|From:||Judith Anne C.|
|Sent on:||Sunday, February 10, 2013 4:33 PM|
Ah, the pleasures of dining out on a romantic evening. Soft dinner music, candles flickering as you gaze lovingly into your sweetheart’s eyes … and lovely side dishes of traffic, parking hassles and a nice fat bill at the end of your meal.
I prefer to whip up a meal for my honey at home — with a menu full of aphrodisiacs, foods like these seven that many civilizations have long believed increase sexual desire or pleasure:
1. Asparagus. Some claim that people who eat asparagus have many lovers; others think it’s just that the phallic shape of the spears suggest sexuality. We know for certain asparagus is packed with vitamin E, which can help boost sexual stamina and performance.
2. Arugula. Associated with a lesser known Roman god of fertility, arugula was popular among the ancient Romans and Eqyptians.
3. Garlic. The ancient Romans so believed in the love powers of garlic that they consecrated it to the goddess of fertility, Ceres.
4. Saffron. Pricey, but worth a shot: It's believed to stimulate sexual desire in women.
5. Shrimp. An iodine deficiency can result in reduced sex drive, and shrimp provides iodine. “Best of all, shrimp protein breaks down in the body to the amino acid phenylalanine, proven to increase levels of sex drive–boosting neurotransmitters in the brain,” according to eatsomethingsexy.com.
6. Chocolate. Some say the great Aztec ruler Montezuma so believed in the power of chocolate as an aphrodisiac that he would drink large volumes of a chocolate elixir before heading into his harem; in modern days, scientists have shown that chocolate causes a release of the same hormone released during sexual intercourse, and serves up a healthy dose of serotonin, sometimes called the “feel good” hormone.
7. Strawberries. Maybe it’s just the cute heart shape, or the fact that they can be dipped in chocolate or whipped cream and fed to your lover. Whatever the reason for their power, strawberries have been considered an aphrodisiac since ancient Rome.
... Wishful thinking? Who knows, but pack the kids off to Grandma’s for the night, cook a romantic Valentine’s dinner for two at home, and see how things heat up!Arugula Salad with Roasted Asparagus
Roasting asparagus brings out a deep, earthy taste and allows the tender spears to pair more easily with wine.
4 cups baby arugula leaves, loosely packed
8 asparagus spears
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Preheat oven to 400° F. Snap off tough ends of asparagus and toss with about ½ tablespoon of the olive oil on a baking sheet lined with foil. Lay spears in a single layer and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until tender crisp and slightly charred, about 5-10 minutes depending on thickness of the spears.
While asparagus is roasting, combine remaining olive oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper and whisk to combine. To serve, toss arugula with dressing and divide evenly between two plates. Top with asparagus spears, sprinkle cheese on top, and serve immediately.
Per Serving: 160 Calories; 15g Fat; 4g Protein; 6g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 2mg Cholesterol; 223mg Sodium
Paella is a classic Spanish dish that is easy to make but looks impressive. If you need to reduce sodium in your diet, use homemade chicken stock so you can control the amount of salt or substitute water for the stock.1¼ cups low sodium chicken stock
Heat chicken stock for about 1 to 1½ minutes in the microwave and dissolve saffron in the stock. Heat olive oil in a large skillet or paella pan over medium high heat; add onion and red pepper and cook until barely soft. Add sausage and cook until lightly browned. Add garlic and rice and cook one minute, then add saffron stock, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
Stir rice, then lay shrimp and mussels on top of partially cooked rice, replace cover, and cook until rice has absorbed all the liquid, the shrimp are cooked, and the mussels have opened, about 5 minutes more. Discard any unopened mussels and sprinkle entire dish with parsley. Salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.
Notes: Some types of rice require longer cooking time and/or more liquid, so adjust cooking time and quantity of stock according to rice package directions; add seafood 5 minutes before rice is finished cooking.
Paella can be made with a wide variety of meats or seafood. To reduce the fat and cholesterol in this dish, substitute chicken breasts (cut into small chunks so they cook quickly) and white fish filets (cut into bite-sized pieces and add along with the mussels) for the sausage and shrimp, and add a little cayenne pepper to kick up the flavor.
Per Serving: 480 Calories; 20g Fat; 24g Protein; 50g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 60mg Cholesterol; 684mg Sodium
Chocolate Pudding Cakes (pictured at top)
These decadent pudding cakes are quite rich, and I find that sharing one is satisfying enough. Use organic fair trade chocolate if you can. You can make these up to four hours in advance and keep them at room temperature, loosely covered with plastic, until dinner; refrigerate any leftovers.
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
2½ ounces bittersweet chocolate, 62-70% cacao
3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup sliced strawberries
Mint leaves for garnish
Preheat oven to 325° F. Butter the insides of two 6-oz. ceramic ramekins, and then dust liberally with sugar. Place inside a glass baking dish and set aside.
Combine sugar and water in a small pan and heat until the sugar dissolves. While sugar is dissolving, roughly chop chocolate and place in a small bowl; pour hot syrup over the chocolate, stirring until all the chocolate is melted. Add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking until fully incorporated before adding the next piece. Whisk in egg and then flour.
Divide batter evenly between the two prepared ramekins. Create a water bath by filling the baking dish with hot water to halfway up the outsides of the ramekins and place entire baking dish into oven. Bake until cakes have risen and tops just barely begin to crack, about 50-60 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully remove ramekins from water bath. Let sit for 2 minutes, then using a hot pad, invert cakes onto dessert plates. (Note that the cakes will be difficult to move once they adhere to the plates.) To serve, spoon sliced strawberries onto cakes and garnish with mint leaves.
Per Serving: 498 Calories; 40g Fat; 8g Protein; 41g Carbohydrate; 7g Dietary Fiber; 153mg Cholesterol; 217mg Sodium