Healthy & heart-y treat recipes for a family Valentine’s Day

A day filled with heart-shaped pizzas, dark chocolate strawberries and love notes can’t be bad for you.

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Happy Valentine’s Day! I sincerely hope your day is filled with love and fun surprises. Though, not much is known about St. Valentine, he is still the Patron Saint of all things LOVE: affianced couples, happy marriage, lovers, engaged couples and more. I’ve heard people hate on this day, too, of course, saying that love should be celebrated every day. But really, if you’ve been in a long term marriage, you know that it’s not always so easy to remember to celebrate your love in between all the errands and laundry! So I say: Celebrate any chance you get. Including Valentine’s Day.

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Personally, I don’t care that the flower prices double this week … I still want the flowers because of the moment that comes with them when I get to reflect on the love we have in our marriage. We don’t necessarily need an expensive dinner out too, but what I do need is some attention from my husband. That said, with four little girls, the attention is rarely on either of us. They like to feel included in our love and well … they are!

With holidays and celebrations always revolving around food, it’s a great opportunity to teach the kids how to use food to celebrate, but also nourish our bodies. They know they won’t get to eat all the candy they come home from school with. They also know they don’t get to be the kids to bring candy to school, but we agree on a “treat” together. These days, you’re not allowed to bring anything with nuts or anything homemade, so we usually agree on some kind of granola bar, fruit strip or vitamin C pops.

And they expect a little something extra from me and my husband on the big day … And if you know little girls, you know you don’t mess with their routines (holidays or otherwise). Here’s how our Valentine’s Day goes:

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A love note: they wake up to a sweet, loving words written on a homemade heart shaped valentine. We ask them to be our valentine and tell them all the things we love and appreciate about them. They’re getting old enough now that they’re actually returning the favor, which is the best part.

A shared gift: Since we have all girls, we give them a gift to share. This year it will be a tea set, which I’m sure will get used (and trashed) the second they open it.

A small treat: We prefer to give them chocolate and they love rich gourmet chocolates, so we give them about two pieces. From a nutritional standpoint, chocolate has a major advantage over the colorful, chewy candies. There’s at least a small amount of nutritional value from the cocoa and nuts.

A pink and festive food: Finding natural food dye that works is not easy, but we’ve had some success with beet juice and we love the tradition of pink eggs and pancakes. We do pink smoothies during the day, then build our own heart shaped pizzas for dinner using pre-made (trader Joe’s) crust. We all get to “decorate” our own heart shaped, personal pizzas with a salad or veggie as a side of course!

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A dessert: We try to keep dessert to a minimum or at least not expected on a daily basis. So having it to celebrate a special day is a must! Then we still make healthier options, but we love brownies and chocolate covered strawberries. I welcome you to try our special recipes, shared below!

Almond butter brownies

Serves: 12

Prep-time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

2 large eggs
1/3 cup raw honey
2 Tablespoons coconut sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup natural creamy style almond butter
6 Tablespoons cacao or unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips or chocolate chunks

 

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Line an 8×8-inch baking dish with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, whip eggs, sugar, honey and vanilla until thick and pale. Beat in almond butter until well combined and smooth. Stir in cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Fold in chocolate chips/chunks. Spread brownie mixture evenly into prepared pan.

3. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into squares. Serve with a kiss and hug!

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Dark chocolate strawberries with nuts

Serves: 12

Prep time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup shelled pistachios, finely chopped
1 pint fresh strawberries, washed and dried

Method:

1. Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler by bringing 1 cup of water to a boil in a small sauce pan. Put the chocolate chips in a glass bowl, and place the bowl over the sauce pan. If the water in the sauce pan touches the bottom of the bowl, pour some out to avoid the chocolate from burning. Allow the chocolate chips to melt, stirring occasionally until the chocolate is smooth.

2. Place the hazelnuts and the pistachios in two separate bowls.

3. Dip each strawberry in the dark chocolate, then immediately dip in the hazelnuts or pistachios, so that the nuts cover the chocolate. Place each strawberry on a baking sheet (that has been lined with parchment paper for easier clean-up), then refrigerate until the chocolate hardens, at least 15 minutes.

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Rather than making every celebration all about indulgence and pleasure, try to make it about quality time and nutritional value. We need food and food should bring us pleasure, but not at the risk of causing problems. Hope you have a wonderful day!

Cara Busson-Clark
Cara Busson-Clark

Cara Busson-Clark is a Certified Sports and Clinical Nutritionist and runs Cara Clark Nutrition. Her “non-dieting” approach to health and wellness, attracts a wide range of clients, including Hollywood celebrities. In addition to her passion for helping others live their best lives, her world revolves around her faith and family. She is mother to four daughters, ages one to six and lives in southern California.

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