Valentine's Day is traditionally celebrated with a big heart-shaped box of chocolates. While the sentiment behind the gesture is sweet, drugstore chocolates are typically loaded with sugar and unhealthy fats – exactly what your loved one’s heart doesn’t need! This year, why not show your love by making your own quick, delicious, and heart-healthy treats? Cooking at home lets you control exactly what goes into the dessert you’re making for your sweetheart, spouse, or kids.
The following recipes will satisfy a craving for sweets, without a hint of deprivation.
1) Aquafaba Dark Chocolate Mousse
Aquafaba is the new “it” ingredient and the centerpiece of this luscious chocolate mousse. Simply the water from a can of chickpeas, aquafaba lends a thick, gelatinous texture to baked goods and acts as a perfect substitute for eggs – yet it has only 5 calories per tablespoon.
This vegan mousse requires just three ingredients to make the pudding: dark chocolate, aquafaba, and a pinch of sea salt. Simply melt the chocolate, whip the aquafaba until it’s stiff, and then mix the two ingredients together. For a decadent topping, whip some coconut cream (the cream that rises to the top of a can of coconut milk) and spoon it onto your finished mousse. You can decorate this mouth-watering concoction with slivered nuts and edible flowers for a beautiful presentation.
2) Red Wine Dark Chocolate Lava Cupcakes
Once relegated to the world of unhealthy foods, chocolate has recently been redeemed, as reams of studies have shown that the dark variety has bonafide heart health benefits. One of the latest studies, led by Harvard researchers, found that folks who eat moderate amounts of dark chocolate (two to six 1oz servings per week) have a 20 percent lower risk of being diagnosed with atrial fibrillation – a dangerous type of irregular heartbeat.
Red wine has also demonstrated surprising heart health benefits. In fact, a 2015 study showed that people who drank a 5-oz glass every night boosted their levels of HDL (“healthy”) cholesterol, while also improving their cholesterol ratio, compared to those who drank water.
Filled with a warm chocolatey pudding-like center and topped with a red wine-chocolate ganache, these gourmet cakes are bound to please both chocolate and wine fans. With only one tablespoon of powdered sugar per serving, they’re not overly sweet. And – bonus – they’re easier to make than you might think.
3) Heart-Shaped, Cherry-Ricotta Hand Pies
How about a little protein – necessary for building muscle, bone, skin, and hair – with your dessert? Since most desserts are devoid of any nutritional value, protein is a welcome change in an after-dinner treat. So are cherries – fruits that are packed with heart-healthy polyphenols.
These cute little pies are filled with protein-rich ricotta cheese, nutritious fruit, and very little sugar. Roll out your favorite pie dough and use a heart-shaped cookie cutter or egg mold to shape into hearts. (The dough could be whole-wheat, gluten-free, store-bought, or homemade, depending on your preferences.) Then, fill with chopped fresh cherries and ricotta cheese, press the edges of the dough together with a fork, brush with melted butter, and bake. If you don’t have a heart-shaped cookie cutter, you could also cut the dough freehand with a knife.
Please your loved ones while nourishing their hearts? That’s a win-win Valentine’s Day!