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Cooling aphrodisiacs for summer nights

Sarah Caron is a Connecticut-based freelance writer and editor. She lives with her wonderful husband, two adorable kids and two funny beagles. Check out her food blog at Sarah's Cucina Bella.

Cool down to get hot

In the heat of summer, date night can get quite steamy. Cool things down a bit with these aphrodisiac-laden treats. Peachy champagne, dark chocolate-enrobed banana bites, gazpacho and toasted bread with classic basil pesto, fresh mozzarella and tomatoes are filled with arousing ingredients. Ready for a deliciously good time?

Couple with Tomato

Keep the heat out of the kitchen

If you enjoy a good date night at home, but hate having to heat up the kitchen, these cool summer recipes will satisfy your hunger while beating the heat. As a bonus, they all are ripe with aphrodisiacs -- perfect for when you are trying to heat things up the other way.

What is an aphrodisiac?

Aphrodisiacs are foods and other substances believed to increase a person's sex drive or desire (think Love Potion No. 9). So, serving up aphrodisiac foods is a subtle come-hither. While these might not have the same impact as a magical love potion in a movie, they are certainly tasty and definitely welcome on a hot evening.

Delicious aphrodisiacs

  • Tomatoes -- Tomatoes were called love apples when Europeans first saw them. According to the New York Times, the English thought that tomatoes were a deadly aphrodisiac and wouldn't eat the juicy red fruit (yes, tomatoes are a fruit). These days, we know better than to shun them.
  • Basil -- Nibble on a little basil and you might just notice an increased sex drive and improve your fertility. The leafy herb is said to increase blood flow, which is good for, you know, things...
  • Pine nuts -- Don't even think of trading those pine nuts for walnuts if you are trying to stimulate your man's sexual desire. These little cream-colored bits have a long history as an aphrodisiac, dating back to the Middle Ages when they were prescribed to alleviate performance anxiety. Seriously.
  • Garlic -- This aromatic herb might not be favorable to vampires, but it is another circulation-boosting food. And when it comes to sex, good blood flow is ultimately important to other things that need boosting.
  • Banana -- According to culinary genius Jamie Oliver, Adam and Eve used banana leaves to cover their private parts after succumbing to a bite of the forbidden apple (was that a love apple, by chance?). Between that and its phallic shape, it's no wonder the banana is considered an aphrodisiac.
  • Chocolate -- You cannot read about chocolate as an aphrodisiac without hearing about the Aztecs, who associated the substance with their fertility goddess. And let's face it: Eating chocolate can be a sensual experience in and of itself. Chocolate contains tryptophan, which helps increase serotonin -- a chemical that acts in the brain to generate feelings of euphoria.
  • Alcohol -- Alcohol lowers inhibitions, but too much can steal away the ability to have sex. So the debate as to whether it's an aphrodisiac or not goes on. Regardless, just enjoy in moderation (which is generally a good idea anyway).

Aphrodisiac Recipes

Gazpacho

Serves 4

Ingredients:
1/8 cup good-quality balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon sea salt
4 ripe tomatoes
1/2 cucumber, peeled
1/2 medium red onion
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 green bell pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 to 3 shakes Louisiana hot sauce
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Transfer the gazpacho to a tightly sealing container and chill for at least 12 hours before serving.

Classic Basil Pesto

Yields about 1 cup

Ingredients:
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt, to taste

Directions:
Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and process until combined.

Note: This pesto is fantastic when tossed with pasta, spread on bread or made into a toasty appetizer, as in the next recipe. 

Toasted Bread with Classic Basil Pesto, Mozzarella and Tomatoes

Serves 2

Ingredients:
4 (1-inch) slices Italian bread
2 tablespoons classic basil pesto (see above for recipe)
1 large tomato, cut into 4 slices
4 (1/2-inch) slices fresh mozzarella

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place the slices of Italian bread on a baking sheet and spread with pesto. Toast in the oven until golden, about 5 minutes.

2. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Top each piece of bread with a slice of tomato and a slice of mozzarella. Serve immediately.

Note: To keep kitchen heat to a minimum, toast the bread in a toaster oven.

Dark-Chocolate-Covered Frozen Banana Bites

Serves 2

Ingredients:
1 very ripe banana, cut into 1-inch chunks
4 ounces dark chocolate

Special items: Double boiler pan, waxed paper, toothpicks

Directions:
1. Place the banana chunks on waxed paper and stick a toothpick down the center of each. Freeze for at least 2 hours.

2. Fill the bottom of a double boiler pan with about 1 inch of water, place the top pan on and break the dark chocolate into it. Heat the water, stirring the chocolate until it's fully melted.

3. Tilt the pan and pull all the chocolate to one side. Then, roll each frozen banana chunk in the chocolate (use a spoon to coat, if necessary).

4. Place back on the waxed paper and return the banana chunks to the freezer until ready to eat.

Peachy Champagne

Serves 2

Ingredients:
4 ounces peach nectar, chilled
8 ounces champagne, chilled
2 slices fresh peach, chilled

Directions:
Divide the peach nectar into two champagne flutes. Top with champagne. Gently stir (just one swish). Garnish with a slice of fresh peach and serve.

more aphrodisiac foods

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