentine’s Day as a time to love myself as well as others in my life. It’s easy to critique yourself frequently, downplay your dreams, put work above hobbies, and use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to indulge in all manner of unhealthy food and behaviors. But Valentine’s Day is really a perfect time to remember playwright Oscar Wilde’s quote: “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance!”

Start by doing something you love with someone you love on Valentine’s Day, and follow it up with a delicious plant-based meal loaded with vegetables that are good for your heart! Watch the documentary The Game Changers together, and learn how a plant-based diet improves your cardiovascular health and athletic performance both outside and inside the bedroom. I’ve also found a recipe for a healthier version of chocolate cake, because let’s face it…Valentine’s Day just wouldn’t be the same without a little chocolate!

VEGAN SPANAKOPITA

This filling spinach “cheese” pie uses tofu and nutritional yeast to create a protein-packed, heart-healthy alternative to the traditional Greek recipe.

1 lb. firm tofu (drained and crumbled)

1 lbs. soft tofu (drained and crumbled)

5 cups frozen spinach (defrosted)

½ cup drained capers

1 cup diced white onion

3 cloves crushed garlic

1 tsp. dried basil

½ tsp. dried oregano

1 ½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. black pepper

3 Tbs. nutritional yeast

4 tsp. lemon juice

1 package filo dough (thawed according to package directions)

Olive oil

 

Prepare the spinach by squeezing out all water and setting aside in a large mixing bowl.

Sauté the garlic and onion in some olive oil until onion is translucent. Add to the bowl of spinach.

Add to the bowl the crumbled tofu blocks, capers, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, nutritional yeast, and lemon juice. Mix thoroughly.  This is your filling for the pie.

Grease a square casserole dish with some olive oil, and lay 2 sheets of filo dough over the bottom (the edges may hang over the sides). Brush some olive oil over the top layer and continue layering filo dough (2 at a time) until half the package of filo dough is used.

Spoon the spinach tofu filling into the casserole dish and spread out evenly.

Begin adding two layers of filo dough on top of the filling, and brushing with olive oil. Continue layering the dough and oil until all the filo dough is used. Add extra oil on top and to the edges of the dough, curling them into a roll all around the casserole dish edges.

Bake at 375 F for 45 minutes. Serves 6.

 

MINTED BELL PEPPER SALAD

Add some color to your plate with Vitamin C-rich bell peppers and refreshing mint! Vitamin C is a building block for collagen, needed to repair blood vessels. Mint assists with digestion of your romantic dinner and freshens your breath for kisses!

1 head Romaine lettuce (sliced into ribbons)

1 diced yellow bell pepper

1 diced orange bell pepper

1 diced red bell pepper

½ sliced red onion

½ cup torn fresh mint

Olive oil

Lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Stir together all the vegetables in a large bowl.

Make your own salad dressing using one part olive oil to two parts lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper to your taste. Serves 6.

chocolate eclipse cake

chocolate eclipse cake

TOTAL ECLIPSE CHOCOLATE CAKE (adapted from The Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook by Robin Robertson) Instead of processed sugar, this cake uses dates and maple syrup to sweeten the cake. Spelt flour is lower in gluten and gives a nutty flavor to baked goods. Flaxseeds and tofu take the place of high cholesterol eggs as a binder. No need to feel guilty after eating this treat!

1 ½ cup spelt flour

¾ cup cocoa powder

1 Tbs. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. salt

2 Tbs. powdered flaxseed

½ cup water

½ cup pitted dates, soaked in 1 cup hot water for 30 minutes

6 oz. extra firm silken tofu

1 cup pure maple syrup

1 Tbs. avocado oil

1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract

 

Frosting:

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

½ cup raw cashews, soaked for 1 hour in enough water to cover them

1/3 cup water

6 oz. extra firm silken tofu

¼ cup maple syrup

1 tsp. vanilla extract

 

Mix the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl.

Blend together the flaxseed powder, ½ cup water, dates and their soaking water, tofu, maple syrup, oil, and vanilla. Blend until smooth and add to the bowl of dry ingredients, mixing well.

Divide the batter into two round, 9-inch greased cake pans and bake at 350 F for 25 minutes. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, melt the chocolate chips by stirring constantly in a pot over low heat (or use a double boiler until melted). Drain the cashews and blend them with 1/3 cup water, tofu, maple syrup, and vanilla. Add the melted chocolate and blend until smooth.

Chill frosting in the fridge. Frost each layer of the cake, spreading leftover frosting around the sides.

 

Have a wonderful (and delicious) Valentine’s Day!
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