A Healthier Way to Celebrate Valentine's Day

This quick and easy coconut bar recipe will give you something sweet to nibble on today that you won't regret tomorrow.

Whether or not you've got a sweetheart to celebrate today, it's got a lot to offer... in the way of sugar. Maybe someone brought donuts into your office. Maybe your neighbor dropped off cookies. Maybe you just can't resist grabbing that pink and red packaged candy while in the checkout line. Sugar's everywhere today! Look, we all know it's going to be virtually impossible to avoid sugar on February 14th. But if you want to indulge on Valentine's Day without the usual sugar hangover, these vegan, gluten-free coconut bars are just the thing! They contain only natural, non-processed sugar and require just three ingredients and 10 minutes of your time.

I stumbled across this recipe on The Big Man's World's blog and whipped it up last night. The only hard part was melting the coconut (I don't have a microwave), but if you can nuke some to get it melted, this should only take a few minutes. I've adjusted the recipe to make a slightly larger batch. You'll need:

  1. 4 cups of unsweetened shredded coconut
  2. 1 1/3 cups of coconut oil
  3. 1/3 cup of maple syrup (I used maple, but if you want your bars to look a purer white, agave would work!)

Line a pan with parchment paper. It can be any size between a loaf pan and an 8"x10" pan. The larger your pan, the thinner your bars will be. 

Melt your coconut oil. This is seriously the hardest part of the recipe. 

In a big bowl, stir the coconut, coconut oil, and maple syrup together. 

Note: If you wanted your bars to turn out pink, you could add some red food coloring at this point. I had the brilliant idea to puree beets and use that as a natural food coloring, until my husband pointed out that it would probably make the bars taste like beets. But if someone's brave enough to try (or just willing to make a second batch if the first doesn't turn out), let me know in the comments!

Press your mixture into your loaf pan. If it's too sticky, a little water or coconut oil on your hands will help. 

Freeze or refrigerate until firm, then cut into bars and enjoy a guilt-free treat!

Happy Valentine's Day, friends!