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Aphrodisiacs à la carte: 14 sexy Valentine's Day recipes

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Over the years, everything from strawberries to saffron has been touted as an aphrodisiac. Some foods contain chemicals or compounds said to heighten pleasure – chocolate, for instance, is a source of the so-called love chemical phenylethylamine – or enhance the libido. Others have a sensual texture or fragrance (like vanilla and honey) or are suggestively shaped (hello, bananas).

Whether or not you believe in the power of aphrodisiacs, it can't hurt to cook your special someone one of these delicious treats this Valentine's Day.

Starters

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Roasted asparagus, fennel and avocado salad: The sexiest of salads - asparagus and fennel are said to pump up your libido while avocado is supposed to get people in the mood because of its suggestive shape and the fact that it grows in pairs and hangs low on tree branches.

Pear ginger fennel salad: Perhaps because of its curvy shape, the pear is seen as an aphrodisiac in some cultures. Ginger and fennel add a chemical component to the dish.

Drinks

Honey-basil lemonade: Honey's a source of boron, which helps the body use estrogen and some claim increases testosterone. Combined with basil's sensual aroma and well, let's just say, you don't need alcohol to get in the mood.

Love Potion No. 9: You'll fall head over heels for this brandy-based cocktail, sweetened up with honey and ginger.

Mains

Oysters in love: One of the most famous aphrodisiacs (its high zinc content apparently increases libido) cooked to soft, melty perfection.

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Ginger chili oil: A spicy oil that'll get your heart racing – perfect in a stir fry.

Chili-rubbed chicken breasts with honey sauce: Endorphin-triggering chili peppers and libido-boosting honey guarantee a night that's anything but boring.

Sparkling oysters: It's said that Casanova ate 50 oysters a day (for breakfast!). Sadly for him, his weren't covered in champagne sauce and breadcrumbs.

Desserts

Chocolate-ginger parfait with figs: Because of their appearance when opened, figs have long been considered an aphrodisiac. Combine them with stimulating ginger and pleasure-activating chocolate for a dessert you won't forget.

Gingered bananas: Ginger kicks your circulatory system into high gear, and some say it increases sensitivity in erogonous areas.

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Chocolate almond cake: This decadent cake is full of almonds, which supposedly ignite passion in women.

Chocolate mousse with saffron foam: Spice up your dessert (and love life) with saffron, which University of Guelph researchers say improves sexual performance.

Chili chocolate truffles: The hint of fiery chili in this chocolate confection will get your heart racing before you even leave the dinner table.

Bananas foster: Bananas, a supposed male libido-booster, cooked in rum and served over ice cream.

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