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

Spicy Roasted Chickpeas

Chickpeas or garbanzo beans are a good source of protein and fiber.  Roasting the chickpeas and tossing them in spices and honey transforms them into tasty, crunchy and healthy snacks.  They key is to bake them long enough to get a nice crunch without burning the honey coating.  If you prepare them without honey, you can bake them at a higher temperature (400F – 425F).  I prefer the salty, sweet and spicy combination and found that if you bake them “naked” for 30 minutes, then lower the temperature, you can achieve crunchy texture without burning the chickpeas.  There are many possible spice combinations.   Here are 2 recipes:

Preheat oven to 375F

Spicy Cumin & Paprika

  • 2 – 15 ounce cooked garbanzo beans (chickpeas) rinsed and dried
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cumin

Sweet & Spicy Rosemary

  • 2 – 15 ounce cooked garbanzo beans (chick peas) rinsed and dried
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne powder

Rinse and drain chickpeas and spread on paper towels.  Remove any loose skin.  With another paper towel, pat to dry and air dry for 1 additional hour.  Chickpeas should be dry before baking.

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Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and bake chickpeas for 30 minutes, turning after 15 minutes.

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In medium mixing bowl, mix all remaining ingredients.

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Add hot chickpeas to bowl and coat evenly. Lower the oven temperature to 325F.  Return chickpeas to aluminum lined baking sheet and bake for additional 60 minutes, turning every 15 minutes.  The chickpeas are done when they are firm and crunchy which may require more or less baking time.  Allow to cool and enjoy.

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