Keep it simple this year - a Valentine from the heart

Special home made food and gifts are more meaningful

We are not really sure if there really was a Saint Valentine in the first place, but enjoy the festivities just as much as our Christmas celebrations. It's all about greeting cards, gifts, chocolates and special rich food and calorie laden treats. We have the dates mapped out on each new calendar we hang on the wall every year and off we go! So for February we are overwhelmed by retailers who sell us red and pink balloons, boxes, ribbons and bows.

Be my Valentine

By the way, they are still selling the Lindt chocolate Santa's, baubles and reindeer at half price. Check out the bargain table and save yourself some money for next Christmas. I often do this. But gone are the Christmas cards until the end of the year. In January the new pink teddy bears and bath salts are decked out in romantic red hearts inside cellophane wrappings.

There are plenty of mugs and suckers made in China for your sweetheart but is that really the best way to commemorate the true sentiment of St Valentine's Day? Not many of us know who Saint Valentine was and why he was made the patron saint of a day that bears his name. Are you? Evidently there were three men involved in an event that took place round about 400 AD in Rome. They tried to help young couples get married at a time when the men were required to go to war and fight for their country instead. So because the priests opposed the Roman Emperor's ban on marriage they were beheaded for encouraging courtship and romance.

So we now commemorate this gory execution by eating chocolates, writing love poems and dining out. In 496 AD Saint Valentine's Day was established as a religious feast day by Pope Gelasius 1 to be celebrated annually on February 14th. Today it is one of the commercial highlights of the year and like Easter, Halloween and Christmas the shops focus on this theme to boost their sales and keep the tills ringing. So what happens to all the Valentine's merchandise after February 14th? Do the chocolates get sold off at a discount or re-wrapped for Easter?

Candy is dandy but sex don't rot your teeth!

They say that the way to a mans' heart is through his stomach but some people think that is aiming too high! For most people, Valentine's day is more about courtship and attracting a mate as opposed to anything of a seductive nature. That comes later and hopefully after the couples are married by a priest  who did not have his head chopped off like the original Saint Valentine! A lot of teenager and young children are involved with these celebrations so this year I have decided to be more original and make use of natural things that are red - like strawberries, smoothies, salads and roses. Let's take a break from sugar or high fructose corn syrup and unhealthy soda pops. Let's have a healthy happy valentine!

Let's go shopping for all that is red and fresh and delicious

It is not difficult to buy yummy food at the deli and the fruit and vegetable counter that is red and pink. Not all the fruit I suggest may be in season in your part of the world, but it gives you a general idea of how to go about packing up a posh load of tasty nosh. If you are with children then let them help you select their favourite items and together you can invent some awesome smoothie recipes and lay out platters of romantic red snacks and salads.

Red starterCredit: Sue Visser

Beetroot makes a wonderful base for smoothies and juices and is oh, so red. For pink treats add beetroot juice to yoghurt, kefir or amasi. Sweeten it with stevia, honey or molasses and enjoy. Buy fresh or canned beetroot. Cooked beetroot is better to use for salads and starters. Raw beetroot makes the most delicious and healthy red juice. It tastes better if you add apples, carrots and grapes. An Oscar juicer is best for making this type of juice. 

Beetroot and berriesCredit: Sue Visser


Mixed berries are wonderful to dot around the platters and garnish the puddings. Some of the berries get a bit squishy and those are the ones you add to the beetroot smoothies. Also use tomatoes, especially the cute little red cocktail tomatoes. Tomato paste can be used as a base for a hot tomato and paprika soup. Canned tomato soup is a lot quicker!

Beetroot and berry smoothieCredit: Sue Visser

Red grapes can be eaten as well as juiced. Red, red wine is the obvious choice for your Valentine or some classy pink Champagne. Use any sparkling fruit juice as a substitute if wine is not to your liking. To make a lovely red juice blend, mix in all the loose grapes, leftover berries and a few slices of fresh or cooked beetroot. Add some water and process it all together in an electric blender. Strain it through a fine cloth placed in a sieve and squeeze out the last bit of juice. The grapes make it very sweet. Add some soda water if liked, but kids and even babies really dig this home-made juice.

Berry nice red juiceCredit: Sue visser

Red peppers are the heart and soul of Valentine! Just look at the cute little hearts you can cut out of them. Buy plenty of red peppers and use the scraps to make a delicious tangy red salsa. Use a food processor to make a pesto from chopped up red pepper, a splash of balsamic vinegar, a spoon of honey and salt and pepper. Add a hot chilli for extra heat.

Cut hearts from red peppersCredit: Sue Visser Valentine snacksCredit: Sue Visser


Pomegranates are the food of love. If you can find some, they are very special and can be eaten directly from the shell. This is a great way to watch the sunset out in the countryside on a romantic picnic. The seeds can also be added to any of the juices you make at home and are incredibly healthy, by the way. All sorts of things should happen - so I hope they do!

PomegranateCredit: Sue Visser

Pack some slices of watermelon or make some fresh juice with lemon and cucumber. Watermelon can also be eaten - preferably at the beach or out in the garden as a starter. They say it is better to eat this fruit as a solo item because it digests quickly. Doing it this way prevents gas or cramping caused by fermentation from starches and sugar it would otherwise mix with. 

Lovely Watermelon

Now set the scene 

Don't forget to buy red serviettes, candles, picnic plates and take along a suitable blanket or table cloth. Even if you are going to have a picnic in the middle of your lounge carpet or on the balcony of an apartment it doesn't matter. This is going to be a special surprise for your loved one. A gesture from the heart and it will take a bit of effort to get it all together.

Take short cuts if you want to stay out of the kitchen

If you are stressed out and in a hurry just buy everything from the food counter of your nearest supermarket. But then add your own red ribbons and strawberries and candles. Buy red wine and red juice. Buy a pink pudding and lots of cream! Top off the evening with some special chocolates. Add pink marshmallows to the drinking chocolate. Get the idea?

Having a special Valentine is not about spending a fortune - but?

We live in a world where time is money and gifts can be ordered, sent and paid for by the click of a mouse. But your time is far more valuable than all the money that comes out of your pocket! She will appreciate the personal touch and the effort. But if she may be expecting something with a little diamond, you had better take care of that as well. If you have a good sense of humour, hollow out a pineapple and hide it inside. The method is described in a previous article.a Healthy happy valentineCredit: Sue Visser

An original way to wrap a special gift

You could also do the same thing with a big red apple. Cut it in half, remove the middle of the core with a teaspoon to make a round cavity. Slip the item into a small plastic bag and place it inside. Now press the two halves together and tie the ribbon! 

 Perhaps it may help you to tie the eventual  knot.