Looking For a Healthy, Sweet Treat this Valentines?

Although Valentine’s day is a bit of a cliché “Hallmark” holiday, I like to use it as an excuse to do something special for me and my loved ones. Like most other holidays, it offers a nice reminder to be thankful for each other and for what we have. It’s also traditionally a “date” night, which gives us that extra push to pamper ourselves and dress up – which ultimately is a way of giving love to ourselves.

For me, it’s also a great excuse to indulge in chocolate, and look for new, healthy, chocolate treats to make for myself and my family. The good thing, that all chocolate lovers should know, is that good-quality dark chocolate is amazing for your health. READ MORE HERE about why you should be eating more chocolate.

Last Valentines, I shared with you my delicious (and VERY EASY) healthy chocolate dessert recipes – my Chocolate Coconut Date Balls and my Chocolate Mousse. If you haven’t tried them yet, I highly suggest you give them a try. They’re simple to make, and don’t require baking!

But this year, I’m living in Nicaragua, and still learning where I can get all my ingredients locally, as it’s a whole different market as the US. So making all my recipes isn’t always as easy. Therefore, I’m also scoping out the local scene for new healthy spots and treats made by other foodies, health-fanatics, and entrepreneurs like myself.

Last week I happened to meet the beautiful Alexandra Perez in Nicaragua, and tasted her yummy energy balls. So for those of you Nicaraguans feeling a bit lazy to make your own, I highly suggest you try these Fit Girl Snacks.

She’s offering 4 main varieties: Honey Almond Protein, Banana Oat Protein, Coffee Energy (plain, or rolled in either cacao powder or coconut), and Peanut Butter Protein (rolled in either chocolate flakes or coconut). My favorite option, with delicious local cacao (peanut-free and 100% dairy-free) are the Coffee Energy Balls. These are made with just almonds, chia, dates, cocoa powder and ground coffee. Just don’t eat them late at night because they do have caffeine! If you’re a chocolate fan and don’t mind peanuts/whey (which has dairy), go for the Peanut Butter Protein balls covered in chocolate. These are made with: homemade peanut butter, dates, whey vanilla protein, homemade apple sauce, and rolled in chocolate chips.

For those of you in Miami, I absolutely love the raw desserts at Dr. Smood (try their Organic Sweet & Salt, and Organic Chocolate Date Rounds), CPR Kitchen (try their Superfood Truffles) and Manna Life Food (try their Protein Bliss Balls). For those of you in NYC, I love ALL of HuKitchen’s chocolate and sweets. They’re all Balance with Mariana approved!

So, whether you’re making them yourself or buying from your local healthy spots/friends, give yourself a treat this Valentines. Practice a bit of SELF-LOVE. Pamper yourself, buy some local flowers, light a natural soy candle, get a couple’s massage, or enjoy a bath then give yourself a self-massage. Why not? You owe it to yourself. But I urge you to treat your body right and be conscious and respectful in terms of what you’re putting on yourself. Try to avoid synthetic fragrances and harmful chemicals; use natural organic oils (like sesame and coconut oil) and add essential oils for fragrance instead.

Then enjoy a lovely meal with you loved one(s) and some healthy chocolate dessert to end your night.

Love, Chocolate and Roses,

Mariana