When Valentine’s Day rolls around, most of us are thinking of ways we can show our significant other how much we love him or her. However, I suggest we all take the time to also show ourselves a little love. While I have been known to be a bit of a cynic when it comes to finding romance with “the one”, I am certainly no skeptic when it comes to being true to the only person you’ll be with forever – yourself. And honestly, how can you expect someone else to love you if you don’t love yourself. Plus, if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be around for all those future Valentine’s Days to show and receive love from another.
In this nipped, tucked, and Botoxed world of reality television and air-brushed advertisements, many people get a warped sense of beauty and what they think they should look like. However, this Valentine’s Day, I encourage women and men of all ages to look in the mirror and embrace what you see. You shouldn’t starve yourself to fit into some skimpy dress or skinny jeans. And no one should want to erase the minor flaws that come from living a full life. Look in the mirror and truly love what you see. The wrinkles and crow’s feet around your eyes echo the laughter you have shared over the years. The wrinkles around your lips are mementos of the kisses you have given to show affection. The stretch marks are a token of the way your body beautifully adapted to bear your child. And those few extra pounds you’ve added over the decades are evidence of the many birthday cakes, holiday meals, and boxes of chocolates you have shared with the ones you love. The freckles and dark spots on your skin are a reflection of the hours of fun you spent playing in the sun.
Why would anyone want to take away all those beautiful memories? Chances are, your significant other loves your true beauty and recognizes that they are memories and not flaws. And remember to tell your significant other this Valentine’s Day how beautiful they are and how much you love them. And whether you have a significant other or not, remember that YOU are the love of your life – your own life. Look in the mirror and love yourself. Know that you need to take care of your body and stay healthy – no one else can do that for you.
So this year celebrate Valentine’s Day and enjoy that box of chocolates – just maybe stick to the small box and make it dark chocolate this year! Or better yet, make your own dark chocolate syrup and pour it over angel food cake with berries for a romantic dessert. Or drizzle it on frozen yogurt, homemade granola, or whatever you prefer – I am not here to judge!
Dark Chocolate Syrup
¾ cup dark cocoa powder (Hersey’s Special Dark is good and easy to find)
¾ cup water
½ cup sugar
½ t salt
1 t of your favorite extract (like vanilla, peppermint, or almond) OR 1 T liqueur (like Grand Marnier, Amaretto, or Kahlua)
In a saucepan, whisk first three ingredients to combine before turning on heat. Once well-mixed, turn stovetop to med-high heat. Continue to whisk so mixture does not scorch or stick to bottom. Allow to come just to a low boil. Immediately turn heat to lowest setting and allow to simmer at a low boil for four minutes, whisking regularly. The syrup will begin to thicken, but be careful not to let syrup over boil – it can quickly become candy and/or burn. At the four-minute mark, add salt and extract (or liqueur) and whisk for about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and immediately transfer to a mason jar or plastic container and allow to cool. The syrup will thicken as it cools, but it should still be syrupy enough to pour or drizzle.
Keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
This is a chocolate treat you can feel good about this Valentine’s Day. Dark cocoa can reduce risks of cardiovascular disease, reduce blood pressure, and boost immunity. Plus, there’s no high fructose corn syrup, cream, butter, or preservatives! That makes for chocolate your body and your heart will love!