Cooking a romantic dinner for your significant other this Valentine’s Day? Even if you consider yourself to be a pro in the kitchen, you may not know that sexing up your supper plans is actually pretty easy. In fact, infusing your Valentine’s meal with natural aphrodisiacs is a surefire way to kick your night off on the right note.
“My suggestion is to keep things really simple,” says sexy food expert Amy Reiley, who literally wrote the book on aphrodisiac foods. “You actually want something you can clean up the next morning.”
When planning your menu, let simplicity guide you. You also want to keep it light. (Heavy foods are going to make you feel sleepy – not sexy.)
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Aphrodisiac cooking also has just as much to do with scent as it does with taste. Research on scent arousal has actually found certain food aromas to be arousing. For men, lavender and pumpkin pie spice seem to do the trick, while women are thought to be turned on by cucumber and licorice.
“The scent of glazed donuts is also arousing,” says Reiley, who adds that other studies have found certain wine aromas to replicate the scent of human pheromones.
Before you stock up on ingredients for your Valentine’s Day dinner, consider some of Reiley’s best advice for preparing a delicious, aphrodisiac-packed meal. When it comes to cocktails, champagne is the preferred drink for putting you in the mood.
“It’s been found that blanc de blanc champagnes replicate the scent of the female pheromone,” says Reiley. “The interesting thing is that it arouses both sexes.”
If you prefer vino, experts say that earthy Burgundy wines are a good choice for revving up your engines. According to Reiley, scent is the most important component, which is why musky, masculine red wines are an optimal choice.
In terms of appetizers, we’ve all heard the stereotype about mussels being an aphrodisiac. It turns out that there’s actually some truth to it. Reiley says that mussels make for a perfect hors d’oeuvre. Adding exotic flavors and a hint of heat is also sure to dial up the sexy level.
“A coconut-based soup is another good one,” she says. “Coconut is a great aphrodisiac.”
When it’s time to ring the dinner bell, keeping in the seafood family is recommended. Try rolling your own sushi together, which can be a playful, flirty experience on its own. The best part? Fish like salmon and mackerel are thought to kick up the production of sex hormones.
“Sushi is loaded with aphrodisiac ingredients,” says Reiley. “It’s also a source of lean protein, so you’re getting the energy you need, but you’re still keeping the meal relatively light at the same time.”
As for dessert, chocolate has long been synonymous with sexy. However, Reiley says that chocolate likely has more of a placebo effect than anything else.
“A British scientist did do a study that found that in order to get all of those aphrodisiac effects of what we associate with chocolate – things like mood enhancement, caffeine-like energy, and that state of euphoria – the average-sized woman would have to eat over 20 pounds of chocolate to actually get there,” says Reiley.
Even so, don’t be so quick to dismiss it. For starters, it’s a stimulant. This makes it a great end-of-the-meal choice before heading into the bedroom. Dark chocolate also has antioxidant benefits. Reiley suggests preparing a dark chocolate fondue, which allows you to choose aphrodisiac fruits for dipping. Strawberries, bananas and figs all fit the bill.
Just remember not to overindulge. The last thing you want is to feel too full to enjoy the effects of an aphrodisiac-rich meal. After dinner, Reiley adds that candles scented with vanilla, rose or lavender are all ideal for the bedroom.