The celebration of Valentine’s Day has been around since the 14th century. In 2010, Parks and Rec’s Leslie Knope introduced us to Galentine’s Day.
More than a fun play on words, celebrating friendships is important. It gives us a sense of belonging and even offers health benefits, according to the Mayo Clinic. Having friendships have been associated with longer life span. Having strong social connections is associated with less depression, healthier body mass and blood pressure.
Food is often front and center of celebrations. Putting together a three-course meal for a Galentine’s Day celebration may feel overwhelming. The good news is – it doesn’t have to be complicated. In this easy line-up, several components can be made ahead of time, such as the chocolate covered strawberries and bruschetta. The recipes are fruit- and vegetable-forward, offering fiber and antioxidants for heart health.
First Course: Bruschetta with Garlic Baguette Slices
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 12 minutes
While bruschetta involves simple ingredients and a few simple steps, this appetizer is full of flavor. The bruschetta topping is prepared a traditional Italian way, leaning on the simplicity of the herbs and tomatoes to deliver mouthwatering bites. This first course features tomatoes as the star ingredient, which are loaded with fiber, great for gut and heart health, and contain lycopene, a heart-protective antioxidant.
- 1 French baguette, sliced
- Spray olive oil, or olive oil drizzle
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 2 tsp. dried oregano
- Coarse salt and pepper to taste
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 3 Tbsp. fresh basil leaves, torn or cut in a chiffonade
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place baguette slices on baking sheet and spray with oil. Top with spray oil, then garlic powder. Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown.
- While the bread is baking, prepare the tomato mixture. In a bowl, add cherry tomatoes and mix with salt. To allow some moisture be released from the tomatoes, let sit about 5 minutes.
- Rub oregano between your hands and add to the bowl, then drizzle with olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste, mix together and top with torn fresh basil leaves.
- Top each toasted baguette slice with the tomato mixture and serve immediately.
Second Course Air Fried Breaded Chicken Parmesan
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Chicken parmesan is an Italian-American staple and an ultimate comfort food. If you’re looking for a lighter option to the deep-fried dish, this air fried version skips the heavy fat and crisps up similar to the real deal. Simply bread the chicken, add to a preheated air fryer, then serve over fettucine tossed with your favorite jarred marinara sauce and voila!
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets (sliced thin)
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ cup flour
- 1 egg, beaten
- 4 slices part-skim mozzarella cheese or ¼ cup parmesan cheese
- 2 cups fettucine pasta, cooked according to package instructions
- 1 cup favorite marinara sauce
- Fresh basil, for garnish
- Preheat the air fryer to 375 degrees F.
- In a shallow bowl, combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, oregano, thyme, garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Dredge each chicken breast in the flour, then in beaten egg, then coat with the breadcrumb mixture.
- Place the breaded chicken breasts in the air fryer basket and cook for 12 minutes, flipping halfway through. The chicken is done when golden brown and cooked through, to a temperature of 165 degrees F. The cooking time varies on the thickness of the chicken. Using a full chicken breast will extend cooking time.
- After flipping the chicken breast once, spoon marinara sauce over each chicken breast and sprinkle with shredded mozzarella. Once the cheese is melted and bubbly, remove the chicken from the air fryer and let it rest for a few minutes before serving.
- Toss cooked fettucine in remaining marinara sauce. Place in serving bowl and top with chicken and fresh basil.
Dessert: Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 2 minutes
Chocolate-covered fruit is a delectable treat that leans on fruit for natural sweetness. To get a perfectly coated strawberry, it’s important to first wash and dry the fruit to allow for a stable surface for the chocolate to adhere to. Dark chocolate and strawberries are a beautiful flavor combination, but all chocolate chips aren’t created equal for melting. For the easiest-to-handle formula, purchase dark chocolate melting chips. Alternatively, add a teaspoon of coconut oil to 60% cocoa chocolate chips before microwaving.
- 1 cup fresh strawberries, washed and dried
- 1 cup dark chocolate melting chips
- 1 cup white chocolate melting chips
- ¼ cup nuts, chopped, optional
- Melt the chocolate chips. Using microwave-safe bowls, separately melt the dark chocolate at 30-second intervals in the microwave, taking breaks to stir until melted and smooth.
- Dip each strawberry into the melted dark chocolate, allowing any excess to drip off. If desired, sprinkle chopped nuts over the wet chocolate before it hardens.
- Place the chocolate-covered strawberries on a parchment-lined tray.
- Allow the chocolate to set by placing the tray in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- Optional: if any chocolate is left over, pour over a cluster of nuts for a chocolate bark treat.
Shanthi Appelö is a registered dietitian and health and wellness spokesperson for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan based in Detroit. Passionate about the science of nutrition and behavior, Shanthi has experience working in clinical nutrition, public health and teaching in the university setting. In her free time, she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, exploring the outdoors, working on art and spending time with family. For more recipes and health information, visit ahealthiermichigan.org.
Our mission is to help everyone in Michigan get healthier from the inside out. This means everything from giving you resources to help you make better decisions about diet and exercise, as well as information on creating and sustaining nurturing communities and successful businesses — everything you need to help create a healthier Michigan.