Having dinner together must be one of the oldest and most pleasurable ways of spending time with a partner – or anyone for that matter, but it is a peculiarity in our psyches that associates pleasure and indulgence with being unhealthy. So for this Valentine’s Day, Dietitian Claire Wylde has devised the perfect menu for a romantic dinner at home, and explains how you can treat your partner the healthy way!
If you can, always chose a protein based starter. Evidence would show us that protein makes us feel fuller, so choose a starter that is high in protein and low in fat, it makes sense to think that you will be less hungry for your main, eat less and so consume fewer calories. Starters are also a good idea because they give our brains a chance to register that we are eating. All too often we eat super fast and finish the plate before our brains have had a chance to release hormones to say we are full, so we eat more than our bodies need.
What to serve: Fresh figs (baked) then wrapped in Parma ham served with crumbled walnuts and salad (baby spinach, rocket and watercress) in a light vinaigrette dressing.
Why: The Parma ham and walnuts mean it’s protein based which will help you feel fuller faster. Meanwhile, the walnuts are a good source of omega 3s (great for your heart) and antioxidants (which help fight the battle against wrinkles). It is also low in carbohydrates and calories.
Tip: Be careful to keep the walnut and salad vinaigrette portions small though!
What to serve: Tuna steak served with asparagus, crushed new potatoes and black olives.
Why: Again tuna (and olives) are an excellent source of unsaturated fats and omega 3’s needed to keep your heart healthy. Asparagus is not only a well known aphrodisiac (you’ll have to try that one for yourselves!) but is also crammed full of those precious antioxidants that dietitian’s always talk about! Don’t forget to leave the skins on the new potatoes as they are a good source of fibre which will help you to feel fuller quicker, and by crushing the potatoes you will probably put less on your plate.
Tip: Remember to eat slowly to give your stomach and brain a chance to communicate and recognise that you’re eating. As soon as you start feeling full, stop eating and try not to squeeze that extra mouthful in!
What to serve: Chocolate mousse with strawberries and raspberries.
Why: Desserts are always tricky to keep low in calories because they often need cream and sugar. But you can make this particular suggestion a healthier version by using Greek yogurt instead of cream, using dark chocolate instead of normal chocolate (good for your heart) and by having the fruit to sweeten things you should be able to reduce the amount of sugar needed too. Try it!
Tip: Perhaps try using even less chocolate by replacing some of it with cocoa powder!
Now there is no way I can really get around this I’m afraid, everyone knows it … alcohol is going to make your calorie count soar, but it wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without some, right? A glass of wine will contain between 125-150 kcal (around 175ml) so just watch how much you have.
Tip: Wine spritzers made with diet soda can be a good way to cut out some calories and also help you to drink a little less alcohol overall!
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