Monday, 13 February 2012

A recipe for romance

I overheard an amusing conversation on the way home between a couple of city gents, on their approach to valentines day.

One guy was saying how, despite his wife's comments that he didn't need to buy her flowers or chocolates he always got her some anyway knowing she didn't really mean it (a wise man)! The other, in contrast, said that he had been clear with his wife that he didn't buy into the whole thing and had set out the terms and conditions of their relationship early on, including that he wouldn't be participating in valentines day (how romantic)!

To be fair, I can understand the whole anti-commercialism stance on valentines, but I'm a romantic at heart so any excuse for a display of love is fine with me.

I think one of the nicest ways to enjoy valentines day is planning a romantic evening in for your other half. Rather than paying over the odds in an over-crowded restaurant, a well executed meal will impress your valentine and show a bit of effort on your part.

However take care on what you cook as it may effect whether you get rewarded for your hard work ;-)

Firstly, make sure you're fully aware of your partners likes/dislikes and allergies. A duck a l'orange may be impressive, but will leave me sweaty and teary eyes courtesy of my orange allergy.

Even if you're both allergy free, meals with a high quotient of wheat or dairy products tend to send people to sleep and be a bit of a passion killer - so skip the pasta, creamy sauces and cheese board.

The same goes for very carb intensive meals, so serve the carbs as a side dish, rather than the main attraction and keep them medium to low GI - use new or sweet potatoes rather than white potatoes, spaghetti rather than penne and basmati rather than long-grain rice.

Large portions of red meat can also be a challenge to digest so skip the beef and lamb or serve in small quantities as a starter. Instead serve scallops to start and fish or chicken for main, to keep the meal filling but light. A fresh salad is always good as a side dish along with some steamed asparagus or minted peas.

Strawberries and champagne are of course perfect for pudding, but if you want to serve something a bit fancier serve these in addition to a dark chocolate pudding or dipping pot. Dark chocolate is less sugary than milk chocolate and other puddings, so is less likely to induce a post-dinner blood sugar crash and is a natural aphrodisiac :-)

If it's a four course affair you're serving up, serve a nice fresh cafetiere of decaf coffee with the petit fours (asda's fair trade organic decaf is lovely). Decaf coffee contains taurine so still has a slight stimulant effect without making you feel wired instead of relaxed. Brewing up some fresh mint tea is also a lovely alternative and a natural digestive aid - just add a handful fresh mint leaves to your pot instead of a tea bag.

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