Let’s face it, it’s really hard to find a babysitter for Valentine’s Day. Everyone wants to spend it with their loved one. So last year we had some fun with the kids on Valentine’s Day and then went to do our thing on another day when we could get a babysitter. So what we did is melt some chocolate, and dip yummy healthier foods in the chocolate sauce. It was a lot of fun and SO good. Also included below are some healthier options for those Valentines the kids bring in to class, how to make dye-free natural red/pink food coloring, and a fun Valentine’s breakfast idea. The holidays can still be fun, even when you are trying to be all-natural and healthier! 🙂
The Chocolate Sauce
I used dark chocolate chips or carob chocolate chips, add a little milk, and stir frequently while it’s heating up. Just keep adding milk to get the consistency you want. I have a really neat mini crockpot I use to keep the chocolate sauce warm.
Healthier Options for Chocolate Sauce Dipping
Peanut butter balls, strawberries, raspberries, cherries (be careful of the seeds!), kiwi, mango, oranges, apples, bananas, blueberries (probably any fruit), homemade mini sugar cookies, pretzels, homemade donuts (cut into pieces to dip or do mini donuts), graham crackers, and of course marshmallows would be good (see a healthier option below).
Recipe for the peanut butter balls (pictured above): For about 2 dozen, I did 3/4 cup of creamy peanut butter, 1/4 cup butter, softened, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, and about 1 cup powdered sugar. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl mix the peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar with your hands to form a dough. Shape into balls and place on the baking sheet. Refrigerate until ready to use. If you want a healthier option, here’s a recipe (just omit the chocolate chips).
Recipe for the mini sugar cookies: I still haven’t posted this recipe yet but I have been using this one for a while now. It makes about 2 dozen cookies but it depends on the size. Since we are going smaller it should be more. 3 cups flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside. In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs & vanilla. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients. Form into small round balls, place onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 – 10 minutes.
Recipe for the donuts (or mini donuts): I followed this recipe and just didn’t put in the chocolate chips. If you do mini donuts, I recommend baking at 325 degrees for 10 minutes.
Here’s the mini donut pan I have and I love it! The donuts popped out of the pan very easily, I didn’t have to grease it, and it’s 100% silicone and dishwasher-safe.
The marshmallows I buy (vegan, gluten-free, gelatin-free, GMO-free – ingredients are Tapioca Syrup, Cane Sugar, Tapioca Starch, Filtered Water, Carrageenan, Soy Protein, Natural Vanilla Flavor. I’m not happy about the carrageenan but the other ingredients are better than regular marshmallows which usually contain corn syrup, refined sugar, dextrose, modified cornstarch, tetrasodium pyrophosphate, artificial flavor, and blue #1. Of course making your own would be the best option. And I am not against gelatin. I think it definitely has some health benefits.):
Healthier Options for Valentines
There are organic lollipops, fruit snack packs, or valentines gummy bears by YumEarth (shown below), Annie’s valentines fruit snack packs (that I haven’t been able to find yet), and Trader Joe’s has organic lollipops too. Or you can tape something else to the valentines like a pencil, stickers, those little tattoos, rings, erasers, etc. It’s also okay to just hand out valentines, with nothing attached. Maybe even make homemade valentines. Kids might not think this is AS cool but we don’t always have to go all out for every-single-holiday. Maybe we can do something cool for one holiday and then be more relaxed on the next, and take a break!
Natural Red Food Coloring
I have not been successful on making a true red natural food coloring yet but I have not experimented that much. Here’s a recipe with a real pretty red coloring, by Real Mom Nutrition: http://www.realmomnutrition.com/2014/12/16/recipe-naturally-colored-frosting/. (You could also put the beet in the juicer to get the liquid.)
Natural Pink Food Coloring
I was able to make a pretty pink natural food coloring using raspberries. You don’t need a juicer to make this either. Just cook 6 oz of raspberries in a pan on med until it turns into a sauce. Then strain the seeds and cook the sauce longer until thickened. Cool to room temp and add to your frosting. See the color below on my daughter’s birthday cake. 🙂
Don’t want to mess around with homemade food coloring? No problem. Here’s some all-natural food coloring you can purchase through Amazon:
Fun Valentine’s Breakfast
You could make my apple cinnamon pancakes and use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to make them into heart-shaped pancakes (make sure it’s not a plastic cookie cutter so it doesn’t melt when using it on the pan to make the shapes). Then you can make heart-shaped fruit to go with using a mini heart-shaped cookie cutter, or to make heart-shaped strawberries, just cut off the green stem, cut a V into the top of the strawberry, and slice.
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