When people think of food with aphrodisiac effects, they often think of oysters, but the truth is that most aphrodisiac-like foods can be found in the plant kingdom, and the list is long: hot peppers, asparagus, bananas, avocado, arugula, beets, pumpkin seeds, berries, ginger, garlic, walnuts, sweet basil, almonds, cinnamon, pomegranates, pine nuts, artichokes, cherries, figs, vanilla, and cacao, just to name a few. The reasons why are pretty simple – vegetables reduce inflammation, increase blood flow, and promote well-being and vibrancy.
10 Recipes for a Vegan Valentine’s Day
Strawberry Lemon Sangria – The strawberry was once a symbol of Venus, the Roman goddess of love, and for a while the Greeks outlawed eating them, along with other red foods, because they believed they held mysterious powers. Their powers aren’t really that mysterious though – strawberries contain inflammation reducing phytochemicals and, immunity-boosting vitamin C, and heart-healthy antioxidants.
Asian-Insipred Mandarin Orange Salad with Creamy Almond-Ginger Dressing – Ginger is known to help digestion, but it its ability to aid circulation classifies it as an aphrodisiac. It also has a warming effect on the body, and can cause the tongue and lips to tingle. Legend has it that French comtess Madame du Barry served ginger to her lovers, and it drove them into complete submissiveness.
Greek-Inspired Salad with Tofu Feta and Tahini Dressing – According to Greek mythology, Zeus fell in love with a beautiful young woman named Cynara while visiting his brother Poseidon. He seduced her, and made her a goddess so she could live close to him on Mount Olympus. She became homesick and would often take trips back to Earth to visit her family. Zeus became enraged when he discovered what Cynara was doing, so he struck her back to Earth with a thunderbolt and transformed her into an artichoke.
Artichokes have a long history of being used for their aphrodisiac like properties, perhaps because of their high mineral and trace element content. Egyptians believed that the artichoke enhanced sexual power and aided in conception. In 16th century Europe, only men were allowed to consume artichokes because of their reported libido-enhancing qualities. Catherine de Medici, known for her insatiable appetite for both food and romance, brought artichokes to France when she married Henry II in the mid 16th century. 17th century French writer and sexologist Dr. Nicolas Venette reported that Swedish women who were feeling by their husbands would serve them artichokes in an effort to increase their desire and stamina.
Roasted Beet and Citrus Salad – Beets have been eaten for their aphrodisiac-like qualities in many cultures for centuries. The first known use of beets was in Ancient Rome, where it was believed that consuming beets and beet juice helped promote amorous feelings. In Greek mythology it is said that Aphrodite ate beets to enhance her appeal. Beets contain tryptophan and betaine, which can promote a feeling of well-being. They also contain high amounts of boron, a trace mineral that increases the level of sex hormones in the human body.
Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Tart – Mushroom have been prized as aphrodisiacs in just about every culture. Ancient legends in the South Pacific tell the tale of women were said to experience sexual ecstasy upon foraging on wild mushrooms in the forest. The scent of some mushrooms are similar to that of sexual pheromones, which acting as an attractant and stimulant. It is believed that hormone-like substances present in mushrooms may have some similarity to human neurotransmitters released during sexual encounters. They’re a great source of zinc, which increases testosterone, and therefore boosts sex drive. Mushrooms also have antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties, and are know to help fight cancer, so they’re a good food to add to your diet on a regular basis, no matter what outcome you’re hoping for.
Tempeh Marsala – Greek philosophers in the 1st century AD first took note of arugula’s ability to increase libido. In ancient Rome it was associated with Priapus, the god of fertility. The leafy green veggie’s natural aphrodisiac qualities are due trace minerals and antioxidants it contains. The nutrients found in arugula inhibit potentially libido-reducing toxins in the body, making them good for the health of reproductive organs.
Thai Coconut Tempeh with Pineapple Salsa – Pineapple has been used historically to lift the libido and fight impotence. The rich vitamin content of the sweet fruit is the source of its aphrodisiac qualities. It has high levels of manganese, which is known as an essential nutrient for sexual health, particularly for men. It also contains thiamine, which helps to boost the body’s energy levels. The vitamin C that is found pineapples is essential for the production of feel-good hormones in the body. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant that helps us to feel young and vibrant.
Asparagus and Tomato Tart with Cashew Ricotta – The phallic-shaped asparagus has been lauded as an aphrodisiac for centuries throughout many cultures. The Greeks wrote poetry about asparagus, and Ancient Aztecs would lock up their virgin daughters during an asparagus harvest. The Kama Sutra suggested grinding asparagus to a paste, mixing it with milk and drinking it. Legend has it that the French would dine on three meals of asparagus the day before their wedding in preparation for the big night. Asparagus’s libido enhancing properties are due to its high nutrient content, as it’s packed with vitamins and minerals that can cleanse the bodies and give a boost of energy.
Avocado Chocolate Mousse – The Aztec word for avocado is “ahucatl” which also means testicle. The name came not only from the fruit’s physical appearance, but also from their ability to incite passion. (And they usually grow in pairs.) Like with asparagus, the Aztecs wouldn’t allow virgin women to leave the house while avocados were harvested. The avocado’s reputation as an aphrodisiac has been carried throughout so many cultures, that when it came time to put together an advertising campaign for them in the U.S., the ads denied their libido boosting properties with the hope of tempting people to indulge in the forbidden fruit. The secret to the avocado’s lure is in the nutritional properties it holds. Avocados are packed with beta carotene, potassium, magnesium, protein, and vitamin E – which is known as the sex vitamin.
Chocolate Cream Pie – What would Valentine’s Day be without chocolate? Chocolate has a long history of being used as an aphrodisiac. It’s said that Aztec emperor Montezuma consumed 50 cups of hot chocolate a day in order to satisfy his many wives. In his memoirs, Casanova claims to have consumed many of cups of chocolate a day in order to keep up his stamina.
Chocolate contains tryptophan, which is a building block for the feel-good hormone serotonin. It also contains phenethylamine, which is a stimulant that’s released in the brain when we fall in love. Cacao contains magnesium, Vitamin C, antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids. Don’t go for cheap chocolate for Valentine’s day (or any other day) though – high percentage dark chocolate and raw cacao contain the most nutrients. In addition to the health benefits, chocolate just tastes good!
What’s on your menu this Valentine’s Day?