Guilt-Free Sweets for Your Sweetie

Guilt-Free Sweets for Your Sweetie

10/Feb/17 / 06:00

Whether you’re looking forward to celebrating with your sweetie, or you’re planning to stock up on the day-after-discounts in the candy aisle, Valentine’s Day is a sugar-filled celebration – Right?
You may still be regretting the amount of sweet treats you indulged in over the holidays. No matter how successful (or not) your New Year’s Resolutions are, one month of healthy eating hardly seems like enough to make up for all those “treat yo self” days of the past couple months. And now you’re deciding whether to splurge once again on heart shaped chocolates and gooey caramels in the name of commercialized love.
We’ve all heard of healthier diets that all but eliminate refined sugars (also known as added sugars). Unlike naturally occurring sugars in foods – such as fructose in fruit, and lactose in milk – these sugars are added during processing or preparation.(3) According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Dietary Guidelines for Americans, refined sugars should make up only 10 percent or less of your daily caloric intake. This means, for a diet of 1800 calories per day, only 180 of those calories should come from added sugars.(1)
But no matter how many times we’ve resolved to eat healthier, it’s all too easy to consume far more sugar than we realize.(2) It’s important to be able to recognize the many names of sugar found on food labels, especially because, according to the American Heart Association (AHA), our bodies don’t even need any added sugar to function properly!(3) The AHA provides this list of sugar’s many names:

  • Brown sugar
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup
  • Fruit juice concentrates
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • Malt sugar
  • Molasses
  • Raw sugar
  • Sugar
  • Sugar molecules ending in “ose”
    (dextrose, fructose, glucose,
    lactose, maltose, sucrose)
  • Syrup(3)

You may be thinking, “I have such a sweet tooth. I could never give up sugar!” But there’s no need to fret – A sugar-free Valentine’s Day won’t leave you feeling bitter. Northern Illinois Food Bank’s Chef Jen Lamplough has developed two decadent, sugar-free desserts as mouthwatering alternatives to even the most deliciously unhealthy, store-bought confections.
Easily prepare the rich Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge for an instant favorite, or impress your sweetie with Banana Caramel Custards topped with sweet, flavorful dates! Recipes like these and more are presented each month at Chef Jen’s free cooking demonstrations and tastings – View the upcoming topics and register today!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge

Yield: 10 servings

Banana Caramel Custards


    Cooking spray or parchment paper
    ½ cup coconut oil
    ¼ cup honey
    ½ cup cocoa powder
    1/3 cup creamy peanut butter



  1. Coat and 8 inch baking pan with cooking spray or line with parchment paper. Set aside.

  3. Over a double boiler, melt the coconut oil.

  5. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk for 2-3 minutes until completely mixed.

  7. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before cutting.

  9. Store in the refrigerator.
Printable recipes available here.

Banana Caramel Custards

    Yield: 6 servings

    Banana Caramel Custards



    3 eggs
    2 ripe bananas
    1 13- to 14-oz can coconut milk
    Hot water, as needed
    20 pitted dates
    Pinch of salt



  1. Preheat oven to 350.

  3. Crack eggs into a blender. Add bananas and coconut milk. Blend until smooth.

  5. Place six 8-oz ramekins or mason jars in a large baking dish.

  7. Pour custard into ramekins or jars, distributing it evenly.

  9. Place the baking dish in the oven, then pour hot water into the pan 1-inch deep surrounding the ramekins or jars. Be careful not to splash water into the custards.

  11. Bake for 45 minutes. Allow to cool in the water bath before refrigerating. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

  13. While the custards are cooking, add the pitted dates to a food processor or blender. Blend on low until still just slightly chunky. Add a pinch of salt.

  15. Stream in hot water while the blender is on until a paste forms, scraping the sides occasionally to ensure a smooth texture.

  17. Once custards are completely cool, spread three tablespoons of the Date Caramel on top of each custard.

Printable recipes available here.

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  • Volunteer at one of our Centers in Geneva, Rockford or Park City sorting and packing food
  • Donate to help us solve hunger in your community – every $1 donated provides $8 worth of food.

Want More?


(1) “2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.” 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, n.d. Web. 07 Feb. 2017.

(2) “Added Sugars.” American Heart Association, n.d. Web. 07 Feb. 2017.

(3) “Sugar 101.” American Heart Association, n.d. Web. 07 Feb. 2017.