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Valentine's Dinner To Satisfy More Than Your Taste Buds

Valentine's Dinner To Satisfy More Than Your Taste Buds

While planning your Valentine’s Day dinner, it’s important to also keep your post-dessert treat in mind. We’d hate to see your date night end unceremoniously due to a poorly planned meal, so we’ve put together a few menu ideas to satisfy more than just your taste buds.

Keep it light and balanced

Preparing a stellar dinner using your Made In Cookware can lay the groundwork for later success—but some foods can increase your chances even more. Before diving into specifics, a good rule of thumb is to keep it light and save the rich foods for a night with an earlier bedtime. Hold off on heavy cream, carb-heavy, and super high protein meals (looking at you: cream sauce, risotto, and tomahawk steak). Instead, whip up a well-balanced dish with equal parts of protein, carbs, and vegetables like seared salmon, quinoa pilaf, and sautéed greens.

Travis Yewell on Upsplash

Photo by Travis Yewell on Unsplash

Load up on nutrients

These foods all have one key benefit: improving blood flow, which comes in handy when the opportunity arises. Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are essential for a number of things, including combating inflammation, maintaining brain function, and protecting against metabolic diseases, but they also can stimulate blood circulation through vasodilation, or the relaxation of blood vessels. More relaxed blood vessels = more blood flow.

Pilaf with nuts and sautéed greens add another key nutrient to the equation: magnesium. Research strongly supports the role of magnesium in maintaining healthy levels of sex hormones, particularly testosterone levels. Optimal testosterone production is essential for both men and women to maintain not only sexual function, but also sex drive. In fact, a recent study showed that low levels of magnesium was linked to erectile dysfunction in men. Great sources of magnesium are dark leafy greens, like spinach and Swiss chard, and nuts and seeds, such as pumpkin seeds, brazil nuts, almonds, and cashews.  To make a killer pilaf, toast slivered almonds in your Made In sauce pan, then add in quinoa and chicken stock, and cook until the quinoa is light and fluffy.

Photo by Natalia Y on Unsplash

Another blood flow supporter is nitric oxide. Nitric oxide, not to be confused with nitric acid, also acts as a vasodilator, similar to omega-3s. While it is produced naturally in our bodies, fruits and vegetables can boast the levels of nitric acid even more.  A particular amino acid, citrulline, converts to nitric oxide and has been shown to increase levels of nitric acid. While not the ideal food for Valentine’s Day, watermelon is the best source of citrulline – keep this knowledge in your back pocket for summer romance.

Don't forget dessert

Lastly, round out your meal with a bit of dark chocolate. Not only is dark chocolate a good source of magnesium, but a study published in 2007 showed that it increases the production of nitric oxide, too. Eating dark chocolate can also increase circulating dopamine levels, a neurotransmitter in the brain closely tied to rewards. For the nervous types, dopamine also acts to inhibit the release of norepinephrine leading to feelings of relaxation. And finally, dark chocolate has just a bit of caffeine to help you power through the next hour (or two?).

Photo by Charisse on Unsplash

With these tips, get to cooking up your best Valentine’s Day ever—both in and out of the kitchen.

Ashley Reaver is a registered dietitian who is passionate about all things food. A home chef herself, she enjoys educating those she works with about their health and wellness and loves to share her tips and tricks in the kitchen. Ashley cooks with Made In. Follow her @myweeklyeats. 



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