In case you've been living under a rock the past couple weeks, you probably already know that tomorrow is Valentine's Day - that lovely little holiday featuring sappy Hallmark cards, roses, chocolates and expensive meals. As you can tell, I'm a bit of a Grinch when it comes to celebrating V-Day. Regardless of my relationship status, I've never understood why people make such a big deal out of it. But I digress...
The Washington Post ran an interesting article earlier this week featuring a list of healthy foods hued from pink to rose to auburn to scarlet in honor of the romantic holiday. And that, my friends, is one thing I can get behind when it comes to Valentines. Here are a few of the highlights:
* Red bell peppers. This vegetable has nearly three times the daily value of Vitamin C and tons of antioxidants to fight cancer-causing free radicals. It's also rich in Vitamin A, which is thought to protect against lung cancer and promote eye health, and is one of the handful of food sources of lycopene, which protects against such cancers as prostate and pancreatic.
* Red quinoa. It looks and tastes like a nutty grain, but quinoa, red or otherwise, is actually a seed. It's a sound source of protein, making it a staple for vegetarians and vegans. In addition to potassium, it contains manganese and magnesium, both of which may help mitigate migraines.
* Radicchio. This low-calorie, highly flavored leaf vegetable makes a colorful addition to salads. It has lots of vitamins B6, C, E and K, plus folate and potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure.
* Watermelon. Watermelon is a rare source of lycopene, plus vitamins C and A, both powerful antioxidants. Because it's mostly water yet very sweet, it's a dieter's dream: You can eat a lot, sate your sweet tooth and feel very full without consuming many calories. The redder and riper the melon, the more nutrients.
* Raspberries. These berries are good sources of Vitamin C and fiber.
* Cherries. Another sweet source of Vitamin C and fiber.
* Strawberries. In addition to containing more Vitamin C than any other berry, strawberries contain phenols, making them powerful inflammation fighters.
* Red beans. Canned or dried, red pinto and kidney beans contain lots of cholesterol-busting, blood-sugar-regulating fiber, and they are packed with protein. Red beans also feature molybdenum, which battles sulfites that can cause headaches and rapid heartbeat in some people.
* Red potatoes. Red-skinned pototoes are a relatively low-calorie, high-fiber food chock-full of Vitamin C.
* Red onions. All onions, including red ones, are rich in Vitamin C and fiber; they also reduce the risk of stomach and other cancers and heart disease. Their chromium helps cells respond to insulin, helping to regulate blood sugar and perhaps reduce diabetes risk. Incorporate it into your diet. The stronger the smell, the better the nutritional value.
* Red wine. A daily glass of red wine is believed to help keep the cardiovascular system in shape and reduce the risk of blood clots.
* Red grapes. In addition to Vitamin C and fiber, red grapes confer many of the same heart-health benefits as red wine.
* Tomatoes. Full of the antioxidants lycopene and Vitamin C, tomatoes are thought to protect against many cancers, particularly those of the prostate and pancreas.
* Cranberries. Snack on them dried, or drink a low-sugar cranberry juice for a huge dose of Vitamin C. Like red wine, cranberry juice keeps such pathogens as E. coli from adhering to the lining of your digestive tract. Research supports the long-held legend that cranberry juice helps keep urinary-tract infections at bay.
And now, to prove how much I love all of you, here are two sucralose-sweetened dessert recipes. You can share them with your sweetie without the fear of busting out of your pants. Have a fabulous weekend!
Chocolate Velvet Mousse
HG's Red Velvet Insanity Cupcakes