“Cooking is like love: It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.” —Harriet van Horne

Valentine’s Day is approaching – a holiday that’s dedicated to love. There’s no better way to show someone how much you care than with food.  Food nourishes our bodies, our minds and our souls. It gives us pleasure, comfort, anticipation, excitement, fulfillment – sounds a lot like love, doesn’t it? Food, like love, is a part of our everyday existence. It drives us, it brings happiness and we certainly can’t live without it. Instead of buying your Valentine flowers, shower him or her with expressions of love via food. Food can be a part of your Valentine’s Day celebration in all kinds of different ways. Of course, no food says love more than vegan food for what goes better with love than compassion? Here are some ideas for celebrating Valentine’s Day with love and vegan food.

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1. Foods to Increase Libido

“Great food is like great sex.  The more you have the more you want.” —Gael Greene

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While it’s more romantic to think of love in terms of hearts and destiny, we have to acknowledge that there is a science to it as well. Certain foods known as aphrodisiacs can alter our blood flow, hormones and neurochemistry, leading us to feel attraction, desire and pleasure. According to Dr. Meryl Rosofsky, an aphrodisiac expert, they can even influence our sexual performance and fertility. While everyone knows that oysters are an aphrodisiac, there are many plant-based foods that work on the libido just as well. Vegetables such as arugula, cucumbers, pumpkin, celery, carrots and asparagus can improve blood flow, increase desire and improve sexual performance. Fruits such as avocados, dates, figs, bananas, mangos and watermelon increase libido and stamina. Spices and herbs such as fenugreek, chile peppers, garlic, ginger, ashwaganda, cinnamon and basil increase body temperature, blood flow, testosterone production, and endorphins.  Nuts, especially almonds, are said to increase desire, hormone production and blood flow.

When planning your Valentine’s Day menu, be sure to serve dishes that include any or all of these aphrodisiacs. Share a bowl of Garlic and Ginger Soup, Cauliflower with Ginger and Fenugreek, Sesame-Ginger Cucumber Noodles With Mint and Edamame, Rosemary Roasted Carrots With Creamy Thyme and Rosemary Sauce, Braised Celery, Chipotle Chile Pepper Rolls, Mango Sorbet with Banana and Pineapple, Easy Avocado Salad, and Raw Coconut Mango Tarts with Figs, Walnuts, Cinnamon, and Ginger.

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2. Chocolate

 “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” ―Charles M. Schulz

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Chocolate is also an aphrodisiac but it deserves a category all its own. Chocolate is commonly associated with love and romance. If you are planning to give your Valentine chocolate, you’re on the right path. Chocolate contains tryptophan, a component of serotonin, which makes people feel good. It also contains phenylethylamine, a stimulant that is released from the brain when we fall in love. This is why we often crave chocolate when we are feeling sad or lonely. One study reported that women who ate chocolate felt more sexually satisfied than those who didn’t. Dark chocolate, in particular, has lots of anti-oxidants and is the healthier choice.

Rather than buying a box of chocolate where, as the saying goes, “You never know what you’re gonna get…,” learn How to Make Your Own Homemade Dark Chocolate. Once you master that, make your own Raw Vegan Dark Chocolate Mousse, Chocolate Brownie Cake with Raspberries, No-Bake Chocolate Pumpkin Pie, Wintery Mint Kisses, and Chocolate-Coated Hazelnut Truffles. For more ideas, see 10 Divine Ways to Create Delicious Dark Chocolate Desserts.

