Did you know Brown Bag has a Valentine’s special going?  it’s small and sweet, like an edible card you might say, to spread a little love to the whole office or family (or just that one, special someone). It’s a beautiful, little platter of heart-shaped, frosted sugar cookies for $3.25/person—because we like to make your life a little easier.  But if you like to cook and you can find the time, if you’re thinking, “This year, I’m going to cook something special,” then keep reading.  We have a couple of ideas that we think you might like.

How about starting off (or finishing up) with Roasted Strawberry Fruit Dip with Dark Chocolate?  This recipe is delicious and nutritious.  Just look at all the fresh, natural ingredients (not to mention a couple of super foods thrown in for good measure!)!  To make this, hit your local grocery store (no specialty stores involved) and grab 12 ounces of fresh strawberries, agave nectar or honey, vanilla extract, plain, non-fat Greek yogurt, dark chocolate, and assorted fruits for dipping (like bananas, extra strawberries, raspberries, pineapple, or anything else your tongue is telling you).  To make the dip, just snip off the tops of your strawberries, cut them in half and mix them with the agave nectar or honey and vanilla extract, then bake them in the oven for about 18 minutes.  After that, puree the strawberries with a hand mixer, blender or food processor, stir in the yogurt and top it with chocolate shavings!  Voila!  A sweet snack in everyone’s favorite Valentine’s Day color!

Sticking with the prescribed color palette, how about waking someone up with a Pink Smoothie? Surprise him/her with a berry-healthy (and delicious) start to their day.  Here’s what you’ll need: strawberries, cranberries, raspberries, an apple, honey-flavored Greek yogurt, a lemon and carrot juice.  Measure out the proper amounts and throw them all in a blender.  Note:  If you use fresh fruit instead of frozen, throw a few ice cubes into the mix.  If you choose frozen fruit, choose the “no sugar added” variety.

Want to make a great dinner and keep it heart healthy?  Here are a few tips:

1.  Start the meal off with a broth-based soup loaded up with lots of fresh veggies or a big salad with lots of healthy toppings (think nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit, crumbled cheese, and just a touch of dressing.  With all that goodness stacked on top, a taste of dressing will be all you need).

2.  For your main dish, stick to broiling, grilling, or baking to keep it heart healthy.   If you want to go with red meat, choose a filet mignon (or other lean cut of beef), but keep the portion size to about 4 ounces.  Otherwise, consider seafood, skinless chicken breast, or any lean meat.  To go with the meal, load those plates up with veggies–fresh, broiled or grilled.  Or how about quinoa? For more about this protein-packed side, click here.

3.  Since the hallmarks of Valentine’s Day are hearts, flowers and chocolate, dessert seems like a must.  If you forget to order our delicious cookies and you need alternative ideas, consider these:  chocolate fondue with fresh fruits or chocolate pudding, layered with fresh fruits in a fancy glass (think champagne flutes).

Still haven’t found something that speaks to you?  Bring your sweetheart into Brown Bag for breakfast or lunch for his/her choice of healthy cuisine on the fly!  Who doesn’t like a surprise meal out with their loved one?  We’ll be waiting…