I’ve never thought of Valentine’s Day as a particularly romantic holiday. Thanks to TV and Archie comics, I knew that it was supposed to be, but that’s not ever how it’s seemed to me. I think it’s because we celebrated it as a family my whole life, even back when boys were gross.
It represented love for sure, we all loved each other and had a special dinner together that night (fondue, most likely) (have I mentioned how much my Mom ruled?) and my Stepdad would bring us all home chocolate and cinnamon hearts. So it has always meant love and chocolate, not too far off what Hallmark is telling us, but I kind of love it.
Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse to express love or give out extra hugs (and the healing love hormone, oxytocin) and even to remind ourselves to show ourselves some love. And eat chocolate (the good kind).
We definitely have that part figured out for you. I hesitated on whether to call these brownies, because although they are definitely brownies, they are so much more.
I have made these many times before (not just for Valentine’s Day!). Sometimes I scoop the batter into ramekins and serve them warm with Coconut Whip, raspberry purée (frozen or fresh raspberries puréed up) and a spoon, sometimes I add chopped, good quality dark chocolate and/or walnuts to the batter at the end. Sometimes I warm them up briefly in the toaster oven and stir them into banana ice cream (frozen bananas puréed up) and pretend I’m at Dairy Queen. And sometimes I make them totally plain, just like this, and then eat them for breakfast too (they’re healthier than most breakfasts, shhhhhh).
Scroll down and check out the ingredients list for a sec. I bet you’ve had smoothies with worse ingredients before, right? There is lots of plant-based protein thanks to the beans, the fiber levels are off the charts, thanks to the dates, apple and chia (and beans), there is no sugar that isn’t in its natural, whole food form and there are also beets, because we wanted some of their red, their sweetness and because beets and chocolate love each other, and it is the day of love after all.
Let’s focus on the chocolate for a moment, it is a big part of Valentine’s day after all. The chocolate we use is raw, ground cacao. Not to be confused with the more processed cocoa (although you could use that instead if you were stuck), raw cacao is the purest form of unprocessed (sometimes fermented) chocolate. It is bitter and extremely rich in antioxidants (boasting 4 times as many as your standard dark chocolate bar), which means it is great at mopping up free radical damage done by everyday things like the garbage truck breathing exhaust into your face on your walk to work, the fiesta of deep-fried you indulged in last week or the rogue pesticides found in even our healthy food.
It’s also good for your heart (romantic), kidney health (romantic in a reassuring way because kidneys are where fear is stored), hormone balancing and serotonin level-raising (romantic because this can prevent fights), and is loaded with magnesium (so relaxing; romantic in a self-love kind of way).
Eating good chocolate appears to be a very good way of showing yourself and others how much you love them. Precede these with our fun and possibly romantic Bagna Cauda to share and you’ve got a better Valentines Day than any restaurant could offer.
- 2 medium Beets (about 250g), quartered
- 1 Apple (about 175g), core removed, diced
- 12 Medjool Dates, pitted
- 1¾ c cooked Black Beans
- 1 c Raw Cacao Powder
- ¼ c Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, melted
- ¼ c Coconut Flour
- ½ tsp Baking Powder (aluminum-free)
- ¼ tsp Sea(weed) Salt
- 1 tsp Vanilla Bean Powder (or regular vanilla extract)
- 3 Tbsp Chia Seeds, ground in a spice grinder
- ⅓ c Water
- Optional: ½ c chopped chocolate, cacao nibs, walnuts
- For garnish: Coconut whip, Raspberry purée (see body of post for details)
- Preheat the oven to 350*F
- Steam the Beets until tender (15-20 minutes)
- Add the Apples and continue to steam for another minute.
- Turn the heat off and add the pitted dates, just to warm them through and soften them.
- Transfer contents to a blender (or food processor), add the melted coconut oil and vanilla and blend until very smooth.
- Add the black beans and continue to blend until smooth.
- In a small bowl, mix the water and chia together.
- Whisk the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl and add the contents of the blender.
- Mix together and then add the chia mixture and mix together well.
- Add the chocolate, nibs or nuts if using.
- Line a 8x8 inch baking dish (or individual ramekins) with parchment or rub with extra virgin coconut oil.
- Transfer contents into the dish/dishes and smooth it out evenly.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes (the ramekins filled taller than the brownies will cook at approximately the same speed).
- Chill before cutting into squares.
- Serve ramekins warm with chilled coconut whip and raspberry purée (you can also warm up the individual brownies in the toaster oven, they taste good warm).
- Store covered in the fridge for up to a week (they also freeze well).