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Valentine's Day dishes that are good for your heart

Sur La Table's Italian-style farro with kale is seen in this undated photo.

February 11, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
For many, Valentine's Day is a way to indulge in high fat favorites. But since it is a day that celebrates the heart, why not learn how to take care of yours? We have some satisfying ideas for a healthy Valentine's Day.

Forget the beef and butter! Sophia Al-Banna of Los Angeles tells us the reasons she took a heart healthy cooking class for Valentine's Day.

"Not only are you veering away from that heavy food and feeling miserable the rest of the night, but you can go home and learn how to make it and feel good after you eat it," said Al-Banna. '"When you make it yourself and do it with the one you love, it becomes much more enjoyable."

Sur La Table teamed up with GUARDaHEART, a nonprofit agency that raises awareness about cardiovascular disease. They created a cooking class to show heart smart dining doesn't mean deprivation.

"We focused on food that is healthy for your heart and easy to prepare," said Sur La Table Chef Maegan McPhee.

For example, they make baby spinach with roasted beets and goat cheese, black cod en papillote, Italian-style farro with kale and chocolate-dipped strawberries.

McPhee says couples classes are popular this time of year, although family and friends share food love, too.

"We don't cook just to feed ourselves, we cook emotionally because it might bring us back to memories that we've had in the past. It's a shared experience," said McPhee.

The cod in papillote, or envelope, proved to be fun and flavorful with the Mediterranean extras, and so was the art of dipping farmer's market strawberries in chocolate. And even better is learning to sneak kale into a dish that kids of all ages will enjoy with the grain farro and pine nuts for a nutty, chewy side dish.

The particular class we attended was held recently in Newport Beach, but all locations have all sorts of fun cooking classes.