By Angelica Gavaldon.
When I think of Valentine’s Day, I immediately crave rich chocolate and indulging in a beautiful dinner. Let’s face it, love is sweet as sugar… To not fall off the wagon, I consulted nutritionist and trainer, January Newland. She shares tips to make it healthier when it comes to the most traditional indulgences of the special day, chocolate and wine. Newland advises her clients to choose a dark chocolate that is 75% or higher in cacao content, while avoiding stabilizer gums and artificial flavors. “The benefits of the cacao will outweigh the sugar content” Newland tells giving Back Magazine. When it comes to wine, Newland recommends to hydrate with water to counterbalance the potential effects of alcohol.
Discussing food ingredients in general, January points out the negative effects of white and refined sugars. It affects hormones, energy levels, healthy gut bacteria, and overall inflammation in the body. On the other hand, sugar that comes from fruit and vegetables have more nutrients and fiber. A few unrefined sweeteners to consider; honey, real maple syrup and coconut sugar.
For a Valentine’s treat, Newland shares with us one of her recipes from her blog, www.januarywellness.com. They are like your favorite peanut butter cups, upgraded.
Salted Chocolate Almond Butter Cups
Ingredients: (makes 6)
• 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
• 1/3 cup coconut butter, softened
• 1/3 cup raw powdered cacao
• 1 Tablespoon raw honey
• 1 Teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 6 Tablespoons almond butter
• Sea salt flakes
• Cupcake tin and paper liners
1. In a small bowl, mix together melted coconut oil, coconut butter, vanilla and honey. Taste to make sure it is the desired sweetness for you; coconut butter has a sweetness to it already, so use a relatively low quantity of honey with one tablespoon; see what you like once it is mixed together and add a little more if needed. (Keep this mix warm while you prepare the other steps – place the bowl lightly into another bowl of warm water to keep the mix melted.)
2. Place 6 cupcake liners into the cupcake tin. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the chocolate/coconut mix into the bottom of each liner. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes.
3. Remove from the freezer; now spoon one tablespoon of almond butter into each tin on top of the chocolate. Smooth out a bit to cover the first layer of chocolate.
4. Now add one more tablespoon of chocolate mix to the top of each cup, to cover the almond butter. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt on top of each; the salt cuts and compliments the sweet so well!
5. Freeze or refrigerate until fully hardened after about 30 minutes. Cut them to bite into them easily. Keep them in the freezer so they last longer.