Last updated: Feb 10, 2009

Valentine's Day can be one big fat trap for even the most diligent of dieters. Boxes of chocolates, sugar-laden candy hearts, and a big dinner out can cost you a whole lot of calories, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't indulge a little. Spread the love and whip up one of of my sweet (and healthy) treats. And check out my top five figure-friendly tricks for healthier everyday baking.




Fudge Chocolate Chip Muffins

Unsweetened applesauce keeps these muffins figure-friendly. Raspberries add a festive Valentine's touch.

Ingredients:

1 cup unsweetened applesauce

1⁄2 cup raw sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1⁄4 teaspoon raspberry extract

3⁄4 cup oat flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1⁄2 cup semisweet vegan chocolate chips

1⁄2 cup fresh or frozen (drained) raspberries

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a regular-size muffin tin with cooking spray.

2.  In a small bowl, combine applesauce, raw sugar, vanilla, and almond extract.  Stir and set aside to allow the raw sugar crystals to dissolve.

3.  In a large bowl, sift together oat flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

4.  Add the applesauce mixture to the flour mixture and stir until combined. Fold in chocolate chips and raspberries gently to avoid bleeding.

5.  Using a 3-ounce ice cream scoop or a large spoon, divide the batter between the six muffin cups.  Bake for 50 minutes to an hour, rotating the tin half way through.

6.  Cool completely on a wire rack, then pop the muffins out with a spoon.



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Oatmeal Kisses Cookies

Dark chocolate and oatmeal add a healthy twist to this tasty classic.

Ingredients:

1 bag (13 oz.) dark-chocolate Hershey's Kisses

¼ cup vegan margarine, softened

¼ cup vegan shortening

2 cups raw sugar

1 egg

2 cups oat flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2¼ cups quick-cooking rolled oats

1 cup chopped nuts of your choice

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove wrappers from chocolate pieces.

2. Beat margarine, shortening, sugar in large bowl until fluffy. Add eggs; beat well.

3. Stir together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to wet mixture; beat until well blended. Stir in rolled oats and nuts.

4. Shape teaspoons of dough into 1-inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.

5. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown. Remove from oven and immediately place chocolate piece in center of each cookie, pressing down lightly. Carefully remove cookies from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.



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Coconut Cupcakes

Not a fan of coconut? Just leave it out.


Ingredients:

½ cup soy milk

¾ cup raw sugar

¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ teaspoon coconut extract

1¼ cup oat flour

1½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup vegan shortening

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with liners.

2. Combine all the dry ingredients in one bowl and all the wet ingredients in another. Mix them each, then mix then together.

3. Using an ice cream scoop (perfect for portion control), transfer the batter into the liners. Bake for 20 minutes, rotating the pan after 10 minutes, or until tops of cupcakes are firm. Let cool.

Coconut Icing

Skip the store-bought icing and whip up a simple and sweet topping of your own.

Ingredients:

½ cup vegan shortening

½ cup vegan margarine

3½ cups powdered sugar

1½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon coconut extract

Shaved coconut for garnish (about 1 cup)

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together, then spread on the cupcakes. Garnish with shaved coconut.



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Unleash your inner Betty Crocker (without doing damage to your diet) with my top five tricks for healthier baking.

1. Replace white flour with oat flour. The higher fiber content will help keep you satisfied longer.

2. Substitute dark chocolate for milk.

3. Use an equal amount of applesauce or bananas in place of butter or oil to cut down on fat. I always add in some token fat to avoid that "fat-free" taste, so if a recipe calls for 4 tablespoons of butter, I use 3 tablespoons of applesauce plus 1 teaspoon of butter.

4. Cut the amount of oil a recipe calls for in half. You'll never miss it! Just add a little water if the batter looks too thick.

5. Use raw sugar in place of white sugar.

Bethenny's new book, Naturally Thin, is available March 10. Order now from Amazon or Barnes & Noble to have your copy shipped immediately.