Holidays are never easy on the waistline, but at least Thanksgiving dinners pack some nutritional power. But on Valentine’s Day, a red-bowed package full of fancy chocolates is usually the main course and dessert. According to the National Retail Federation, this year Americans will shell out $1.5 billion on V-day candy alone. Okay, we don’t want to send our significant other (or ourselves) into sugar shock, but can’t we have just a little something sweet to celebrate this most made-up of store-bought holidays?
This February 14, dare yourself to think outside the chocolate box. There are plenty of treats available on the market that actually are as good as they look. In our search for Valentine’s Day treats both haute and healthy-ish, we asked Brooke Alpert, New York City-based nutritionist and founder of b-nutritious for her top five favorite finds for V-Day gifts that taste good, and are relatively good for you:
1. LaraBar Cherry Pie (less than $2 per bar)
Brooke says: “These little treats are a nutritionist’s best friend. All of the bars are so simple, with very few ingredients, yet so flavorful. They’re filled with fiber and healthy fats, but they don’t taste overly-nutritious.” To woo a potential paramour, try the Cherry Pie flavor, packaged in V-day friendly hues and loaded with dried cherries.
2. Teas’ Teas Rose Green ($36 for case of 24)
“This is a beautiful way to get in antioxidants with a bit of caffeine,” Brooke says. “The sweet sipper, an elegant blend of rose petals and premium Japanese loose leaf green tea, makes for a health-happy alternative to champagne.” Toast to not suffering from a hangover on February 15.
3. Wine Cellar Sorbet in Cabernet Sauvignon ($5.99-$9.99 per pint)
This buzzy brainchild of two best buds from Queens, New York provides a chic new way to get a bit tipsy. “I love the combination of the Cab flavor with a piece of dark chocolate,” Brooke says. The sorbets are available in nine flavors (including riesling, sake, and ruby port) and each contains 5% alcohol. An ideal indulgence for those with special diets (Wine Cellar Sorbets are dairy- and gluten-free), the spoonable sweets can be shipped nationwide.
4. Dark-Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries
With minimal ingredients and plenty of online recipes to follow, you’ll be able to whip up a batch of these does-a-body-good desserts in less time than it takes to watch the opening scenes of a really bad rom-com. “These are completely healthy and delicious. Pair a dark chocolate, which is full of antioxidants, with organic strawberries and you’ll get fiber and vitamin C all while staying low in fat and calories. Remember to use a high-quality dark chocolate that’s at least 70% cocoa to reap maximum benefits. I love Green & Blacks organic chocolates,” says Brooke.
5. Vosges Aztec Elixir Couture Cocoa ($15 for 5-7 servings)
Leave the powder-in-a-packet variety for the kids and turn up the heat with this high-end blend of crushed cocoa beans, ancho and chipotle chillies, cornmeal, and spices. “All the spices in this blend have amazing antioxidant qualities, plus anti-inflammatory properties,” Brooke says. Another positive side effect: the fiery flavors can lead to improved blood circulation, which will hopefully carry over into the bedroom.