Why not aim for both a happy and healthy Valentine’s Day this year? Americans have been known to spend as much as $1.7 billion dollars a year on Valentine’s Day candy alone. That’s a lot of sugar, considering that over half the population participates in this saccharine-sweet holiday.1
It’s a little ironic to celebrate the day of hearts by consuming copious amounts of a substance that’s been proven to negatively affect heart health. Research shows that a high-sugar diet may increase your chances of weight gain and heart issues.2
So, since Valentine’s Day is all about love, show yourself and your partner some true love by nixing unhealthy choices like high-sugar indulgences. There are a lot of ways to still have fun and keep true to the tradition of Valentine’s Day without going overboard with the calories, taxing out your heart, or sacrificing your weight loss goals.
Skip Store-Bought: Make Your Own Healthy Alternative To Decadent Desserts
While a box of fancy chocolate (or a gallon of your favorite ice cream) might be the usual order of business on Valentine’s Day, nothing says you care more than putting in a little extra effort in gifting something homemade.
Consider giving a snack or dessert your loved one usually enjoys, but up the health factor by being more mindful with the ingredients (without sacrificing the delicious taste). Here are some common healthier swaps for baking ingredients which might either reduce the overall calories of the finished snack or drop the sugar and fat content significantly.
Consider trying these healthy baking substitutes:
- White flour: Use healthier flour such as almond, coconut or cassava flour. You can even use pureed black beans (depending on what you’re baking).
- Butter: Unsweetened applesauce, coconut oil, pureed avocado, prunes soaked in water and pureed, or mashed banana
- Sugar: Stevia, swerve, erythritol, or monk fruit
- Frosting: Make your own frosting at home using greek yogurt and one of the sugar alternatives mentioned above.
- Peanut butter: Natural nut butter such as almond butter (look for one with no added sugars or preservatives)
- Milk chocolate chips: Use dark chocolate chips instead (the darker the better)3
You’ll want to read your chosen dessert or snack recipe’s notes carefully to see which substitutions will work best, or you can always opt to research recipes that are already marked as either vegan, sugar-free, or gluten-free. These recipes are often adjusted with ingredient substitutions already made.
Plan The Perfect Healthy Valentine’s Day Breakfast In Bed: Pancakes With Fresh Strawberries
Breakfast in bed is a popular romantic gesture on Valentine’s Day, and serving your loved one food you made yourself is always sweet and touching. And even if you’re single, why not take the opportunity to whip up some healthy, delicious, and festive breakfast food? Pancakes are an old standby, and the following recipe doesn’t call for any refined sugar. It’s also much lower in calories and carbs than traditional pancake recipes.4
With this basic pancake recipe, you can also customize toppings as you please. Keep it heart-healthy by putting some sliced fresh strawberries and other berries on the side, as well as opting for Greek yogurt instead of the customary whipped cream.
- 1 cup almond flour
- ¼ cup water
- 2 eggs
- 1 Tbsp. maple syrup or sugar alternative
- 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
- Toppings of your choice (including Greek yogurt)
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl until smooth.
- Heat coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat
- Drop 2-3 spoonfuls of batter(per pancake) onto skillet
- Cook until bubbles form (about 5 minutes)
- Flip and cook another 5 minutes or until golden brown
Get Active: Go For A Romantic Walk After Dinner
Here’s a good reason to extend your dinner date a little longer: invite your sweetie out for a post-meal stroll. Staying physically active may help maintain and improve heart health. Even something as simple as walking may have a beneficial impact. Physical activity is also great for weight loss. You might be able to reap these benefits by walking just 30-40 minutes each day.5
But why stop there? If your fitness levels allow it (and if your date is game) why not go for a fun and active date? You can go rollerblading or go on a hike and finish with a romantic picnic. You could challenge each other at a new sport or rent a tandem bike for a leisurely ride. Even if you’re just going to a movie and grabbing a bite for dinner after, try to incorporate some walking into the day (even if it means parking a little farther away than usual). The key is to get moving.
Healthy Valentine’s Day: Have A Heart-Healthy Holiday
There are many ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day, and these are just some of the more heart-friendly ways to do it. Get creative in expressing how you feel, but make sure you take care of your heart while wearing it on your sleeve.