The sweets, the treats, and the cheats – Valentine’s Day!

Let me just start off by saying, my mom totally rocks. She knows just how to brighten my day after I have been up since 5, and working since 6am:

Even my yogi tea, which I randomly grabbed was in theme with the saying "love what is ahead by loving what has come before."

With Valentine’s Day coming up tomorrow, I figured I would touch base on  an important, yet touchy topic: cheating. Ironically, Today, Feb 13th, is apparently “Mistress Day,” and unofficial day where men pamper the women they are cheating on their spouse with…my oh my what has our society come to?

Now, cheating does not just occur within a romantic relationship – it happens in several aspects of our lives. Each and every one of us is guilty of it.

Yesterday Mat and I decided to get nostalgic and have lunch at Chili’s – this was the “go-to” spot for when we were in high school. In fact, it was one of the few things to do in high school – next to going to the movies and hanging out at Starbucks, which were all conveniently located within the same plaza. We were joking as we browsed the menu thinking about how our friends that dedicate a “cheat day” into their weekly routine would have a field day there. That really got me thinking about the term “diet” and the term “cheat day.” A cheat day is a day designated to break your strict rules of your healthy diet, and just indulge. A day to just have whatever the heck you want, and you ought to enjoy every minute of it because once that day is over you’re back  onto your healthy fruits and veggies dietary intake – say good-bye to those simple refined carbohydrates and saturated fat for another week! The term “diet” is actually derived from the Greek word “dieta,” meaning a way of life. Now let’s put both terms together: you are essentially cheating on your way of life — is this really all that healthy?

This whole idea of a “cheat day” or “cheat meal” has gotten a decent amount of controversy. Many have justified that allowing your body to “have a break” from consistent healthy eating can help your metabolism, but what happens when we over indulge, binge, and risk getting off track past that meal or day. This “way of life” is supposed to be your lifestyle – a healthy diet should be about smart choices, and not restricting yourself from what you enjoy. Keep in mind, this is my opinion with my logic. The way I see it, if you are making healthy choices (i.e.: Choosing whole grains over refined, grilled over fried, natural/organic over processed, etc.), then why completely deprive your self of a few things every now and then when you want it. And while I will argue against just about any fad diet, this one just is hard to disagree with: The Champagne Diet.Go ahead, have your grilled salmon dinner with a side of steamed veggies, and have your champagne too!

The general idea of this “diet” is to enjoy your healthy lifestyle, but allow yourself indulgences too. It is “two parts healthy, one part fun” I LOVE the emphasis on fun. It is far more positive compared to “cheating.” Allow yourself a little bit of of your favorite dessert after lunch or dinner – maybe find a way to make it a little healthier (swap out 55% cocoa for 80% – more antioxidants!). Never restrict yourself from your favorite things – this could result in a few nasty binges which will completely throw you off your healthy train tracks. Love those Milano cookies? Go ahead and have one or two as your afternoon snack, thank go ahead and make a healthy dinner. For example, as many of you know, I LOVE my frozen yogurt – I refuse to give that up. But I go the healthy way, I always choose the one with the lowest amount of sugar, and if I add in toppings I typically always add in fruit (9 times out of 10). None of us are perfect, so why waste time watching your spouse enjoy that truffle or chocolate covered strawberry tomorrow, while you gnaw on a couple carrots and celery? Sure veggies are delicious, but where is the fun when you deprive yourself of a nice sweet treat?

These are the original whoopies...mine unfortunately did not come out with as much aesthetics...

Speaking of sweet treat..I just finished whipping up this yummy recipe for Chocolate-Banana Mini Whoopie Pies, which I found in this month’s edition of Good Housekeeping. The biggest benefit from these nibbles is that it is made with unsweetened cocoa powder – the best guilt-free way to get those antioxidants. Not to mention, dark chocolate has been researched to be a great mood and libido booster — great for this day of looooove!

I did, however change a few ingredients to make this perfectly healthy treat a little slimmer:

New Ingredients:
-2 Cups all-purpose flour
-2/3 Cups unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s)
– 1 tsp baking soda
– 1/2 cup mashed banana
-1/3 cup of “Ralph’s carb-smart vanilla yogurt”  (it is our grocery store brand)
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-4 tbsp Earth Balance (vegan butter, less sat. fat) – 2 tbsp unsweetened apple sauce
– 2/3 Cup brown sugar
-1/3 Cup Truvia
– 2 egg whites
– marshmallow creme, with a few drops of red food coloring

Directions were followed as noted within the original recipe. Although, I think I may have made these bites a little smaller than noted, because the recipe says it makes 20 whoopie pies….well, I had enough batter for 50, hmmm…

And, unfortunately mine turned out a little messy compared to the decadent pictures in Good Housekeeping:

Here are just a few, and yes the cute heart was made specially for my valentine 😉

My little trick to help prevent the tops from separating from the bottoms was to let them settle in the fridge until ready to enjoy!

Now a few closing words: Stop using the word “cheat,” instead let’s use the word indulge, and we should indulge a little bit each day. A healthy lifestyle is a balance of healthy food choices, and tasty ones. If your favorite treat is something overly processed, take a closer look at it. Try to recreate it with your natural unprocessed ingredients – it might taste even better!

Share your favorite valentine’s day treats with me! I want to know what your favorite Hallmark holiday indulgences are. I can tell you right now my favorites include: extra dry champagne, dark chocolate covered strawberries, and dark chocolate digestives (it’s a cookie from Germany that one of our friends got us hooked on a few years ago), and anything with nutella. Yep, that’s right, this nutritious nibbler has quiiiiiiite the sweet tooth!



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