top of page

Be a Valentine's Day Gourmet with These Heart-Healthy and Diabetes-Friendly Recipes

Updated: Sep 8, 2020

With Valentine's Day right around the corner, you may be planning an unforgettable dinner for you and your someone special. But if you or your sweetheart has diabetes, it can be challenging to prepare foods that adhere to your meal plan and still taste great. And because February is also Heart Health Month, you may be extra mindful of eating healthful meals right now. Don't worry, says award-winning author and chef Amy Riolo. You can still enjoy a romantic, healthy, and delicious dinner—and avoid the Valentine's Day crowds!—by staying in and cooking at home.

"If you or your partner are one of the 30.3 million Americans with diabetes, you can still enjoy a romantic Valentine's Day dinner that is suited to other special occasions as well," says Riolo, spokesperson for the American Diabetes Association's new book Quick Diabetic Recipes For Dummies®.

"I suggest lighting some candles and showing your affection by cooking up a gourmet feast for two that is every bit as heart-healthy as it is delicious. Or, if you choose to dine out this Valentine's Day, don't forget to consult the Ten Strategies for Healthier Restaurant Meals at the end of the book, and be sure to keep this mouthwatering menu on hand anytime the mood strikes."

Quick Diabetic Recipes for Dummies® is your go-to source for diabetes-friendly meal options. It reveals the best food choices for diabetes, the basics of diabetes nutrition, and how to find a meal plan that works for you. Plus, it's filled with hundreds of healthy recipes that are quick and easy to prepare, so you can spend less time in the kitchen on Valentine's Day and more time enjoying each other's company.

"You shouldn't feel like you're missing out on great food, especially on Valentine's Day," says Riolo. "This special do-it-yourself menu rivals anything you could find in a nice restaurant while still being diabetes-friendly. It even includes a decadent dessert sure to satisfy your sweet tooth."

Keep reading for a full menu of tempting and elegant recipes from the book that you can prepare at home and enjoy this Valentine's Day, or on any other special occasion.

Shrimp and Radicchio Salad

Prep Time: About 10 min. plus chilling time

Servings: 4

Serving Size: Approximately 1/3 cup shrimp and marinade plus ½ cup lettuce and radicchio


¼ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

3 medium garlic cloves, minced

1 medium shallot, minced

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon prepared horseradish

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ pound fresh (never frozen) cooked bay shrimp

1 medium head Boston lettuce, shredded

1 medium head radicchio lettuce, shredded


1. In a medium bowl, combine the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, shallots, mustard, horseradish, and pepper. Add the shrimp and toss well. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

2. Just before serving, combine the lettuce and radicchio in a serving bowl. Place the shrimp mixture on top, toss, and serve.

VARY IT! Pan-seared scallops and leftover rotisserie chicken would taste great in this salad as well.

PER SERVING: Choices/Exchanges 1 Nonstarchy Vegetable; 2 Lean Protein; 2 Fat; Calories 200 (from Fat 130); Fat 14g (Saturated 1.9g, Trans 0.0g); Cholesterol 105mg; Sodium 140mg; Potassium 400mg; Total Carbohydrate 5g (Dietary Fiber 1g, Sugars 1g); Protein 15g; Phosphorus 175mg.

Chicken with Mushroom Cream Sauce

Prep Time: About 5 min.

Cook Time: 20 min.

Servings: 8

Serving Size: 3 ounces


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Eight 3-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

½ cup sliced mushrooms

3 tablespoons flour

½ cup low-sodium chicken broth

¾ cup white wine

2 teaspoons lemon zest

½ teaspoon lemon pepper

1 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt

Parsley sprigs


1. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil; add the chicken and cook for 5 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken, and keep warm. Add the mushrooms to the skillet, and cook until tender.

2. In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the broth and wine. Stir the mixture into the skillet, and add the lemon zest and pepper. Cook until thickened and bubbly.

3. Return the chicken to the skillet, and cook until the chicken is no longer pink. Transfer the chicken to a platter. Stir the yogurt into the skillet and heat thoroughly. Pour the sauce over the chicken and garnish with parsley.

TIP: This dish is good with green beans, asparagus, and broccoli sautéed in olive oil.

PER SERVING: Choices/Exchanges 3 Lean Protein; Calories 150 (from Fat 35); Fat 4g (Saturated 0.8g, Trans 0.0g); Cholesterol 50mg; Sodium 85mg; Potassium 220mg; Total Carbohydrate 4g (Dietary Fiber 0g, Sugars 1g); Protein 21g; Phosphorus 180mg.

