These delicious-looking morsels are the sweet treats I made for my family last year for Valentine's Day. The recipes mostly came from other nutritionists, so I knew the ingredients would be healthful. They are more nourishing versions of popular treats, so I'm ok with my kids gobbling them up, which they did!
Chocolate, when eaten in moderation, can have many health benefits. Choose 70% or higher cocoa/cacao content to get the most benefits. If you can find chocolate sweetened with honey or stevia, that's even better. Or try making your own, the recipe for Chocolate Almond Butter cups below outlines the method. It's really just melting a few things in a pot and then pouring the mixture into your chosen mold/shape to chill.
Studies have found that eating high cocoa content chocolate, which is high in anti-oxidants, can help protect your heart and blood vessels from damage. It may also help reduce blood pressure thanks to the magnesium helping to dilate blood vessels. In these ways, it may reduce risk of fatal heart attack and stroke! Chocolate also contains a precursor to our good-mood chemical serotonin, which has a mood-lifting effect. It's no wonder that chocolate became the go-to treat for Valentine's Day, the heart-centred day of love!
More about the treats...
On the bottom left, there are Chocolate Turtles from Meghan Telpner's website. They are as delicious as they look, and so rich you only need to eat one to satisfy your sweet tooth. The vegan caramel inside is amazing!
Next from the left are Gelatin Strawberry Heart Jigglers from Julie Matthews' Nourishing Hope website. This treat is made with grass-fed, unflavoured gelatin which is a healthful source of protein. Making it from scratch allows the addition of less harmful sweeteners than those used in traditional Jello, like honey, which has anti-oxidant and blood sugar balancing effects. And what kid can say "no" to jello?
The choco smoothie at the top is an unfrozen version of my Sunny Day Fudge-sicles. This smoothie is packed with anti-oxidants, healthful fats, good carbs (whole fruit) and a little dose of protein from the hemp seeds. A great breakfast, or post-workout refuel smoothie.
I threw the following into a blender to make it:
Second from the right are the Chocolate Almond Butter Cups by Meghan Telpner. I did put my own spin on the recipe as I wanted the almond butter layer to taste more like good 'ol PB cups, you know the one! So I added a pinch of sea salt and a couple teaspoons of honey. The recipe also calls for making the chocolate layer from scratch, which I did try and it turned out rich and delicious, but if you're not feeling that ambitious, just buy some high quality, 85% cocoa chocolate and melt it gently to make the choco layer.
The last, but not the least, is the Cranberry Pistachio Bark which is dead easy to make, honest! I melted organic, 85% cocoa chocolate (I like the PC Organics one), spread it on a baking tray covered in parchment paper, and dropped shelled pistachios and fruit-juice sweetened, dried cranberries over it. Then I sprinkled it with pink himalayan salt and popped the tray in the fridge for a couple of hours. Voila, homemade fruit and nut bark! You can do the same thing with any combo of your favourite nuts, seeds and dried fruit. A delicious, and nutritious, treat!
If you're not into making your own Valentine's Day gifts, check out my list of Fav Things for other health-supporting gift ideas >>>