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Try these treats for a sweet Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is almost here, a time to celebrate the sweet things in life with the ones we love.
Just remember: It’s not a celebration about the sweets but about the sweet things – specifically, the special people in our lives. As you plan some special experiences or treats, just pick one thing, one treat with which to say, I love you.” Here are some ideas to get you started:
♦ Color is key. Taste isn’t the only thing we enjoy. Make a food gift full of color. Try a fruit salad, fruit kabobs, or add berries to breakfast (pancakes) or dessert (angel food cake), etc.
♦ Just do one thing different. Add something extra to what you already do. Try pancakes with chocolate chips for breakfast, or add frozen berries with your yogurt to make parfaits in the morning.
♦ Drink up. If your special person is a tea drinker, buy organic hibiscus tea, which not only has a gorgeous pink color but is higher in antioxidants than even green tea. (You can buy it at Winco in bulk a lot cheaper than most places!). If your person is a coffee drinker, try a specialty, organic coffee. These varieties are higher in antioxidants and have no pesticides (which, unfortunately, regular coffees are high in).
♦ If you’re worried about overdoing it, remember that it’s just a day, not a week-long celebration. Holidays will only derail your health goals when you make them longer than a one-day celebration.
If you end up with a motherlode of extra sweets, just give them away, freeze them for later celebrations or throw them out. (Yes, I am giving you permission to do that!).
To get you started, I am including a few of my family’s favorite recipes.  The maple scones are a real treat. They’re not health food, but they are a tried and true goodie I made at least once a month for my family in my teens.  It was a monthly request.
The cottage cheese pancakes are always a winner. Eat them for breakfast or dinner with fresh berries!
The peanut butter pie is crazy-easy and a great option for those of you who are dairy- and gluten-free. I have even just made the filling without the crust or the cream topping and can attest to its deliciousness! It tastes like peanut butter ice cream pie, without the high calorie price tag!

Cottage Cheese Pancakes

2 cups of cottage cheese
2/3 cups of whole wheat or all-purpose flour (OR gluten-free all-purpose flour.  Almond or rice flour can be substituted if in a pinch)
1/4 cup of oil, such as melted coconut or avocado (please don’t use canola)
6 eggs
1/2 – 1 tsp of vanilla
1/2 tsp of baking powder
Cooking spray or melted butter/coconut oil (for greasing the pan)
Combine cottage cheese, flour, oil and eggs in a large bowl.
Heat a large skillet or over medium heat and coat with cooking spray or butter/coconut oil.  Pour 1/3 cup of batter onto the skillet and cook until bubbles appear on the surface.  Flip with a spatula and cook until browned on the other side.
Serve immediately with sliced bananas or berries.  May be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Author Unknown

Maple Scones

3 1/2 cups (422 grams) of unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (85 grams) of walnuts, finely chopped*
4 tsp (16g) baking powder
1 tsp salt
11 tbsp (156g) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pats
1 cup (227g) milk, cold
1/3 cup (103g) maple syrup, grade B (dark) preferred
1/2 tsp maple flavor, optional but good
*See “tips” below.
To make the scones: In a large bowl, combine the flour, walnuts, baking powder and salt.
Work in the cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
In a separate bowl, combine the milk, maple syrup, and the maple flavor.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until you’ve formed a soft dough.
Flour a piece of parchment (if you have one) or your work surface generously, and scrape the dough out of the mixing bowl onto the parchment or work surface. Divide the dough into three equal pieces.
Working with one piece at a time, gently pat the dough into a circle about 3/4-inch thick.
Leave the circles on the parchment, and transfer it to a baking sheet. If you’re not using parchment, gently transfer the circles to a lightly greased baking sheet. Using a sharp bench knife or rolling pizza wheel, divide each dough circle into eight wedges.  Gently separate the wedges so that they’re almost touching in the center, but are spaced about an inch apart at the edges.
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place the pan of scones into your refrigerator to chill while your oven is heating, for about 20 to 30 minutes. This will help their texture. If there’s no room in your fridge, simply let them rest on the counter while your oven preheats.
Bake the scones for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they’re golden brown.
Remove them from the oven, wait a couple of minutes, then gently separate the scones with a knife (they’ll be very fragile), and carefully transfer them to a cooling rack.
Store any leftover scones, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage.
Tips from our Bakers: Real maple syrup has wonderful but elusive flavor — thus our recommendation to augment it with maple flavor.
King Arthur Flour

Peanut Butter Pie

You won’t believe how almond milk, peanut butter, and dates whip up to the most creamy, satisfying, PEANUT BUTTER PIE texture!
Pie crust (store-bought pre-cooked pie crust from the baking aisle – do NOT buy raw dough that needs to be cooked. This pie is never going in the oven. Buy a gluten-free one if needed)
14 dates (pits removed)
1 cup (240 ml) of unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or your milk of choice)
3/4 cup (180 grams) creamy peanut butter
1/2 tsp sea salt
CocoWhip (or regular Cool Whip if you’re not vegan/dairy-free)
2 Reese’s cups diced (or dark chocolate squares, diced)
Blend the dates (pits removed), milk, peanut butter and sea salt in a high-speed blender for at least two minutes (when in doubt, scrape down the sides and go longer!) until you’ve achieved a smooth, thick, creamy liquid.
Pour the peanut butter mixture into a store-bought pie crust. Gently smooth CocoWhip or Cool Whip over the top. Top it with diced Reese’s cups (diced dark chocolate squares will work, too!).
Freeze for eight hours for a solid slice (if you’re dying to taste it, freeze for two hours minimum). Once the pie is fully frozen, thaw for five to 10 minutes on the countertop before eating.
“The Glow Body PT Mom’s Cookbook”

– Cathryn Arndt is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She lives in Lebanon, Oregon, with her husband and daughters. Visit her Facebook page or YouTube channel by searching under “Dietitian Cathryn.” Find her blog at thepantrylab.com.