Valentine’s day is a wonderful time where we get to celebrate our connections with those we love. While you are out celebrating this year I want to provide you with some inspiration as to why your health will improve through love and connection. I’m also giving you a special treat: heart healthy recipes to make this Valentine’s day a special one!
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” -Lao Tzu
When new patients come into my office I always ask about their support system. This includes close family, romantic partners, friends and anyone else that they feel a close connection with. Humans are hard-wired for connection; we are not meant to be solitary creatures, and our bodies crave physical, emotional and intellectual connection with other people. My patients who have strong relationships and support systems are much more likely to achieve vibrant health and healing than those who are trying to do it all alone.
In fact, NOT having healthy social relationships has been linked to higher risk for illness and disease. Being lonely was found the be more detrimental to one’s long-term health than even obesity! (1)
Let’s use this Valentine’s Day to get closer to those that matter to us.

Health Benefits of Love

You already know love makes you feel weak in the knees and gives you butterflies in the stomach, but it does much more than that. Love, and the effects it creates has massive health benefits.
Feeling loved and connected has been shown to:
  • Improve cardiovascular health
  • Reduce cancer rates
  • Reduce risk of heart attack
  • Increase energy
  • Increase longevity

Even if you are not in a romantic relationship, you can still experience these benefits. Romantic love has its perks but everyday caring for people in your life matters just as much to your health. For more on the health benefits of love click here.

Intimacy improves your health.

Getting intimate on a regular basis boosts your immune system. Your body’s defenses go to work and help you to fight off infection. Your risk of heart disease and prostate cancer decreases. If that isn’t reason enough, it’s been proven that frequently hugging people you love can lower your blood pressure almost as well as prescription medication. (2) For more on how intimacy helps heal your body click here.

Heart Healthy and Dr. Nandi Approved Recipes!

Here are some of my favorite recipes to put together on Valentine’s Day for my wife.

Appetizer

For Health Benefits Click Here.

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Grilled Oysters

Oysters are a great way to add many health benefits to your diet. They help with your Zinc levels, heart health, lower blood pressure, improve weight loss, and boost your sexual health.

  • Yield: 6-10 1x
Scale

Ingredients

610 oysters

1 large lemon (cut into wedges)

Instructions

  • Preheat grill to high heat.
  • With the deeper shell down, place oysters on grate.
  • Grill for 6-8 minutes.
  • Remove oysters from grill the second the shells pops open.
  • Dump out juice onto coals.
  • Do not delay in removing them from grill. They will wither quickly.
  • Pry off top shell with oven mitt.
  • Pull oysters off of the top shell.
  • Dump out juices.
  • Return oyster to shell and eat immediately.
After you have enjoyed your Romantic plate of Oysters balance out your gut with some lovely greens.

Salad

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Red Radish and Avocado Salad

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Ingredients

Salad

2 large red radishes, chopped

23 medium tomatoes, sliced

1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced

2 small avocados, diced

2 green bell peppers, chopped

1 small red onion, sliced thin

1 cup green olives (optional)

2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

4 oz. goat cheese, chopped (optional)

Dressing

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 pieces lemon, squeezed

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp black pepper

Instructions

  • Wash all needed ingredients and then peel and cut all ingredients.
  • After preparing all ingredients, set aside.
  • Proceed by making dressing, squeeze first lemon, then combine all dressing ingredients.
  • In a large bowl, put together all ingredients and dressing. Mix well but not too much.
  • Serve and Enjoy!

Notes

Use organic ingredients whenever possible.

After a heart-healthy plate of greens lets move on to the main course.

Main Course

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Honey Salmon Bites

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Ingredients

2 lbs. salmon

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup honey

3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp crushed chili flakes

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 1/2 tsp minced fresh rosemary (about 1 large sprig)

Salt to taste

Instructions

  • Cut salmon into 1-inch cubes and set aside.
  • In a large bowl combine balsamic vinegar, honey, olive oil, soy sauce, chili flakes, minced garlic, black pepper, and minced rosemary. Whisk to combine.
  • Place cubes of salmon into a large zip-top plastic bag. Pour in marinade, close up the top of the bag, and allow salmon to marinate for 1 to 4 hours.
  • Remove salmon from marinade and allow it to drain well.
  • Heat a pan over medium heat. Add remaining oil and cook salmon until it’s done to your liking.

