For many, a Valentine’s Day date night may stay in the living room, but that’s no reason to sacrifice any romantic vibes. Aromatic candles, roses on the table, some Sade on the hi-fi, and, most importantly, the right food and drink can turn just another night at home into an intimate evening.
Since ancient times, certain foods have inspired passion, romance, and, if all goes right, love. These aphrodisiacs are scientifically proven to get the blood pumping — though a food’s romantic quality is about more than just ingredients. Elements such as texture and the way a food is eaten can also enhance the romance of a dish.
So, this Valentine’s Day, if you opt for a date night at home, remember this: If you can stand the heat, get cooking in the kitchen.
8 Most Romantic Foods in the World
Chocolate, especially the dark kind, has been proven to increase production of dopamine, commonly known as the “pleasure chemical.” The Journal of Chemical Education also reports that dark chocolate contains phenylethylamine, a compound that releases the same endorphins we experience during sex. When selecting chocolates for that special someone, “go for at least 70% percent dark chocolate,” says Gabe Staub, a nutritionist and certified sports dietetics specialist. “Try truffles with sea salt, hints of rich berries, and a coating of different nuts.”
Chili peppers are well known to trigger endorphins that can raise your energy, boost your mood, and give you a natural high. That’s all thanks to capsaicin, a compound within chilis that Staub says can stimulate blood flow and increase the heart rate, as well as invigorate your metabolism. For a double dose of consumable romance, try a plate of chocolate-covered jalapeños. Even famously virile Aztec emperor Montezuma downed multiple chocolate and chili pepper drinks before visiting his lovely ladies each morning.
The voluptuously shaped and sensually smooth fig has been considered a symbol of passion and fertility for thousands of years. Even in the Bible, the waists of a nude Adam and Eve are described as covered up by fig leaves. Staub says, “Not only are figs delectable and divinely sweet, but they can help promote healthy digestion and may help manage blood glucose (sugar) levels due to their fiber content.” That’s a huge help on date night, as no one feels romantic when indigestion kicks in or their energy levels crash.
Whipped cream may not offer prime nutrition, but its luscious mouthfeel and decadent taste can put anyone in the mood. A dark chocolate cream pie is an enticing blend of two romantic foods, which can be supplemented with raspberries or sliced peaches — perfect for dipping in the cream and feeding to your partner. “Both fruits are rich in phytochemicals, vitamin C, and anthocyanin content,” Staub confirms, “which may help lower high blood pressure and reduce oxidative stress.” They can also ease inflammatory conditions.
When it’s time to get the heart pumping, the National Library of Medicine reports fresh-cut ginger is a surefire nervous system and circulatory stimulant. Staub credits gingerol, “a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory chemical, which is a large contributor to ginger’s health benefits.” Ginger could also serve as the prime catalyst in a sensuous hot oil massage, a perfect after-dinner wind down. Before starting the rubdown, though, pour yourselves two glasses of this sparkling ginger and pear cocktail.
Rich honey, especially the kind that comes from beehives in clover-covered meadows, is a fantastic source of sensual texture and flavor for many desserts, mixed drinks, and finger foods. Its bold nutritional content can also do wonders for overall wellness, Staub says. “Honey may assist in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and recent studies suggest its benefits range from helping with respiratory infections to acting as an antiviral, prebiotic, and anti-inflammatory,” he says. Honey is also used in a wine called mead. In fact, the term “honeymoon” originated from a medieval tradition of wedding guests gifting the couple mead to enjoy after the wedding.
Wine may be the most classic of all romantic consumables. A light and uplifting treat for all the senses, a combo of rosé, some rich, sweet finger foods, and fresh roses are an easy win. For couples who prefer full-bodied wine, the trio of red wine, chocolate cherries, and dark chocolate truffles will hit the spot — as well as ease bodily tension and promote a healthy mind. “Tannins, which may stabilize blood pressure, are often higher in full-bodied wines,” Staub says. And if you’re looking for a wine that helps with the mind, Staub recommends a pinot noir. “It contains the highest levels of resveratrol, a phytochemical thought to help with brain health.”
Fruits dipped in chocolate or caramel are classic romantic snacks, enhanced by your means of consumption — like feeding that special someone a confection-covered cherry or watching them slowly eat a drizzled strawberry. The composition of those two fruits can also enhance feelings of well-being. Both “help increase the mood-boosting endorphins dopamine and serotonin,” Staub says. “Dipping them in chocolate, especially chocolate with more than 70% cocoa as an ingredient, can only increase this experience,” he continues.Such treats can be found pre-dipped or, for an extra-sensual warming experience, prepared onsite with a fondue set.
Romantic food recipes for the perfect date night menu
To help you create the most romantic date night dinner, we put together a three-course menu (plus wine, of course) that will set just the right mood.
– Sharp white cheddar cubes, honey-drizzled walnuts, sea salt water crackers, and fig preserves
– Quinoa and farro with sautéed shrimp, served in an artichoke lemon pesto sauce
– Side salad of baby kale, pomegranate seeds, black olives, and feta cheese
– Or a one-pan salmon with creamy spinach recipe
– Whole strawberries and stemmed cherries, fresh whipped cream, and hot dark chocolate fondue for dipping
– Or a chocolate truffle lava cake