Almond joy: Nutty aphrodisiac for Valentine’s Day
Tying first place on the A-(phrodisiac) List, knocking the lowly oyster (loaded with mercury, cadmium and PCB’s) out of the running, and neck-and- neck with bittersweet chocolate is the divine, heart-healthy, nutrient-dense almond. Here are this beaut’s sexy little secrets to help revv up your sweetie’s engine for Valentine’s Day and always.
Kudos to the seductive little seed with its sensual shape and heady aroma that has been arousing passion since Biblical times, being one of the earliest cultivated foods. Samson pursued Delilah with almond branches, and although he picked the wrong girl, this ill-fated romance did not tarnish almonds’ reputation as a love charm or symbol.
Ancient Romans showered newlyweds with the elliptical nut as a token of fertility. The aromatic almond has been praised by scribes throughout history, including Nefzawi, the 13th century author of “The Perfumed Garden of Sensual Delight,” who prescribed 20 almonds and 100 grains of pine tree blended with a viscous glassful of honey as a bedtime love tonic to boost sexual energy.
Almond’s aphrodisiac appeal stems from the mother lode of heart-protective, fertility enhancing Vitamin E and zinc, along with phosphorous and dietary fiber for a euphoric sense of well-being. As an added boon, almonds contain the monounsaturated “friendly” fats; phytonutrients like magnesium and calcium for strong bones; the same anti- inflammatory resveratrol found in red wine; antioxidants; cancer-preventive alpha-tocopherol; and provide a protein and Vitamin B powerhouse to endow one with an oomph of vitality on V-Day.
This super food has also been found to put the skids on hangover symptoms if a handful is eaten before imbibing (and that’s always a plus for passion).
For your special honey on Feb. 14 whip up some delightful almond dishes throughout the day.
• For a flirtatious breakfast or brunch, serve a frothy almond mango smoothie or frozen mocha almond shake, almond ginger pear scones, honey almond cream with fresh berries or almond lavender crème brûlée French toast.
• For a playful lunch, make heart-shaped almond butter and jelly sandwiches, an almond jade shrimp stir fry, Greek spinach and almond salad or a bowl of refreshing muscatel grape and almond gazpacho.
• Plan a seductive dinner with almond-crusted baked salmon and a side of Portobello mushrooms stuffed with toasted almonds, quinoa and pomegranate seeds, or pounded chicken breasts rolled and filled with ground almonds, lemon zest and mascarpone cheese.
• Snack on them straight up, raw or roasted, sweet or sun-dried tomatoes savory dressed with and Italian herbs, cumin and lime, honey glazed with sea salt or au natural.
• Dip warm pita bread into exotic almond dukkah (a Moroccan blend of nuts, herbs and spices).
• For blissful desserts, tease the palate with heart-healthy dark chocolate almond brownies with 60 percent or more cocoa content, amaretto and roasted almond cheesecake or cranberry almond biscotti with a nice dollop of almond gelato.
Chocolate Almond Joy Butter
Ingredients:• 2 cups raw almonds
• 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
• 1 teaspoon honey (clover, blossom, your choice)
• A few drops of coconut extract
• 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Method:Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Spread almonds on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake until toasted, about 10 minutes. Let cool. In a food processor, grind the chocolate into tiny pieces. Add the nuts and sea salt, and continue processing until desired smoothness is reached. Blend in honey and flavorings. For chunky, toss in a handful of nuts at the end.
Cook’s Tip: Nut butters get hard when refrigerated, so soften at room temperature before eating.
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