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It seems we’ve only got into the swing of things following the festive season, and then Valentine’s Day is suddenly here to derail all our saintly intentions…

While love can be all kinds of wonderful, it’s not always the greatest influence on our diets. Decadent meals, a glass of something sparkling and a few more chocolates than usual all stack up, and before you know it you’ve slipped off the wagon and you’re back to square one with your New Year’s Resolutions.

Not to worry though, we don’t want the health conscious to miss out completely, DW Fitness Clubs has created some easy, healthy Valentine’s Day treats that won’t worry your waistline in the slightest.

Chocolate bark with benefits

Creates one large chocolate bark heart, or several smaller ones

Ingredients:

200g dark chocolate (70% or higher)

20g chopped pistachios

20g flaked almonds

10g chopped candied orange peel

Oil to grease your heart shaped cookie cutter

Method:

  • Start by lining a baking sheet with greaseproof baking paper, and melt your chocolate slowly in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water
  • Using a heart shaped cookie cutter lightly oil the inner edge to ensure your chocolate doesn’t stick
  • Place your cutter over the baking paper, and pour your melted chocolate into the cookie cutter
  • Sprinkle your pistachios, almonds and orange peel onto the chocolate, and leave in the fridge to cool
  • Once cooked simply remove the cutter, and you’re finished!

This recipe couldn’t be easier, and it’s a fantastic alternative to commercial chocolates which are full of sugar. By raising the cocoa levels, we keep the sugar levels down but increase the nutritional benefit. While not something you should be consuming daily, dark chocolate has been proven to be a rich source of antioxidants. It’s also known to be an aphrodisiac, so sharing this treat with your partner could even amp up your love life.

Both pistachios and almonds are known for their nutritional benefits, and are a great source of vitamins, minerals and protein. While candied orange peel isn’t quite so health conscious, a little really goes a long way, ensuring your bark is full of flavour.

 

Indulgent truffles with a protein hit

Makes 18 truffles

125g nut butter (we like peanut!)  

120g ground almonds

110g honey

60g chocolate flavoured protein powder

Cocoa powder and coconut and chopped nuts to coat

Method:

  • Add protein powder and ground almonds to a medium-size bowl and combine
  • Next, add your chosen nut butter and honey and mix again. At this point the batter should have a dough-like consistency
  • Finally, you can get stuck in; scoop out dough into your palms and roll into balls
  • Coat by rolling in a thin layer of cocoa powder, and then either coconut or chopped nuts depending on your preference

Usually made with cream, butter and chocolate, truffles may taste delicious but they haven’t got much to boast in terms of nutritional benefit. Our makeover features almonds, which are well known for containing lots of healthy fats, fibre, protein, magnesium and vitamin E. Studies have also shown that they can help to keep hunger at bay, making them the perfect on-the-go snack (in moderation of course.)

Rumoured to also be an aphrodisiac, almonds may even help add a little extra spark to your Valentine’s Day celebrations.

 

Chocoholics Ice-cream sandwich ‘Brookies’

Serves 6

Ingredients for ‘Brookies’:

30g of unsweetened cocoa powder

200g of dark chocolate (at least 70%)

100g of unsalted butter

100g of natural peanut butter

1 tsp of baking powder

1 tsp of vanilla extract

1 egg

1 tsp of salt

100g of sweetener

150g of wholegrain flour

Icing sugar to dust

Ingredients for Chocolate Ice-Cream filling:

1 banana

50ml of Greek yoghurt

1 tablespoon of sweetener

½ tablespoon of honey

1 heaped tablespoon of cocoa powder

Method:

  • Start by chopping your banana into even-sized chunks and place in the freezer for an hour to 90 minutes
  • Take out your banana chunks and put them into a food processor with your yoghurt, honey, sweetener and cocoa powder
  • Keep blending the mixture until it is smooth and creamy
  • Place the mixture back in the freezer for up to an hour to 90 minutes
  • While your ice cream is in the freezer it’s time to make your cookies. Melt your chocolate over a pan of hot water, and in a separate bowl, blend your cocoa powder, sweetener and butter together – make sure they’re well mixed
  • Then add in your vanilla extract, egg and salt and mix together. Gradually work your flour and baking powder into the mixture
  • Finally, add your melted chocolate and peanut butter. Whip into a smooth dough and add a splash of water if you need to loosen things up
  • Separate into equal portions on a baking tray covered in greaseproof paper and place in the oven at 180C for around 20-25 minutes. Keep an eye on them as you go – you want them to remain nice and squidgy but not under-baked!
  • Take your cookies out once baked and leave to cool
  • When you’re ready to serve simply scoop some ice-cream and squish between two cookies. Dust with a very fine layer of icing sugar and your ice-cream sandwich ‘Brookies’ are good to go

There’s no doubt that this is a decadent recipe, but the health benefits of our makeover mean that you’ll be ready for your next workout as well as a little romance. The Greek yoghurt featured in the ice-cream is always a good alternative to cream. Not only is it low in saturated fats, it’s also a fantastic source of protein and calcium.

No need to choose between brownies and cookies, we’ve combined the best of both worlds with our ‘brookies.’ By cutting back the butter in the ‘brookie’ mix, it enables you to add in some natural peanut butter, which is a fantastic source of protein.

All in all, if you’re looking for the perfect Valentine’s dessert you really need look no further.