Fast, Fit Family Valentine Dinners – Mix and Match Menu

10 Ideas for Mix and Match Family Valentine Dinner - TheFitFork.comHas your week of work, working out and kids’ activities been more jam-packed and crazy than a floral shop filled with frantic husbands and boyfriends fighting for the last bouquet? Well, don’t fret that you haven’t made a menu for Valentine’s Day, I’ve got you covered!  Check out my ideas for quick-to-make, kid-friendly dinner ideas that provide the quality nutrition you love!  I have three ideas each for salads, entrees and desserts — plus a bonus baked heart fries recipe– feel free to mix and match!

SALADS:

Spinach Strawberry SaladStrawberry Spinach Salad – This beautiful berry salad will get any spinach avoider to start eating greens!

 

 

 

 

Cucumber Heart Salad

 

Simple Green Salad with Cucumber Cutouts – Dress up a simple green salad with cucumbers punched out in the center with a small heart cookie cutter.

 

 

 

 

Grapefrut and Hearts of Palm Salad

Grapefruit and Hearts of Palm Salad – Fall in love with the sweet-tart zing of this salad from Cooking Light. If you think the kids won’t like the slightly nutty, semi-firm texture of palm hearts (but I think they will), simply swap for another veggie.

 

 

 

 

ENTREES:

Give Me Amore Pizza

Give Me Amore Pepperponi Pizza

Give Me Some Amore Pizza with Quick Homemade Sauce – The kids will be begging for one more slice of this super-quick, convenience crust pizza that features homemade sauce made quickly in the blender (no simmering required).

Fish Baked in Parchment Paper

Herbed Cod with Vegetables in Papillote – This recipe I made for Litehouse foods sounds like it should be learned in a French culinary school, but it’s really super easy! Just wrap up ingredients in parchment paper and bake for about 15 minutes!

 

 

 

Spice Crusted Tenderloin Steak - TheFitFork.com

Spice Crusted Tenderloin Steaks – You can’t fail with a filet – and caramelized with spices and grilled to perfection, you will win Valentine’s Day dinner hands down.  Oh, and not only is tenderloin super tender (duh), it’s one of the leaner cuts!

 

 

 

 

DESSERTS:

Chocolate Yogurt Tart with Strawberries - TheFitFork.comStrawberry Greek Yogurt Tart – This better-for-you dessert features a grain free crust, creamy filling made with stevia-sweetened Greek yogurt, and lots of lush berries on top.

 

 

 

Strawberry Yogurt Chocolate Ice Cream TopperChocolate Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream Topping  – I love this fun idea from friend Emily at the Litehouse Foods blog, she transformed Green yogurt fruit dip into a frozen “bark” to use as garnish on a favorite flavor of ice cream.

 

 

 

Strawberries and Chocolate Dip - TheFitFork.com

Berries with Chocolate Dip – Simple, sensible and a real sanity saver if you haven’t anything planned for dessert

 

 

 

 

 

Herb Lover's Oven Potato Fries for Valentines - TheFitFork.comThese were a popular recipe from last week — Herb Lover’s Oven Potato Fries

Caramel Crunch Apple Nachos & The Running Revolution

caramel granola apple dessert

Looking for a delicious dessert that celebrates some of the fall season’s favorite flavors without making your clean-eating conscience scream in horror?  My recipe for Caramel Crunch Apple Nachos is an easy-to-make, fun-to-eat sweet treat that is perfect for a Halloween party, harvest hoedown or any autumn-themed entertaining. I’m planning on making this no-cook recipe again soon as a sensible snack for movie night – since it’s October, I’m planning a classic horror movie marathon with my three teenage boys.  With so many apple choices at the market this time of year, this recipe is the perfect time to try that new variety – use just one type of apple or as many kinds of apples as you like in this fruit recipe.

apples granola caramel chocolate

Caramel Crunch Apple Nachos Recipe

  • 4 large apples, any variety (about 2 pounds)
  • 8 oz. light caramel dip from produce section (I used Litehouse brand)
  • 1 cup favorite granola (with or without nuts)
  • ¼ cup mini chocolate chips

 Directions

1. Cut apples crosswise into ¼” slices. Remove seeds and core from center with paring knife.

2. In microwave safe bowl, heat caramel until warmed and easier to drizzle, about 30 – 45 seconds from room temperature.

3. Layer half of apples on a plate and drizzle with 4 oz. of caramel dip. Sprinkle on ½ cup granola and 2 tablespoons chocolate chips.

