Find a healthier sweet treat for Valentine's Day!
By Stepfanie Romine, co-author of "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight"According to the Census Bureau, Americans ate 24.3 pounds of candy per capita in 2009, and at least part of that was consumed on and around Valentine's Day. With boxes of chocolate so easily accessible--and so many varieties to try (just a nibble won't hurt!)--it's easy to see how the calories and empty wrappers add up. (That could amount to more than 10 pounds of extra weight a year!)
We're here to keep you and your sweetie in tip-top shape this Valentine's Day. We surveyed members and the SparkPeople team and compiled a list of better-for-you sweet treats, including several that are either calorie-free or will burn calories. I present to you the good, the "bad" and the chocolate-y!
The Good, the "Bad" (wink, wink)
1. Attune probiotic chocolate bars
2. sugar-free, chocolate-covered strawberries!
3. yoga, Pilates and a massage!
4. Angel food cake with sugar-free icing
5. Tickets to a hockey game!
6. Couples massage.
7. diamonds! or new running shoes
8. A DVD with a good workout
9. New running shoes! (OK, or at least some really pretty flowers)
10. A fruit bouquet w/ dark chocolate dipping sauce
11. pink Wii fit accessories.
12. COUPON BOOK! One free hour of video game time...one meal of your choice... one massage session... or movie tickets
13. scented candles
14. Cocoa flavored Pirate's Booty--tastes a bit like Cocoa Puffs
15. A snazzy new exercise outfit
16. nothing beats a scary movie so you can cuddle closer
17. dark cocoa & raspberries
18. Equal Exchange Chocolate Caramel Crunch bars. So, so good.
19. jewelry lasts much longer the candy...much prettier too...just saying
20. last year, we walked a half marathon for Valentine's Day!
21. Matching bikes, heart rate monitor that has a pedometer and calorie counter, fitness magazine subscriptions, Zumba classes or a gym membership, or dance lessons... either swing, salsa, tango...or a couples spa day!
22. a Pandora bead for my bracelet
23. Diamonds... one for every pound I want to lose? ROFL!!
24. Bubble bath and candle supplies!! A great to soothe yourself without food plus romantic for 2
25. Naughty = Champagne and Strawberries! Nice = spa day!
26. Candy = DumDum lollipops are sugar free
27. Fitness = P90X system
28. Romantic = Detoxifying spa treatment and massage for two!
29. A bowl of fresh berries, a pitcher of lemon water and the Wii Biggest Loser game.
30. I'm making homemade granola to give as Valentine's treats in pretty jars, rather than candies!
31. Healthy cookbooks!
32. a GO Red for Women lapel red dress pin!
33. CD of romantic and personal songs; dancing lessons; date at a healthy restaurant; a night at a nice hotel/suite/bed & breakfast; ski or snowshoeing trip; hike; walk on the beach; healthy picnic; blender bottle full of flowers; healthy recipe book; homemade healthy treats
34. As a mom of five boys, I don't ask for chocolate, flowers, or jewelry. I ask that each of us hand-made cards and list a few reasons we love each other on the card. After dinner, we read the cards to each other. I always feel like the most loved, richest woman in the world on Valentine's! I have years of cards saved; it truly is a treasure!
35. A hiking trip, weather permitting! My boyfriend and I have a book of "60 Hikes Within 60 Miles" and plan on doing as many as we can. If we lived in a warmer climate, we'd have done some already... but that's what spring, summer, and fall are for.
36. An indoor picnic--blanket on the floor, music playing, healthy food and drink.
And the Chocolate-y
1. mixing a dark chocolate Hershey's Kiss with nut butter, melted and then dipping apples into it!
2. one Riesen chocolate caramel with a cup of good coffee = my personal heaven.
3. Favorite chocolate treat? Cherry Cordial Hershey's Kisses. It is easy to control portion size.
4. Ghirardelli Midnight Reverie 86% dark chocolate bars. Always keep a bag at my desk.
5. Nature Valley Dark Chocolate & oats fiber bars. Addicting and my go to treat with hot green tea.
6. OOOH! Definitely gotta be a single square of high-quality dark (72%+) chocolate!
7. Skinny Cow bars!
8. dark chocolate covered blueberries
9. a bit of dark chocolate by itself. So yummy and with antioxidants, healthy.
10. Green and Black's Organic Dark Chocolate
11. 2 chocolate graham crackers, lite Cool Whip between them, freeze for a couple of hrs - easy and very good!
12. Yoplait Chocolate Whips...all flavors
13. A single square of Lindt Chocolate dark chocolate with sea salt. Real ingredients, decadent flavors!
14. I'm old-fashioned - if I want a taste of chocolate, I just pop a Hershey's Kiss (but just one).
15. My fave chocolate treat is VitaMuffin: Triple Chocolate!
16. Sugar-free Jell-o pudding cups! Favorite chocolate treat. Only 60 calories, several flavors and super yummy.
17. Chocolate graham crackers
More sweet treats:
SparkRecipes.com editor Stepfanie Romine is a certified yoga teacher and co-author of "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight." A vegetarian and runner, she has lived and cooked on three continents.