Almonds: Almonds are an ancient symbol of fertility. Marzipan is a wonderful sweet almond paste, purported to have originated in Persia and migrated into the Mediterranean.Try Cherry Almond Orange Biscotti or Green Beans with Almonds. Romesco Sauce is a wonderful accompaniment made from almonds, roasted peppers and olive oil, and is fantastic on fish, meats, vegetarian platters and bruschetta.
Anise or Fennel: Aniseed was used by the ancient Greeks and Romans, fennel by the Egyptians. This licorice scented plant was believed to have special libido enhancing powers. Try Fennel and Apple Salad; Fennel and Apple Slaw; White Bean and Fennel Salad; or Baked Halibut with Fennel.
Arugula: Arugula is another plant used in ancient cultures as an aphrodisiac. Try Arugula, Avocado and Asparagus Salad; Smoked Salmon Batons; Arugula, Avocado and Corn Salad; or Arugula, Avocado and Feta Salad.
Asparagus: Eating asparagus with our fingers or feeding it to one another can be quite sensuous. Try Roasted Asparagus on Greens;, Asparagus and Sugar Snap Salad;Steam Sautéed Asparagus with Ginger; Sautéed Tofu and Asparagus.
Avocado: The ancient Aztecs called the avocado the "testicle tree". In addition to the recipes listed above, try Zesty Guacamole or simply slice an avocado and eat with a sprinkling of sea salt and lime. Delish! Strawberry, Avocado, Endive and Baby Spinach Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette brings multiple aphrodisiac ingredients to the table (see berries and almonds -the latter being an optional addition in the variations). This luscious salad makes a great starter or palate cleanser after the entree.
Basil: Sweet basil is believed to help sex drive and fertility, as well as being a body/spirit refresher. Try Creamy Spinach and Basil Soup; Tomato, Basil and Leek Soup; Creamy Polenta with Corn and Basil.
Broccoli Rabe or Mustard Seed: This plant is a member of the brassica family, which includes mustard. These plants (and their seeds) are believed to enhance desire and virility. Try Sautéed Broccoli Rabe with Garlic and Chilies; the fabulous Broiled Salmon with Mustard and Herbs; or Quinoa Salad with Mustard Seed, Walnuts and Tarragon.
Chocolate: Aztec and Mayan cultures revered cacao as food of the Gods, and we now know that dark chocolate contains powerful antioxidants as well as "feel good" chemicals that affect women in particular. Try Fresh Fruits with Chocolate Sauce; Double Chocolate Biscotti; or Vegan Chocolate Pudding. For an extra special and spectacularly rich finale, try Gluten Free Chocolate Hazelnut Torte.
Figs: The fig is one of the more obvious sensual foods, and its visual impact is probably its strongest aphrodisiac quality. In Italy fresh figs are served with a bowl of water and eaten with the fingers. We love them with a bit of fresh lime juice, which balances their native sweetness and enhances flavor. Try Baked Figs with Walnut Cream or Fresh Figs with Almond Cream for a luscious finish to a sensual meal.
Ginger: Ginger root is not an aphrodisiac per se, but stimulates circulation and as such is certainly complementary as a "love food". Try a delicious non-alcoholic Ginger Drink; a Soy-Ginger Marinade for fish, tofu or chicken; Ginger Sautéed Shrimp; Sesame Ginger Dressing; Ginger Miso Glazed Salmon; Quinoa with Mushrooms and Ginger; or Luscious Vegan Ginger Cake.
Oysters: Oysters are rich in nutrients, Omega-3 fatty acids, taurine and protein, with virtually no fat. Try Oysters Rockefeller Redux for a healthy version of this old classic.
Raspberries, Blueberries and Strawberries: These beautiful little wonders are exquisite on their own, fun to feed to one another, and are rich in vitamins and anti-oxidants. Try Macerated Strawberries; Berry Sorbet; Vegan Strawberry Mousse; Berry Parfait; or French Blueberry Pie.