What’s the most important “heartfelt” holiday celebrated in February? You get points for knowing Valentine’s Day is on the 14th, but did you also know February is American Heart Month? The goal throughout the month is to raise heart disease awareness, the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Then on the first Friday in February we celebrate National Wear Red Day where we not only get to make a fashion statement, but we can use it to remind women they may be at risk of heart disease and not know it.
I hope you agree February is the perfect time to show our love for the ones we love by helping them take steps to keep their hearts healthy!
Now for a harder question: How can we celebrate Valentine’s Day right smack dab in the middle of heart health awareness month and still be kind to our hearts? One simple answer is to have sweet celebrations, with less added sugars. Both the American Heart Association and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend cutting back on added sugars, and using SPLENDA® Sweetener Products is an easy way to do just that!
Recipes for Desserts and Drinks with Less Added Sugar
To help you get started I’ve collected some of my favorite chocolate dessert and drink recipes from the SPLENDA® collection – all with less added sugars. As you will see, using SPLENDA® Sweetener Products in place of full sugar isn’t the only way these recipes are made more heart healthy. They also use vegetable oils or soft spreads instead of butter and fat-free milk instead of whole to reduce the saturated fat content. By making those substitutions and using SPLENDA® Sweeteners instead of full sugar, the caloric content of the recipes is also lowered to help with weight management. And another way you can cut the calories of any dessert is to simply cut the serving size in half!
If you have questions about the health benefits of chocolate, please read my earlier blog about the Health Benefits of Chocolate.
Chocolaty and Sweet Recipes with Less Added Sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cups rolled oats
- 6 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons trans-free margarine, softened
- 1/2 cup SPLENDA® Sugar Blend
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Combine flour, oats, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
- In bowl of electric mixer, beat margarine and SPLENDA® Sugar Blend on medium speed 1 to 2 minutes, or until light and aerated. Beat in eggs for 1 minute, or until light. Beat in extracts. Stir in dry ingredients.
- Drop teaspoons full of dough onto lightly greased baking sheets and flatten each with the back of a fork dipped in water.
- Bake 8 to 10 minutes in preheated oven, or just until puffed and no longer shiny on top. Cool on sheets 5 minutes. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.
- 1 cup slivered almonds
- 1 1/4 cups SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg white, lightly beaten
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly spray a cookie sheet with vegetable cooking spray; set aside.
- Bake almonds in a shallow pan for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring once, or until lightly toasted. Set aside.
- Beat SPLENDA® Granulated Sweetener, 3 eggs, and milk at medium speed of an electric mixer for 3 minutes or until mixture is smooth and pale yellow in color. Beat in extract.
- Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; add to SPLENDA® Granulated Sweetener mixture and beat on low speed until a stiff dough forms. Stir in almonds. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead lightly 4 or 5 times. Divide dough in half; shape each portion into an 8-inch log. Place logs on prepared cookie sheet and flatten to 3/4-inch thickness; brush with beaten egg white.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until puffed and golden brown; reduce oven temperature to 325° F. Remove from baking sheet to a wire rack; cool 10 minutes. Cut each log diagonally into 1/2-inch thick slices with a serrated knife, using a gentle sawing motion. Place slices on cookie sheets. Bake 10 minutes; turn cookies over, and bake 10 additional minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool.
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 2 egg whites
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup SPLENDA® Sugar Blend
- 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
- Preheat oven to 300° F.
- Bake walnuts in a shallow pan, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until toasted. Set aside.
- Beat egg whites and vanilla at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy.
- Add SPLENDA® Sugar Blend, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form; stir in walnuts and chocolate morsels.
- Spoon rounded teaspoons of mixture onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
- Bake for 15 minutes in preheated oven. Drop oven temperature to 200° F. Bake for one hour and 45 minutes. Cool slightly on cookie sheet. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight tin.
- 1/4 cup water
- 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon grated orange peel
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 5 1/2 cups skim milk
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Whisk water, cocoa powder and SPLENDA® Granulated Sweetener in a saucepan. Slowly bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook until mixture thickens and resembles a syrup.
- Mix in remaining ingredients and heat. Do not boil. Serve hot.
Of course, eating a heart-healthy diet is important all year long if you want to reduce your risk for heart disease. Using a sugar substitute like one of the SPLENDA® Sweetener Products in place of full sugar can help you with the goals of reducing your added sugar and calorie intake and with achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
I have been compensated for my time by Heartland Food Products Group, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog With Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.
To learn more recipe tips for cooking and baking with SPLENDA® Sweeteners, visit the Cooking & Baking section of this blog.
Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.