Friday, February 13, 2009

Make Valentines Romantic --Foods of Love

The Foods of Love

By Emma Smith

Montezuma, they say, drank 50 cups of chocolate a day to increase his virility. Casanova popped raw oysters daily. And Marc Antony fed Cleopatra grapes to get her in the mood. Foods that purportedly increase sexual desire or performance, or aphrodisiacs, have been part of our cultural lore (and Saturday night courting rituals) for millennia.

Some foods, such as chocolate and chili peppers, are valued for their physiological effects, like heat or euphoria, thought to mimic the flush of being in love. Other foods are prized for their erotic shapes or textures (think bananas and oysters). According to Jonathan Zearfoss, Professor in Culinary Arts at the Culinary Institute of America, while the science behind the lore is scant, the psychological effect — knowing a food is rumoured to have amourous powers — can count for a lot.

Zearfoss recommends cooking at home to increase romance. "We associate food with love. Making a meal for someone shows there's caring and commitment and that in itself will predispose people toward positive feelings." He also suggests serving interactive food, like fondue, or dishes that have to be eaten with your hands. And if all else fails, there's always chocolate, a treat whose psychological associations with decadence and sin, says Zearfoss, are practically a shortcut to seduction.

Ready to get started? Here are some classic aphrodisiacs and healthy ways to work them into a romantic Valentine's Day dinner à deux:

* Oysters: They're loaded with zinc and are believed to have, uh, a positive effect on the male libido. Have them shucked, then arrange the half-shells on a tray of shaved ice and serve with fat-free sauce: mix together rice vinegar, chopped ginger, diced chives and a squeeze of lemon juice.

* Lobster: It's pricey — but very worth the splurge. If cracking them at the dinner table doesn't make your heart thump, remove the meat ahead of time, mix with mango, red onion and a light dressing and scoop into lettuce cups for "mmm"-inducing finger food.

* Asparagus: According to folklore, its vaguely suggestive shape drives women wild. Combine with mushrooms and saffron for a heavenly risotto — just skip the finishing butter. (For added flavour, purée half of the stalks — not tips — with a cup of the cooking broth.) Lazy day option: Spray asparagus with nonfat olive oil cooking spray and roast until tender; sprinkle with sea salt, lemon zest and chopped parsley.

* Chili peppers: Certainly, they make you hot and sweaty. Whip up a spicy salsa to feed to each other on baked tortilla chips, or spoon on top of poached white fish or chicken breasts for a main course. Just chop rehydrated ancho or pasilla chiles with tomatoes, onions and cilantro.

* Chocolate: It contains the potentially mood-enhancing stimulant phenylethylamine, which is thought to relieve depression — and the Aztecs swore by it. You don't need much — pear halves poached in a sugar-water solution and drizzled with store-bought chocolate sauce is elegant and delectable. Alternatively, break up a small, high-quality dark chocolate bar to munch with dried apricots and figs.

* Strawberries: They're juicy — causing you to lick your lips a lot. Make individual trifles by layering sliced berries with low-fat ricotta whipped with almond extract. Or, simply drizzle with good balsamic vinegar.

Keep these tips in mind for added amour:

* Seduce with small dishes: Nibbling at an array of appetizer-sized dishes is more suggestive than working away at a slab of steak.

* Go the extra mile: Consider splurging on a special-occasion-only treat — fresh tuna from the fish market, for instance, or an aged balsamic vinegar from an Italian gourmet shop.

* Finger-licking encouraged: And because knocking yourself out over the stove isn't exactly sexy, invite your partner to chop and dice along with you.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Make Valentines Romantic -- Gestures Matter

Joe Vitale (from "The Secret")
has a new online course. Get the Details here.

Let's face it, women notice everything -- and I mean everything . They are masters at noticing all the details and their meanings. So, even the tiniest gesture, when done heartfelt and thoughtfully, will not only be appreciated, but can earn you some serious bedtime points.

