Valentine’s Day Hungry Athlete Style

Ah Valentine’s Day … the most grandiose of Hallmark holidays. While I don’t need Hallmark to tell me when to be romantic, it’s still a good excuse to flirt and eat chocolate.

How will this Hungry Athlete celebrate Valentine’s Day? Well, by supporting her boy, Rama at his first 100K trail race of course! Around the same time many couples will be gazing at each other over a romantic dinner, Rama and I will be scantily clad and engaging in a sweaty one on one moment. I’ll be pacing him, I mean chasing him, for about 10 miles, to the finish line. While this day will be all about Rama, it will still be a romantic treat for me to be able to support him and see him at the finish line.

Back to the flirting and chocolates. Although Rama will need to stick to a race day diet, I will have a few surprises up my sleeves.

Ta da! Here are the fun treats I’ll have waiting for him at the aid stations.  I made the tags myself but found templates for the tags here:

http://www.skiptomylou.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/fruitlabels.pdf

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But unless you are spending February 14th at an ultramarathon, you are probably looking for something a little more exciting to give to your Valentine.

Here are some decadent but healthy treats that your Valentine will find extra sweet because it’s hand made by you. These Dark Chocolate Covered Fruits and Nuts are so easy to make and are a better alternative to those sugary candy conversation hearts.

Ingredients:

Use your favorite fresh or dried fruits and roasted nuts. I like to sprinkle a little flake salt on top of the chocolate before it hardens. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Dried banana chips
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Pomegranate arils (seeds)
  • Clementine
  • Assorted roasted nuts
  • Dried fruit (cranberries and apricots)
  • Chocolate chips (I prefer dark chocolate 60-70% cacao)
  • Flake salt

Directions:

Melt the chocolate chips over a bowl set over bowling water or in a microwave. I dipped the fruit in the chocolate and placed them on parchment paper. Refrigerate for 3-5 minutes to harden.

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If it weren’t for his race, we’d probably be at home making Valentine’s Day dinner together. Here are some ideas for a Valentine’s dinner at home.

Appetizer/Salad:

Beet and Watermelon Salad

Orange, Fennel and Arugula Salad

Main Course:

Beouf Bourgignon

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Curry Mustard Quinoa, Butternut Squash, Spinach, Cranberries and Toasted Almonds

Dessert:

Chocolate Cinnamon Mousse

Frozen Strawberry Lemon Yogurt

Chocolate Cinnamon Mousse

Two physicians inspired this recipe.  One is my father, a retired pediatrician, who taught me how to live a healthy life by learning how to love eating delicious, healthy foods and learning how to enjoy physical activity through the love of sports.  Dad was also in love with chocolate mousse.  My father spent many years trying to perfect his chocolate mousse recipe.  The other inspiration came from a friend of mine who made me aware of the health benefits of cinnamon.  He also loves dark chocolate and has been known to enjoy licking a bowl of chocolate batter.

While the lab results are mixed, some research has found that cinnamon, may reduce inflammation, have antioxidant effects, fight bacteria and may lower blood sugar in people with diabetes.  For more information on cinnamon, check out this article:

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/lifestyle-guide-11/supplement-guide-cinnamon

This healthy chocolate dessert has a surprise ingredient.  Trust me.  You won’t be able to tell what it is when you eat this chocolate mousse, but read on.  You’ll quickly figure out what the surprise is.

Serving size: 6

Ingredients:

  • 11.5 oz. good quality dark chocolate chips (The Hungry Athlete prefers dark chocolate but semisweet chocolate chips maybe substituted)
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 large, ripe Bacon avocado*, pitted and peeled
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract*
  • 3 tablespoon agave syrup*
  • pinch of salt
  • 6 egg whites**
  • ½ teaspoon lemon
  • 6 strawberries for garnish

* NOTE: I used Bacon avocado because it has a mild flavor but a Haas avocado can be substituted.  In addition, if you are on a gluten-free diet, ensure that the ingredients you are using are gluten-free.

** NOTE:  If you have concerns using raw eggs, which can carry salmonella, use pasteurized egg whites which are available in supermarkets.  Make sure the label states that it is pasteurized.  Pasteurized egg whites may require more time to whip.  Adding lemon juice (an acid) will help the pasteurized egg whites to whip up.  I personally enjoy many recipes using raw or undercooked eggs such as eggs sunny side up, soft poached eggs, holladaise sauce, meringues and Caesar salad.

Directions:

Melt the chocolate with the cinnamon in a double boiler over hot water and set aside.

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Purée the avocado in a food processor until smooth.   Add vanilla extract, agave syrup and salt and continue to puree until combined.

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With the machine running, pour in the chocolate mixture.  The easiest way to do this is to transfer the chocolate mixture to a measuring cup first and then pour the chocolate mixture from the measuring cup.

Using a stand mixer or whisk, beat the egg whites until they begin to form soft peaks.  Add the lemon juice and continue to beat until soft peaks form.

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Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg whites.

Fold in portions of the chocolate mixture at a time.  Take your time to continue to fold until the chocolate is fully incorporated.  Resist the urge to stir.  You want to maintain the airy lightness of the egg whites.
Fold in portions of the chocolate mixture a big spatula full at a time. Take your time to continue to fold until the chocolate is fully incorporated. Resist the urge to stir. You want to maintain the airy lightness of the egg whites.

Pour the mousse into 6 small serving bowls, juice cups or wineglasses and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or covered with plastic wrap overnight.  Garnish with strawberries.

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