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Celebrate Valentine's Day in a Healthy Way
By Dawn R. Hanna
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- People tend to celebrate Valentine's Day with gifts to show love and affection. Choosing a healthy gift will make loved ones' smiles last longer.
Consider other valentine gift ideas besides sweets for your sweetheart.
"Sugar is an empty source of calories and does not provide nutrients that our bodies need," said Dr. Melissa Mixon, extension human nutrition specialist at Mississippi State University.
Mixon said moderation is the key when eating sweets on Valentine's Day.
"Establish limits up front on how many cookies or pieces of candy you can eat during the day, and do not exceed those limits," said Mixon. "For children, this can lead to a healthy attitude about empty calorie foods."
"Candy and sweets should not replace nutritious foods in children's diets," Mixon added.
Mixon said reducing the amount of sugar in the diet can be one way to reach an ideal goal for someone who is trying to maintain or achieve a desired weight.
"When choosing a valentine gift for a special someone, keep in mind their goals and desires," said Mixon. "If they are trying to reduce sugar in their diet or lose weight, then giving them candy won't help."
Before giving sugar-free candy to diabetics, Mixon suggested consulting with their doctors or dietitians to be sure it is a suitable gift.
Healthy alternatives for Valentine's Day gifts include a variety of choices.
"For some people an exotic fruit basket that they normally wouldn't buy for themselves may be considered a real treat," Mixon said.
Mixon suggested experimenting with a cookie recipe or other recipes to give a healthier version of a homemade favorite, or prepare a special dinner that wouldn't be in the budget for the rest of the year.
Other Valentine's Day gift suggestions to help keep loved ones healthy throughout the year include a subscription to a health magazine, cookbooks with a variety of healthy recipes, membership to a health club or something to wear to the health club.
Here are a few healthy recipes to try this Valentine's Day:
- Makes 36 mini muffins
- 1 cup chopped cranberries
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 cup skim milk
- 1/2 egg product substitute, egg whites
- 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
- 1/4 cup margarine, melted
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
In small bowl, combine cranberries and 3 tablespoons sugar; let stand 5 minutes. In large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and 4 tablespoons sugar. In small bowl, blend milk, egg substitute, and orange peel. Stir milk mixture and margarine into four mixture just until moist; stir in cranberries. Spoon batter into 36 greased 1 3/4-inch muffin-pan cups. Combine remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over muffin tops. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until done.
NUTRITION INFORMATION per mini muffin: 49 calories, 1 gram total fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 37 milligrams sodium.
Makes 4 dozen
- 1 3/4 cups cake flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup reduced-calorie margarine
- Liquid sugar substitute to equal 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 1 cup bran cereal
Sift together flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and baking soda. Combine margarine, sugar substitute, vanilla, and egg; cream until light and fluffy. Add flour mixture and applesauce alternately to creamed mixture, mixing well after each addition. Fold in raisins and bran cereal. Drop 48 level tablespoons of cookie dough about 1 inch apart onto nonstick baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.
NUTRITION INFORMATION: serving size three cookies, each serving may be exchanged for 1 bread or 1/2 fat.
RICH FUDGE BROWNIES
Makes 36 brownies
- 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup egg substitute, egg whites
- 1/2 cup margarine, melted
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup pecans, chopped
- Confectioners' sugar
In large bowl, combine sugars, flour, egg substitute, margarine, and cocoa until well blended. Stir in vanilla and pecans. Spread in well-greased 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan. Bake 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until done. Cool in pan on wire rack. Wrap and store refrigerated for up to one week. Dust with confectioner's sugar before serving.
* Undusted brownies can be frozen for up to one month.
NUTRITION INFORMATION per brownie: 85 calories, 3 grams total fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 30 milligrams sodium.