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7 Hacks for making a romantic holiday dinner that won’t put you to sleep


Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie… zzzzzz.

Many people equate Thanksgiving or other holiday festivities with a day of overeating and a sluggish aftermath. But what if you’d actually like to use the holiday to catch up on a little close time with your honey?

“There’s a reason why most people end up on the couch after holiday meals,” says Dr. Kellyann Petrucci, naturopathic physician and author of Dr. Kellyann’s Bone Broth Diet. “Many of the foods on a typical menu are heavy and loaded with sugar, and they knock you right out. But if you make a few little tweaks to your seasonal fare, you can still be frisky after dinner and dessert instead of winding up in a food coma.”

With that in mind, check out the following subtle shifts you can make to your holiday menu. The result could be a sexy feast that leaves you with ample energy for an after-dinner, over-the-river-and-through-the-woods romp.

1. Replace “pigs in a blanket” with “angels on horseback”

You’ve undoubtedly heard that oysters are an aphrodisiac. Well, there’s actually some real science behind that reputation. “Oysters are rich in zinc, which is associated with male potency,” says Dr. Petrucci. “They also contain two compounds — D-aspartic acid and NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) — that may help release sex hormones.” So if you’re planning hors d’oeuvres, Dr. Petrucci suggests you forget the pigs in a blanket — which can make you feel bloated and sluggish — and go for “angels on horseback” (oysters wrapped in bacon).

2. Sack the stuffing for a green vegetable sauté

The gluten in stuffing can be hard on your digestion according to Certified Holistic Nutritionist Carol Wasserman, CHHP, AADP. Not only will you feel full and well… stuffed, you may also get a headache and some gluten-sensitive people also report feeling irritable from it.

More: Gluten-free quinoa stuffing recipe

A sexier swap? A green vegetable sauté of items like kale, spinach and green beans. “Eating a bunch of greens will replenish your vitamin C and magnesium levels — making holiday stress much easier to deal with!” says Wasserman. “Plus, greens have antioxidants, which help your skin, and a healthy glowing complexion is definitely the sex kitten look.” 

3. Dress your turkey in herbs instead of onions/garlic

One word: Halitosis. There is nothing less sexy than bad breath (or less kissable). If you’d like your holiday to include a little mouth-to-mouth, ditch the breath offenders.

“Onions contain allin, an amino acid; when it is cut, allin turns to propenyl sulfenic acid, the chemical responsible for your mouth smelling like stinky socks!” says Registered Dietitian Sharon Richter. “Garlic absorbs allyl methyl sulfide into your bloodstream, which is transferred to the lungs and then to the air immediately surrounding the person you’re talking to, and not pleasant!”

Richter suggests replacing onions and garlic with milder herbs like cloves, anise and fennel seeds (all of which promote better breath). “Also, apples, carrots and celery will all scrub your teeth as you eat, helping to strip away those leftover bits of sticky stinky-ness,” says Richter. “And consider adding parsley which contains chlorophyll that may have a deodorizing effect in the mouth.” 

4. Yank the Yorkshire pudding and serve up saffron rice

Rather than serving Yorkshire pudding — which is loaded with milk, sugar, and flour that will put anyone to sleep — Dr. Petrucci suggests dishing up a side of saffron rice. “Queen Cleopatra bathed in saffron-infused water before her romantic interludes — and according to scientists, saffron appears to have mild Viagra-like effects,” says Dr. Petrucci.

5. Skip the sweet potato casserole, make roasted sweet potatoes instead

“All the sugar in a casserole is going to make your blood sugar jump and then crash so you’ll feel tired and cranky,” says Wasserman. “In addition, people often get indigestion from dairy — butter and cream from the casserole — and the combo with sugar makes it even more difficult to digest.”

A sexier bet? Bake sweet potatoes and leave on the skin. “Once you remove the skin you lose valuable nutrients like vitamin A,” says Wasserman. “Sweet potatoes have fiber, vitamins and minerals — combine with a healthy fat like pecans and a super-food like raisins and you will have steady blood sugar and lasting energy.” In other words, stamina baby… stamina.

6. Exchange cookies for dark chocolate

When it comes time for dessert (and we’re not talking the carnal kind yet), watch the sucrose spikes. Holiday cookies and pies are loaded with sugar, which saps your energy. Instead, make truffles or other desserts with dark chocolate. “Dark chocolate is fairly low in sugar and it contains phenylethylamine which causes your body to release the feel-good chemical dopamine,” says Dr. Petrucci. Dopamine is the same chemical responsible for that head-over-heels-in-love feeling you get when you’re with someone you’re loopy about. In other words, eat more chocolate… feel more love.

7. Axe the eggnog, add pomegranate and/or a cup of joe

Planning a nightcap? Then skip the eggnog — all that heavy cream will send you right to sleep — and put pomegranate cocktails on your menu instead. “A few years ago, researchers reported that pomegranate juice can lower cortisol levels, which may raise levels of testosterone in both men and women — and higher testosterone can increase libido,” says Dr. Petrucci. “And after the cocktails, have a little coffee since research suggests that a quick dose of java puts women in the mood.”

In other words, plan your menu and nightcaps wisely, and you just might be up all night for a good reason.

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