When I was a young bride, we did what almost every Greek couple at the time used to do: head to our parents for Sunday lunch. I was living in Greece, so that inevitably meant heading to my in-laws, since my family was all in New York. Lunch was always centered by some sort of roast, potatoes or pilafi, salad, and various other mezedes and tidbits, but it invariably ended up with something sweet and very natural: a big bowl of walnuts generously drizzled with Greek honey. My mother-in-law would serve this with a wink. Hungry bears don’t dance, was the line she used. In other words, love-making needs sustenance.
Honey and nuts are, of course, an ancient, classic treat in this part of the world, one of the many combinations of ingredients that have defined Greek cooking for thousands of years. Together, they also happen to be Nature’s equivalent of Viagra! Greek Viagra. The kind that makes sated bears dance all night!
There’s always some truth to the old wives’ tales. Walnuts, one of the great plant-based proteins, are a rich source of vitamins B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2, giving the body energy and contributing to the sexual health of men. Walnut also contains vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin F, which are essential fatty acids our bodies cannot produce. And, they’re a great source of Zinc, which regulates testosterone levels in men.
What happens when you combine a handful of walnuts with a few spoonfuls of honey? Pure love. Honey contains the mineral boron, which helps women produce estrogen, and it also increases the level of nitric oxide, a chemical the blood produces during sexual arousal. Greek honey, hands down the best in the world, thanks to the incredibly rich flora that the country is blessed with and upon which bees feed, only makes the combination even tastier and more nutritious. (Read more about Greek honey here.)
So beyond the basic bowl full of walnuts drizzled with honey, there are lots of other ways in Greek cooking to enjoy these two energy-giving ingredients.
Prepare a salad with walnuts and honey for your lover. Tender greens, arugula, or baby spinach will do. Skip the onions. Add some shaved fennel, a couple of chopped figs (also boron-inducing and aphrodisiac in their own right), maybe some shaved parmesan or feta, a generous handful of toasted walnut halves, and a Greek honey vinaigrette, made by whisking together 1 part balsamic, ½ part Dijon mustard, 1 part Greek honey, 3 parts olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
Make an easy, gorgeous walnut-bulgur stuffed chicken breast with honey-glazed carrots as a main course, and serve up an easy dessert of walnut-honey baklava muffins. Save some for a post-Valentine’s Day breakfast, too!