Celebrate Valentine’s Day in A Healthy Way

by Kari Hartel, RD, LD

Program Coordinator, Cooking Matters, Operation Food Search



Valentine’s Day brings not only feelings of love and joy, it also brings high-calorie chocolates, candies, cookies, and other treats. Since February is American Heart Month, which aims to encourage adopting permanent lifestyle changes to keep your heart healthy, let’s try to celebrate the love-filled holiday in a heart-healthy way. Here are some tips:


Indulge in homemade heart-healthy desserts, such as fresh fruit dipped in dark chocolate, which contains antioxidants that protect your heart.


Make healthy substitutions when baking, including using whole-wheat flour, using oil instead of butter, reducing the sugar called for in a recipe by a third, or replacing half of the fat with pureed fruit, such as applesauce or canned pumpkin.


Ask your significant other not to buy you chocolates or other treats. Drop hints about other presents you’d like that aren’t food-related.


Celebratory foods don’t have to be off-limits if you exercise portion control and maintain your usual exercise regimen during the holiday.


Instead of going out for an intimate dinner, prepare a healthy, romantic, candlelit dinner at home with your special someone and enjoy a glass of heart-healthy red wine together.

Try this healthy dessert recipe below:

Spiced Chocolate Cake


1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon clove powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup canola oil

2 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup skim milk

1 cup warm water


1.  Preheat the oven to 350° F and grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.

2.  In a large bowl sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, clove and salt.

3.  In a medium bowl mix together sugar, oil, egg and vanilla. Combine with flour mixture and blend together.

4.  Mix in the milk and then the water. The mixture will become quite runny.

5.  Equally distribute the batter among the two cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

6.  Let cool completely, remove from pans and frost with Chocolate Icing (recipe follows) or sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Chocolate Icing:


2 Tablespoons butter;

3 Tablespoons water;

1/2 cup chocolate chips or grated chocolate bar;

1/2 cup powdered sugar


Heat all ingredients together in a small or medium saucepan over low heat. When the ingredients have melted, frost the cake.

* This recipe also makes great cupcakes. Bake 20-25 minutes.


Kari Hartel, RD, LD is the Program Coordinator, Cooking Matters at Operation Food Search. You can call her at 314.726.5355 ext. 22, email: kari.hartel@OperationFoodSearch.org or visit online at www.OperationFoodSearch.org.