As a Frugal Foodie, I am quite aware that “lux” is out and value is in for 2009. That means my Valentine’s Day recommendations this year focus not only on delicious delights for your loved ones (that also happen to be dairy-free), but also on getting the most for your money on this special occasion. After all, we still want to show those special people how much we care, but spending should probably be kept to a minimum. The following are my favorite Valentine’s Day-friendly gift items that I have trialed to date plus some great recipe ideas …
Ghirardelli Hot Chocolate – Most people don’t realize that this mainstream brand offers up four affordable flavors (Double Chocolate, Chocolate Mocha, Chocolate Hazelnut, and White Mocha) of hot chocolate mix that can be enjoyed by (almost) all. They are milk-free as is (but check with the manufacturer if cross-contamination of milk is an issue), simply mix with your favorite milk alterative (I actually add in some coconut milk for a creamy touch of indulgence). As a gift, wrap it up with a nice (BIG) mug and some pink marshmallows or cinnamon hearts. For that special homemade touch, make homemade marshmallows. Bittersweet also offers tips for making this marshmallow recipe vegan.
Liz Lovely – Please, oh please will someone get me a jumbo package of these babies for Valentine’s Day?! Now, I am not speaking of everyday shopping bargains, but as a gift, these cookies are worth their weight. They do offer shippable sampler packs for gifts by mail, but if you will be giving the gift face-to-face, I recommend picking your favorite choices individually and packaging them at home, as this will be slightly less expensive and more customized. Keep in mind, when we say Liz Lovely, we are talking jumbo cookies and chocolate-drenched goodies … so skimpy is not a problem. All products are vegan, and they now offer many gluten-free options too. Ah yes, and before you checkout, use the coupon LOVELIZ for 10% off. Hey, every little bit helps!
My Sweet Vegan – As one of the very few coffee table-worthy vegan cookbooks out there, this cookbook is remarkably priced. The dessert theme is perfect for either directly giving as a gift, or you can utilize the recipes within to make sweet treats for Valentine’s recipients. I am particularly fond of the Nut Case Cookies, Cherry Chocolate Truffles, and all of the brunch items, but I have heard many raves about Mocha Devastation Cake. My Sweet Vegan is available on Amazon, though it is offered for a slightly better or comparable price (depending on Amazon’s pricing mood that day) from the non-profit, FARM USA.
Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World – Ah, an oldie but goodie. From a size standpoint, this one actually isn’t a fantastic deal. But, from an indulgence and usage angle, this pint-sized book gets two thumbs up for value and gift-worthiness. Like My Sweet Vegan, you can give it as a gift, or purchase it to bake gifts for all of the loved ones in your life.
No Whey! – Just in case you missed my three other raving posts about this new dairy-free, nut-free chocolate maker, I thought I would mention them again. But this time, for value. Having sampled their chocolates, which are generously sized, and in fact, more like truffles, I can say that their pricing is unbelievably fair and worth every penny. They are delicious, whether or not you are dairy-free. And no, I am not affiliated at all; just hoping someone will send me a lifetime supply to help quell my chocoholic husband’s cravings.
Of course, my favorite gifts of all are the homemade ones. So if you have the time, start with the homemade marshmallow recipes above, and the Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Pretzels I posted about earlier in the week (both gifts that can travel), or if your recipient is local, consider one of the following recipe ideas: