Chocolate FondueSpecial occasions like Valentine's Day can be tough on dieters, but there are plenty of healthy Valentine's Day treats that won't break the calorie bank (or your diet). Check out these delicious ideas that won't leave you, or your sweetie, feeling deprived:
• Take the traditional approach of offering your significant other rich and delicious chocolate confections. Dark chocolate contains heart-healthy antioxidants and, savored in small doses, absolutely fits into a weight-friendly diet. A tasty (but trim) option: chocolate fondue (recipe below). Or make the gift an even bigger show of your love by taking the time to find yummy and healthy chocolate recipes and whip up a batch of "bite-size" treats.
• Or go for the campy approach. Package up some almonds (like Spiced Spanish Almonds), which have as many antioxidants as a serving of broccoli or green tea, according to a 2006 study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, and add a silly "I'm nuts about you" note. Recycle an Altoids box (cover the top with your note): the tin is the perfect container for an ounce of almonds (approximately 22 nuts), which pack a satisfying carb-and-protein combo for only 170 calories. And when your loved one keeps refilling the tin with almonds for an afternoon snack, the box becomes a daily reminder of how much you care.
Cheesy? Absolutely. (That's the point!) But thoughtful and healthy all the same.
The chocolate will stiffen if it gets cold, so enjoy it while it's still warm. Skewer and dip anything you like-pear slices, dried apricots, even marshmallows. Equipment: Fondue forks or bamboo skewers
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon brewed espresso (see Kitchen Tip)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 banana, peeled and cut into 8 pieces
8 1-inch chunks fresh pineapple
1. Place chocolate, cream, espresso, vanilla and salt in a medium microwave-safe bowl; microwave on Medium, stirring every 20 seconds, until melted, 1 to 2 minutes. (Alternatively, see "No Microwave?" below.)
2. Pour the chocolate mixture into a serving bowl. Serve with fruit.
Makes 2 servings.
NUTRITION INFORMATION: Per serving: 345 calories; 19 g fat (10 g sat, 2 g mono); 20 mg cholesterol; 54 g carbohydrate; 4 g protein; 7 g fiber; 81 mg sodium; 382 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (90% daily value).
Kitchen Tip: If you don't have an espresso maker, look for instant espresso powder at your supermarket.
No Microwave? Place chopped chocolate in the top of a double boiler over hot, but not boiling water. Gently stir until almost melted. Remove from the heat and stir until the chocolate melts completely.
By Nicci Micco
Nicci Micco is deputy editor of features and nutrition at EatingWell. She has a master's degree in nutrition and food sciences, with a focus in weight management. She's addicted to ice cream and pizza. But she also can't imagine going a week without eating sweet potatoes, salad greens or kidney beans. Kale and beets also rank at the top of her favorite-foods list.
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