Meet our columnist, Juhi. She’s an acupuncturist, wellness and health guru, activist, CEO and founder of The Juhi-Ash Center in New York City’s Upper East Side. Each month, she’ll be answering your questions and sharing her tips on how to leave a healthier, more centered life from a holistic perspective. In this column, she shares her recipe for a perfectly sultry Valentine's Day spent indoors. Got questions? Follow her @juhi says and DM us @byrdie so she can answer them in her next column.
Anticipation is sensual. Home is sensual. This Valentine’s Day, which I imagine most of us will stay in to enjoy, I’m going to suggest that not only is your dinner sprinkled with amorous inducing spices, but that all of your senses simmer. Ayurveda is a strong proponent of the “go slowly” philosophy. Taking pleasure in the slow preparation of a meal satiates all the senses. Awakening the pleasures of sight, touch, smell and taste into one, well, climax. I also imagine, in this last year, we have all upped our cooking skills. Let’s go out on a love-limb and create a five-star restaurant meal in our home kitchens. Actually the in-home five-star will be healthier, sans the stick of butter.
First, a lot of us are probably using our dining tables for work. So give yourself some time to restore it to a table wanton looks can cross. Nothing is less sensual than a laptop reminding you of the deadlines and bills it houses inside. Of course, one meal is not a ticket to a tantric evening in itself, but there are foods that get your blood pumping with antioxidants and increase your body temperature. The lore of the aphrodisiac is steeped in good health and relishes in the mind/body connection. The brain, after all, could be considered the largest sexual organ. Know what makes that tick in your partner and the rest is gravy, so to speak.
Let’s start with an arugula salad with pomegranate seeds and goat cheese. The tiny green leaves of arugula are a passion powerhouse. Its zinc content increasing blood flow to all regions of the body, erogenous zones included. Romans have used arugula to promote passion since the first century. I think we can agree the Italians know a bit about passion. As do the Greeks.
Enter pomegranates, the culinary symbol of Aphrodite, goddess of love. Its plump red seeds bring an aphrodisiac of antioxidants to your plate. Coaxing the seeds from the flesh is a tactile pleasure outweighing uncapping a pill bottle. In fact, when juiced, it has the effect of a certain prescribed medication for men. Try skipping that splash of vodka for a Rajastic-kick. Rajastic simply refers to foods that energize the body and mind. Sloshy is not sexy. In lust-lore, the pomegranate is also thought by some to have been Eves’ tempting fruit rather than the apple (Eve knew a bit about tempting).
You might not think of cheese as seductive but the lusty aroma of chèvre arouses your sense of smell and contains ten times the amount of phenylethylanine as dark chocolate. Okay, phenylethylanine does not sound particularly sexy, but if you know PEA is the stuff in dark chocolate that produces that amorous-inducing rush, then what else do I have to say? Arugula to pump the blood, pomegranate to keep it flowing and chèvre for that dart of desire. We could probably stop there as a plate of passion but let’s linger a bit more with a main course of chili-garlic chicken for added heat. You need heat to stoke a fire.
The heat we feel with that first bite of chili pepper raises both our heart rate and body temperature, triggering an endorphin rush. It plumps your lips with the soft desirability of a flush. Capsaicin is the stuff in chili that makes your heart flutter and libido take notice. The addition of garlic may seem surprising as a come-hither spice but when eaten by two, the senses are numbed to any unappealing scent. And how about a little something on the side? No, not a threesome—a sweet potato. The sweet potato is more like the wing-man, luring in potassium, beta-carotene and vitamin A, believed to boost virility. Mash it with cinnamon for improved cognitive function so you stay focused on your loved one. See that mind/body connection again? Add a bit of raw sugar for sweetness and a bit more Chile powder to layer on the heat. Chile also pairs well with tempeh should your affection be focused on a vegetarian. So, if this menu doesn’t already have you moving from the dining room to another room, with the intent of being dessert yourself... chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. In itself a sensuous food, dark chocolate contains the chemicals amandine and the aforementioned PEA for a sexy-serotonin-sigh. You can make it elegant by melting a bit to dip strawberries into, while sustaining a sultry smile or, my favorite: one bar chili-chocolate, one bar pomegranate-chocolate, unwrap, share. Happy Love Day.