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Spice up your Valentine's Day with some extra crunch

I should have known that taking little Belle dress shopping was a bad idea. At 18 months old, she is drawn like a magnet to anything unsuitable at best, dangerous at worst. This means she is a liability in public places, most specifically (but not limited to) Gibbons Company.

Still, I had a 45-minute window of opportunity in which to find a dress and 45 minutes only. The Lovely Husband and I had a work do to attend and having been pregnant or recently pregnant for much of the last four years, I had nothing that matched the occasion and the weather (this at least is what I told the LH, with a wobbly bottom lip for good measure). So, feeling slightly sick under all the pressure, I marched into Mango, swept four or five dresses off the rack and headed for the dressing room.

While Belle investigated the contents of my handbag, I tried on a fabulous but optimistically small little number. Just as I was stuck in the over-head removal of said dress, Belle made a run for it. There I was, head and elbows trapped in a frustrating combination of lace and lycra, with a baby on the loose. I would love to tell you that I raced to Belle's side with little thought to being a) blind, or b) naked from the neck down (save for one of those thongs you only put on because everything else is in the wash). It might have got me arrested, but would have given me some mother-of-the-year credits, surely. Needless to say, I didn't. In the heat of the moment it seems I weighed up the relative safety of Gibbons vs the horror of flashing the general public. Fortunately, after shaking off the dress with the vigour of a wet dog, I found Belle a few feet away, sitting in a box of coat hangers.

Much as I love my girls all the way to the moon and back it's moments like these that are a rather effective contraceptive. That's not a very romantic sentiment I know, especially with Valentine's Day around the corner. However if, unlike me, you haven't recently contemplated dashing through Gibbons in your knickers, and indeed are planning on expanding your family, this little recipe is for you.

Nuts and seeds have long been a source of virility and fertility boosting nutrients on the nutrition circuit. They are rich in the omega 3 fatty acids, folic acid, zinc and vitamin E that all help to support sexual health and libido. Usually I recommend raw, unroasted nuts and seeds as heating them to a high temperature can destroy the good fats. However, roasting them at home gently can add a great deal of flavour, without jeopardising nutritional value. This recipe adds a little sweetness and a spicy kick to a regular mix and is great as a snack with some fresh fruit. For all you love birds out there, the cayenne pepper helps to increase blood flow to the extremities. All of them!

Sweet & Spicy Nut and Seed Mix

Ingredients:

8oz raw almonds

8oz raw cashews

½ tsp salt

6oz plain dried soy beans/edamame

4oz pumpkin seeds

4oz sunflower seeds

2tbp light olive oil

2tsp smoked paprika

1½ tsp cayenne pepper

Freshly ground black pepper

1tsp agave syrup

Method:

1. If your almonds have skins on, blanch them. Do this by immersing them in boiling water for one minute, then drain them and pop off the skins. Blot dry.

2. Preheat the oven to 170F and line a large baking sheet with greaseproof paper.

3. Heat a large, heavy, non-stick pan over a medium heat. Throw in the almonds, cashews and salt (no oil yet) and toast for a few minutes.

4. Add the soy beans, seeds and oil and cook till they turn very lightly golden.

5. Sprinkle on the cayenne, paprika and black pepper and stir for another minute.

6. Add in the agave and toast for another minute or two until the syrup caramelises a little.

7. Tip the nuts onto the baking sheet and spread evenly. Cook in the oven for 20 minutes.

8. Leave to cool completely and then store in an airtight jar in the fridge.

The advice given in this article is not intended to replace medical advice, but to complement it. Always consult your GP if you have any health concerns. Catherine Burns BA Hons, Dip ION is a fully qualified nutritional therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the UK. Please note that she is not a registered dietitian. She can be contacted at nourishbda[AT]gmail.com

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Published February 10, 2012 at 1:00 am (Updated February 10, 2012 at 6:54 am)

Spice up your Valentine's Day with some extra crunch

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