Health & Wellness and Nourish UNH hold aphrodisiac cooking class


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Bret Belden

University of New Hampshire (UNH) Health & Wellness and Nourish UNH peer educators held an aphrodisiac cooking class as part of their cooking series “What’s Cooking?” and Health & Wellness’ “Sextober” on Thursday. Maddie Anastasia, a senior dietetics major, and Meredith Parvin, a senior dietetics and eco-gastronomy major, led the class of students in baking chocolate chip banana bread and cooking pasta with pumpkin sauce. Both instructors have been part of Nourish UNH for almost two years.  

The two aphrodisiac ingredients for these recipes are chocolate and pumpkin. Anastasia explained that aphrodisiacs are foods that increase sexual desire. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), however, has said that there is no link between certain foods and libido because the chemicals in food that would trigger that response are so small. This fact did not stop Anastasia and Parvin as they led the class during the cooking demonstration. 

Students were welcome to ask questions, talk to their neighbors, and give their opinion on Food Network shows, making for a relaxed and low-pressure environment. All cooking experience levels were welcome into the class, although almost no one in the class had cooked with pureed pumpkin, cooking wine or sage before. Students got to watch a live cooking demonstration, feel some of the foods going into pots and pans, and in the end, taste the creations.  

Anastasia and Parvin set up the class so everything was clearly defined and seen so students could follow along with the recipe. During the instruction the peer educators give tips like adding pumpkin puree to oatmeal, adding sausage to the pumpkin pasta, and how to tell when muffins are done baking. The printed out recipes that also included fun nutrition facts about the food being cooked.  

The recipes were decided before class at a meeting for Nourish UNH. Anastasia said that they picked a pumpkin sauce for the pasta because pumpkin is an aphrodisiac, fitting into the theme, and it’s an iconic fall food. The chocolate chip banana bread was chosen because chocolate is one of the most well-known aphrodisiacs. 

“I think this is a good alternative to classroom setting. There’s not a lot of opportunities for students to learn how to cook hands-on,” Anastasia said. She went on to explain that it’s a good opportunity for students to see how a recipe is made, ask questions and try it to see if they like it.  

“It’s also free so it’s accessible to everyone,” Parvin said. “If they just want to come, hang out, try some food, learn about nutrition.”  

The cooking classes for the rest of the semester are scheduled for Oct. 30, Nov. 13 and 27, and Dec. 4. They are from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the Demonstration Kitchen in the Hamel Recreation Center. Although the event is free for all students, you must register beforehand at Every demonstration includes foods that are easy to prepare and are easy on a college student’s budget.