7 Decadent Valentine's Day Recipes That Are Actually Good for You – Everyday Health

Treat your sweetheart — and yourself — with these healthy yet indulgent Valentine’s Day recipes.
A candlelit dinner in a nice restaurant used to be standard for Valentine’s Day romance. But that was before social distancing, labor shortages, and supply chain issues. Now, a fancy meal out might cost you. Menu prices at full-service restaurants have soared in recent years, with an average increase of nearly 5 percent from August 2020 to August 2021, reports industry publication Restaurant Business.
Of course, staying in has lost some of its novelty lately, and even GrubHub prices are on the rise. But cooking together, or making a special meal for your valentine, can still be a fun alternative to eating pricey entrées shoulder to shoulder with a bunch of strangers — especially when what you’re making may just help set the mood for romance. These dietitian-approved recipes do just that, plus they’re easy to make and taste indulgent without being so rich and heavy that they weigh you down. Because the best Valentine’s Day meals are the ones that leave room for dessert.
Even if you don’t usually eat red meat, steak is a V-Day classic, and there may be good reason why. Most animal proteins contain an amino acid called L-arginine, which dilates blood vessels — one reason it can be used to treat certain kinds of erectile dysfunction, reports the Mayo Clinic. There’s also evidence that men tend to order steak and other types of meat when they are “sexually motivated,” according to a study published in June 2019 in Food Quality and Preference.
In this recipe from registered dietetic technician Sarah Garone, who blogs at A Love Letter to Food, the lean beef keeps calories and saturated fat in check, and the sweet citrus sauce adds flavor. Serving it over brown rice instead of white will add a little fiber, and if you’re watching your salt intake, you can use a low-sodium soy sauce.
Per serving (serves 4): 552 calories, 16g total fat (4.6g saturated fat), 32g protein, 68g carbohydrates, 4g fiber, 13g sugar, 1,024mg sodium
Seafood has long had a reputation for being an aphrodisiac, and there’s some science that suggests why. Several varieties of seafood are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which, among their other benefits, may help raise levels of dopamine in the brain, according to one small study. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that has been studied for its role in arousal.
As an added benefit, these easy tuna bowls from Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, require only minimal cooking, so cleanup is a cinch. Marinating the tuna steaks in coconut aminos rather than soy sauce scales the sodium level down by more than half, and they are naturally gluten- and soy-free. Look for coconut aminos in the Asian section of your supermarket.
Per serving (serves 2): 460 calories, 24g total fat (3.5g saturated fat), 31g protein, 34g carbohydrates, 7g fiber, 3g sugar (0g added sugar), 590mg sodium
Spice up your Valentine’s night with this comforting Indian classic, which is ready in 25 minutes. Traditional kormas are loaded with cream and butter, but Shahzadi Devje, RD, uses cashews and yogurt in their place in this healthier version. Chicken (especially dark meat) and cashews are both good sources of zinc, a mineral that enhances blood flow, according to the National Institutes of Health. While further research is needed, a study of 116 postmenopausal women, published in July 2021 in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, found that those who took zinc supplements reported significant improvement in sexual desire, arousal, orgasm, satisfaction, and also overall sexual function, compared with a control group that did not supplement with the mineral.
Per serving (serves 5): 251 calories, 8g total fat (2g saturated fat), 32g protein, 12g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 5g sugar, 559mg sodium
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Not a cook? Pop the cork on some wine or bubbly, set out this spread, and you’re ready for a low-key evening of romance with practically zero effort. This totally customizable grazing board from Mackenzie Burgess, RDN, who blogs at Cheerful Choices, allows you and your date to graze on whatever your hearts desire: cheeses, meats, breads, spreads, and fruits and veggies. Just don’t skip the hummus — it’s packed with chickpeas, which contain compounds known as phytoestrogens that mimic female sex hormones, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Per serving (based on 1 oz cheddar cheese, 1 oz turkey, 2 tablespoons hummus, 10 pita chips, 1 cup chopped vegetables, 1 peanut butter–stuffed date): 470 cal, 21g fat (7g saturated fat), 24g protein, 51g carbs, 7g fiber, 20g sugar (0g added), 640mg sodium
If you and your sweetie are carb-conscious, this keto-friendly dessert is the perfect snack. The recipe, from Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, uses coconut flour and sugar-free dark chocolate chips to keep the carb count low. In addition to its other health benefits, chocolate has long been considered an aphrodisiac. According to USDA data, it is a good source of magnesium — and low levels of this mineral have been linked to certain sexual dysfunctions. Plus, the potassium in bananas has a positive effect on blood pressure, which is a risk factor for sexual issues in men, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Per serving (serves 12): 132 calories, 9g total fat (4g saturated fat), 3g protein, 11g carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 3g sugar, 148mg sodium
RELATED: 10 Easy and Healthy Dessert Recipes
Start your Valentine’s Day off right with this comforting casserole, courtesy of Marisa Moore, RDN. It’s got plenty of protein for fuel, plus spinach, which contains iron. In a study published in 2018 in PLoS One, women who were deficient in the mineral reported significantly lower sexual function and satisfaction than women with healthy levels of iron.
Moore suggests pairing a slice of this casserole with a simple arugula salad dressed with olive oil and red wine vinegar.
Per serving: 217 calories, 10g total fat (5g saturated fat), 13g protein, 18g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 4g sugar, 498mg sodium
It wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without a little something sweet. Amy Gorin, RDN, shares this simple recipe that uses store-bought dark chocolate cups. Pomegranates are rich in antioxidants, and there is even some evidence that those compounds may help alleviate certain causes of erectile dysfunction. Research also shows that pomegranate may be beneficial to nitric oxide, a molecule that plays a key role in blood flow during sexual arousal. If you would like to lower the fat content in these dessert cups, simply use fat-free ricotta in place of part-skim ricotta.
Per serving (serves 8): 150 calories, 11g total fat (7g saturated fat), 4g protein, 13g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 9g sugar, 20mg sodium
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