A Seductively Healthy Valentine’s Dinner

Source: Elizabeth Yarnell

What can you do to make a special Valentine’s Day dinner for your sweetie? Make it hot, make it healthy, and make it easy!

Studies show that spicy foods can raise your heart rate, cause flushing, and generally mimic some of the effects of sexual stimulation. For centuries, chiles and other heat-inducing ingredients have been added to love potions and other sensual aids to increase desire.

What’s a better aphrodisiac than showing someone that you love them enough to prepare deliciously healthy foods? Pomegranates, those exotic fruits containing a multitude of sensual, fleshy seeds inside a thick rind, not only offer a luscious crimson color but also come packed with antioxidants and phytochemicals.

Try this fabulously different recipe on your honey for Valentine’s Day. It’s sweet, spicy, inherently healthy, and couldn’t be easier to prepare or clean up.

Piri-Piri Pomegranate Chicken
“Piri-Piri” is an African term for hot and spicy. Control the amount of fire by adjusting the amount of cayenne pepper. This recipe is presented as mild-to-medium heat.

Olive oil
1 cup parboiled brown rice
1 cup water or broth
2–3 pieces chicken
1/2 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses*
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp. cayenne
Salt, to taste
18-20 Brussels sprouts, trimmed with shallow “x” cut into stem end
1-1/2 cup baby carrots, halved
1 cup oyster mushrooms, sliced thickly
Seeds from 1/2 pomegranate

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Spray or wipe the inside of a 2-quart Dutch oven and lid with olive oil.

Pour rice into pot and add liquid. Stir gently to coat grains and smooth into an even layer. Set chicken pieces on top in a single layer.

In a small bowl, mix together ketchup, honey, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, garlic, and cayenne pepper. Drizzle 1/2 mixture over top of chicken. Drop in Brussels sprouts and carrots and add the remaining mixture. Top with mushrooms and pomegranate seeds. Cover and bake for about 45 minutes or about 3 minutes after the aroma wafts from the oven. Serves 2.

You can use any combination of boneless, bone-in, skinless, or skin-on chicken pieces in this recipe.

* Look for pomegranate molasses in Middle Eastern markets or specialty or health food groceries.

Elizabeth Yarnell is author of the award-winning cookbook, Glorious One-Pot Meals: A new quick & healthy approach to Dutch oven cooking. Visit her at www.gloriousonepotmeals.com.