Valentine Cookies

Show your sweetheart some love with home baked goodness this Valentine’s Day.

Is it just me or does the candy from Halloween stay out till the Easter bunny hops into town? Sure, it’s different colors and themes but just because Reese’s makes a bat, Christmas tree and heart doesn’t mean that you should eat all three. I’ll clue you in, they’re all just an oversized peanutbutter cup.

What about a healthy recipe roundup for this day of love? These recipes are perfect for the single person, those newly in love, the love of your life, whether it’s your child or an adult even those with an “it’s complicated” Facebook status. But skip any with chocolate for your canine love.

Let’s start with a splash of pink and health first thing. A yummy, easy, pink smoothie appropriate for the young and young at heart.

Yummy Pink Smoothie

From the blog Super Healthy Kids (serves 2)

Ingredients:

1 cup almond milk, unsweetened

1 tablespoon plant based vanilla protein powder (I like Vega)

1/2 cup raspberries

1/2 medium banana

1 tablespoon almond butter

1/2 cup Greek yogurt, plain

Drizzle of honey (optional)

Instructions:

Blend all ingredients in a high-powered blender. More milk can be added for a thinner consistency, or ice can be added for a thicker consistency if desired.

Trying to keep it romantic? What about a decadent chocolate truffle?

Dark Chocolate Avocado Truffles

From the Blog Eating Bird Food

Ingredients:

1/3 cup mashed avocado (about 1/2 an avocado)

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life, a dairy free option.)

cocoa powder

sea salt

Instructions:

Add avocado and a sprinkle of sea salt to a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. Melt chocolate chips by placing them in a small microwave-safe bowl and microwaving for 30 seconds. Stir and microwave for another 20 seconds or until all the chocolate chips have melted. You can also do this with a double boiler. Pour melted chocolate into food processor with the avocado and pulse until mixture is completely combined and avocado is no longer visible. If you don’t have a food processor, or you’re like me and don’t want to dig it out of your overcrowded kitchen cabinets, you can mash the avocado with a fork and combine with the chocolate until smooth and lump-free.

Place the truffle mixture in the fridge to set for 30 minutes. Once the mixture has firmed up a bit, remove it from the fridge and make the truffles by rolling a tablespoon at a time into a 1-inch ball. You should get about 10 truffles. Fill a shallow bowl with cocoa powder and roll each truffle until coated. Place on parchment paper. If you’re going the sea salt route, skip the cocoa powder and simply sprinkle a few sea salt flakes on each truffle. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.

Bonus! The average store-bought truffle has fifteen to sixteen, often hard to pronounce or understand ingredients. These delicious, homemade treats have only four ingredients, no soy or dairy and provide you with good-for-you healthy fat from the avocado.

When nothing but a brownie will do.

Almond Butter Brownies

From the blog Chocolate Covered Katie (yields 9-12) brownies

Ingredients:

1/4 cup + 2 tbsp cocoa powder

1 cup softened almond butter OR allergy-friendly sub like SunButter (nut free)

1/2 cup + 3 tbsp pure maple syrup, honey, or agave

loosely packed 1/2 cup rolled oats (or 1/3 cup almond flour or flour of choice)

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp salt

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325 F. Line an 8-inch pan with parchment paper or grease well and set aside. Process the oats in a food processor or blender until very fine, then stir all ingredients together until smooth. If you use a very dry almond butter, you may need to add 2 tbsp milk of choice for a thinner batter. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth out with a spatula or another sheet of parchment. It will look thin, but the batter will rise in the oven. If desired, press some chocolate chips into the top. Bake 15 minutes on the center rack – they should look underdone when you take them out. Let them sit at least a 1/2 hour if you want them extra gooey, or overnight for the perfect firm-yet-soft brownies. The flavor is sweeter and richer the next day if you can wait to try them!

When that breakup is hitting you hard and you find yourself alone in your dorm room watching some Hallmark movie marathon (just me?). Surely I’m not the only one that Hallmark, cookie dough and ice cream has gotten through a breakup. What about a healthy spin on both? No breakup necessary.

Cookie Dough Bites

From the blog Beaming Baker

Ingredients:

1 2/3 cups + 1 teaspoon gluten free oat flour (just rolled oats pulsed in a food processor till flour like consistency)

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup

3 tablespoons melted coconut oil

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

¼ cup + 2 tablespoons vegan chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life brand)

Instructions:

Add oat flour, maple syrup, oil and vanilla to a medium bowl. Using a spoon, stir until thickened and well incorporated. If needed, use a rubber spatula to fold together into a cohesive dough. Fold in ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons chocolate chips.

Using a cookie scoop, scoop and drop balls of dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Using your hands, shape into spheres, or keep as is if you like the shape. Optionally, dot with 2 tablespoons chocolate chips.

Allow to firm up for about 5 minutes. Enjoy!

Notes: Best if enjoyed the first day; Day 2 and on, the bites will become much drier. Day 2 and forward, to soften, heat in 10-second increments in the microwave until warm. These are good stored for 1-2 weeks in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

Peanut Butter Cup “Nice Cream”

From the blog Fit Foodie Finds (yields 4 servings)

Ingredients:

4 cups frozen banana

4 mini pb cups (love Justin’s Dark chocolate mini pb cups for a healthier spin on Reese’s)

Instructions:

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Then, slice 4 bananas and place banana slices on cookie sheet. Place in freezer for 4 hours or overnight.

Once banana slices are completely frozen, take them out of the freezer and let them thaw for about 5 minutes. Then, place in a high-speed food processor. Mix on high for about 2-3 minutes or until bananas are whipped. You may need to stop and scrape the sides a few times!

Once the bananas are fluffy, add in 4 chopped peanut butter cups and pulse a few times.

Option to serve right away or place in a cake pan and freeze for about 2 hours before serving.

What about some healthy, fun Valentine’s Day themed ideas appropriate for any time of the day? Head on down to Target, Amazon (my personal lifesaver) or a craft themed store like our very own Hobby Lobby in the Greeneville Commons and purchase some Valentine’s Day baking cups or heart shaped cutters. They are not just for cookies. Healthy whole grain muffins, healthy pancake, whole grain waffle, sandwich or fruit all become a little more fun and romantic when it’s in the shape of a heart. All great options that don’t have to be candy.

Jessica Barnett is a Southwest Virginia girl married to a Greeneville native, a mom, personal trainer, certified fitness nutrition specialist, runner, herbivore and ice cream lover. To learn about working with Jessica, prospective clients may email jbarnett@1teamllc.com.