Celebrating National Heart Month: Colorful heart-healthy recipes

Cape Porpoise, Maine lobster trap tree with heartsEach February,  from coast to coast we celebrate American Heart Month.  It’s a time when  by Americans are encouraged to adopt healthy lifestyles to prevent heart disease. Focusing on your heart health is so important now more than ever. People with poor cardiovascular health are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. While we await the vaccine, the innkeepers at Distinctive Inns of New England (DINE) are doing their part to offer up some heart-healthy recipes to deliver straight from the heart this Valentine’s Day weekend and throughout the month.  Add in a romantic getaway to any of the ten DINE inns and you’ve doubled the goodness you’ll do your heart.  Travel is good for the heart and soul, plus does wonders to get that heart pounding when you add in the luxury, romance and R&R of a beautiful inn in DINE country.

Back in 2016, we shared a number of heart-healthy recipes on the DINE blog. From gluten free bread where the main ingredient is vegetable (Zucchini Bread from Rabbit Hill Inn) to all natural Pumpkin Apple Soup, rich in Vitamin A and beta carotene from the Captains House Inn, this is a good place to start your heart healthy recipe search.

Remember, the more colorful the food, the healthier it is. We’ve gathered a collection of some of the most colorful ideas for “hearty” recipes from the kitchens in DINE country in this blog. From the purples of eggplants to the red of beets and the bright orange cantaloupe, you can be sure that these recipes will brighten your table and your heart.

We start with Ratatouille, a healthy vegan recipe featuring heart healthy eggplant and tomatoes, rich in antioxidants and vitamins.

RATATOUILLE from Chesterfield Inn

Vegan recipe for Ratatoille from Chesterfield Inn(serves 6 to 8 people)


1 lb. Eggplant

1 lb. Zucchini

1 tsp salt

4 Tbs. Olive Oil (more if needed)

½ lb. (about 1 ½ cups) thinly sliced yellow onions

2 (about 1 cup) sliced green bell peppers

2 to 3 TBS Olive Oil if necessary

2 cloves mashed garlic

Salt & pepper to taste

1 lb. firm, ripe, red tomatoes, peeled, seeded and juiced (1 ½ C pulp)

Salt and pepper


In a 3-quart mixing bowl, peel the eggplant and cut into lengthwise slices 3/8 inch thick, about 3 inches long, and 1 inch wide.  Scrub the zucchini, slice off the two ends, and cut the zucchini into slices about the same size as the eggplant slices.  Place the vegetables in a bowl and toss with the salt.  Let stand for 30 minutes.  Drain.  Dry each slice in a towel.

Ina 10 to 12-inch enameled skillet, one layer at a time, sauté the eggplant, and then the zucchini in hot olive oil for about a minute on each side to brown very lightly.  Remove to a side dish.

In the same skillet, cook the onions and peppers slowly in olive oil for about 10 minutes, or until tender but not browned.  Stir in the garlic and season to taste.

Slice the tomato pulp into 3/8 inch strips.  Lay them over the onions and peppers.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cover the skillet and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, or until tomatoes have begun to render their juice.  Uncover, baste the tomatoes with the juices, raise heat and boil for several minutes, until juice has almost entirely evaporated.

In a 2-½ quart fireproof casserole, place a third of the tomato mixture in the bottom of the casserole and sprinkle over it 1 tablespoon of parsley.  Arrange half of the eggplant and zucchini on top, then half the remaining tomatoes and parsley.  Put in the rest of the eggplant and zucchini, and finish with remaining tomatoes and parsley.

Cover the casserole and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.  Uncover, tip casserole and baste with the rendered juices.  Correct seasoning, if necessary.  Raise heat slightly and cook uncovered for about 15 minutes more, basting several times, until juices have evaporated leaving a spoonful or two of flavored olive oil.  Be careful of your heat; do not let the vegetables scorch in the bottom of the casserole.

Next, we move on to the Deerfield Inn’s Beet and Spinach Salad.  Not only are the beets considered a superfood for their nutrient value, but they have been shown to significantly lower blood pressure according to Healthline. So, this salad good for you,  and it’s also delicious.

Beet & Spinach Salad from Deerfield Inn

(serves 2- entrée sized portions)

Beet and spinach salad from Deerfield InnIngredients

1/3 cup candied pecans, chopped

2 bunches small colored beets (8 to 16 beets)

Handful washed chilled baby spinach leaves

3 tablespoons orange poppyseed vinaigrette

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 ounces feta cheese, cubed

orange supreme sections to taste (the central sweet spot w/o pith)

 (Directions for candied pecans)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees

Mix sugar, cinnamon, and salt together in a bowl.

Whisk egg white and water together in a separate bowl until frothy. Toss pecans in the egg white mixture. …

Bake in the preheated oven, stirring every 15 minutes, until pecans are evenly browned, 1 hour.

(Directions  for vinaigrette)

4 teaspoons cornstarch

6 tablespoons cold water

1-1/3 cups orange juice

1/4 cup white vinegar

4 teaspoons honey Dijon mustard

4 teaspoons honey

1-1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds

1/2 teaspoon salt

In a small saucepan, combine cornstarch and cold water until smooth. Stir in the orange juice, vinegar, mustard and honey. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1 minute or until thickened. Stir in poppy seeds and salt. Cover and refrigerate until chilled. Yield: 1-1/2 cups.

 Directions for Salad

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Trim greens and long roots from beets. Spritz with extra virgin olive oil and wrap in 2 to 3 aluminum-foil packets, dividing beets according to size. Place in oven, and roast until tender, 35 to 45 minutes, depending on size of beets.

Wipe the skins from the beets. Cut into slices and squares, and transfer to a serving bowl.

Drizzle vinaigrette over beets; toss to coat. When ready to serve, lay on chilled baby spinach leaves, add feta, pecans, orange sections.

We finish our colorful cornucopia of recipes with one featuring the bright orange of cantaloupe. The fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and choline in cantaloupe all support heart health says Medical News Today. And while this chilled soup is perfect on a hot summer day, it also adds a refreshing dessert to any meal throughout the year.

Chilled Summer Melon Gazpacho Recipe from Rabbit Hill Inn

(Recipe yields 8 servings)

1 cantaloupe – peeled, seeded, and cubed
1 honeydew – peeled, seeded, and cubed
1 slice of bread, cubed without crust (choose vegan or gluten free bread if necessary)
3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
Rabbit Hill Inn recipe for chilled melon gazpatchodash of salt
dash of white pepper
dash of cayenne pepper


Puree all the ingredients

Chill until very cold

Serve in a Martini glasses

Try rimming the glass with some flavored sugar.

We’re writing this on Valentine’s Day, so these are truly recipes for the heart and from the hearts of DINE kitchens.  We hope to welcome you to enjoy the delicious dishes created in our kitchens soon.  Don’t forget to book direct when you make reservations!

In Maine:  Camden Maine Stay Inn in Camden and Inn at English Meadows in Kennebunkport.

In Massachusetts:  Harbor Light Inn in Marblehead, Deerfield Inn in Historic Deerfield and Captain’s House Inn in Chatham on Cape Cod

In Vermont:  Rabbit Hill Inn in Lower Waterford & Grafton Inn in Grafton

In New Hampshire:  Manor on Golden Pond in Holderness & Chesterfield Inn in West Chesterfield

Connecticut: Inn at Harbor Hill Marina in Niantic