Healthier “Happy Valentine’s Day” Treats

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You don’t have to throw out your New Year’s nutrition plan for Valentine’s Day this year! Whip up one of these sweet treats, all lightened up a bit to keep you on track!

Peanut Butter & Pretzel Truffles
½ cup crunchy natural peanut butter
¼ cup finely chopped salted pretzels
½ cup milk chocolate chips, melted

Combine peanut butter and pretzels in a small bowl. Chill in the freezer until firm, about 15 minutes. Roll the peanut butter mixture into 20 balls (about 1 teaspoon each). Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper and freeze until very firm, about 1 hour. Roll the frozen balls in melted chocolate. To melt chocolate, microwave on Medium for 1 minute. Stir, then continue microwaving on Medium, stirring every 20 seconds, until melted. Or place chocolate in the top of a double boiler over hot, but not boiling, water. Stir until melted. Refrigerate until the chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.

Each serving of 1 truffle contains; Calories 64, Fat 4 g, Fiber 1 g, Carbohydrates 5 g, Protein 2 g, Cholesterol 1 mg, Sugars 3 g, Sodium 53 mg.

Dark Chocolate Meringue Drops
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, divided
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons cocoa nibs, optional
⅓ cup egg whites (about 3 large), at room temperature
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ cup sugar, divided (use 1½ teaspoons less if cocoa nibs are omitted)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and coat the paper with cooking spray.

Coarsely chop 3 ounces of chocolate and place it in a small microwave-safe bowl. (Alternatively, see Tip.) Microwave on Medium for 1 minute. Stir, then continue microwaving on Medium, stirring every 20 seconds, until mostly melted. Stir until the remaining chocolate melts completely.

Chop the remaining 2 ounces chocolate into pieces the size of mini chocolate chips. Combine in a small bowl with cocoa and cocoa nibs (if using).

Combine egg whites and cream of tartar in a clean medium mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low for 30 seconds, then at medium speed until soft peaks start to form. Immediately add about 2 tablespoons sugar; beat for 1 minute. Slowly, about a tablespoon at a time, add the remaining sugar, then vanilla, continuing to beat on medium speed until the mixture is smooth, opaque, glossy and thickened, about 2 minutes longer. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, raise the speed to high, and beat for 30 seconds more. Lightly fold in the chocolate-cocoa mixture and the melted chocolate just until evenly incorporated and no streaks remain; do not overmix. Immediately drop the batter by rounded teaspoonfuls about 1 inch apart onto the prepared baking sheets.

Bake the cookies, switching the pans back to front and top to bottom halfway through, until just firm when gently pressed on top but still soft inside, 8 to 12 minutes. Transfer the pans to wire racks and let stand for 1 to 2 minutes. Then slide the paper from the pans to a flat surface and let the cookies cool completely, about 15 minutes. Gently lift the cookies from the parchment paper using a wide-bladed spatula.

Frozen Hot Chocolate
1 cup milk of choice (for an even richer treat use at least 1/3 cup of lite or full-fat coconut milk)
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
Scant 1/16th tsp. salt – important
2 tbsp. pure maple syrup, sugar, etc. OR pinch pure stevia
Optional for an even richer flavor, add a little melted chocolate (Serendipity’s (in NYC) recipe calls for this)
Combine ingredients and whisk together on the stove. Or microwave 30 seconds, stir, then microwave another 30 seconds. Let cool, then pour into an ice-cube tray. If you don’t have one, pour into three or four small containers. (Or pour it all into one container, but be sure to thaw before doing the next step so your blender can handle the one big block of frozen-ness.) Freeze.

Once frozen, pop the mixture into a blender and blend! Do not add ice, which would dilute the flavor.

Ideas for Variations: Add almond or mint extract, blend in some banana, spike with rum, or even add peanut butter!

Serves 1, each serving contains: Calories: 80, Fat 4.5 g, Protein 3 g, Sugar 0 g (if using stevia).

Strawberry Frosting Shots
(or strawberry mousse)
1 13.5oz can full-fat coconut milk
2-4 strawberries (more will yield a thinner mousse)
1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Pinch pure stevia, or 2 tbsp. powdered sugar
Tiny pinch salt

Open the coconut milk, transfer just the thick part to a bowl (leave out the watery bit at the bottom of the can, for a thicker mousse) and blend with all other ingredients. Stored uncovered in the fridge, the mixture gets even thicker.

Raspberry Swirl Frozen Dessert Recipe
2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
5 teaspoons sugar

Filling:
3 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon water, divided
1 cup sugar, divided
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 package (8 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese
1-1/2 cups reduced-fat whipped topping
1 package (10 ounces) frozen sweetened raspberries, thawed

In a small bowl, combine the cracker crumbs, butter and sugar. Press into an 11-in. x 7-in. dish coated with cooking spray. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, for filling, in a small heavy saucepan, combine the egg yolks, 1/4 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar and salt. Cook and stir over low heat until mixture reaches 160° or is thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. Cool quickly by placing pan in a bowl of ice water; stir for 2 minutes. Set aside.

In a small heavy saucepan over low heat, combine the egg whites, cream of tartar and remaining water and sugar. With a portable mixer, beat on low speed until mixture reaches 160°. Transfer to a small bowl; beat on high until soft peaks form.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Gradually beat in egg yolk mixture. Fold in whipped topping, then egg white mixture. Drain raspberries, reserving 3 tablespoons juice. In a small bowl, crush half of berries with 1 tablespoon juice. Set remaining berries and juice aside.
Spread a third of cream cheese mixture over crust; spoon half of crushed berry mixture over the top. Repeat layers. Cut through with a knife to swirl raspberries.

Top with remaining cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle with reserved berries and drizzle with remaining juice. Cover and freeze for 5 hours or until firm. Remove from the freezer 15 minutes before cutting.
Serves 12, each piece contains; 217 calories, 9g fat (5g saturated fat), 71mg cholesterol, 164mg sodium, 32g carbohydrate (27g sugars, 1g fiber), 4g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2 starch, 1-1/2 fat.
Chocolate Crepes with Raspberry Sauce Recipe
1 cup fat-free milk
1/2 cup fat-free evaporated milk
2 egg whites
1 egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar, divided
1/4 cup baking cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
4-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup water
4-1/2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries, thawed, divided
Reduced-fat whipped cream in a can
1 teaspoon confectioners’ sugar

In a small bowl, combine the milk, evaporated milk, egg whites and egg. Combine the flour, 1/4 cup sugar, cocoa and salt; add to milk mixture and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

In a small saucepan, combine cornstarch and remaining sugar; set aside. Place water and 3-1/2 cups raspberries in a blender; cover and process for 2-3 minutes or until pureed.

Strain puree into cornstarch mixture and discard seeds. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Transfer to a small bowl; refrigerate until chilled.

Coat an 8-in. nonstick skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium heat. Stir crepe batter; pour a scant 3 tablespoons into center of skillet. Lift and tilt pan to coat bottom evenly. Cook until top appears dry; turn and cook 15-20 seconds longer. Remove to a wire rack.

Repeat with remaining batter, coating skillet with cooking spray as needed. When cool, stack crepes with waxed paper or paper towels in between.

Spread each crepe with 2 tablespoons sauce. Fold each crepe into quarters; place two crepes on each of eight individual plates. Top servings with remaining sauce and 1 tablespoon whipped cream. Garnish with remaining raspberries and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Yield: 8 servings.
Each crepe contains: Calories 203, Fat 2g, Cholesterol 30mg, Sodium 202mg, Carbohydrate 42g, Sugars 22g, Fiber 6g, Protein 7g.