Fantasize fillet mignon enrobed in a buttery bordelaise sauce, snuggled up to truffled mashed potatoes, followed by a triple chocolate torte decorated with candy hearts for Valentine’s Day. Romantic,yes? Wouldn’t a meal such as this light the fire for an evening d’amour with my hubby? Not unless said romantic evening means staggering from the table, clutching one another, then tumbling into the couch in a high caloric stupor.
Although my sentiments are always appreciated, sometimes the aftermath of these carefully constructed Valentine’s Day menus bring us more antacid-relieved punishment than amorous bliss. Therefore this year I’m forgoing my usual “romantic” meal in favor of simple pleasures; oysters on the half shell, followed by a roasted root vegetable salad, finished with chocolate-dipped figs.
Chocolate-dipped strawberries are a classic Valentines Day treat, so why not figs. According to dozens of (albeit questionable) web sites, the ancient sweet and juicy fig is loaded with powerful aphrodisiacal powers and associated with fertility and love; a favorite of Cleopatra. I’ll buy that – she was a sultry temptress. The science behind the health properties of figs are more conclusive. Figs are packed with nutritional goodness, and a host of medical web sites, including Mayo Clinic’s, touts them as a good source of iron, phosphorus, calcium and fiber.
So why don’t I just give these power packs of passion a double whammy, and dip them into dark chocolate, another darling in the I-love-it-and-it’s-healthy food world. According to a slideshow article in the Huffington Post, “..Regular chocolate eaters welcome a host of benefits for their hearts, including lower blood pressure, lower “bad” LDL cholesterol and a lower risk of heart disease.”
As well, one of the latest studies published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that individuals who consumed chocolate more frequently had a lower BMI (Body Mass Index, which uses measurements of height to weight to assess body fat) than those who consumed it less often. (The study goes on to say those individuals also exercised 3.6 times a week. Whatever.)
The article I’m referencing also includes a quote from Dr. David Katz, founding director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, about chocolate and feeling sated, which rings true from my experience.
“It may be that people who make it a regular part of their routine know that it (chocolate) really gets the job done,” Katz said. “They think ‘If I need a bit of pleasure, I’m not going to try and eat 11 other things first.'” He explained that what matters often in weight control is the number of calories it takes for people to feel full and satisfied, which accounts for why high calorie foods like walnuts can actually help people maintain their weight.”
Walnuts? Did he mention walnuts? Why don’t I just give a triple wallop to those doubly decadent treats by dunking the chocolate covered figs in walnuts. Eureka! As my friend Marty put it, “You may be on to something.”
I’m killing two birds, incidentally, with the following recipe. Marty’s birthday falls around Valentine’s Day; she’s a local yoga teacher and uber health food junkie, and she appreciated my gift to her of a box of these figalicious treats. In retrospect, I could have giving them more VDay pizazz with a sprinkle of red raspberry sugar. Just a tad, mind you; don’t want lover-boy blitzing into a sugar haze after the main course.