In true Valentine’s Day spirit, no girl can avoid the sweet treats of the holiday. It might be advertised as the lovey-dove season, but we all know it comes down to the simple pleasures of indulging in sugar! Admit it, you have a sweet tooth too.
Sugars are far more involved than taste however! Take a look:
God created you with a miraculous and complex internal system. It knows what’s physically benefiting for you to consume and what your body needs to dispose. But, there’s a catch. Although your body fights for health, you’re the one feeding it. Food is the tool your body uses to make everything function correctly. Give it the wrong tools, and it’ll be in some kind of a mess. You can’t hammer a nail with a slipper for instance! God has provided you with a wonderful array of natural whole-foods, which in the right moderation will keep you in the right state of health. Keep this in mind as you dive into the topic of sugars!
The Good Guys.
Fructose, Glucose and Sucrose! In other words, sugar — natural sugar. These guys aren’t fake, and when consumed in their natural state (and in healthy moderation) are beneficial to your body. You can find these natural sugars in their natural state in fruits and vegetables, or things like raw honey and nectar. So long as you don’t pig out on natural sweets, they’ll remain as “the good guys”.
Artificial, Refined or Natural sugar?
Artificial sweeteners are not sugar in any way, shape or form. They’re chemical sweeteners that go by names like Sucralose, Aspartame and Saccharin (think of them as the bad guys). These sweeteners are not healthy, despite being advertised as healthy alternatives to real sugar (true propaganda)! Since they’re not naturally occurring, it’s no wonder our bodies have problems with them.
The white crystals you know so well as “sugar” are, more specifically, refined sugar. The term refined refers to extracting natural sugars (remember the good guys?) from a plant as well as taking out any other unwanted remains (such as soil or bacteria) and then providing it as a food, or using it as an additive to a food.
Despite coming from a natural source, refined sugar is another unhealthy choice for sweetening. The reason is that when you take natural sugars out of their natural state, you have sugar that is missing the necessary buffers to help your body digest the sugar in a beneficial way. For instance, when you eat a piece of fruit, not only are you consuming its sugar, you’re also consuming things like its fiber, live enzymes and vitamins. These other parts are like road signs for your body, directing how the sugar is to be digested. Without these road signs, refined sugar goes in the wrong place at the wrong time, causing minor problems, like acne, to major health problems, like unhealthy weight gain, poor immune systems and more. High Fructose Corn Syrup is another sweetener made from natural sources that leads to unhealthy circumstances!
Naturally occurring sugar in their natural surroundings might not always seem so sweet to your palate, since you are most likely use to excessive amounts of the unhealthy refined sugars, artificial sweeteners and corn syrups found in the majority of our processed food today. But take heart! Addiction to sweets only lasts as long as you continue to feed the craving. If you can eat healthy long enough, you’ll come to the point where unhealthy sugar consumption feels unhealthy and natural sugars in their natural forms taste sweeter then before!
The true matter of Valentine’s Day is sweeter than any sugar though. It’s a day to spend a little extra time with your loved ones, and as the psalmist of Psalm 119 wrote in verse 130, “How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” God will always be the true love of our lives, and should be our sweetest addiction! Therefore, to commemorate the bond we have with our family and friends and our Lord Jesus, we wanted to give you an idea for a healthier Valentine’s Day treat you can snack on with a group of buddies! May you be blessed by eating some of God’s natural sweets this Valentine’s Day, and remember He “hearts” you most!
Hearts on Sticks and Cocoa Dip:
You will need:
- A blender
- A knife
- A bowl for dip
- A plate for fruit
- 1 Cup Pine Nuts (raw and unsalted)
- 1/4 Cup Water
- 3 Tbsp Light Agave Nectar
- 1/2 Tsp Pure Vanilla *
- 2 to 3 Tsp Cocoa
*Note Pure Vanilla and Vanilla Extract aren’t the same ingredient and don’t taste the same, so use Pure Vanilla or real Vanilla Beans rather than Extract!
Instructions for Cocoa Dip:
Soak your pine nuts in water overnight. The next day, drain them and place them in your blender. Include your fresh water, Light Agave Nectar, Pure Vanilla and Cocoa. Blend until smooth. You may use less water to make the dip thicker. Place the dip in your freezer so that it may cool, but don’t let it freeze completely. This should take approximately half-an-hour to forty minutes. This recipe will make enough dip for a large number of people. Or you may save some for another day if you’re serving to a smaller group. You may also cut the recipe in half if preferred. While your dip is cooling, go ahead and start turning your fruit into hearts!
Instructions for Hearts on Sticks:
After washing your strawberries, rip out the leaves. Cut the strawberries into about five slices, lengthwise. Shape them into hearts by cutting a V at the top of each slice, and narrowing the ends with two small cuts on either side. Slice up your banana and cut V’s into the tops of each slice, slimming the bottoms like you did the strawberries. Use as many strawberries and bananas as needed. Stick your fruit hearts on toothpicks and serve with your dip! If you’re still waiting for your dip to cool, keep your fruit in the fridge until you’re ready to serve them.
Make sure to keep leftover dip in the fridge covered. It should last about a week.