The essence of Valentine’s Day is not about cards, candy and flowers. It is about getting in touch with the people that we love and value. As with most of our ‘holidays’ we have a tendency to validate V-day with great expense, purchases and the need to live up to other’s standards of romance. This year I have decided to forgo an expectation of pre-packaged romance (not that this was ever part of my expectation) and get to the essence of value and love.  Many would agree that caring for our partners or kids is the ultimate manifestation of our love for those around us. For me, the idea of care does not denote sweets or wine, but healthful, nourishing and delicious treats that tantalize not only the taste buds but nourish the heart and health of those I love.

In keeping with this theme, this week will be filled with yummy, heart-healthy food ideas to get you well on your way to a romantic and healthy Valentine’s dinner with those you love.

Enjoy this beautiful, easy and heart-healthy appetizer brought to you by the one and only Meghan Pearson of MAPWellness. Check out her recipes and never ending supply of great ideas @MAPWellness

Easy-“Cheezy”-Pumpkin-Seedy Kale Chips

1 bunch kale

2 T olive oil

1 T fresh lemon juice

1 T lemon zest

2 T pumpkin hulled seeds

2 T nutritional yeast*

1/2 t sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment or foil (You may need two!)

2. Thoroughly wash kale and dry well.  Remove thick stem parts and chop leaves into chip size pieces.

3. In a large bowl, combine kale, oil, pumpkin seeds, lemon juice and zest. Massage dressing into the leaves, to coat.

4. Spread kale evenly onto lined baking sheet(s), and sprinkle with nutritional yeast and salt.

5. Bake for about 30 minutes, and then take a peek to check crispness.  Separate any leaves that are clinging together.

6. Continue baking for an additional 30 minutes to an hour, checking often until chips are dried and crunchy.

7. Enjoy – guilt free!

* Nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast sold commercially as a food product.  It is yellow in color and has a flakey texture and a nutty cheese-like flavor, making it a great flavour enhancer and favourite among vegans.  It can also be a great vegan source of vitamin B12 – a vitamin that can be hard find when following a plant-based diet.