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This Valentine’s Day Give a Gift From the Heart!

shutterstock_165701831A lot of people start to sweat and panic when thinking about what to give their sweetheart on Valentine’s Day. The usual gifts come to mind: a box of chocolates, a bouquet of flowers, dinner and a movie or other tried and true gifts. However, February is not only the month to celebrate love. It’s also American Heart Month. With that in mind, here are a few tips on how to spice up your Valentine’s Day the healthy way.

For your culinary-minded friends

  • Consider a basket containing a variety of whole-wheat pastas and different kinds of spaghetti sauce.
  • A gift-boxed container of several types of spices or salts from different parts of the world.
  • A basket containing an array of teas or coffee may be just what your tea (or coffee) loving friend wants.
  • Several bottles of wine packed with an assortment of cheese would be a gift to consider. Studies show that moderate* consumption of red wine may be beneficial to your heart. Naturally occurring flavonoids and other compounds such as resveratrol help reduce the risk of some forms of heart disease.
  • Go to a wine tasting event and learn about bouquet, balance and body. Learn what it means when a sommelier speaks of a wine’s legs, tears or what a vertical tasting means.**
  • Cooking classes provide a fun opportunity for couples to enjoy a culinary experience and share what they have learned.

For that special someone who has a sweet tooth

  • For friends that enjoy sweet treats, get them a nice box filled with different types of nuts and dried fruits. Think Medjool dates or dried figs, dried apricots, dried pineapple rings, cherries, etc. Nuts and dried fruit make an amazing pair.
  • The ‘everything you need for baking’ basket is also a neat idea. Fill a big mixing bowl with all kinds of baking needs such as high quality measuring spoons and cups, different kinds of baking flour, baking chocolate or Dutch powdered cacao, and a few new recipes they can try. The fun part is making the sweet creation together.
  • Fresh fruit baskets paired with bars of high quality chocolate. Need I say more?
  • If you are going with the traditional box of chocolate, splurge and buy the high percent of cacao chocolate.

Think non-food

  • A gift certificate to a spa may be just the relaxing gift that your sweetheart needs.
  • Treat a sports enthusiast to tickets to their favorite type of game, or a type they’ve never seen.
  • A gym membership, dance, zumba, spinning, pilates or yoga classes that might be appreciated by those who love fitness.
  • Music or dance lessons may be a great gift for someone who wants to learn something new. Maybe your loved one has always wanted to learn how to belly dance or learn the flamenco!
  • Gift certificates to art studios may be well received by the creatively inclined. Try to think out of the (chocolate) box and get creative!
  • For that person with the green thumb, a box full of gardening tools, seeds, a book about native plant species, and other gardening accessories might bring a smile to their face.

A gift from the heart

  • A donation to a worthy cause in the name of the recipient is always good for the heart!
  • Instead of a gift, consider taking your sweetheart to volunteer on Valentine’s Day at a food pantry, pet shelter or other charitable organization!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

*moderate drinking is defined as no more than one drink a day for most women and no more than two drinks a day for most men. A drink is considered to be 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80 proof distilled spirits. Never drink and drive.

* *A comparative tasting of different vintages from the same provenance.

 

About Julia Salomón MS, RD, CD

Julia is the corporate dietitian at Affinity Health System and also a nutrition educator. She works at various sites throughout the organization working with Affinity’s employee wellness program. She earned her Master’s degree in nutrition science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1996 and became a dietitian shortly thereafter. Julia has worked on several nutrition projects abroad as well as domestically. Before joining Affinity Health System in June of 2011, she worked as a college dietitian and later in the school nutrition field. She has earned certificates of training in adult and childhood weight management. Julia has a special interest in nutrition, public health and wellness.

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