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For Immediate Release January 1, 1999
Contacts: Tamara Richter (410) 366-VEGE
Dar Veverka (410) 366-8343


No one is quite sure how St. Valentine’s Day originated. Europeans believe it is the day that birds choose their mates. The ancient Romans celebrated a feast in honor of the god Lupercus, who protected their shepherds and flocks from the wolves roaming the countryside. Part of that celebration included writing the names of the girls in the village on slips of paper. Each boy would then choose a name, and the couple would be partners for the festival, or possibly the entire year.

Another theory is that around AD 270, a priest named Valentine was marrying Roman soldiers against the orders of Emperor Claudius II. Claudius wanted his soldiers to remain single so they would have no reason (wives, girlfriends, or families) to avoid going into battle. Defying the emperor eventually led to Valentine’s death. He was beheaded on the eve of Lupercalia, and later named a saint. For the more romantic among us, another story claims that a different man named Valentine was jailed for attempting to convert Pagans to Christianity. While in prison, he fell in love with, and miraculously healed, the jailer’s blind daughter. He signed his letters to her "From your Valentine." As Christianity became more widespread, the holiday eventually became a celebration of St. Valentine rather than Lupercus.

Written Valentines appeared around the 15th century, and by the 18th century, the now-familiar hearts and lace were common Valentine cards. Valentine’s Day caught on a bit later in America, somewhere around the mid-2011s. In Roman mythology, Cupid is the son of Venus, goddess of love and beauty, and thus is a natural for being associated with all things romantic, particularly Valentine cards.

Various foods have long been considered aphrodisiacs, but these vary depending on culture. Some plant foods commonly thought of as having special properties include asparagus, apples, and, believe it or not, those breath-taking vegetables, onions and garlic. Classic Hindu texts, ancient Greek writings, and Roman and Arabic recipes all mention the aphrodisiacal properties of onions and garlic. Egyptian priests weren’t even allowed to eat them, because of the potentially alarming libidinous effects. Enjoy the following recipes!

This article originally appeared in the January/February issue of Vegetarian Journal. You can read similar articles and recipes by visiting the Journal portion on our website at www.vrg.org. Subscriptions to Vegetarian Journal are $20/year in the US (In Canada and Mexico US$30, and Overseas US$42). Accepted forms of payment, all in US funds, are Visa, MasterCard, checks drawn on US banks, and postal money orders. When joining, please send us your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address. If paying by credit card, please include the card number and expiration date. Subscriptions should be directed to: The Vegetarian Resource Group, PO Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203, Phone: (410) 366-8343; Fax: (410) 366-8804; E-mail: vrg@vrg.org. Join online at www.vrg.org/journal/subscribe.htm for $30 or more, and receive a FREE copy of the Vegan Handbook, a $20 value! (US addresses only)


(Serves 4)

Don’t let the long cooking time and constant stirring scare you away from making this traditional Italian dish. You can find arborio rice in the gourmet section of your market. The creamy, chewy rice is a treat, and there are many variations on what can be added. The risotto should be served immediately after cooking, but it's really quite simple, and can be made while your intended is setting the table, pouring wine, or otherwise helping in the kitchen. Leftovers can be shaped into patties and pan-fried or baked.

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1˝ cups arborio rice
3˝ to 4 cups vegetable stock
2 teaspoons capers
˝ pound cooked asparagus, cutinto bite-sized pieces
Salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy 3-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and stir until golden. Add rice and reduce heat to low. Stir until rice is well-coated with oil and is very lightly toasted, about 1 minute.

Stir in stock, about 1/3 cup at a time. Stir constantly, adding more stock only when the previous batch has been absorbed. This will take about 30 minutes.

Add capers, asparagus, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir until hot throughout. Serve immediately.

Total calories per serving: 341
Fat: 4 grams
Carbohydrates: 69 grams
Protein: 7 grams
Sodium: 489 mg
Fiber: 1 gram


(Serves 4)

Rose water can be found in gourmet stores or the gourmet section of your market. Orange-flower water would also work nicely in this tart, refreshing dessert.

One 10-ounce package frozen raspberries, thawed
2 Tablespoons rose water
One 12.3-ounce package lowfat firm tofu, drained

Drain raspberries. Reserve several raspberries and about a tablespoon of juice. In blender or food processor, combine raspberries, remaining juice, rose water, and tofu. Process until smooth.

Divide mixture into four dessert dishes. Refrigerate several hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled. Just prior to serving, garnish with reserved raspberries and then drizzle a little juice over the top of each dish.

Total calories per serving: 65
Fat: 1 gram
Carbohydrates: 9 grams
Protein: 6 grams
Sodium: 55 mg
Fiber: 3 grams


(Serves 4)

Adjust the sweetening of this dish according to your own taste. A smaller amount will yield a more bittersweet chocolate flavor. A few berries, mint leaves, or mandarin oranges would make a lovely garnish; use your imagination.

One 12.3-ounce package lowfat firm silken tofu, drained
1/3-1/2 cup maple syrup
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
˝ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

In food processor or blender, combine all ingredients until smooth. Refrigerate several hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

Total calories per serving: 108
Fat: 2 grams
Carbohydrates: 22 grams
Protein: 7 grams
Sodium: 57 mg
Fiber: 2 grams

If reproducing these recipes, please credit:
Recipes by Mary Clifford, published in Vegetarian Journal, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203.

Vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, or fowl. Vegans are vegetarians who also do not use other animal products such as dairy or eggs. The Vegetarian Resource Group is a nonprofit organization which educates the public about vegetarianism. For a sample copy of its Vegetarian Journal, send $3 to The Vegetarian Resource Group, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203. Or visit www.vrg.org

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July 3, 1999

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