The Power Of Food

In honour of upcoming Mother’s Day, I thought a few words on aphrodisiacs (known for their alleged ability to help turn women into mothers) might be appropriate. Many may argue that dietitians have no business dabbling in aphrodisiacs, but it is spring and, after all, our business is the effect of food on the body.

The first aphrodisiac was, of course, the apple… and we know where that got us. The next historical mention of aphrodisiacs is in the form of powdered unicorn horn. This says something for mind over matter, since the unicorn never actually existed, never mind his horn.

Most aphrodisiacs consist of a regular food with a certain something added; some contain a variety of odd and noxious substances — the more noxious the better. When frog legs and snails were first introduced into French cuisine, their main function was as an aphrodisiac — similar to eye of newt, dried lizard, starfish, camel fat and crocodile tails. Now frog legs and snails are usually thought of and eaten as a delicacy.

Ginseng has long been considered to be an aphrodisiac and oysters are regarded as a modern-day one. Almonds, herring, anchovies, tuna and eels have all been cited for their aphrodisiacal qualities. Contrary to what one might think (owing to their strong odour), onions and garlic are also claimed by many to be aphrodisiacs.

Truffles are high on the list of love vegetables. Strawberries are traditionally supposed to be among the most sensual of fruit and dipped in chocolate, they can’t be beat.

The preceding is all rather tongue in cheek. The more serious part of the article for those of you who are mothers, have a mother, are thinking of becoming a mother, or even know a mother, is that one of the best food-related gifts one can give is a food that’s rich in calcium. For that traditional breakfast in bed that often greets Mom on Mother’s Day, try the following:

RICOTTA PANCAKES

1 c. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

2 tsp. sugar

1 c. ricotta cheese

3/4 c. buttermilk (OR 3/4 c. milk plus 1 tbsp. vinegar)

2 eggs

1 tbsp. orange zest (optional)

Combine all the dry ingredients. Beat the liquid ingredients together and gradually add them to the dry. With an egg beater, combine all until mixed. Heat frying pan or griddle until a couple of drops of water “skitter around” the pan. Spoon the batter on and turn the pancakes when they are puffed and full of bubbles. Depending on how large you make them, you should have approx. 16 4-inch pancakes. They may be served with maple syrup or the following cranberry-orange sauce:

CRANBERRY-ORANGE SAUCE

1/2 c. sugar

1 tbsp. cornstarch 1-1/2 c. orange juice

2 c. fresh OR frozen cranberries

Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer and cook until berries have all burst and sauce is thickened.

Have a Happy Mother’s Day.

Helen Bishop MacDonald is a consulting nutritionist in the agricultural industry.

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