Healthy Valentine’s Day Menu

On a Valentine’s Day when my husband was deployed and my daughter was a toddler struggling with potty training, a military spouse friend and her husband invited me out to dinner.  After overcoming serious health issues the previous year, they had a lot to celebrate as a couple.  Still, they arranged for his parents to watch my daughter and took me out.  Getting to spend an adult evening out with treasured friends on a night that might have been really lonely was priceless! 

From that evening’s menu, I had an unforgettable salad with berries and dark chocolate shavings.  I wanted to add this delightful twist to the salad for the Valentine’s menu I’m preparing for my family this year.  Potpie is the main course.  Cookie cutter hearts topping the potpie will delight your little ones, and maybe even bring a smile to your loved one’s face.  My husband kept raving about how creamy it was.  And, it’s cupcakes for dessert.  These cupcakes have a couple of interesting ingredients that come together in a surprisingly delicious way.  Ready to think outside of the box?

Spring Greens with Raspberries, Pecans, and Dark Chocolate
Spring Greens with Raspberries, Pecans, and Dark Chocolate

Spring Greens with Raspberries, Pecans, and Dark Chocolate

InDependent Original

  • Baby greens, rinsed (or lettuce of choice)
  • Raspberries, rinsed
  • Pecans
  • Dark chocolate, shaved with a vegetable peeler 

Place the greens in a salad bowl.  Gently toss in the raspberries and pecans.  Top with chocolate shavings.  I loved this with just a little olive oil and sea salt, but raspberry vinaigrette would be delicious as well. 

Valentine Vegetable Pot Pie
Valentine Vegetable Pot Pie

Valentine Vegetable Pot Pie

adapted from Veggie on a Penny

Vegetable Filling

  • 1 ½ cup potatoes, peeled and cut into ¼-inch cubes
  • 1 cup carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • ¾ cup frozen green beans
  • ¾ cup frozen corn
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound chicken-style seitan (or boneless chicken pieces)

Creamy Cauliflower Sauce

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour (or regular whole wheat)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt to taste

Crust

  • ½ cup vegan margarine, cubed & frozen (or butter)
  • ½ cup water, chilled
  • 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or even mix of white and white whole wheat flour)

Instructions

Put a medium-sized pot of water on the stove to boil.

Place the potatoes, carrots and onions in a large pot, covering with salted water, and bringing to a boil. Boil for about 10 minutes.  Add frozen green beans and corn and boil for about 5 more minutes.  Drain the water when vegetables are warm and tender.  Return veggies to the pot.

Add the cauliflower to the first pot and boil until tender, about 10 or 15 minutes.  Saving one cup of the cooking water, drain.

Meanwhile, if using the chicken-style seitan, warm the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.   Lightly brown the seitan.  If you are adding chicken, use your favorite boneless chicken pieces. Boil the chicken for 15-30 minutes or until thoroughly cooked. Chop.  Add to the pot with the veggies.

Transfer cauliflower to a blender.  Add the cup of reserved water and the rest of the sauce ingredients.  Blend on high until smooth and creamy, adding more water if needed.  Check and adjust seasonings.  Add gradually to the pot with the veggies, coating everything really well.  You might have extra sauce.

Make the crust.  Using your hands, gently, knead together the flour, salt, and vegan margarine (or butter).  Pour in the water and knead, just until mixed.  Don’t handle too much.  Add a little more water as necessary.

Sprinkle a bit of flour on your work surface, and a little on your rolling pin.  Pinch off a little more than half of the dough and roll out evenly.  Carefully place the dough in a pie plate.  Use a fork to create crosshatches on the edges, just like you would if you were making peanut butter cookies.

Roll out the second piece of dough.  Using a heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut as many hearts as you desire from the dough.  Pour filling into pie plate.  Put as many dough hearts over the top as will fit.  Put the remaining hearts on a cookie sheet.

Bake potpie for 35-45 minutes at 350 degrees, or until golden brown.  Bake the remaining hearts for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Allow potpie to cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.   Save heart crackers for another use.

Cocoa, Kale, & Beet Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Frosting
Cocoa, Kale, & Beet Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Frosting

Cocoa, Kale, & Beet Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Frosting

via YumUniverse

Kate introduced us to these cupcakes when she wrote our Kale food challenge.  I was skeptical.  Kale in cupcakes?  Weird.  And, the recipe was vegan and gluten free, so I wasn’t sure if it was going to be too touchy for me to execute properly.  But, it all worked out and they were delicious.  I love making treats for my family that have some nutritional value instead of empty calories.  This is now my go-to chocolate cupcake recipe.

I used coconut sugar in place of sucanat, and didn’t need agave nectar in the frosting.  I used coconut cream from Trader Joe’s in place of the coconut milk and it had a really nice consistency.  It was thick enough for spreading after a short time in the fridge, and overnight, it became as thick as cream cheese.  I had to get the sorghum flour at Whole Foods, but according to the comments on the blog, you could substitute gluten free oat or gluten free all-purpose flour.

What are your plans for Valentine’s Day?