Whether you love it or think it’s lame, the lure of chocolate-laden treats and heart-shaped baked goods can be hard to ignore this time of year. And you don’t have to: It’s totally possible to enjoy your favorite Valentine’s Day sweets without all the sugar and other unhealthy ingredients, says Freshly’s head nutritionist Brooke Scheller, DCN, CNS. In fact, by making a few simple swaps, you can actually add nutrients to traditionally unhealthy desserts. Here’s how:
Nothing beats rich, fudgy brownies—but you don’t have to sacrifice on taste or texture to make them healthier, says Scheller. The secret is swapping the usual butter and flour for black beans, which are loaded with metabolism-regulating fiber and magnesium. Just puree a can of drained and rinsed black beans with the rest of your ingredients. Scheller also recommends using unsweetened cacao powder instead of cocoa powder. “Cacao is extremely high in antioxidants and magnesium, making it a true superfood,” she says. And when choosing chocolate chips, go for dark chocolate that’s low in sugar.
It wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without heart-shaped sugar cookies. Swap out traditional, all purpose flour for a grain-free variety, like almond or coconut flour, suggests Scheller. “Not only does this make the cookies gluten-free, but it also provides more fiber and nutrients than refined white flour,” she explains. If you have the time (and energy!), skip store-bought frosting and make your own (we’re fans of this coconut-based, vegan frosting).
Red velvet cake
Cake and vegetables are not two words you generally use in the same sentence. But you can actually sneak more into your regular recipe for this traditionally decadent dessert, by using vibrant red beets instead of artificial food coloring, says Scheller. Adding a puree of cooked beets to the cake batter means you can use less sugar, oil, and butter. Plus, you’re adding good amounts of fiber and antioxidants. Try topping it with this delicious coconut cashew cream cheese frosting.
This traditionally rich crowd-pleaser is really easy to health-ify: Simply swap the usual heavy cream and eggs for silky avocado. “You’ll get a dose of monounsaturated healthy fats, fiber, vitamin C, and folate,” says Scheller. “Plus, it’s a great option if you’re dairy-free!” For more nutritious sweetness, try using honey or maple syrup instead of sugar, and throw in some dark chocolate chips for extra deliciousness with an added dose of antioxidants.
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