Valentine’s Day recipe ideas


To help you prepare for an especially romantic Valentine’s Day, we asked Nutritionist Saffron Rogerson of This Life Nutrition to suggest some recipes that include the right ingredients to put you and your partner into a loving mood.  Here’s what she came up with…

 

The Romance of NutritionThis Life Nutrition logo

When thinking of a traditional Valentines’ meal, ingredients such as oysters and asparagus often come to mind – a romantic association that has probably come about because of their high levels of zinc, which is excellent for reproduction as it helps to create fully-formed and strong-swimming sperm.

However, romance shouldn’t always be shackled to fertility (that’s a different article) so instead I’m going to recommend a meal which should have the ability to spike levels of two neurotransmitters intricately linked with feelings of happiness, warmth and love: serotonin and oxytocin.

Follow these Valentine suggestions and you’ll be assured that you have all the nutritional blocks in place to kick-start their synthesis.

 

breakfast quote

Let’s start with Breakfast

scrambled eggsIn order to lay the groundwork for the creation of these neurotransmitters we need to start earlier in the day.

Whereas serotonin benefits from one particular amino acid (the building blocks of protein) oxytocin requires a whole range. So, start the day with a plentiful breakfast of smoked salmon and eggs.

Eggs are an excellent protein source which contain all 9 of the amino acids necessary to build oxytocin.

smoked salmon heart

 

In addition, omega 3 oils from the salmon will maintain the health of the neural sheaths ensuring the safe passage of these important neurotransmitters to their receptor sites.

To add that extra bit of romantic flair to the presentation of your dish, use a heart shaped pastry cutter to shape the salmon … or a knife should do the trick if you don’t have one.

Equally important for the synthesis of oxytocin is Vitamin C, so have a diluted glass of orange juice alongside.

 

serotonin & oxytocin quote 
Relax

We also need to ensure good blood flow so that nothing impedes the flow of these neurotransmitters to the brain. To that effect we need to eat nitrate-rich foods which have a vaso-dilatory effect. These will increase blood flow and lower blood pressure, allowing one to relax and get into that loving mood (similar to the effect of the 1st glass of wine).

Helpfully the blood flow is increased not only to the brain but also to, errm, other extremities generally considered useful in a romantic situation… Two foods rich in nitrates are blueberries and beetroot – not known as “Nature’s Viagra” for nothing!

 

dessert first quote

 
An Unusual Approach to Start

Blueberry & banana pancakesSo, to turn things on their head I recommend that you dispense with a savoury starter and instead start with a sugar and fruit laden dessert including blueberries.

Having the sweet course first will help to ensure that there is nothing already in the stomach which could impede the sugar’s release.

Blueberry and banana pancakes are delicious, aromatic and contain everything we need – click here for the recipe from Woman & Home.

 

It helps if the bananas are as ripe as possible so that these, along with the refined flour and sugar, will rapidly cause the necessary insulin spike. Tryptophan, upon which serotonin depends, greatly benefits from the release of insulin. Its effect is to downplay other amino acids leaving tryptophan to dominate in the bloodstream and allowing it to be synthesised more readily into serotonin.

As well as being a source of tryptophan the bananas also contain vitamin B6 which helps to synthesise both neurotransmitters. Furthermore the nitrate-containing blueberries will relax the blood vessels and facilitate neurotransmitter take-up.

I wouldn’t grant this recipe 5 stars for nutritional content but as romantic nutritional engineering it should accomplish its aim, so for this particular special occasion, it’s actually advantageous to dump sugar into the blood stream and raise insulin (diabetics please visit thislifenutrition.co.uk and email me for alternative suggestions).

 

beetroot quote

 

The Main Course

beetroot saladFor the main event, try these Mediterranean Pork and Mozzarella from BBC Food – and accompany that with beautiful roast beetroot or a beetroot salad to provide another dish overflowing with tryptophan, vitamin B6 and nitrates.

So, as you’ve already had your sweet course, you can now dispense with dessert and leave the dinner table for a comfortable sitting position – which should have the double benefit of helping you to relax, whilst also avoiding that feeling of being over-full.

 

To Finish

For the grand finally, we’d therefore recommend a herbal tea from Hippopot.  Especially for Valentine’s Day they’ve created the ‘Love Potion’ which includes Damiana – a herb traditionally used as an energy tonic and an aphrodisiac for both men and women.

Hippopot Love Potion

So you now have all the nutrients needed to instigate “that loving feeling”. After this, the rest is down to you: romantic lighting, fragrant red roses, a willing disposition and finally an attractive and attentive dinner-date.

After all, food will only get you so far…

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