Valentine’s Day Vegetable Love

My vegetable love should grow vaster than empires

“To his Coy Mistress,” by Andrew Marvell

For Valentine’s Day, skip the Viagra, go for vegetables. Plant-based foods aren’t just good for you, they can make you feel good, too. Real good. They’re edible aphrodisiac and they’re available without a prescription.

Carrots are rich in vitamin A, which ramps up progesterone. Celery is high in vitamin C, friend of all the sex hormones. Fennel, too, is C-rich and also has that licorice thing going. Studies show the mere scent of licorice can jumpstart blood flow down below. And just think about fennel, celery and carrots, how they look. They’re long, firm and erect, providing inspiring visual cues. They’re plant porn.

Zinc, the go-to mineral for guy sex, keeps sperm and heart pumping. It’s found in oysters, long considered an aphrodisiac (although not for the oyster), but also in animal-friendly legumes, oatmeal and nuts. Almonds in particular have amatory properties, being fragrant and shaped like a woman’s hips. They’re also rich in vitamin E, which benefits the bod, and in B vitamins, which top off your testosterone.

Leafy greens, barley, beans, nuts, artichokes and that very sexy fruit, the fig are my treasured sources for magnesium, which releases happy-making drugs in the brain. So does chocolate (hey, cacao is a bean). I would happily go on (and on) about vegetable love, about Andrew Marvell and other metaphysical poets, but I had you at chocolate, didn’t I? So here, for Valentine’s Day, is a chocolate raspberry tart, made with love and plants.

Chocolate Raspberry Tart

May be prepared a day or two in advance. Keeps well-covered and chilled for several days. If it lasts that long.

Almond Crust

1 cup raw almonds, frozen

1/2 cup spelt flour

4 tablespoons almond, walnut or coconut oil

1 tablespoon evaporated cane sugar *

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly oil a 9-inch pie pan. If you have one with a removable bottom, it works beautifully for this recipe.

Using a food processor, pulse and process the nuts for several seconds until they become about the size of graham cracker crumbs. Freezing the nuts keeps them from turning to nut butter, and they keep frozen indefinitely.

Add the spelt flour to the ground nuts and pulse again. Pour into nut mixture into a medium bowl. Work in the nut or coconut oil and cane sugar. Press into the pie pan and freeze again briefly, about 15 minutes. Then bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the crust is toasty-smelling and golden brown. Turn off the oven and set piecrust aside to cool.

Chocolate Raspberry Filling

3/4 cup coconut milk (full fat)

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces

1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam

1 tablespoon chambord** or rum

1 teaspoon vanilla

While the pie crust cools, heat the coconut milk in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat until heated through but shy of boiling. Add chocolate pieces. Turn off heat, place the lid on the saucepan and let the chocolate melt, about 8 minutes.

Remove the lid and stir until chocolate is totally dissolved and mixture is thick and creamy. Stir in the raspberry jam, chambord or rum and vanilla.

Pour the filling into the cooled pie crust and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours. You may also freeze the pie.

Serve with fresh, local berries — it’s Florida strawberry season!

Serves 8 to 10.

* Sugar processed in an animal-friendly fashion. Available in supermarkets and natural food stores.

** French raspberry liqueur.


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