By: Brenda Neugent
With all the heart-shaped boxes of chocolates filling every aisle of virtually every store this time of year, Valentine’s Day can be treacherous for those with diabetes.
After all, how is a person supposed to keep his blood sugar levels in check when faced with the temptation of dozens of chocolate-dipped nuts, jellies, and caramels?
To keep his numbers in a healthy range, my type 2 husband and I only allow for a chocolate or two-we go with antioxidant-rich dark chocolate, which usually has less sugar-and instead focus on the romance of the hearts-and-flowers holiday. (After all, isn’t that the best part?)
A perfect way to start the day showing lots of love is with heart-shaped oatmeal pancakes, a whole-grain, heart-healthy option that’s packed with flavor and fiber. Instead of maple syrup, go with a blueberry compote drizzled over your short stack, along with a glass of fat-free milk.
Since it is still chilly this time of year, at least in the evenings, when the sun goes down we light a fire, pop open a bottle of wine, and enjoy a romantic meal at home, where I can control the carbs and help ensure that we’ll be spending many more Valentine’s Days together.
I usually go with a version of our first Valentine’s Day meal, a Cajun-themed pasta dish with shrimp and lots of veggies-the New Orleans’ “holy trinity” of celery, onions, and bell pepper along with green onions and garlic-over Dreamfields pasta. The original sauce is made with butter, flour, heavy cream, and processed cheese, but I lighten it up with olive oil, chicken broth, and half-and-half while trading out the processed cheese for Parmesan. Parmesan is perfect for many recipes, because it has a strong flavor, so a little goes a long way. After adding a splash of hot sauce, the dish is still rich and decadent, but it doesn’t provide the dangerous glucose overload of its heavier predecessor.
This year, we’ll be topping it off with a carb-friendly dessert like this Dark Chocolate Cake, an adaptation of a magazine find. It includes instant coffee, a trick nabbed from “Iron Chef” Alex Guarnaschelli, who uses it to enhance the rich flavor of the chocolate.
Dark Chocolate Cake:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar-free raspberry preserves
2 teaspoons instant coffee crystals
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups Equal sugar substitute
3 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
Chocolate Ganache: Melt 1 ounce semi-sweet chocolate and 1 tablespoon butter in a double boiler, stirring frequently.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat the butter, chocolate, milk, preserves, and instant coffee in a double boiler, whisking frequently until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
Allow mixture to cool slightly, then whisk in the egg yolk and vanilla. Add the sugar substitute, whisking until smooth.
Lightly grease an 8-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar in a large bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites gently into the chocolate mixture, then mix the flour and salt and fold the dry ingredients into the chocolate mixture.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely on a wire rack, then cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
Remove cake from pan and place it on a serving plate. Drizzle the prepared chocolate ganache over the top of the cake and allow it to set for about an hour.
Cut cake into wedges and top with whipped topping and fresh raspberries.