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Plated with Rebecca Turner: Sweets for your sweet during heart month

By Rebecca Turner

Plated with Rebecca Turner: Sweets for your sweet during heart month

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and whether you’re single or taken, it is an excellent opportunity to think about hearts, but not just the candy kind. Since 1964 the president has annually declared February American Heart Month as a reminder to get families, friends and communities involved in reinforcing the importance of heart health.

You have heard these heart-healthy tips before — engage in regular exercise, adopt a diet lower in salt, limit saturated fats found in red meat and dairy, and avoid trans fat used in margarine and self-stable baked and snack foods. Focus on eating fats found in olive oils, avocados, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish that protect the heart. You can often substitute meat with Mississippi farm-raised catfish or Mississippi seafood. Eat a variety of vegetables, especially those rich in color — dark green, red, and orange. Frozen fruits or vegetables and those canned in water or reduced-sodium are nutritious options, too.

There is still room for sweet treats while taking care of your precious heart. At least 70 percent cocoa, dark chocolate is high in flavonoids associated with a lower heart disease risk. You can enjoy 1 to 2 ounces a day to reap the heart benefits. Keep dark chocolate nibs in your pantry to add to oatmeal, yogurt, muffins, pancakes, or trail mixes. With any dessert, portion control matters more than trying to substitute all the calories away. Try frozen raspberries coated in yogurt and covered in dark chocolate for a healthy, bite-size treat.

Create a cake in a mug for a perfectly portioned, quick to make, sweet treat. When you have leftover cake or more time in the kitchen, give cake-pops a try for a twist to single-serve indulgences.

 

Chocolate Covered Raspberries

 

INGREDIENTS

1 container fresh raspberries

1 container vanilla yogurt

1 12-ounce bag dark chocolate chips

2 teaspoons olive oil

 

1. Rinse fresh raspberries and pat them dry with a paper towel. Allow them to fully dry before moving on.

2. Cover a small baking sheet with parchment paper.

3. Use a fork, toothpick, or clean fingers to dip each berry into the yogurt to coat. Place each yogurt covered berry onto the parchment. Once all the berries are coated, place in the freezer for 60 minutes until it’s hard..

4. Once the yogurt has hardened, melt chocolate chips with olive oil in the microwave on 30-second intervals, until melted and thin enough to dip or drizzle. If your chocolate gets thick, add an extra teaspoon of olive oil and reheat for 15-30 seconds.

5. Dip each yogurt covered berry into the melted chocolate and place back on the parchment-lined sheet. Continue with remaining berries until they’re all coated. Place back in the freezer until chocolate has set and enjoy.

 

Berries will last two to three weeks in the freezer. For the best results, take them out of the freezer and let them sit for 3-5 minutes before enjoying. Substitute raspberries for any fresh berry or cherry.

 

Microwave Mug Cake

 

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons self-rising fl our

1 1/2 tablespoons no-calorie sweetener (or table sugar)

2 teaspoons cocoa powder

1/8 teaspoon of baking powder

Pinch of salt

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon oil

1 drop of vanilla extract

 

1. Combine the fl our, sweetener, cocoa powder and salt in the mug. Whisk gently until no lumps remain. If you don’t have self-rising fl our, use all-purpose fl our plus 1/8 cup baking powder.

2. Stir in the milk, olive oil and vanilla until smooth.

3. Pop in the microwave on high for 30-35 seconds. Don’t overcook! The cake will continue to cook as it sets and cools.

4. Cool 3-5 minutes.

 

Make it your own and serve with a sprinkle of powdered sugar, topped with berries, or go wild and add a drizzle of chocolate sauce!

 

Basic Cake Pops

 

INGREDIENTS

Cake prepared (use your favorite boxed cake mix, homemade cake, leftover cake or store-bought cake)

2-5 spoonfuls of frosting (pick your preferred store-bought flavor or make it from scratch)

2 bags of chocolate candy melts

Cake pop sticks

Sprinkles

Styrofoam block

 

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Add prepared cake to a large bowl and crumble it until it resembles fine crumbs.

3. Add in frosting a small spoonful at a time. Use your hands to incorporate the frosting. You want the cake to be moist and hold a ball shape, but not too mushy. Less is more.

4. Scoop out a small amount to roll into a tight ball and place on a plate. If you have a mini ice cream scoop, that works great.

5. Repeat until all the cake mixture has been rolled into balls.

6. Melt 2-4 ounces of the chocolate melts in the microwave.

7. Dip the tip of the cake pop sticks into the melted chocolate and insert into the cake balls about half-way and place on parchment paper.

8. Freeze for about 20 minutes and prepare all of your decorating supplies.

9. Melt the remaining chocolate in a large cup (not bowl). You need enough chocolate to submerge the cake ball.

10. Remove cake balls from the freezer.

11. Dip cake balls carefully into the chocolate until covered.

12. Let the excess chocolate drip off. Swirl and tap.

13. Add desired sprinkles while the chocolate is still wet. It will harden fast.

14. Stick the decorated cake pop into a styrofoam block to finish setting. (Game-changer for having attractive cake pops.)

15. Place the pops into the freezer to speed up setting time.

16. Store in a cool area in a single layer, and in an airtight container.

 

You can make them beautifully delicious gifts by covering them with a clear bag and tying them with festive string.

 

Rebecca Turner is an author, registered dietitian, radio host, television presenter and a certified specialist in sports dietetics with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. A lifelong Mississippian, she lives in Brandon and has spent the last decade offering no-nonsense nutrition guidance that allows you to enjoy good health and good food. Her book, “Mind Over Fork,” challenges the way you think, not the way you eat. Find her on social media @RebeccaTurnerNutrition and online at www.RebeccaTurnerNutrition.com.

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