4. Layer remaining apple slices on top of caramel-granola-chocolate mixture and then add on remaining toppings.

running revolution text I also wanted to share with you a book that I’ve been reading – in fact, my running testimonial is featured! The just-published book is called The Running Revolution (How to Run Faster and Farther for Life) and is written by Dr. Nicholas Romanov, a two-time Olympic coach and world-renowned sports scientist known for the Pose Method.  When applied to running, the Pose Method® marries gravity, key body position (pose), body weight, support, and change of support into a comprehensive technique that maximizes natural body mechanics, increases performance and reduces risk for injury. I’ve blogged a bit before about what Pose Method has done for me in the last five years and I’m admittedly lucky to have Dr. Romanov’s coaching protégé, Valerie Hunt, as my long-time running partner.  I’d chomping at the bits to share more about foot strike, pulling not pushing, “falling” and more, but I also want you to check out the book and come to your own conclusions.

Paperback Version:

Kindle Version:

What is your favorite fall time dessert? 

Are you a heel-striker, mid-foot striker  or forefoot striker when it comes to running?

 

{Personal-Sized} Tipsy Cranberry Crisps Recipe

Well, I thought I was done blogging about healthy desserts and sweet yummy things for the holiday season, but these {Personal-Sized} Tipsy Cranberry Crisps came out of the oven begging to be shared! Just look at the way the naturally sweet berry juices are bubbling down the sides, sigh. I can’t believe I have to wait until this evening to dig it.

tipsy cranberry crisp thefitfork large

There are a couple reasons why I like making “personal-sized” servings, especially with desserts. First, there is portion control – I’m only going to eat what my little ramekin holds and no more. Really. The parameters are clearly defined, unlike with whole-sized desserts where I might find myself (ahem) nibbling away at the rough edges. Another reason is just plain and simple-peace keeping with three teenage boys at the table. With individual portions, there is no fighting over whom (literally) has a bigger slice of the pie. And finally, I just adore the way personal-sized portions look. We’re dining upon an elegant beef tenderloin roast for dinner tonight and I was worried that making a “crisp” in my old cast-iron skillet (the way I typically would with this peach pecan crisp) might look a little out of place with Mom’s fine holiday china. But, in these single-serve ramekins, my humble cranberry crisp now looks like it deserves to be spooned up with the real silverware.

Fresh cranberries contain a lot of air and will "pop" as they cook! It's normal!

Fresh cranberries contain a lot of air and will “pop” as they cook! It’s normal!

oats crisp topping thefitfork

Use a pastry knife, the tines of a fork or a food processor to cut the butter into the oat mixture.

{Personal-Sized} Tipsy Cranberry Crisps Recipe

For topping:

  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup butter, cut into small bits

For filling:

  • 12-ounces fresh cranberries
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup Grand Marnier (or water, if preferred)
  • ½ cup raisins, any variety
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Preheat oven the 350 F degrees.

In mixing bowl, add flour, oatmeal and brown sugar; stir to combine. Cut butter into small chunks and use the back of fork or pastry knife to cut in butter until mixture has a coarse consistency.

For filling, add cranberries, liquor (or water) raisins, and corn starch to medium saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stir constantly. Reduce heat and simmer mixture for approximately 6 to 8 minutes or until cranberries “pop.” Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Divide filling evenly into ramekins that have been lightly misted with baking spray. Spoon topping evenly on top of cranberry filling and lightly pat down with back of spoon. Place all ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for approximately 35 – 40 minutes in 350 degree oven.

Remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes before serving. For a special treat, serve with a dollop of fresh whipped cream.

Serves 8.

So, what was on my workout agenda this Christmas Eve?  An EASY 4 mile run and a few minutes of planking. I’ll be taking a few days off to enjoy time with family. What about you?

jennifer plank