A Sweet Valentine’s Day Without Sugar

Happy Valentine’s Day! I wish for you a day of connection with all the sweethearts in your life. In our culture, that also usually means a day full of sweets, some of which might be robbing your very ability to feel the love…. So what is one to do in order to have energy, a clear mind, a good dose of romance and some treats?

Here are some guidelines and recipes to keep your heart happy – and healthy.

Dark chocolate: with all of the options in the market, choosing a dark chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa will offer a low(er) sugar alternative to candy bars and other chocolate products, while delivering antioxidants and providing the same endorphin, dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin hit
(these are our happiness neurotransmitters, which get activated when we ingest chocolate).
I love the brands Endorfin, Hu, Madecasse, and Theo.

Heart Beet Hummus (aka pink hummus or love hummus). This is a delicious recipe that will make appetizers more fun and beautiful. I like serving it on radish rounds (which you could cut in heart shape), celery, an jicama. You can get the recipe here or watch my friend Mary Sheila and I make it in this video.

And if you like baking treats on this special occasion, try these brownies from the Real Food Dietitians. Here we put the chocolate and the beets together. Heart & liver health combined with mood boost in one scrumptious bite. What is more sexy than that?

Now, you might be asking: what do I mean by sweets robbing your ability to feel the love? Well, sugar in its processed forms (sugar, beet sugar, cane sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and its other many names) is directly linked to inflammation, heart disease, cancer, weight gain, metabolic dysfunction, and mood disorders, to name a few. Some of sugar’s activities in our bodies include:

  • Reducing immune function;
  • Dehydrating the cells and depleting the body of critical electrolytes such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, & sodium – leading to cell death and chronic muscle spasms;
  • Depleting the body of chromium, copper, & zinc and other trace minerals that help sensitize cells to insulin;
  • Robbing the body of anti-oxidants such as glutathione, vitamin C & vitamin E;
  • Inhibiting Human Growth Hormone (HGH);
  • Elevating cortisol (aka the stress hormone);
  • Accelerating the risk of osteoporosis;
  • Promoting the growth of pathogenic bacteria, parasites, and yeast such as Candida… and the list goes on.

I don’t mean to be a downer. You can of course still enjoy an occasional sweet, but my point is to avoid excessive processed sugar as much as possible, and start a movement to help each other celebrate special occasions with foods and beverages that actually enhance our experience and promote a healthy enjoyment of them. It is not in our best interest to have a sugar crash after a lovely date night, and get moody when we would have rather be in the mood for love. We don’t want to have a bellyache when we would rather be dancing. So many disagreements and so much discomfort could be avoided by just skipping dessert!

Natural sugars such as raw honey, dark maple syrup, coconut sugar, and date sugar don’t have as harsh an impact on our health, although moderation is still necessary to avoid blood sugar spikes and the inflammatory consequences that accompany it. These natural sugars actually offer some of the very minerals (and enzymes in the case of honey) needed for the body to process them effectively, so they have something to add as they take away – a better proposition if you think of your body as a bank account, where you need to make some deposits in order to withdraw. You can also use stevia, which has been shown to actually assist with blood sugar regulation in diabetics – just make sure you are using pure stevia rather than a stevia blend that contains artificial sweeteners… and just to be clear: steer away from the artificial stuff such as aspartame, saccharin, sucralose (Equal, Sweet n’ Low, Splenda) as these can actually promote weight gain, migraines, cancer, seizures and mood dysfunction. So yeah, just enjoy some natural sugars when you need them. Agave is really high in fructose, so I keep that one in the avoid list as well.

How can you add sweetness to your V-Day without sugar? Comment below to let me know.



Kresser, Chris. Here’s the research on sugar and health.  Feb 2019.
Retrieved from: https://chriskresser.com/heres-the-research-on-sugar-and-health/

Philippaert, K., et al. Steviol glycosides enhance pancreatic beta-cell function and taste sensation by potentiation of TRPM5 channel activity. Nature Communications, 2017; 8: 14733 DOI: 10.1038/NCOMMS14733

Tandel, Kirtida. Sugar substitutes: health controversy over perceived benefits. J Pharmacol Pharmacother. 2011 Oct-Dec; 2(4): 236–243. doi: 10.4103/0976-500X.85936

Yeonsoo Kim, Jie Chen, Michael D Wirth, Nitin Shivappa, James R Hebert. Lower Dietary Inflammatory Index Scores Are Associated with Lower Glycemic Index Scores among College Students. Nutrients. 2018 Feb 7 ;10(2). Epub 2018 Feb 7. PMID: 29414858