Top five multi-sensory foods
A quick Google will tell you that you that if you want to set pulses racing via your menu this Valentine’s Day then you should be upping the spice levels and serving up plenty of asparagus. But who ever felt sexy after several prongs of asparagus? Rather than focussing on foods packed with supposed aphrodisiac qualities, Rob Hobson tells us which ingredients we should be cooking with for a meal that will engage the senses, keep stress levels low and our energy high. Without a steak and peppercorn sauce in sight...
There are two definitions associated with the word sensuality. The first is defined as the enjoyment, expression or pursuit of physical, especially sexual, pleasure. The second is defined as a condition of being pleasing or fulfilling to the senses.
Food has long been a key player in the language of love and no better defined than in a quote by the author Virginia Wolfe: “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
Forget unproven aphrodisiac foods and focus on stimulating the senses. Eating is the only thing we do as humans that stimulates every one of our senses including taste, smell, touch, sound and sight. If you’re looking to create something special in the kitchen for your beloved, then get multi-sensory (for those of you that are old enough, think back to that famous scene in nine and a half weeks!).
TOP FIVE MULTI-SENSORY FOODS
This group of foods can truly heighten the sense of smell and flavour. It’s not just the end product but the cooking process as the oils released from these spices envelop the kitchen in a toxic haze of smells that stimulate the senses.
What is a dish without the addition of a fresh herb? Fresh herbs offer a vibrant green colour to dishes that stimulates our sight sense and also evoke a feeling of health (we do eat with our eyes after all). More importantly, fresh herbs truly stimulate our sense of taste as they range in flavour from aromatic, pungent, peppery and spicy. Add after your dish is cooked for maximum flavour impact. We also love an edible flower here at Detox Kitchen, and they are a beautiful way to decorate dishes.
OK, it is Valentine’s Day after all, and chocolate is considered to be the food of love! When we talk about chocolate, we mean it in its rawest form. There is a little truth in this saying as raw cacao or cocoa powder (unsweetened of course) is rich in phenylethylamine, which is a compound that stimulates the central nervous system and acts a mild mood booster. Cacao and banana pudding to get you in the mood anyone?
Nuts and seeds
These highly nourishing foods help to stimulate the sense of sound as they add a crunch to dishes. This is the forgotten sense but does have a stimulating effect (remember how good it felt to eat popping candy as a kid). You can add nuts and seeds to any dish and remember to toast them first for extra crunch.
Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables
Nothing is less appealing than beige food, so stimulate the sense of sight by making foods highly colourful with fruits and vegetables. Explore foods outside your comfort zone such as beetroot, purple potatoes and kohlrabi. Some fruits also look highly sensual such as ripe figs and pomegranates, so make the most of these, which can also be added to savoury dishes.
Rob Hobson is a registered nutritionist (BSc, MSc, AFN), published author and food writer. Rob has 15 years of experience working with some of the UK’s leading food companies, government agencies, NHS and private clients as well as regularly writing in the media for publications including the Daily Mail online.