I'm not talking about just helping out around the house. Some men think doing the laundry or dishes is the height of romance. While this is a nice thought, it isn't enough to score the big payback. Cleaning up after yourself is pretty much expected of you, not hoped for.

If you really want to impress your lady and make her happy, surprise her by trying these tips, which might seem sappy to you, but their effectiveness is guaranteed.

Number 1
Pamper her
When she comes home from a tough day at work, have a hot bubble bath with candles and chocolate waiting for her, and join her inside. You can also give her a foot massage. Better yet, give her a full-body one. At bedtime, treat her to the best oral sex she's ever received. Believe me; she'll know how to thank you.

Number 2
Give her a flower
Don't wait for Valentine's Day or her birthday. Get her one flower today, just to make her feel appreciated and adorn her place. Make sure to be original, picking one that she is not used to receiving, like a single rose that was dyed or an orchid. Under no circumstances should you give her a cactus and pretend it's an exotic plant.

Number 3
Dance with her
Remind her how well you can move your body by dancing with her out of the blue. It can be anywhere: in the living room with some nice music, in the halls of a building when no one's around, even in the park. Wherever it is, just do it. She'll feel like she's in a movie, and will probably be eager to see you move in other ways

Number 4
Buy her a token present
One day, for no reason, show up with a thoughtful little gift. And I'm not talking about a generic teddy bear, or other unimaginative stock gifts. Give her something with meaning that represents something for her. You will get bonus points if it's something she actually needs, but never told you about or barely mentioned in passing. This could be as simple as a blow dryer or a new purse.

Number 5
Take her on an "official" date
After a long time together, couples tend to get lazy and skimp out on the extravagant thrills that sparkled during those early stages. This is something many women lament. So bring back that lost excitement and take her on a very fancy date. Bonus points if you take her to a fancy place where dress is formal (you know women love dressing up). Or you can try recreating your first date to the letter. To make it really official, send her a formal invitation by snail mail.

Number 6
Cook her favorite dish
The ladies all agree that a man who knows his way around a kitchen is quite a catch. Every guy should know how to prepare some basic dishes and at least one difficult one. Learn how to cook her favorite meal and you've got yourself a guaranteed booty voucher. This could even be as simple as making her favorite coffee or mixing her favorite drink and bringing it to her in her favorite glass.

Number 7
Take her out for lunch
Again, it's the element of surprise that does the trick. Show up unexpectedly at her job and take her to a nice restaurant nearby. You can even bring her lunch and have an impromptu picnic somewhere. You'll be the highlight of her day, especially when her coworkers see that she has such an awesome man.

Number 8
Write her a hand-written letter
E-mail may be one of the most revolutionary inventions of this generation, but it sucked something very important out of life: the mystery and romanticism of the hand-written note. So, recreate that feeling and send her one. It could be a love letter, a narrative letter like the ones in authors' anthologies, a confessional letter, or any format that your woman would like.

Number 9
Tell her she's beautiful
Women will never tire of hearing it. But they'll love it even more if it's unexpected. Call her randomly at work and tell her. Leave a note with this message in her purse, so that she will happen upon it some time in the day. Likewise, send her an e-mail saying you can't wait to see her. She'll be so excited to see you, she might just leave work early.

Number 10
Organize a scavenger hunt
When your woman comes home, have a little adventure ready for her. Place a note somewhere in the house telling her what to do. Then have a second note waiting for her at the site of the activity in question, giving her the next instructions, and so on.

Be sure to make the scavenger hunt sexual by telling her to slowly prep herself for a night of sex. For instance, tell her to have a glass of wine in the kitchen, then to moisturize herself in the bathroom, then to put on some music -- you get the idea.

Remember moments of romance are the ones that count
In the end, it's the little things you do that she'll remember most fondly; little things like having a caricature made of the two of you or choosing her over Monday Night Football. You can even work your own timing into it, doing this during the off-season, or when two teams you don't enjoy watching are playing. It may seem sappy to you, but you'll get it back in spades.