Keep Your Valentine’s Day Sweets, Sweet for Your Health

— Written By

Valentine’s Day would not be the same without enjoying delicious sweets with your special Sweetheart.  You don’t have to skip this annual event, just keep it heart healthy by cooking up these lighter versions of your favorite treats!

 

Strawberry Swirl Bars

1 c. low-fat graham cracker crumbs
3 tbsp. butter, melted
1 c. non-fat vanilla Greek yogurt
1 8 oz. package reduced-fat cream cheese
1/2 c. Splenda
3 eggs
3 tbsp. flour
4 tbsp. sugar-free strawberry jelly


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix graham cracker crumbs and butter together and press into an 8 x 8 in. baking plan. Bake crust for 10 minutes. Blend the Greek yogurt, cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and flour in a food processor until smooth. Swirl the 4 tbsp. of jelly into the mixture. Pour over the baked crust. Bake for 25 minutes or until the filling is solidified. Let cool. Cover and refrigerate for several hours prior to serving.  Yields 9 squares.

 

Each 1 bar serving contains; 240 calories, 15.4 grams sugar, 13.4 grams fat

 

Chocolate Baklava

(This recipe is so yummy)

3/4 cup honey

1/2 cup water

1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick

1 cup hazelnut-chocolate spread

1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup roasted pistachios, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup blanched toasted almonds, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

Cooking spray

24 (14 x 9-inch) sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed

1/2 cup butter, melted

 

Combine the first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat; stir until honey dissolves. Increase heat to medium; cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer registers 230° (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat; keep warm. Discard cinnamon stick.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Place hazelnut-chocolate spread in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave at HIGH for 30 seconds or until melted. Combine hazelnuts and next 5 ingredients (through salt). Lightly coat a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking spray. Working with 1 phyllo sheet at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), place 1 phyllo sheet lengthwise in bottom of prepared pan, allowing ends of sheet to extend over edges of dish; lightly brush with butter. Repeat procedure with 5 phyllo sheets and butter. Drizzle about 1/3 cup melted hazelnut -chocolate spread over phyllo. Sprinkle evenly with one-third of nut mixture (about 1/2 cup). Repeat procedure twice with phyllo, butter, hazelnut-chocolate spread, and nut mixture. Top last layer of nut mixture with remaining 6 sheets phyllo, each lightly brushed with butter. Press gently into pan.

 

Make 3 lengthwise cuts and 5 crosswise cuts to form 24 portions using a sharp knife. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until phyllo is golden. Remove from oven. Drizzle honey mixture over baklava. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Cover; store at room temperature.  Because phyllo sheets are thin and delicate, handle with care so you won’t tear the sheets. Keep the sheets you are not working with covered so it won’t dry out.  Yields 24 servings. 

 

Each serving contains; Calories: 238, Fat: 13.4g, Protein: 4g, Carbohydrate: 27.8g,

Fiber: 1.6g, Cholesterol: 10mg, Sodium: 148mg, Calcium: 29mg

 

Chocolate Marshmallow Bark

(This is adapted from a WW recipe and contains 2 points plus)

8 oz. bittersweet chocolate

2 tsp. regular butter

3 cups mini marshmallows

1 tbsp. chopped almonds

 

Line a 9- X 9-inch pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil.

 

In a double boiler, melt chocolate and butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly combined; remove from heat and stir in marshmallows and almonds.

 

Scrape chocolate mixture into prepared pan using a silicon spatula; smooth into a somewhat even layer. Refrigerate until chocolate sets, at least 1 hour; keep refrigerated until ready to eat. Cut into 12 pieces and serve. Yields 1 piece per serving.

 

Texas Sheet Cake

Cooking spray

2 teaspoons all-purpose flour

2 cups all-purpose flour  

2 cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa, divided

1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract, divided

2 large eggs

6 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup fat-free milk

3 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

 

Preheat oven to 375°.  Coat a 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan with cooking spray; dust with 2 teaspoons flour. Set aside.

Combine 2 cups flour and next 4 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl. Combine 3/4 cup water, 1/2 cup butter, and 1/4 cup cocoa in a saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Pour into flour mixture. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add buttermilk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and eggs; beat well. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 375° for 17 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack.

 

Combine 6 tablespoons butter, fat-free milk, and 1/4 cup cocoa in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Gradually stir in powdered sugar; stir in 2 teaspoons vanilla and pecans. Spread over hot cake. Cool completely on wire rack. Yields 20 servings

 

Each serving contains; Calories: 298, Fat: 10g, Protein: 3.1g, Carbohydrate: 49.8g

Fiber: 0.5g, Cholesterol: 44mg, Sodium: 188mg, Calcium: 25mg

 

Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies

(This is another modified WW recipe and it is 2 points plus per serving)

1 spray cooking spray

1 tsp. all-purpose flour

4 large egg whites

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, semi-sweet   

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

 

Preheat oven to 200ºF.  Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray; coat with a light dusting of flour and shake off excess.

 

In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form; gently fold in chocolate and vanilla extract.

Drop mixture by heaping tablespoons onto prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart, making 24 cookies.

 

Bake until lightly golden and no longer sticky on the surface, about 1 hour. Turn oven off and let cookies sit in oven for 1 hour. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Yields 1 cookie per serving.

Chocolate Shortbread

1 cup all-purpose flour  

3 tablespoons unsweetened premium dark cocoa

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup powdered sugar

5 tablespoons butter, softened

1/4 cup canola oil

Cooking spray

 

Combine flour, cocoa, and salt in a small bowl; stir with a whisk.

 

Place sugar, butter, and oil in a medium bowl; mix with hands until combined. Add flour mixture, and mix with hands until combined; wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

 

Preheat oven to 325°.

Place dough on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray; press dough into an 8 x 5–inch rectangle about 3/8-inch thick. Pierce entire surface liberally with a fork. Bake at 325° for 30 minutes or just until set. Cut shortbread into 24 pieces. Cool completely.

 

Other Variations

Lemon Shortbread: You can also use grated orange rind in place of lemon. A little bit of cornstarch ensures a short texture in the cookies. Substitute 3 tablespoons cornstarch for the unsweetened cocoa. Add 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind to flour mixture. Knead dough lightly 4 times or just until smooth before chilling. Bake 30 minutes or just until set and edges are golden.

 

Each serving contains; Calories 74; Fat 4.8g; Protein 0.6g; Carbohydrates 7.5g; Fiber 0.2g; Cholesterol 6mg; Iron 0.3mg; Sodium 42mg; Calcium 2mg

 

Brown Sugar Shortbread: Using light brown sugar yields sweet treats with caramel notes. These double easily; just bake each batch separately for the best results.  Use 1 1/2 all-purpose flour, and substitute 3 tablespoons cornstarch for the cocoa. Omit powdered sugar and oil, and use 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar and 7 tablespoons butter (total), softened. Sprinkle dough with 1 1/2 teaspoons ice water; knead dough lightly 4 times or just until smooth. Bake for 25 minutes or just until set and edges are golden.

Each 1 cookie serving contains; Calories 74; Fat 3.4g; Protein 0.7g; Carbohydrates