REMINDERS

  • Because of sugars from honey in the marinade, steak may brown faster than you’re used to. Make sure to keep a close eye on it so that it does not burn.

Notes

Use organic ingredients whenever possible.

Side

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Tomato Basil Quinoa Bake

  • Yield: 6 Servings 1x
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Ingredients

1 1/2 cupquinoa, rinsed

4 1/2 cups vegetable stock

34 garlic cloves, finely minced

1 medium sweet onion, diced

1 1/2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

12 oz. lima beans rinsed and drained

8 oz. fresh baby spinach leaves

1/2 cup dried cranberries

2 Tbsp basil paste

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

68 leaves fresh basil, chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

In a medium pot, combine quinoa and broth and bring to a boil.

Reduce to a simmer.

In a large dutch oven, heat extra virgin olive oil over medium heat.

Add garlic and onion to dutchoven and cook for 1-2 minutes. (onions should soften)

Now add tomatoes and both types of basil and beans.

Cook for 3-5 minutes.

Take pot of quinoa and broth and pour into tomato mixture.

Season and allow to simmer uncovered until quinoa absorbs broth and is cooked all the way through. (Save a bit of broth just in case you need to add it to quinoa if broth is absorbed too quickly)

When quinoa is done cooking, add spinach, red pepper flakes and dried cranberries.

Stir to wilt spinach.

Top with some more red pepper flakes (optional)

Notes

Use organic ingredients whenever possible.

Finally, finish the night off with a healthy Vegan Black Forest Cake. 
Dessert

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Mini Vegan Black Forest Cakes

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Ingredients

Dry Ingredients:

1 cup plain flour (you can swap out for gluten-free option)

1 tsp baking powder

23 Tbsp cocoa powder

2 Tbsp soft brown sugar

Wet Ingredients:

1/2 cup oat milk

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup vegan butter

Cream and cherry filling:

3 cups coconut cream, chilled

12 Tbsp powdered stevia

1 cup frozen cherries, defrosted

1/3 cup cherry liqueur

Vegan Chocolate shavings, to decorate

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Soak cherries in liqueur while cakes are baking and drain just before using.
  • Grease two small 6-inch cake tins.
  • Using your hand, crumble soft brown sugar into a large mixing bowl.
  • Sift all other dry ingredients into same bowl.
  • Using a small saucepan over medium heat, add butter and coconut oil and melt. Stir occasionally.
  • Combine milk and apple cider vinegar in a small cup.
  • Set aside to curdle.
  • Fold in wet ingredients with dry ingredients. Stir until just combined.
  • Divide batter into cups and smooth out tops.
  • Bake for 25 – 30 minutes. Test by using a skewer. If you can pass a skewer into a cake and it comes out clean, they are ready.
  • Cool on a wire rack.
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk coconut cream and stevia into stiff peaks and set aside in fridge.
  • When cakes are totally cooled, slice them in half through middle.
  • Slather coconut whipped cream onto first slice, then top with soaked cherries.
  • Place second slice on top of the first and again coat with coconut whipped cream.
  • Top with third slice.
  • Repeat until you are left with final, topmost slice.
  • Place on top of third and cover with more coconut whipped cream.
  • Using a spatula, cover the sides of the cake.
  • Decorate with the chocolate shavings. (top with cherries optional)

Bonus! Add some Magic to your evening by Dancing!

Partha’s Prescriptions 

  • Boost your immune system, lower your blood pressure and add years to your life by carving out more time for intimacy.
  • Kiss for at least 30 seconds a day to lower stress levels.
  • If you don’t currently have a love interest, don’t fret; spending time with close friends and family creates a similar health boost
  • While new love is always exciting, most health benefits come from stable, long-term relationship.

References

1. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170805165319.htm

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15740822

Dr. Nandi Approved Valentine’s Day Menu