Wholesome Valentine’s Day Minus the Sugar

 

Photo: [Link]

 

With heart-shaped chocolate boxes and rose bouquets filling the aisles in gift shops, it’s safe to say that the season of love is here—of all things blooming and sweet!

 

…That is, both figuratively AND literally. Studies show that love really does taste sweet; sweetness on the tongue is more likely to induce wholesome and happy feelings, and vice versa [1]. No wonder Valentine’s Day is one of the most sugary days of the year.

 

But with sweet delights often come bitter consequences—especially on our health. Excessive consumption of sugar is a major risk factor for numerous chronic illnesses, from acne to obesity, high blood pressure, and type-2 diabetes [2]. No need to mention tooth decay.

 

Does this mean we should cancel Valentine’s Day? Absolutely not! Let NOW Foods show you a variety of Valentine’s gift ideas to help you spread all the love in its sweetest sense without a gram of sugar.

 

 

Treats for Health-Conscious Sweethearts

 

Photo: [Link]

 

Home-baked sweets never fail to impress, especially on Valentine’s Day! This year, make it more heartwarming by making bite-sized sweets that won’t ring the sugar alarm.

 

Yup, sweet and healthy are indeed compatible—in fact, it’s easily reachable with NOW Food’s alternative sweetener options! Here are a popular few:

 

  • Erythritol. Also known as sugar alcohol, erythritol is a keto-friendly (meaning low-carb) sweetener. NOW Foods Erythritol is also non-GMO, offering a cleaner and more natural taste.
  • Stevia. This plant extract is more than 100 times sweeter than white sugar while being zero calorie [3]! NOW Foods BetterStevia advances its sweetness while preserving all its natural qualities. Enjoy it in liquid or powder form, based on your need. Choose some popular flavours to simplify your cooking: Hazelnut and French vanilla are some favourites.
  • Monk fruit. Also known as lo han guo in Chinese, monk fruit makes a great diabetes-friendly, zero-calorie sweetener. A few drops of NOW Foods Organic Monk Fruit Liquid Sweetener or powder packets perfectly substitute sugar in any dish without any “chemical” aftertaste.

 

For a look at how these sugar-substitutes will work out in your Valentine’s Day sweets, check out a couple of our selected recipes!

 

Sugar-Free & Gluten-Free Cheesecake Brownies [4]

 

Photo: [Link]

 

Who could resist two dessert favourites combined? Not me. All while sugar-free, gluten-free, and ketogenic? Count me in!

 

Ingredients for the brownies (fills a 8x8 pan):

8 Tbsp. butter, melted

3/4 cup NOW Foods Organic Monk Fruit Powder

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup almond flour

 

Ingredients for the cheesecake swirl:

113g softened cream cheese

3 Tbsp. NOW Foods Organic Monk Fruit Powder

2 Tbsp. heavy cream

2 tsp. vanilla extract

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F).
  2. In a bowl, combine the melted butter, NOW Foods Organic Monk Fruit, and cocoa powder. Mix in the eggs, and stir well.
  3. Add the almond flour and salt, and mix well.
  4. Spread the mixture on a baking pan lined with parchment paper, and set aside.
  5. In a blender or food processor, add the cream cheese, NOW Foods Organic Monk Fruit, heavy cream, and vanilla extract and blend for 15 seconds. Scrape down the edges and blend again.
  6. Spoon the mixture onto the brownie batter, and swirl.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until brownies are set. Allow to cool before slicing.

 

 

Does chocolate sound a bit too cliche? Go for a “cooler” gift that’ll melt those hearts away without any chocolate OR dairy.

 

Vegan Coconut Fruit Popsicles [5]

 

Coconut milk and frozen fruit are the main stars in this fruity vegan ice cream bar! Using NOW Foods Organic Coconut Milk Powder, prepping a fresh cup of coconut milk on hand could never get easier.

