Cathie Campbell

Sweetest of treats guaranteed to sweeten Valentine’s Day

Won’t be long until Valentine’s Day is here again. You know, that holiday when boxes of chocolates pop up everywhere you look. If you would like to enjoy a little treat without having to diet for a month afterward, consider one or more of this week’s recipes. Some of them list ingredients you may not have on hand, but most are readily available. If you are a dinner guest and the host or hostess presents a million-calorie, fat-laden dessert, here is a phrase that offers a solution: take a bite to be polite. (The rhyming was accidental, but it does sound catchy when spoken out loud). I hope you all know that each and every one of you is my treasured valentine.

Chocolate cupcakes

I wouldn’t go out and buy a whole container of soy milk just for 1 teaspoon, unless you normally use soy milk.

One 25-calorie packet hot cocoa mix (like Swiss Miss Diet or Nestlé Fat Free)

Half of an 18.25-oz. box (about 1 3/4 cups) moist-style devil’s food cake mix

1/2 cup fat-free liquid egg substitute (like Egg Beaters Original)

1 tablespoon Splenda No Calorie Sweetener (granulated) or granulated sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

For glaze:

1/4 cup marshmallow creme

1 teaspoon light vanilla soy milk

For topping:

1 tablespoon mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

12 mini marshmallows

1. Preheat oven to 350. In a tall glass, combine cocoa mix with 2 ounces of hot water. Stir until cocoa dissolves. Add 6 ounces of cold water and stir well. Set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, egg substitute, sweetener and salt. Add the hot cocoa mixture and whisk until smooth. The mixture might be slightly thinner than your normal cupcake batter – but that is how it should be.

3. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with foil baking cups and/or spray with nonstick spray. Evenly distribute cake mixture among the cups.

4. Bake in preheated oven about 15 to 18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool.

5. To make the glaze, put marshmallow creme in a small bowl. Add soymilk and mix well. A small whisk will help mix the ingredients.

6. Once cupcakes have cooled completely, drizzle marshmallow glaze over them. Top each cupcake with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon mini chocolate chips and 1 mini marshmallow.

Note: Here is the nutritional info per serving: 113 Calories, 2g Fat, 230mg Sodium, 21.5g Carbs, 0.75g Fiber, 13.5g Sugars, 2g Protein.

Little apple pies

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon cinnamon, or more for optional topping

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

3 cups peeled and chopped apples (preferably Fuji)

6 large square egg roll wrappers (found in the refrigerated section of the supermarket)

18 sprays I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! Spray

Optional topping: fat-free whipped topping

1. Preheat oven to 350. In a medium nonstick pot on the stove, combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, vanilla extract and salt with 1/2 cup cold water. Mix until ingredients dissolve. Add apples and stir. Bring to medium-high heat and, stirring frequently, cook until apples have softened, 7 to10 minutes.

2. Reduce heat to low and, stirring often, cook until thick and gooey, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool.

3. Line a large baking sheet with foil or spray with nonstick spray; set aside.

4. Place one egg roll wrapper flat on a dry surface. Set out a small dish of water. Dip your finger into the water, and run it along all of the wrapper edges. Starting 1/2 inch from the bottom, place about 1/3 cup pie filling along the bottom half of the wrapper, leaving a 1/2-inch border on the sides.

5. Fold the top half of the wrapper over the filling, so the top edge meets the bottom and the filling is encased with a border on three sides. Dab each border with water, and fold each inward about 1/4 inch to lightly seal. Press firmly along the borders with the prongs of a fork to seal completely. Carefully transfer to the baking sheet. Repeat this process with remaining wrappers and filling, for a total of six mini pies.

6. Spray the top of each pocket with 3 sprays of butter. Bake in preheated oven until edges begin to brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes.

7. Top with additional cinnamon and whipped topping (or Dryer’s Slow Churned Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. With a product such as Cool Whip Free, your pie will have 110 calories. With 1/4 cup of Dryer’s Slow Churned Vanilla, your pie will have 160 calories, which is still good as desserts go.

Black bean brownies

You can add the walnuts to the batter if you wish.

1 can (15-oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon espresso powder

3/4 cup liquid egg substitute

3 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour

3/4 cup agave nectar

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons chopped walnuts (for topping)

1. Preheat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients for a couple minutes in a food processor or blender, except the walnuts (unless you want them in the batter). Pour the mix into an 8-by-8-inch pan sprayed with cooking spray, and sprinkle the walnuts on top.

2. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Lower temperature to 300 and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Let cool before cutting into nine pieces. Each brownie is 100 calories.

Chocolate almond date balls

No baking involved in this recipe. I do not have any nutritional information, sorry. You may need to special order coconut flour or go to a gourmet-type food store.

20 Medjool dates, pits removed

1/2 cup almond butter

1/4 cup coconut flour

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tablespoon cinnamon (I prefer only 1 teaspoon)

Finely shredded coconut flakes

1. Mix all ingredients in food processor except the coconut flakes.

2. Roll into small balls, then roll in the shredded coconut to coat.