A Sweet Valentine’s Day Gift for the Heart

This is for all you hopeless romantics…the guy that sends his wife the customary dozen red roses paying 4 times more than he would any other day OR ordering that stupid 5 foot Teddy bear that somehow the idiot on the TV commercial thinks he’s going to ‘benefit’ from it.

Don’t get me wrong...no one loves roses more than me, but if you want them to mean something send them (better yet, deliver ’em in person) for no reason…just because. Step it up a notch and visit your local florist and pick out your own combination of flowers and create your own arrangement. Don’t forget to add some greenery which will compliment the flowers and add texture to your arrangement.

Here’s an awesome idea… Spend Valentine’s Day at a local winery. Take a tour, meet the winemakers and sample different wines. It’s original, unique and sounds like fun. Winery and vineyards have tasting rooms and wine pairings like chocolate or hors d’oeuvres and some offer complete dinners on special days like Valentine’s Day.  

handmade-chocolate-pralines

Give the gift of chocolate

Chocolate…the food of love and I’m not talking about the heart shaped box of milk chocolate you can purchase at every grocery store and greeting card shop in town.  Stay away and don’t be tempted by the pretty box….read the ingredients!

Did you know… These mass produced chocolates contain:

  • hydrogenated oils
  • high fructose corn syrup
  • preservatives
  • artificial flavors
  • artificial colors
  • GMO oils and
  • processed refined sugars, just to name a few. And what does this mean…”Partially produced with genetic engineering”? Check it out for yourself…read the label.

I’m talking about the perfect chocolate…chocolate with benefits.

Did you know… Chocolate can be part of a healthy diet. Yes, indeedy, if it’s dark chocolate.

Prepare this tasty Chocolate Mousse for dessert tonight

In a blender, place 1/4 cup cacao powder, 2 cups coconut cream, 1 tsp pure vanilla extract, 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1/4 cup almond milk and a pinch of sea salt. Blend on high until smooth and divide into dessert bowls or pretty glasses used for wine or champagne. Place in the fridge for an hour or so and they’ll be ready by the time dinner is done. To serve, top with a few fresh raspberries or better yet…a strawberry.

The cocoa bean is rich in antioxidants, called flavanols, which help with blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and circulation. Dark chocolate has a positive impact on vascular health as well as digestive health.

Recently, I read about a study conducted in Italy with a group of men and women ranging in age from 60-78 that had artery problems in their legs.  They were asked to eat 40 grams (that’s only 1.4 ounces) of dark chocolate each day.  Due to dark chocolate polyphenols and micronutrients with antioxidant properties, the participants were able to walk farther and longer with decreased mobility pain.

Another study done at Harvard Medical School followed a group of mentally healthy people with an average age of 73.  They drank 2 cups of hot cocoa each day resulting in an increase of blood flow to the brain AND the participants experienced improved memory recall on the standardized tests they were given.  Impressive.

One of the largest ever research trials underway, as I write this, is being conducted by Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital (where one of my daughters was born) with 18,000 men and women participants taking place over the course of the next 5 years. They will be taking daily cocoa pills and placebos to determine the value of cocoa in minimizing the risk of strokes and heart attacks.

One cocoa pill packs a whopping 750mg of cocoa flavanols which equates to eating enough chocolate to gain over 50 pounds of weight a year.

I’m very excited to see how this research study goes…just wish I knew they were seeking participants.

Chocolate…a guilty pleasure no more.

Choose the right chocolate and treat yourself every day. An ounce of dark chocolate, hot cocoa and hopefully soon, a supplement that will provide us with all the health benefits of the little cocoa bean without the calories, sugar and fat.

⇒ Click here to check out my Table 38 House Chocolate Sauce recipe.

In downtown Wilton, NH there is an old fashion candy shop that started in 1911 and is now run by the 3rd generation of candy makers.  The smells in this shop are to die for.  You can actually watch it being made and even talk with the chocolatier. They produce some of the best candy and chocolates in New England.  I invite you to check out Nelson’s Candy Shop at www.nelsonscandieswilton.com

Can I interest you in chocolate covered strawberries? Easy to prepare or purchase online and have them shipped the same day to a loved one far away. They are a decadent special treat and healthy, too. Think about it…you have all the benefits of dark chocolate that I mentioned earlier, plus so much more.

Did you know… Juicy, delicious strawberries are:

  • high in vitamin C
  • packed with antioxidants
  • rich in nutrients
  • contain minerals like folate, potassium, manganese and magnesium
  • contain dietary fiber
  • strawberries boost our immunity
  • helpful in promoting good eye health as we get older
  • helpful in improving our skin elasticity as we age and helpful in preventing normal collagen destruction
  • contain phytochemicals that benefit our heart health
  • these same phytochemicals also help reduce inflammation in our joints which may cause arthritis

So…with Valentine’s Day literally just a few days away, show your sweetheart your love with the gift of chocolate.

