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Guilt-Free Valentine Treats

Guilt-Free Valentine Treats

Like Halloween, Valentine's Day inspires many Americans to limit their consumption to a single food group: chocolate. ATRIO Health Plans is by no means anti-chocolate but sees Feb. 14 as the perfect time to share ways to make yummy treats that will please your taste buds and your primary care physician.

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

Strawberries are perfect for Valentine's day; not only are they heart-shaped, but they're also naturally sweet. On top of that, these unassuming berries are brimming with vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants. These delectable strawberry shortcake cupcakes are unquestionably a guilt-free treat.

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup white whole-wheat flour
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup coconut oil or butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2½ teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
  • ½ cup nonfat milk
  • 12 medium strawberries, hulled, plus more for garnish
  • ¾ cup whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 standard muffin cups with paper liners.

2. Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

3. Beat granulated sugar and coconut oil (or butter) in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Add eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla; beat until thoroughly mixed.

4. With the mixer on low, alternately add the dry ingredients and milk, starting and ending with dry ingredients, until combined. Divide the batter among the 12 lined cups.

5. Bake the cupcakes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack and let cool completely.

6. Just before serving, cut a cone-shaped hole just smaller than a strawberry into the top of each cupcake and fill it with one of the strawberries.

7. Combine cream, confectioners' sugar, and the remaining ½ teaspoon vanilla in a mixing bowl; beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until frothy. Increase speed to high and whip just until medium-stiff peaks form. Frost each cupcake with 1½ tablespoons whipped cream and top with additional sliced strawberries, if desired.

Black Bean Brownies

Brownies

The chocolate goodness of brownies makes them a go-to Valentine treat, but they aren't a go-to choice for good health unless they're black bean brownies. Not only will each square be protein-rich, but legumes lend a moist texture that's hard to match. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 (15 1/2 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Lightly grease an 8" x 8" square baking dish.
  3. Combine black beans, eggs, oil, cocoa powder, salt, vanilla extract, sugar, applesauce, and instant coffee in a blender. Blend until smooth.
  4. Pour the mixture into the baking dish.
  5. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top.
  6. Bake for about 30 to 45 minutes until edges start to peel away from the pan's sides.

Makes about 16 brownies.

Sources:

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/ingredient-focus-strawberries

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/257778/strawberry-shortcake-cupcakes/

https://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/cooking-ideas/8-diet-friendly-desserts-bake-your-valentine

https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/nutritional-benefits-of-the-strawberry