Why waste time and money at a busy restaurant on Valentines’ Day when you can cook up romance and a meal at home. Chef and romance writer Amanda Usen, author of Scrumptious (the first in a sizzling series of sexy chefs and mouthwatering cuisine), recommends cooking together and whipping up vegan aphrodisiac-laden dishes that will bring you and your mate deliciously closer than every before.
Cooking creates intimacy
Amanda Usen, who currently teaches pastry arts at Erie Community College in New York, isn’t just a pro in the kitchen, she’s been married for over a decade. She suggests getting in the kitchen to get closer.
“I’ve been married 12 years and [know that] doing something out-of-the-ordinary together can create intimacy,” says the food-centric romance novelist. “If you don’t usually cook at the same time, being in the kitchen can teach you new things about each other as you plan, shop, prepare and eat the meal. Plus, kitchens aren’t usually that big so you’ll have to work side by side and dance around each other a little. In our kitchen a little surreptitious smooching and fanny patting is the rule, rather than the exception, especially on Valentine’s Day!”
Q&A with Amanda Usen, chef and author of Scrumptious
Miso Vegan: Do aphrodisiac foods really boost the libido?
Amanda Usen: Yes! Some aphrodisiacs are believed to have a chemical effect on the body. For example, garlic contains allicin, which is known to increase blood flow. Chocolate, another popular aphrodisiac, contains phenylethylamine, the “love chemical,” which releases dopamine in the pleasure center of the brain and peaks during orgasm. Foods that are high in zinc (like pine nuts and pumpkin seeds) are believed to aid in sperm production and increase libido. These foods chemically stimulate the body.
Miso Vegan: Are some foods considered sexy simply because of their shape?
Amanda Usen: Yes! Other foods get reputations as aphrodisiacs because looking at them makes you think sexy thoughts. Raspberries resemble female nipples. “What’s up, doc?” takes on a whole new meaning if someone is holding a large carrot, and many dirty jokes feature cucumbers and bananas. These foods are considered sexy by association due to their visual characteristics. Since the brain is considered the largest and most complex sexual organ, aphrodisiac properties can also be “all in your head.”
Miso Vegan: Can any food or drink be an aphrodisiac for a couple?
Amanda Usen: Sharing any food or drink with a loved one can become a sensual experience, creating lasting memories that can have delicious future effects. Many of my memorable nights have begun with champagne, so it’s an aphrodisiac for me, even before its convenient inhibition-lowering properties kick in.
Miso Vegan: What are 5 vegan foods that you recommend for a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner at home?
Amanda Usen: I’d start with an aperitif of champagne or prosecco with a pomegranate garnish for a double whammy. Pomegranate is regaled to be the ancient symbol of Aphrodite, and alcohol, in moderate amounts, is relaxing and stimulating to the senses. Just one glass, though! We don’t want anyone getting sleepy!
A salad of arugula, also known as (ahem) “rocket” would come next, dressed with balsamic vinaigrette and garnished with pine nuts (zinc) and dried figs (sexy by association). To keep with the Italian theme, a vegan pasta would work for the main course, and to round out the meal…a box of vegan chocolates on the bedside table!
Miso Vegan: What are your recommendations for Valentine’s Day ambiance?
Amanda Usen: First of all, if you have kids, farm them out for the night! Then rock some fun tunes in the kitchen while you enjoy a glass of bubbly and get the food ready. Candles and cloth napkins on the table make any night special. Why don’t you serve one course and let your date serve the other? Serving and being served is sexy. Do the dishes together before you move upstairs for dessert…let the anticipation continue to build…and have a happy Valentine’s Day!