From pesticide residue on cut flowers to the questionable ingredients in conversation hearts, standard-issue Valentine romance won’t cut it for your earth-conscious sweetie. But don’t worry, you can make DIY treats that are delicious, personalized and easier on the environment than conventional Valentine’s Day candy.
The best Valentine’s Day candy starts with fair-trade ingredients. Cocoa is one of the most important fair-trade items, as 90% of the global cocoa supply comes from small family farms in tropical places. The 6 million farmers earning their living through growing and selling cocoa beans are vulnerable to pressures that drive the market price down.
If you buy chocolate bars and chips that are Fair-Trade certified, you know that the farmers are being fairly paid for their work. Since 1998, this program has invested about $14 million into cocoa-producing communities in places like Peru, Ecuador, Ghana and the Ivory Coast.
Many other ingredients besides cocoa are covered by the fair-trade certification system. Some of these items that you might use in Valentine’s Day recipes include sugar, coffee, honey, tea and fruits like bananas.
Simple Valentine’s Day treats
Does the intricacy of the treat reflect your love for your partner? Not necessarily. Even if you’re challenged by lack of time and/or kitchen skills, you can still produce a thoughtful and tasty Valentine’s Day gift.
Three-ingredient vegan chocolate pots contain only chocolate, dates and almond milk. You melt unsweetened chocolate in a microwave, throw it in a blender with the dates and almond milk, then refrigerate until it solidifies. The trickiest thing is remembering that you’ll need to refrigerate it for at least four hours, so plan ahead. Get the full recipe here.
Another option for those who have trouble juggling multiple ingredients, this three-ingredient velvety chocolate fruit dip combines coconut cream, cacao powder and maple syrup. Just add a fourth ingredient — some fruit — and you’ll be ready for Valentine’s Day. Try bananas, mango slices or chunks of pineapple for best results.
Does your darling love ice cream? The simplest vegan ice cream consists of two ingredients: cocoa powder and bananas, both of which you can get fair-trade certified. You just need a blender or food processor and a freezer. Want to jazz it up? Add coconut, berries or nuts. Prefer to be even more minimalist? Make a one-ingredient ice cream of bananas only.
What if your love is not only vegan, but a gluten-free raw foodie? A vegan chocolate almond cheesecake with a gluten-free crust is an excellent solution to this Valentine’s Day gift-giving challenge. This recipe tops the cheesecake with cocoa nibs and extra almonds.
Perhaps cookies are your loved one’s favorite treat. These heart-shaped chocolate sugar cookies are vegan and gluten-free. You’ll need heart-shaped cookie cutters and a rolling pin for this recipe.
Fancy and fruity desserts
It’s hard to fathom, but not everybody rates chocolate as their favorite. Some people don’t like it at all and would even prefer fruit! If your partner values berries over cocoa, whip up a raw strawberry cashew cream tart. The crust is made of dates, coconuts and almonds, and the filling is strawberry cashew cream. Remember that strawberries usually top the dirty dozen list of produce that you should buy organic, so shop accordingly. No pesticides for your valentine!
Few vegan desserts involve dusting off your blowtorch. But this vegan crème brûlée recipe made with coconut milk will awe and impress your partner, especially when they see you welding that blowtorch in the name of love.
Flowers for those who don’t like sweets
What if your partner doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth? Cut flowers are a Valentine’s Day staple, but they are notoriously pesticide-ridden, and many flower farms don’t treat workers or the environment well.
If you’re concerned about sustainable practices in the floral industry, the internet provides a few tools. For California-grown flowers, you can look at Bloomcheck, which measures wildlife protection, air and soil quality and impact on workers and community. Rainforest Alliance monitors South America, with more than 1.3 million farms using Rainforest Alliance methods to protect local ecosystems and workers. Veriflora vets farms in the whole western hemisphere.
A low-key Valentine’s Day
Sometimes Valentine’s Day is the worst time to go out to dinner or to dessert shops. The stress of making reservations and battling a sea of lovers can put a damper on romance. Instead, consider celebrating at home with a simple, homemade dinner followed by DIY treats. Whipping up dinner together is a good way to show your love and is much more personal than making a reservation.
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