In my last blog post, "Sexy Nutrition", I explained the link between nutrition and sexual health. If you haven't read that piece yet, it only takes 4 minutes. Go ahead and read it, I'll wait. When you return, I'm going to share with you the meal that my significant other and I prepared to celebrate our love on the most romantic day of the year. I want you to reflect on this as you read: none of this food was expensive. None of the table decorations were expensive. This meal took less than an hour to prepare, from start to finish, and could be completed by a cooking novice. The whole meal was packed with excellent nutrition AND was delicious. Ok, now you may proceed.
Set the Scene
I'm not kidding. I don't care if you think it is cliché, set the scene. Put on some romantic music. I made a Spotify playlist, which is essentially the much easier way to create a modern version of a mixed tape. Put on a tablecloth, choose a centerpiece, light some candles, and I can't emphasize this enough... use real plates and silverware. All of this shows that extra bit of effort and sets the mood. Also, it really doesn't hurt to dress up some. Even though you aren't going out, look like you are. You'd be amazed at how your partner will react.
Oysters on the half shell with spicy Thai chili or chili garlic sauce. We preferred the chili garlic sauce, after all. This combo is 2x the aphrodisiac with oysters and spicy pepper!
You may be surprised to find out that oysters are not expensive at all; I spent 89 cents per oyster. They do have to be cleaned and shucked, which is sort of a pain. Oysters, though small, are loaded with good nutrition, including high amounts of Vitamin D and Vitamin B12. Each oyster provides 7 grams of protein!
Not originally on my planned menu but a fantastic addition is this sashimi and California roll. We celebrated all day by going to a hibachi restaurant for lunch, and these were simply the gorgeous leftovers! Obviously, this required no cooking, simply tasteful arrangement on a board, served with low sodium soy sauce.
A simple green salad with pomegranate.
Not only are pomegranate arils gorgeous, edible jewels, they are also considered an aphrodisiac. Pomegranates have been used as a romantic symbol for centuries, and it's no mystery why. For a dressing, I used a pomegranate balsamic vinaigrette and olive oil.
Basil and crushed red pepper spaghetti, topped with Mizithra cheese.
I have always thought of Italian food being pure romance. Spaghetti gives me images of Lady and the Tramp, so I knew that had to be our main course. With the addition of crushed red pepper, you get the aphrodisiac bonus! Also, after such a light, but protein-heavy start to the meal, spaghetti provided the carb balance we wanted.
Now, it doesn't get much simpler than this: I used Prego sauce! Yes! It's true! And you can, too! Here's the trick, though: never serve sauce just straight out of the jar. I added a nice amount of crushed red pepper, chopped fresh basil, and standard Italian seasoning. I've also been known to "accidentally" pour a bit of red wine into the sauce. I promise it tastes like you toiled over a hot stove for hours, when it couldn't be any more convenient. Since we eat with our eyes first, take care to make sure this looks best by sprinkling the cheese on top, then topping with a few basil leaves.
Raspberries in cream, topped with shaved dark chocolate (85%), and a cherry.
Dessert. Often, the most coveted aspect of any meal. With Valentine's Day, I instantly thought of strawberries and cream, but my significant other prefers raspberries. This dessert seems decadent, but believe it or not, this dessert is less than 100 calories! Just mix Light Cool Whip with any fruit of your choosing, then shave dark chocolate on top. I used a small grater to accomplish this, but a zester would work as well. Then just top with a cherry. It can't get much easier than that, and what a special treat that's more heavenly than sinful. Next time, I will reserve one raspberry to also place on top to hint at what's beneath, and a sprig of mint for color.
Effort is the True Aphrodisiac
Taking care of your body and nurturing your relationship both take effort. Sure, good genetics are a greater starting point for health, but it still takes effort to ensure that you're managing your health risks. It takes effort to plan your meals, exercise, sleep well, and manage your stress healthfully. It also takes effort to surprise your partner with a kind gesture, support their goals, involve yourself in their interests, put your phone down and pay attention when they are talking about something boring, and to save the last of your favorite leftovers for them because they love it as much as you do. Effort doesn't have to be gifts of diamonds and gold. Effort doesn't have to be surprise airplane tickets or a new car. Effort can be as simple as setting the table attractively with your finest dishes and cooking a humble spaghetti meal (bonus points if you do clean up, too).
It's been said before that it is the thought that counts. I wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment. Forget about the old wives' tales and just get back to making every day simple living into something truly magical by always giving your 100% to the person who deserves it.
Contentment is not happiness. Being content takes little to no effort. Happiness and health is worth the elbow grease.