Whole Story

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Healthier Valentine Treats

By Mary Olivar, February 6, 2013  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Mary Olivar

Lemon TreatsI love desserts — both the making and the eating. As a girl my first forays in the kitchen were to help my older sisters frost birthday cakes, mix cookie dough and bake brownies. I have happy memories of the whir of the electric mixer, of sneaked tastes of cookie dough and of waiting to lick spatulas and beaters.

I still love to head to the kitchen and make sweet treats for my family and welcome any excuse to do so. So I am always happy when Valentine’s Day rolls around, giving me the perfect opportunity to express my love for my family (and to get some time in the kitchen doing what I love: making sweets.) But things have changed since the boxed cake mix and margarine tub baking days of my childhood. I’ve not only learned a lot about baking and dessert making, but I know more about taking care of my health and the health of my family too.

No-Bake Thumbprint CookiesWhen I give them sweets, I also want to give them things that support their health. So when I make desserts, I use unprocessed whole foods, no refined sugars and healthy fat sources. One of our favorites are the No Bake Thumbprint Cookies, which use dates to sweeten rolled oats, coconut and almond butter for richness, and cinnamon, orange zest and fruit preserves for flavor. These pretty little gems are so easy to make that even your kids (or your culinarily-challenged spouse) can help too. For Valentine’s Day I like to make them a little larger, and make 2 thumbprints in a heart shape to spoon the jam into. Adorable (if I do say so myself!).

 Lemon treats are another kid-friendly, easy recipe. We like to put our own twist on them by using almonds, sunflower seeds, cashews or pecans, and adding other dried fruits such as apricots, cherries and cranberries. For flavoring, we like various combinations of cinnamon, orange zest, a touch a ginger, a splash of vanilla and even cocoa or carob powder.

Banana-Cocoa Snack CakeLooking for a healthier chocolate cake for your special valentine? Try the Banana Cocoa Snacking Cake topped with Chocolate Mousse and raspberries and see if your loved ones can guess the mousse’s secret ingredient. 

We make our own version of Banana Nice Cream, using whatever we have on hand. My favorite is bananas, coconut milk, dates soaked in warm water, peanut butter, and vanilla with a pinch of sea salt. Sometimes we make it thinner and drink it as milk shakes; sometimes we freeze it into ice cream. The Cherry Almond Smoothie also makes a great shake; add more cherries and refreeze for ice cream. The kids like this even better with some cocoa added!

Banana Nice Cream Cherry Almond Smoothie

What’s your favorite way to give sweets to the sweeties in your life?




Joe @ Eden Kitchen says ...
I'm making these Berry Stella Cookies again. They are gorgeous and about the healthiest cookie you can make before they stop tasting like a cookie: http://edenkitchen.com/berry-stella-cookies/
02/07/2011 5:08:33 PM CST
Jewel ALexander says ...
An entry for the drawing :D My special Valentine is Jon, the most pleasant human being I know. We will share a gorgeous dinner together featuring locally sourced food from Whole Foods, a lovely California wine, and the delightful company of each other. Sigh.
02/08/2011 11:30:49 AM CST
Cynthia says ...
Hello! My boyfriend and I have been together almost 4 years. Recently, we have been trying to actually read the ingredients in the foods we eat and monitor our health more closely. I would love a chance to share some of your wonderful treats with my Valentine this year!! Thank you! :)
02/08/2011 11:55:41 AM CST
Marcelle Barton says ...
My Valentine is my amazing husband, Bill. He is so considerate in everything he does. They say it's the little things that make a difference. From making coffee to playing with our daughter to working extra hours so I can stay home with her; I have it very good. And to top it all off, we are still madly in love with each other.
02/08/2011 12:54:12 PM CST
Darrin Buffkin says ...
My wife is my valentine. Thanks for the contest.
02/08/2011 1:47:57 PM CST
Alexis says ...
I wish I could give all of this to my Travis.
02/08/2011 2:17:37 PM CST
Felicia Powell says ...
Yum, I would like to give my sweeties a smoothie!
02/08/2011 2:45:49 PM CST
Sylvia says ...
YUM. Healthy sinful treats.
02/08/2011 5:05:38 PM CST
Toni says ...
My special Valentine is my husband, Joe. We've been together for over 32 years. We always go out for dinner on Valentine's Day, but this year he's a very sick puppy so I'll be cooking him a special meal and taking good care of him.
02/08/2011 9:56:33 PM CST
KaydeKat says ...
i love you!! and your wonderful treat ideas!!!
02/09/2011 10:19:25 AM CST
rebecca butler says ...
I already made My hubby a buttermilk pie. One of whole foods recipes. I had a pie crust leftover from the holidays from whole foods. I followed the recipe and instead of sugar put 1 half cup agave nectar it was delicious.
02/09/2011 10:42:17 AM CST
Jan Gibb says ...
My husband, Rich, is my special Valentine of almost 43 yrs. His birthday is Feb 16 and this year he will be 80 y/o. This will be a very special Valentine's Day & birthday! A family party & a heart-shaped cake! :)
02/09/2011 5:57:06 PM CST
Kate says ...
My favorite way to give my sweetie some sugar is by getting creative in the kitchen. After all, the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, right? Here's two-ingredient fudge, featuring Whole Foods 365 chocolate & trail mix. http://bread-n-chocolate.blogspot.com/2011/02/give-me-some-sugar.html Yum!
02/09/2011 10:30:33 PM CST
Lynne C says ...
Howdy! My sweetie is Jeff and to show him I care, I'll be shopping at WF to pick up a couple free range steaks and some fingerling potatoes. I will also be picking up some dessert. I have some sweet bubbles to enjoy with this dinner too. He's going to grill the steaks and I'll pour the bubbly wine and we'll talk and eat! AAhh, this is the life!!
02/11/2011 12:48:11 PM CST
stephanie-deliberately creative says ...
My sweetie and I have been together almost 30 years! This is our first Valentine's day gluten free so it will be yet another foodie adventure. Glad I get home from work 2.5 hours before him so it will be a surprise. :)
02/11/2011 8:17:19 PM CST