In-the-Mood Foods

Looking for some Valentine's Day recipes that will help get you in the loving mood? Give these less-commonly-known aphrodisiacs a whirl and see whether or not they rev your engines.

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Photo By: Evan Sung for The New York Times

Aphrodisiac Foods

Asparagus? Spare us the fuss. Caviar? Yes, you, too. And oysters? You might have stirred things up in the past, but the whole we're-the-only-aphrodisiacs-anyone-ever-talks-about thing is starting to get old. Even chocolate — delicious as it may be — fails to inspire those amorous feelings. The same list of libido-sparking foods, unleashed year after year, has grown stale. It’s no secret that spontaneity is the key ingredient to any recipe for romance, so play it cool this Valentine’s Day and try eight fresh alternatives to the old, standard stuff.

Watermelon's Randy Rind 

Did you know that watermelon can make you randy? The fruity flesh closest to the rind causes blood vessels to expand and contract. If you aren’t feeling it (or the little blue pill), try this sweet and refreshing mixed-melon salad.

 

Try these Watermelon Recipes: 

Spicy Melon and Serrano Ham
Watermelon, Ginger and Lime Granitas

Get the Recipe: Mixed Melon Salad with Cilantro and Lime

Hello, Fennel ... So Long, Silicone

This bulb-shaped vegetable has a texture like celery (another aphrodisiac) and an intoxicating, mild licorice flavor. Fennel’s nutrients mimic the effects of estrogen and even have been rumored to increase breast size. So long, silicone.

 

Try these Fennel Recipes:

Chicken with Fennel-Cream Sauce and Penne

Orange, Red Onion and Fennel Salad

Get the Recipe: Roasted Fennel Salad

Celery: Nature's Cologne

Celery stimulates sexual arousal in women. After a guy eats celery, he'll emit a scent that turns women on: talk about a chick magnet. Call it an earthy, crunchy alternative to rolling up in a cloud of Axe Body Spray.

 

Try these Celery Recipes:

Celery Pineapple Smoothie
Spicy Marinated Celery (Giardiniera)

Get the Recipe: Celery and Tofu Salad

Vanilla Plain Old? Please ...

Dr. John King praised vanilla's ability to “stimulate the sexual propensities,” and neurologist Alan Hirsch recently noted its scent is the most likely to arouse men. It’s no surprise that when vanilla became commercially available in the early 1900s, many American women preferred to use it as a perfume.

 

Try these Vanilla recipes:

Vanilla-Scented Sweet Potato Puree

Vanilla Bean and Cannellini Bean Ice Cream

Get the Recipe: Vanilla Bean Lemonade

Pomegranate: The Real Forbidden Fruit?

Pomegranates, eaten regularly by Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, are a much sexier ancient fruit than that original plain ol' apple of the Bible.

 

Try these Pomegranate Recipes:

Pomegranate Champagne Cocktail
Blueberry and Pomegranate Salad

Get the Recipe: Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Granita

Figs Are One Scandalous Fruit

Adam and Eve wore fig leaves to cover their private parts, and Cleopatra is fabled to have called figs her favorite fruit. Whether it has anything to do with their voluptuous shape, sweet dark flesh and honey scent is hard to confirm, but an open fig has long been thought to resemble the female sex organs.

 

Try these Fig Recipes:

Figs Wrapped in Prosciutto with Gorgonzola and Brie
Baked Figs with Grappa

Get the Recipe: Fig and Blue Cheese Flatbread

Pine Nuts: You Zinc-ing What I'm Zinc-ing ...?

Pine nuts have been used to stimulate the libido as far back as medieval times and are at peak freshness this time of year. Few things get the pheromones flowing like a little dose of zinc, and these earthy nuts are pretty well-endowed when it comes to the miracle-working mineral.

 

Try these Pine Nut Recipes:
Pine Nut Cookies
Grape and Pine Nut Pizza

Get the Recipe: Pine Nut Brittle

Saffron: The Top-Shelf Turn On

Saffron has long been considered a lavish and libido-stimulating food: In the Old Testament's Song of Songs, Cleopatra is noted to have bathed in the stuff to enhance her lovemaking. This reputation (and its unparalleled flavor) make it one of the world's priciest foods per pound, but it's well worth the fuss.

 

Try these Saffron Recipes:

Chicken Scallopine with Saffron Cream Sauce

Steamed Artichokes with Almond Saffron Dip

Get the Recipe: Saffron Rice