Valentine’s Day is all about celebrating love, friendship and is a time to show appreciation to those you love. Undoubtedly using food to show and share love is a popular pick on Valentine’s Day. Whether it is fine dining, picnics in the park or home-cooked meals, there is no better way to fall in love than over food!
When I think of menu planning for Valentine’s Day I think rich, comforting meals, which are generous in flavour. Admittedly any menu should include chocolate to be Valentine’s Day complete! It is well known, the power of food and act of sharing food can influence the way we feel about others and our overall wellbeing.
Science of love…
If we are to really dig deep and look at the ‘science of love’ levels of certain chemical messengers including dopamine, adrenaline and norepinephrine influence feelings of love. Dopamine is responsible for feelings of pleasure, motivation and attention. Adrenaline and Norepinephrine create feelings of preoccupation and the sensation of stomach butterflies.
Furthermore, the hormone Oxytocin acts like cupids arrow and plays a role in feelings of trust and attachment. Sharing a meal with another is one of the best ways to boost Oxytocin levels. It is true that you bond over food and fall in love over food!
Endorphins also play a part in creating a loving mood and making us feel good. Interestingly the scent of vanilla has been positively associated with production of endorphins as well as dark chocolate and spicy food.
Falling in love with food…
Now that we know food plays a role in feelings of love and mood and certain foods can be used to boost mood. Here are a list of foods known to enhance dopamine and noradrenaline levels; avocados, lima beans (butter beans), bananas, almonds, red meat, eggs pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and cheese. Creating a Valentines Day menu including these foods can help create not only a sensuous experience but also a highly nutritious meal!
With all this in mind, here is my Valentines Day menu sure to ignite all senses!
- Fig, goat’s cheese and walnut salad (http://www.goodchefbadchef.com.au/recipe/fig-goats-cheese-and-walnut-salad/) – add a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds! Or
- Salmon Tataki – with the added bonus of dopamine boosting avocado! Try adding a touch of chilli to the dressing and a dusting of sesame seeds.
- Fresh tomato seafood pasta with rocket, almond and parmesan salad; or
- Slow cooked lamb tagine with saffron quinoa perfect for sharing.
- Chocolate and Almond truffles – use the darkest chocolate you can find and add a pinch of chilli to spice things up! (http://www.goodchefbadchef.com.au/recipe/chocolate-almond-truffles/); or
- Silky avocado and chocolate mousse with fresh raspberries.
Have a happy, healthy and love-filled Valentine’s Day everyone!
Loyola University Health System. “What falling in love does to your heart and brain.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140206155244.htm>.