You don't have to give up tropical drinks and chocolatey desserts for Valentine's Day and other celebrations. Just streamline them and boost their health profile.
Sweet and fiber-rich pears can be whipped into great cocktails. Most pears at the grocery store or even at the farmer's market are picked early, since they can get easily damaged once ripe. To ripen at home, let pears rest in a basket on the countertop for two to three days.
Gently peel and core the pear. Cut into slices, reserving two for the garnish. Place the rest in a blender with the liqueur and two tablespoons of cold water. Process until smooth.
Divide between two champagne glasses and top off with champagne or prosecco. Garnish with a slice of pear. Serve immediately.
Yield: 2 servings
Lighter Lava Cake
This restaurant favorite uses chocolate with a high cacao content for its antioxidants as well as cocoa powder to cut the calories.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat six ramekins with cooking spray and dust with tablespoon of cocoa.
Melt chopped chocolate and butter in a small saucepan over low heat, two to three minutes, stirring often.
Combine flour, 1/2 cup cocoa, baking powder and salt in a bowl and stir well.
Place sugar, vanilla and eggs in another bowl and beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in oil and then the melted chocolate mixture. Using a spatula, gently fold in the flour mixture until just combined. Divide batter evenly among the ramekins.
Bake 13 minutes or until cakes are puffy and slightly crusty on top. Place a dessert plate on top of each ramekin and gently flip to release the cakes, using a kitchen towel to protect your hands. Serve immediately.
Yield: 6 servings
Note: Refrigerate and enjoy any leftovers cold or brought up to room temperature.
USA Pears has more on how to handle and ripen pears plus many tasty recipes.