Food and Drink 

What sits in the seats of desire?

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Organic dried cherries, as deep a red and intense as your own true heart, are rich and sumptuous and stand above the ordinary, everyday-ness of most dried fruits, given they aren't exactly cheap and sometimes difficult to find. Easier to track down are organic dried cranberries, which are often B.C.-grown and usually don't have as many sweeteners added as traditional commercial products.

Simple but satisfying organic, unsweetened coconut can also fill a hole or two. It's beautiful in baked goods or sprinkled on top of porridge and granola, plus I've been known to gobble down spoonfuls of the stuff on more than one midnight snack raid. A lovely bag of white coconut offered to your loved one along with a twin bag of red dried fruit will say Happy Valentine's Day in a delightful new way.

If you're feeling a bit ironic, or blue, organic dried blueberries make an all-time favourite, a delicious treat that would fill up the epic emptiness of a Greek god or goddess from Socrates' time.

Or how about a nice container topped up with good olives? The people at Slow Food International and the National Board for Preserving the Italian Healthy Eating Traditions will thank you, and you just might discover they're more addicting than dark chocolate.

Olives are an excellent source of monounsaturated fats and of vitamin E and, like many other healthy components in the Mediterranean diet, they're on your side when it comes to cardiovascular benefits.

You can turn kids onto olives at a surprisingly young age. I still laugh at the thought of my little three-year-old goddaughter dragging a chair up to the kitchen counter so she could reach a bowl of olives her mom had left there. Up she climbed and proceeded to toss back those olives, one after another, with a big grin on her face, her mom and I laughing in disbelief until we stopped her before she emptied the bowl.

Yes, olives can be high in sodium but some, like the black olives grown and processed in California, are actually quite low in sodium. Still, they're better for you and your blood sugar levels than, say, a bowl of red and white jelly beans.

As for those fun little pastel-coloured sweet hearts with the sayings on them in all caps, you could do worse on Valentine's Day.

The conversation keeps changing on those conversation hearts - U R A TIGER is a recent message in text-speak. But the ingredients have pretty much stayed the same for nearly a century and a half.

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