Heart Healthy Valentine Recipes

Chocolates and NECCOs and sweets – oh, my! When it comes to sugar, your kids will have no shortage on Feb. 14. So why not offset that with something a bit, y’know, better-for-you? Now, don’t be fooled. These recipes are deliriously delicious. Not to mention, they’re truly “sweet” for your family’s heart health.

Crumbs turned to Chef Frank Turner – the savvy cook who’s director of food and nutrition and executive chef of Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital. He knows a thing or two about serving up kid-enticing dishes without the additives and junk. After all, he also spent years creating exquisite dishes in some of Michigan’s best restaurants (and he’s a dad, to boot)!

“Flavor-compliant is first,” says Turner, using the lingo of “the guys with the stethoscopes.” His recipes for saffron risotto with arugula salad and vegan granola – shared here – will have you swooning!

Saffron Risotto with Argula Salad

“This is ‘healthified’ already,” says Chef Turner. “It’s not out of a box!” Besides its bright yellow color, the star seasoning is subtle enough to tempt your kids’ taste buds – and, he adds, “Saffron is the spice of love.” Try this tantalizing dinner.



  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup onions, minced
  • 1 cup leeks, sliced thin
  • 1 1/2 cup arborio rice
  • 2 tsp. garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. Spanish saffron
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 6 1/2 cups chicken stock (hot)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
  • 4 Tbsp. butter, unsalted
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh chopped parsley
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh chopped chives
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh basil
  • Fresh milled pepper and kosher salt, to taste


  1. Saute onions and leeks in olive oil until translucent. Do not brown. Add rice, garlic and saffron and saute 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add wine and 1/2 cup of hot stock, stirring constantly until absorbed. Slowly add stock, 1/2 cup at a time, until rice is creamy but still firm.
  3. Add butter, Parmesan, herbs and salt and pepper.
  4. Enjoy warm or pour into a lightly oiled 6-by-11 baking pan and cool. Cut to heart shape (or anything your heart desires), lightly flour and saute 2 to 3 minutes on either side.



  • 2 1/2 oz. coconut vinegar
  • 1 tsp. fresh shallots, minced
  • 1 tsp. fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 5 oz. Spanish olive oil


  1. Add all ingredients (except olive oil) to the vinegar and let set for 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Slowly add olive oil in a slow steady stream.


  1. Serve fresh wild arugula tossed with the dressing, some shiitake mushrooms and walnuts over the warm risotto cake for a great dinner salad.
  2. Or – the risotto alone makes a satisfying meal!

Vegan Granola Bars

Whether you start the day with this treat, toss a bit in a baggie for a lunchbox surprise (just add a love note) or top off that dinner with a sweet heart-shaped granola briquette, this chocolate-free delight “is a killer recipe,” Chef Turner says.


  • 1 cup applesauce (unsweetened by added ascorbic acid)
  • 4 cups carob candies chips or crushed bars (unsweetened)
  • 4 cups cereal (steel-cut oats, old-fashioned oats, rice based, corn, etc.)
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (low erucic acid grape seed oil)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup golden flaxseed, ground
  • 4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 2 cups wheat germ, crude
  • Fresh strawberries (optional)


  1. Combine the rolled oats, ground flax seed, whole-wheat flour, wheat germ, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg in the mixing bowl. Mix on low speed just until it’s combined (about 1 minute).
  2. Slowly add in the applesauce, oil, maple syrup and vanilla and mix until combined (about 1 minute). Add in carob candies until barely incorporated. Do not over-mix the batter.
  3. Mixture should be moist but not too wet. If the granola dough seems a little dry, add a little more applesauce (1 tablespoon at a time).
  4. Place in a sprayed 13-by-9 baking pan and press down the granola dough. You want the granola dough to be 1 1/2-inch thick in the pan.
  5. Bake at 300 degrees F for 25 minutes.
  6. Let cool and cut into heart shapes. Serve with fresh strawberries.


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