Tuesday, February 10, 2015

50 Shades of Pink - the perfect Valentine has fins...

Last week I talked about how eating fish, especially those high in omega 3s, is good for your heart. The reason the American Heart Association picked February as National Heart Month isn't because of the great weather for some heart-healthy exercise, it's because of Valentines Day, the holiday of the heart. My daughter was born on Valentine's Day, so I have a special affinity for Feb. 14, even though a lot of people just consider it a Hallmark day.
     The truth is, a celebration has taken place in mid-February for over 2000 years. From Feb. 13-15, in Rome, they celebrated Lupercalia, a fertility rite that included the sacrifice of a goat and a dog, followed by naked men lashing the ladies with strips of bloody hide from the goat. Apparently, they thought this would make the women more fertile, so the ladies lined up for the lashing. Then there was some thought that they put their name, written on papyrus, perhaps, into a jar, and young single men drew out a name, their partner for the next year, sometimes leading to marriage. The original match.urn. (Other accounts say this happened much later, not at the time of Lupercalia).
     February 14th was also the date that the Romans felt was the start of the bird mating season, perhaps a possibility in warmer Italy. Birds are feeling romantic, so everyone else should, too.
     When Christianity took over, it was decided that Lupercalia was not an appropriate celebration. Pope Gelasius (492-496 AD) banished the celebration of Lupercalia in favor of a day to honor the Virgin Mary. Goats and dogs rejoiced. There were as many as three men named Valentine who were martyred, all supposedly for reasons of the heart, but the records are murky. They sort of melded into one, and at least one of them was killed and buried on Feb. 14th, so that became St. Valentine's Day, evidently supplanting the Virgin Mary, who was moved to May, the month named after her.
     However, it was not really a "romantic" holiday until the 14th century, when Chaucer wrote of it as such, but with reference to birds mating rather than people. Shakespeare added to the mythology in Hamlet, when he wrote a Valentine ode to Ophelia - and look how that relationship ended up.
     What are you going to do for your Valentine? How about making him/her a meal that says not just "I love you," but "I want you to live longer."
      One of my favorite, most delicious heart-healthy meals is Pecan Crusted Ruby Red Rainbow Trout. Simple to make, it tastes amazing. The recipe is on our web site - www.burhopsseafood.com,
Ruby red rainbow trout, we'll remove the bones
but here's a summary:
Get one 6 oz.-8 oz. ruby red trout fillet per person. Put 1/2 cup of pecan pieces in a blender and process until fairly uniform in size, i.e. no big pieces left. Rub the fish with a little olive oil and press the processed pecans into the trout flesh. Either saute the fish in a large, heavy pan in a little more olive oil, doing the nut side down first for 2-3 minutes, then turn skin side down for 2-3 more minutes at medium high heat; or bake in a 425 degree oven for about 8 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges, herb roasted potatoes or garlic mashed potatoes and a fresh green vegetable or salad.
     Shell fish get a bad rap for being high in cholesterol - but they're plant sterols, much healthier than what you get in red meat. If your sweetheart loves shellfish, go ahead and get him/her a live lobster, lobster tail or crab legs. The secret to heart healthiness is in what you serve it with - melted butter is not heart healthy. Our lemon dill sauce is much more heart-healthy and tastes great with both crab and lobster - just brushing the crab or lobster with olive oil and lemon juice tastes delicious, too.      
     And the most romantic of all - oysters. Oysters are a renowned aphrodisiac, loaded with vitamins, omega 3s and trace minerals that are great for your heart. We can teach you how to open them with an oyster knife, but we also discovered the easy way to do it - put them 2 at a time in your microwave, and turn it on for 3 or 4 seconds. They should pop open - we did this with some kumamotos that were really hard to open, and it was like magic.
     If you want more ideas for Valentine's Day delicious, heart-healthy meals, I will be at our Hinsdale store on Feb. 13th from 1-3 pm, and at our Glenview store on Feb. 14th from 1 - 3 pm. Come and get some great ideas for your favorite Valentine that won't clog arteries!


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