Be Kind to Your Heart While Treating Your Sweetheart

Since February is host to National Heart Month and Valentine's Day, it's a great time to treat your sweetheart—and yourself—to a homemade heart-healthy meal.

Studies show that when you give someone a gift, you get the same feelings of pleasure as the person receiving it. That's especially true when we cook for someone else. You'll reap even more benefits when you cook a low-sodium meal that not only tastes good but is healthy for you, too.

Whether for your sweetheart or a good friend or neighbor, give a gift this month that is healthy for their heart and yours. Try the menu below for a quick, easy, tasty, and heart-healthy meal.

Lemon Chicken

1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1/3 cup white cranberry juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
4 boneless chicken breasts with skin
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 lemon

Warm the olive oil and minced garlic over low heat for about a minute. Add cranberry juice, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano and thyme. Pour into a 9-by-12-inch baking dish. Place chicken breasts skin side up over the sauce. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with black pepper. Cut lemon into 8 wedges and place between chicken pieces. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes. Brown under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes, if needed. Cover with aluminum foil and rest for 10 minutes.

Tip: Slice leftovers for chicken sandwiches.

Nutrition Information (per chicken breast): Calories: 309, Carbohydrates: 9 grams, Protein: 25 grams, Sodium: 144 milligrams

Stir-fried Garlic Green Beans with Toasted Almonds

3 tablespoons canola oil
1 pound green beans
1/4 cup slivered almonds
2 teaspoons garlic powder

Heat oil on medium-high heat, add green beans and toss to coat evenly in oil. Stir-fry for 5 minutes. Add almonds and garlic powder. Stir-fry for 5 minutes.

Nutritional information (per 1/2 cup): Calories: 91, Carbohydrates: 5 grams, Protein: 2 grams, Fat: 7 grams, Sodium: 1 milligram

Tofu Chocolate Mousse

This great dessert takes just a few minutes to make. Be sure the soy milk is warmed, or the chocolate will "seize" and turn hard.

3/4 cup dark chocolate chips or dark chocolate bars, broken into pieces
12 oz silken tofu* at room temperature, drained
1/2 cup warmed skim milk or soy, rice or almond milk
1 tsp vanilla

*NOTE: You must use silken tofu for this recipe.

Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler or in the microwave. Make sure to let the chocolate melt slowly. Stir until chocolate is uniformly smooth. In a food processor, combine tofu, melted chocolate, warmed milk and vanilla. Process until smooth. Place tofu mixture in fine-mesh strainer or sieve, pushing through with the back of a wooden spoon, into a medium decorative serving bowl. Serve from the bowl or ladle into individual serving bowls. Chill and serve.

Serves 4. Make this recipe with white chocolate chips for a different spin on decadence.

Nutritional information (per serving): Calories: 253, Carbohydrates: 31 grams, Protein: 5 grams, Sodium: 21 milligrams

Note: The recipes in this column are meant for people who want to keep their kidneys healthy and blood pressure down by following a low-sodium diet. In most cases, except for dialysis patients, a diet high in potassium is thought to help lower high blood pressure. These recipes are not intended for people on dialysis without the supervision of a registered dietitian.

 

Katy G. Wilkens, MS, RD is a registered dietitian and department head at Northwest Kidney Centers. She has a Master of Science degree in nutritional sciences from the University of Washington. See more of her recipes at www.nwkidney.org.