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A Simple, Sweet Guide to a Simple, Sweet (Guilt-free) Valentine's Day

Valentine's day is upon us and the nice dinner at a fancy restaurant feels cliche and crowded, with dinner reservations having to be made weeks in advance. And what about the guilt of indulgence on sweets, alcohol, and a heavy, expensive meal? Not to worry, we've compiled our favorite ideas for a sweet and intimate Valentine's day neither of you will forget or regret.

Well... There goes the chocolate...

Chocolate is a staple and a must-have for Valentine's day. And what is more romantic than strawberries? Chocolate covered strawberries are among the easiest of desserts to make and are still romantic. Plus, chocolate has its benefits and place in a well-rounded diet!

All you need are strawberries, dark chocolate chips, and a little bit of olive or coconut oil. Pour your chocolate chips in a microwavable bowl with a teaspoon of coconut oil and heat for 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each 30-second interval until smooth. Dip your strawberries in the chocolate (make sure they are washed and dried!) and arrange on a nice tray. Refrigerate at least one hour before serving for the best results!

The benefits of dark chocolate include powerful antioxidants, reduced risk of heart disease, and improved brain function. So go ahead, enjoy them and the leftover ones too!

What about the main course?

Pasta is an easy and customizable option. Our favorite is a garlic butter shrimp with angel hair pasta with asparagus on the side. Allergic to seafood? Swap the shrimp for chicken!

Boil your angel hair until it is al-dente, cooked but still firm to the bite. In a saucepan, add a cup of white wine, two lemon slices, a sprig of rosemary, two tablespoons of garlic-- or four... you can never have too much garlic-- and pepper. Bring this to a simmer and add your shrimp. Cook until the shrimp form a "C" shape. If they move into an "O" shape they will be overcooked. Once your shrimp form a "C" set them aside in a bowl of lemon juice. Add the al-dente pasta and cook for another 5-10 minutes or until soft. Add one cup of parmesan cheese. Stir in shrimp and serve with parsley sprinkled on top!

Asparagus is incredibly easy as well. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, drizzle the asparagus with olive oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, and pepper before laying them flat on a baking sheet. Bake 13-15 minutes or until tender. Drizzle with lemon juice and serve.

This recipe is wonderful because it is a lighter pasta with good proteins and no thick or heavy sauce. Shrimp has a laundry list of health benefits such as being high in many vitamins and minerals such as selenium, B12, phosphorous and more. Shrimp can also support brain and heart health with its high content of omega-3 fatty acids and, of course, astaxanthin.

Asparagus is low in calories and has a variety of nutrients including folate and fiber and vitamins A, C, and K.

Champagne? Wine? What do I get?

With this meal, white wine pairs best. Champagne is also a lovely option.

White wine supports heart health and can have slightly fewer calories than red wine. However, red wine has more antioxidants and also contains polyphenols which supports healthy aging.

GOVERNMENT WARNING: (1) According to the Surgeon General, women should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects. (2) Consumption of alcoholic beverages impairs your ability to drive a car or operate machinery.

What about the ambiance?

Pick something light yet intimate. We suggest candles at the table, but lower lighting surrounding the area. Play your significant other's favorite music or something soft and low just for the background. Make it evident that the focus is on you two tonight!

Setting a positive atmosphere boosts your mood and mental health and it could help set you up for success in the department of sexual health as well... but we'll leave that up to you.

How are you celebrating Valentine's day? What are your favorite ways to show your partner that love is in the air?



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