Sautéed Sweet Peppers

Prep Time: About 5 min.

Cook Time: 10 min.

Servings: 6

Serving Size: ½ cup vegetables and 1/3 cup rice


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 medium green bell peppers, cut into 1-inch squares

2 medium red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch squares

2 tablespoons water

¼ teaspoon salt

1?8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil or oregano

2 cups precooked brown rice, hot


1. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the peppers, and sauté for 3–5 minutes, stirring frequently.

2. Add the water, salt, and pepper; continue sautéing for 4–5 minutes or until the peppers are just tender. Stir in the basil, and remove from the heat.

3. Spread the rice over a serving platter, spoon the peppers and liquid on top, and serve.

VARY IT! Zucchini, squash, and mushrooms can all be prepared in addition to or instead of the peppers in this dish.

PER SERVING: Choices/Exchanges 1 Starch; 1 Nonstarchy Vegetable; ½ Fat; Calories 130 (from Fat 25); Fat 3g (Saturated 0.5g, Trans 0.0g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 105mg; Potassium 250mg; Total Carbohydrate 22g (Dietary Fiber 3g; Sugars 3g); Protein 3g; Phosphorus 90mg.

Strawberries Romanoff

Prep Time: About 5 min.

Servings: 4

Serving Size: ¾ cup


2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled

1 cup low-fat frozen Greek yogurt

Juice and zest of 1 orange

½ cup prepared low-calorie, fat-free whipped cream (see recipe below)

½ cup peeled, unsalted pistachios, finely chopped


1. Divide the strawberries evenly between 4 serving dishes and refrigerate.

2. Just before serving, fold the frozen yogurt, orange juice and zest, and whipped cream together in a medium bowl. Spoon evenly over the chilled strawberries, top with pistachios, and serve.

PER SERVING: Choices/Exchanges: ½ Fat-Free Milk; 1½ Carbohydrate; 1 Fat; Calories 200 (from Fat 70); Fat 8.0g (Saturated 1.3g, Trans 0.0g); Cholesterol 8mg; Sodium 60mg; Potassium 480mg; Total Carbohydrate 26g (Dietary Fiber 3g, Sugars 17g); Protein 8g; Phosphorus 175mg.

Low-Calorie, Fat-Free Whipped Cream

Prep Time: About 5 min.

Cook Time: 5 min.

Servings: 8

Serving Size: 2 Tablespoons


2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin

½ cup fat-free powdered milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup ice water

½ teaspoon agave nectar


1. In a small skillet, add the water; sprinkle gelatin on top.

2. After the gelatin has soaked in, stir over low heat until clear; cool. In a large mixing bowl, combine the milk, vanilla, ice water, and agave nectar; mix well.

3. Add the gelatin mixture, and whip until fluffy with a wire whisk or electric beaters. Refrigerate the whipped cream until ready to use.

PER SERVING: Choices/Exchanges: Free Food; Calories 20 (from Fat 0); Fat 0.0g (Saturated 0.0g, Trans 0.0g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 25mg; Potassium 75mg; Total Carbohydrate 3g (Dietary Fiber 0g, Sugars 3g); Protein 2g; Phosphorus 40mg.

"The sweetest part of Valentine's Day is being able to celebrate it while sticking to your meal plan," concludes Riolo. "Remember: Nothing says 'I love you' like taking good care of yourself and doing what's right for your health."

About Amy Riolo:

Amy Riolo is an award-winning, best-selling author, chef, television personality, cuisine and culture expert, and educator. She has worked extensively with the American Diabetes Association, including editing their book Quick Diabetic Recipes For Dummies®. She is known for sharing history, culture, and nutrition through global cuisine. A graduate of Cornell University, Amy is considered a culinary thought leader who enjoys changing the way we think about food and the people who create it.

Amy is a food historian, culinary anthropologist, and Mediterranean diet advocate who makes frequent appearances on numerous television and radio programs both in the United States and abroad, including Fox TV, ABC, CBS, NBC, the Hallmark Channel, Nile TV, the Travel Channel, Martha Stewart Living Radio, and Abu Dhabi TV. She also created and appeared weekly in 90-second cooking videos entitled "Culture of Cuisine," which air on nationally syndicated news shows on 28 different channels across the United States, totaling a reach of over 300 million people. One of her videos reached a record of four million hits.


bottom of page