 

Photo: [Link]

 

Ingredients (makes twelve bars)

 

5 Tbsp. NOW Foods Organic Coconut Milk Powder

400mL hot water

1/4 cup NOW Foods BetterStevia Liquid - Maple

Choice of frozen fruit, as needed

Fresh herbs (basil, rosemary, and/or thyme), chopped

 

Instructions:

  1. Mix NOW Foods Organic Coconut Milk Powder with hot water to prepare the coconut milk.
  2. Fill about half of the popsicle molds with small pieces of frozen fruit and chopped herbs, and place the popsicle sticks in the middle.
  3. Combine coconut milk and NOW Foods BetterStevia Liquid - Maple and mix well. Carefully pour the mixture into the popsicle molds until they're full.
  4. Set in the freezer overnight, or until solid.

 

 

Love is in the Air

 

Sure, the tastebud-emotion connection is undeniably strong, but just as powerful an association is one between smell and mood. A distinctive and pleasant scent, paired with a positive memory, can help induce happiness and relaxation in a snap [6].

 

Photo: [Link]

 

That’s what makes aromatherapy and essential oils so effective, both in self-care and as a sincere gift to show that you genuinely care! These essential oils and blends in particular could help you “set the mood” for love and affection:

 

  • Rose. It’s the flower of love! Rose oil helps restore balance in the mind and body, and opens our heart to romance [7]. Nothing will say love more clearly than a bottle of NOW Foods Rose Absolute Essential Oil (5% Blend) in your gift box!
  • Patchouli. This musky, earthy oil is a great mood stimulant in itself, but works even better in a Love is in the Air blend: Just mix 1 drop of NOW Foods Patchouli Essential Oil with 3 drops of jasmine and 5 drops of geranium.
  • NOW Foods Naturally Loveable Essential Oil Blend. An uplifting mix of citrus aromas and floral scents of ylang ylang and jasmine, on a woody, comforting base of sandalwood. It’s sweet, versatile, and simply irresistible.

 

If you insist on adding a handmade element into your essential oil Valentine gifts, try incorporating one of those blends in a colourful and fizzy jar of bath salts!

 

Homemade Bath Salt [8]

Photo: [Link]

 

Ingredients:

25g epsom salts

50g baking soda

25g cornstarch

25g NOW Foods Citric Acid

1-2 drops red/pink soap colourant

15 drops NOW Foods Naturally Loveable Essential Oil Blend

1 tsp. NOW Foods Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

 

Instructions:

  1. Add the salt, baking soda, cornstarch, and NOW Foods Citric Acid into a bowl, and mix well.

  2. In a small jar with a lid, add soap colourant, NOW Foods Naturally Loveable Essential Oil Blend, and NOW Foods Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Close the jar and shake well until the liquids are combined.

  3. Slowly add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients, whisking thoroughly. Continue whisking until you reach an even, crumbly texture.
  4. 
Place the bath salt into a gift jar.

 

 

That’s one huge Valentine’s Day concern checked off—and the last, most important step remains. Now’s the time to ask that crush out! Or to give some firm hugs to old friends and family! Whatever Valentine looks like for you, fill your heart with some sweet (sugarless) love this February, in all of its shapes and colours.

 

References:

[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/eating-something-sweet-can-make-you-more-willing-to-go-on-a-date/2016/03/28/4eac2c28-d0f8-11e5-88cd-753e80cd29ad_story.html

[2] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/too-much-sugar#TOC_TITLE_HDR_8

[3] https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/what-is-stevia

[4] Recipe adapted from: https://www.maebells.com/keto-cheesecake-brownies/

[5] Recipe adapted from: https://www.thisrawsomeveganlife.com/2013/04/fruit-thyme-popsicles-with-coconut-milk.html?utm_campaign=yummly&utm_medium=yummly&utm_source=yummly

[6] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/200711/the-hidden-force-fragrance

[7] https://www.healthline.com/health/rose-oil#6

[8] Recipe adapted from: https://styleonmain.net/diy-valentines-day-fizzing-bath-salts/

 

 


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