Skål

 

 

 

 

14 comments to A Sweet Valentine’s Day Gift for the Heart

  • Brad

    I am really interested in that research study you mentioned about cocoa reducing the risks of stroke and heart disease. I have never heard of that until now. Has this sort of research been going on for a long time or is it brand new?
    Do you know what results they expect to find and if it is likely there is a huge correlation there?
    Thank you!

    • Karen

      Hello, Brad…Studies on the health benefits of dark chocolate are not new. I think we are just hearing about them more and more because so much focus, today, is on the great number of chemicals and man made preservatives in our foods. One observational study I read about was conducted with 470 elderly men over a 15 year period of time. Cocoa was found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular death by 50%. The study did not say how much chocolate they consumed on a daily basis, however, another study did say that eating dark chocolate 2 or more times each week reduced the risk of calcified plaque in the arteries by 32%.

      While these were observational studies, due to the abundance of antioxidants and flavinoids in dark chocolate, my guess is it helps reduce risk factors. Plus, we know cocoa helps reduce LDL cholesterol in the arteries…so, what have we got to lose?

  • Ki

    Chocolate coated strawberries? Excuse me miss but are you trying to seduce me?

    You are halfway there – just provide me with some champagne and I’m yours.

    Any ideas on how I should present these delicacies to my lover?

    Also, I have no idea how to arrange flowers – could you kindly help me out with that?

    Many thanks

    • Karen

      Hello…thanks for visiting and leaving such lovely comments. Read my blog “Seasons of New England Part 3” and you’ll find out the health benefits of champagne. Seriously, there are many. Just arrange chocolate covered strawberries on a pretty dish and keep them chilled in the fridge along with 2 champagne glasses and a bottle of bubbly until ready to serve. Start a fire in the fireplace, light a few candles and you take it from there haha.

      With regards to arranging flowers, your local florist will happily assist you in picking out the right flowers and greenery for the vase you plan to use. Bring in your own or purchase a vase there.

      Good luck and I hope you enjoy your romantic evening 🙂

  • Robin

    Hi Karen
    Thanks for this article on chocolate. I am such a fan and didnt know about dark chocolate being good for me. That is very inspiring! And your suggestions about things to do for Valentines Day is spot on! I especially like the suggestion about touring a winery. I live close to Napa and that would be a great thing to do to impress my S.O.! This is a good site to get my brain in gear!

    • Karen

      Hello, Robin…you’re in the perfect location to tour a winery and sample various wines. I’m a bit envious as here in New England there are very few vineyards.

  • Lauren

    That chocolate mousse is to die for! I’m definitely going to have to try it out, even though Valentine’s Day is over, there is always a reason to treat yourself! I’ve actually started to prefer very dark chocolate over the alternatives It’s not as sweet, but knowing that it’s slightly healthier works for me.

    • Karen

      Lauren, I can’t agree with you more. Any day is the perfect day for chocolate mousse…especially if you make it healthy. I’ve started drinking hot cocoa too, after learning of the health benefits. Thank you for visiting and sharing your thoughts.

  • Maxx

    Hey, Karen, I wish to read your recipe a few days ago before Valentine so that I’m able to prepare for my girlfriend. But it’s never too late and perhaps will bookmark this recipe and make it for her in few days time some days around the weekend.

    Hope she will like it and thanks for the time letting me know this chocolate recipe. I will read through others recipe from your website too.

    • Karen

      Hello, Maxx…thank you for visiting and leaving your thoughtful comments. This weekend is a perfect time to surprise your girlfriend and make Chocolate Mousse for her. Or, pick up some plump strawberries and dunk them into melted dark chocolate. Place them on a dish and let them sit in the fridge so the chocolate can harden. She will absolutely love them and love you for making them for her. Let me know how it goes.

  • Laura

    Wow! I’ve heard chocolate can be good for you but not like this. I didn’t realize it could have so many amazing benefits. Thank you for this info! I especially enjoyed what to look for to know which ones wouldn’t be good for me and that I wouldn’t want to buy.

    • Karen

      Hi, Laura…thanks for commenting. Can’t go wrong with dark chocolate…I think it even has a richer flavor than milk chocolate. I’m adding a recipe to this blog for Chocolate Mousse that I hope you’ll come back and try.

  • Joanne Nono

    I love your webpage. Lots of beautiful recipes. I live in Kauai, Hawaii and I wish we had fresh blueberries growing. I love blueberries in everything. I love your pumpkin smoothie recipe. I will be trying that. You have a lot of great recipes. I love to cook. I will saving your webpage and be going back to getting recipes. Thank you.

    • Karen

      Hello, Joanne…thank you for visiting and thank you for your lovely comments. I was fortunate enough to visit Kauai years ago and absolutely fell in love with the smells, the ocean and the entire atmosphere of Hawaii. There is no comparison…AND the Maui chips? Unforgettable…is it the volcanic soil? I had a client who lived on Maui and would send me Maui chips all the way to New England. Sadly, when he passed…so did my Maui chips.

      I would love your feedback on any recipe you try or blog you read. I look forward to your comments. Aloha

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>