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3. The Color of Love

“Red is the color of love. Beating hearts and hungry lips. Roses, Valentines, cherries.”― Mary Hogan, ‘Pretty Face’

 

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Red is the color most associated with love and Valentine’s Day with pink probably coming in a close second. The color red ignites passion while pink symbolizes a gentle love. Send your message loud and clear by serving dishes that speak the color of your love. Start with a spicy Muhammara Spread, Beet, Fennel and Lime Pate, or some Fried Green Tomatoes with Red Pepper Aioli.  Share a bowl of Raw Tomato Red Pepper Soup or Watermelon Gazpacho with Beet Noodles. Give your green salads a red makeover like this Heirloom Tomato Pesto Stack or a Grilled Beet Salad with Almonds and Dried Cranberries. This Quinoa and Beet Salad with Hazelnuts combines the passion of red with the innocence of pink. For the main course, make these Roasted Beet Burgers, Stir-Fried Beetroot with Ginger, Lime and Toasted Spices, Lentil ‘Meat’ Loaf with Smoked Paprika Glaze, Red Quinoa Loaf, or the Best 9 Vegetable Lasagna Ever. On the side, serve Sesame Roasted Beets and Greens, Braised Red Cabbage with Beets, or Cheezy Roasted Tomatoes.

Make dessert even more desirable with red treats like these Red Velvet Brownies, Mini Red Velvet Cake with Fluffy Coconut Cream Frosting, Fudgy Beetroot Chocolate Cake with Pink Frosting, Mexican Hot Chocolate-Covered Strawberries, and Red Strawberry Crème Chocolate Truffles. If your Valentine’s Day date carries over to the next morning, have breakfast in bed with Red Velvet Waffles with Cream Cheese Sauce, Red Velvet Pancakes with Walnut Whipped Cream or a Tomato Breakfast Tart.

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4. Eat Your Heart Out

“The stomach carries the heart, and not the heart the stomach.” – Miguel de Cervantes, ‘Don Quixote de la Mancha’

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On Valentine’s Day, we give heart-shaped cards, buy heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and talk about giving our hearts to someone. If you want to carry this theme to its limits, you can certainly prepare a whole meal of heart-shaped foods. Using a heart-shaped cookie cutter, you can make heart-shaped burgers, cookies, cakes, and pizzas. Another way to celebrate hearts is to be less literal about shapes and focus more on those parts of foods that are buried deep and like any heart, needs effort to get to these treasures. Put your heart into this Triple Hearts Salad which features artichoke hearts, celery hearts and hearts of palm. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups chopped hearts of palm, 3 chopped celery stalks and 2 cups quartered artichoke hearts. Add 1 chopped cucumber, 2 chopped tomatoes and 10 sliced Kalamata olives. For the dressing, combine 2 Tbs. red wine vinegar, 1 tsp. dried oregano, kosher salt and pepper to taste and 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil. Mix well. Toss the salad with the dressing. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

Use hearts of palm to make these Hearts of Baltimore Crab Cakes or these Hearts of Palm Lobster Rolls. Get Tips on How to Buy, Prep and Cook Artichokes and use the hearts to make Fried Artichokes over Lemon Butter Pasta, Walnut Crusted Artichoke Hearts, Pistachio Artichoke Pesto Quinoa and Artichoke and Olive Pizza.

5. Love Potions

“I will show you a love potion without drug or herb, or any witch’s spell; if you wish to be loved, love.” ― Charles Lindberg

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You don’t have to drink alcohol but you do have to drink something on Valentine’s Day or how will you toast to your love? Let love intoxicate you while you drink a healthy smoothie like this Love Potion that has red beets, pears, oranges and apples or this Strawberry Rhubarb Smoothie. This Watermelon Rose Drink is pretty in pink with watermelon, melon and rose wine. If you want a hot drink to warm your heart, try this Slow Cooker Kahlua Mint Hot Chocolate or this floral Slow Cooker Valentine Bouquet Hot Chocolate with lavender and rose water.

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Food is always somewhat about love but on Valentine’s Day, pull out all the stops. Anyone can make reservations at a restaurant but preparing a meal for someone is a thoughtful and precious gift. As the actress Sophia Loren said, “The most indispensable ingredient of all good home cooking: love, for those you are cooking for.

For all the Valentine’s Day treats you’ll need, check out our The Ultimate Guide to a Vegan Valentine’s Day! We also highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 15,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!

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