This Healthy Dinner will Steal Your Valentine’s Heart

Nothing says ‘I love you’ like making a delicious dinner for your family, so this Valentine’s Day, skip the busy restaurant and opt for a healthy home-cooked meal! Try including the entire family in the cooking process to bond and build confidence in the kitchen. From chopping to washing produce to setting the table, there’s a job for everyone!

Working together in the kitchen is also a great way to get children excited about eating healthier and to expand their taste preferences. If they help you pick out the recipes and have a hand in preparing the meal, children may be more likely to try foods they wouldn’t normally be interested in.

We’ve put together a menu that’s kid-friendly and will be sure to steal your Valentine’s heart! Along with each recipe, we’ve added some tips on how you can include the little members of your family in the kitchen. Before you get started, make sure to highlight the importance of food safety with your children by properly washing hands before, during, and after touching raw and ready-to-eat ingredients.

The first item on our menu is Broccoli, Avocado, and Quinoa Salad. While it will serve as our side dish, it can also be an entrée if there are any vegans or vegetarians in the family. This filling yet light recipe is loaded with nutrients and fresh flavors. The combination of quinoa and pumpkin seeds makes this recipe an easy way to include more plant-based protein into your diet. The addition of avocado will give you a boost of heart-healthy fats and the broccoli adds fiber, calcium, and iron.

Tips for including your children in the cooking process:

-Show them how to wash fresh produce.

-Let them help prepare an ice bath for blanching.

-Teach them how to properly measure ingredients.

-Allow them to mix the ingredients.

-Use a mason jar when mixing the dressing. Your child will have fun shaking the jar to combine the flavors!

-If they are old enough or if you own a kid-friendly, plastic knife, teach them age-appropriate knife skills and the “claw” technique to keep fingers and hands safe. Our knife safety video is a great place to start!

Our main dish is Italian Herb-Crusted Chicken. This protein-rich recipe relies on dried herbs rather than extra salt to add flavor the chicken. If you don’t have an Italian herb blend at home, you can make your own by combining dried herbs such as oregano, basil, parsley, thyme, or rosemary. Additionally, if anyone in your family has a dairy allergy, you can skip the parmesan cheese.

Tips for including your children in the cooking process:

-Show them how to measure out the different ingredients for the herb breading.

-Review food safety and discuss the importance of keeping raw meat separate from fresh produce. You can learn more in our food safety video:

-Try greasing and lining the baking sheet.

-Teach them how to clean their work area.  

-Demonstrate the safe use of an oven and stove top for baking, roasting, toasting, and sautéing.

-Practice using an oven timer.

To satisfy your sweet tooth, we’ll round off our menu with Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Bark. Desserts don’t have to be loaded with sugar to be delicious. We can make creative swaps in our recipes to decrease the amount of added sugar but maximize the flavor. Our sweet treat will use dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate, which contains more sugar. We’ll combine spices, extracts, and dried fruit to add natural sweetness to the recipe. We promise, you won’t even miss the extra sugar!

Tips for including your children in the cooking process:

-Help them understand the basic principles of reading and following an age appropriate recipe.

-Practice using a spatula to remove ingredients from a bowl.

-Show them how to safely use a grater or a micro-plane.

-Review the basic science of cooking and how common ingredients change during cooking (for example, the chocolate melts and the water begins to boil when we add heat).

-Practice hand skills and coordination of carrying, transferring, and pouring of ingredients.

Keep in mind that recipes are just guidelines. We encourage you to experiment with new flavors and make these recipes your own. You can swap out any ingredients based off your family’s taste preferences or with what you have in the kitchen. Don’t have broccoli? You can use green beans, squash, bell pepper, or any other vegetables you have on-hand. Frozen vegetables are great options too and can be just as nutritious as fresh produce. Don’t care for apricots? Use dried cranberries instead! Can’t find hazelnuts at the store? Try chopped almonds!

We hope you enjoy this Valentine’s dinner! For more healthy recipes and inspiration, check out