The holiday of love, chocolate, candy, and cupid is upon us. While I am all about celebrating love, I don’t want months of staying on track to turn into a downward spiral with uncontrollable chocolate and candy binges because that first nibble got you hooked and now you are unable to shake off that sweet tooth. Indulging in your favorite sweet treat on Valentine’s day is 100% acceptable, even slightly encouraged, but if you are going to break into your secret stash, make a trip to your nearest specialty candy shop or order that tempting chocolate soufflé at your candlelight dinner for two, make sure you choose something that you love. It will make it that much sweeter. Then let February 15th be like any other day and get back on track.
But if you don’t want to even tempt yourself (because chocolate is just THAT good), here are some great healthy sweet treats that won’t be responsible for any extra pounds on your would-have-been-fine-behind:
Thinking about what is the perfect sweet to give your significant other without giving him/her extra inches, there’s only one place to look, in the kitchen! This year, why not save on calories and go extra thoughtful and homemade with dark chocolate covered strawberries, or cherry almond chocolate clusters.
And while we are on the subject of chocolate, I’m sure you’ve heard the tempting rumors about the benefits of dark chocolate, so I might as well clear up some gossip so you can make a level headed decision when faced with 7 chocolate options (80%, 70%, milk, white, dark, mint…) at the store. Lets go from lightest to darkest, which means white chocolate steps up to the plate. Fun fact: white chocolate isn’t actually chocolate at all. In order to be categorized as chocolate, the product must include chocolate liquor (non alcoholic) and white chocolate is comprised of cocoa butter, milk, heaps of sugar and flavoring, but no chocolate liquor- so why waste your money on something pretending to be chocolate? I don’t!
Next on deck we have milk chocolate, which unfortunately isn’t much better than its chocolate-posing counterpart white chocolate, aside from its authenticity. It contains a lot of sugar, flavor and dairy that will sky-rocket the calorie and sugar count.
Moving on to our star player, dark chocolate. While I don’t condone incorporating dark chocolate into your diet on a regular basis, if you’re going to do chocolate in small amounts this should be your go to (key word: small amounts). It’s high in antioxidants and may reduce LDL cholesterol (aka bad cholesterol), inflammation and blood pressure. And have you ever wondered why your loved one gives you chocolate to put you in a better mood? That’s because chocolate can increase dopamine, which is associated with pleasure and improves your mood. The different levels of dark chocolate are indicative of the concentration of antioxidants (aka higher percentage of cocoa, the plant in which chocolate is derived from). Milk chocolate is 20-50%, semi-sweet chocolate is 50-69% and bitter is 70%+. So after 70% it will get more bitter but the antioxidant count doesn’t drastically change so there is no need to suffer through the extremely bitter stuff when the nutrition pay off isn’t much better. And since you asked, the flavored chocolates (caramels, mint, orange, pear etc) do not add any nutritional value so you might as well eat the whole fruit instead if it’s the flavor you crave!
So what happens when you are so loved that you are faced with 20 kinds of Valentine’s day treats? Here is a quick table-
Happy Valentine's Day!