Valentine’s Treats for My Boys
Usually on Valentine’s Day, I give each of my boys a little gift bag with some chocolates and other candy, some cheesy little trinkets, and mechanical pencils. They love mechanical pencils. Go figure.
The thing is, they’re getting older, and they don’t seem to appreciate their gifts anymore. It takes the fun out of it for me. So, if they don’t care about getting a Valentine’s gift, and because I’m trying not to buy extra stuff we don’t need, I’ve decided to simplify Valentine’s Day.
Each kid is going to get one little heart-shaped box with treats in it, and that’s all. That way I get to give them something (which I like doing), but I’m not going overboard and being wasteful. Plus, I’m making them at home with love. That probably doesn’t mean much to them, but it means something to me.
However, I’m not giving them that junk candy this year. I already bought four of those Russell Stover small heart-shaped boxes that have three pieces of candy in them. I am not giving them the candy that’s inside, though.
Check out the ingredients in these. You’ll find partially hydrogenated fats (a.k.a. trans fats), carcinogenic food coloring, and tons of refined sugar. This is why I’ve decided to throw out those yucky candies and use my own homemade Valentine’s treats to fill up those little hearts. (I know I didn’t need to give my money to Russell Stover just to get a container, but those little hearts are really cute. Maybe next year I’ll take the time to get more creative.)
I bought a silicone mold with a bunch of little hearts at Hobby Lobby several weeks ago. It wasn’t because I was anticipating Valentine’s Day; I just wanted to make some AIP carob candies for myself, and the hearts were cuter than the other stuff they had. I really wanted animals or paw prints or something.
The first treat that I made is these Cake Batter Protein Bars by Empowered Sustenance. I discovered them about a month ago, and since then I’ve been making a batch once or twice a week, all for myself. They are AIP-friendly! I love that they contain collagen, because that’s so good for all kinds of stuff, like skin, hair, nails, joints, bones, digestion, etc. The coconut butter is loaded with quality fats that will give me energy, help me to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), help in building healthy cell membranes, keep me satiated, etc. These are sweetened only with honey. I used the honey from the bees we keep in our backyard! These are really easy to make, which is why I have eaten lots of them lately. Here’s how you make them:
- ½ cup coconut butter (also called coconut manna)
- ¼ cup + 1 TBS grass-fed collagen protein (also called Collagen Hydrolysate)
- 1 TBS raw honey
- 1 TBS coconut oil (I used more like 2 TBS)
- ½ tsp vanilla extract or 1/8 tsp pure vanilla bean powder
- Pinch of sea salt
You may have to order the collagen online. I’m not sure if Whole Foods or Natural Grocers carries it, but I’ve never seen it at Sprouts or H-E-B. Collagen is different than gelatin, so make sure you’re getting the right thing! My H-E-B stopped selling coconut butter a few months ago, but I can still get it at Sprouts grocery store. To soften the coconut butter, I just heat the oven to the lowest temp, then turn off the oven and let the coconut butter sit in there for a while. It softens up pretty nicely. I do the same with the coconut oil. You could also set the jar in a bowl of warm water. Don’t get it too hot or it will get damaged and the nutrition will be affected.
Mix together the softened coconut butter and the collagen, then add the honey. It will be a little dry and crumbly, but it will come together better once you add the coconut oil. I added more coconut oil than the recipe called for to make the mixture a little smoother. Add the vanilla extract.
After it’s well-mixed, put it in the molds. If you don’t have molds, you can just lay it out on parchment paper to make a bar and then cut the bar into little squares after it has set. Stick it in the freezer for a little bit (it doesn’t take long), and then you’ve got your “treats!” These are actually good for you, and I don’t even consider them a splurge. I still wouldn’t eat too many at once, but I don’t feel bad about eating these. I’m telling the kids that they’re candies, but they’re really not.
I also made some chocolate hearts. I used this simple recipe:
- ½ cup coconut oil
- ½ cup cocoa
- 3 TBS honey
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
I can’t tell you if they’re good yet, because I haven’t given them to the kids yet, and I don’t eat chocolate because it’s a trigger for my Rheumatoid Arthritis. A few weeks ago, I just would have eaten one anyway, but I’m back on the wagon again after starting to feel pretty crappy. To make these AIP-friendly, substitute carob powder for the cocoa. I wouldn’t put in as much, though. Slowly add the carob and taste it as you go.
I made some chocolates with peanut butter inside. I was planning to make some with crushed almonds, too, and I was going to put some orange zest in some to make orange-flavored chocolates. Then I got sick and I didn’t get to all of that. I still have one more day before Valentine’s Day, so maybe I’ll get around to making more.
I was planning to post this blog on Thursday, several days before Valentine’s Day, but this sickness ruined my plan. Sorry!
I also need to make more of the coconut protein bars now because I ate a bunch of the ones I made for the kids. I didn’t feel like eating much and I certainly didn’t feel like cooking. Oops.
Here’s what one of the gifts looks like. I got these rainbow unicorn heart boxes for the teenage boys, because I guess middle school boys are really into silly girly-stuff.
Oh, I almost forgot something really important. It’s really important not to let these get warm. Because of the coconut oil, they’ll get soft and melt above 76 degrees. They need to be kept in a cool house or in the refrigerator. I keep mine in the refrigerator. This is true for the chocolates and the cake batter protein bars.
If you prefer your chocolates to be more like milk-chocolate, you could add some almond milk or coconut milk.