May is Mental Health Awareness month. Your mood is part of your mental well-being and what you eat can have a significant impact on how you think and feel.
Most of us know about foods that can affect our mood in a not-so-good way like sugar, ultra-processed foods, fast foods and other low vitamin and mineral rich foods.
Nonetheless, there are still foods that can cheer us up! To name a few….
Good Mood Food:
Brazil Nuts – Oxidative stress (or an overabundance of free radicals in the brain) can lead to depression. Brazil nuts are rich in selenium, a powerful anti-oxidant that inhibits oxidative stress and therefore lowers your risk of developing depression and improves your mood.
Walnuts – Walnuts are rich in mood boosting Omega 3’s. These essential fats are highly concentrated in our brain. Emerging research is showing they can be an effective therapy for mood disorders.
Strawberries – Strawberries are rich in phytonutrients which help protect our brains from oxidative stress and therefore put you in a good mood. Even being near a strawberry plant has been shown to improve moods significantly.
Pineapple – Pineapple is rich in tryptophan, an essential amino acid. Tryptophan is transferred to your brain (especially in the presence of carbohydrates) to make serotonin. Increased levels of serotonin in your brain can elevate your mood.
Popcorn – Popcorn is rich in complex carbohydrates. Carbohydrates stimulate your brain’s production of the “feel-good” neurotransmitter serotonin.
Cashews – Cashews are rich in magnesium. This important mineral assists with brain pathways that when functioning correctly can improve mood disorders. Not only that it works to keep us calm which is why it has earned the name “the original chill pill.”
Chocolate – Chocolate is the #1 food that can boost your mood! It not only improves your mood but makes you feel calmer and more content. It also contains chemicals that simulate the feeling of being “in love” so why wouldn’t that put us in a good mood!
FUN FACT: Nutrition psychology is an emerging field of study that examines the effect of food on our emotional well-being.
NO BAKE RECIPES
Recipe 1: Tropical Strawberry Mix
1 cup of walnuts
½ cup dried strawberries – if possible no sugar added
½ cup organic pineapple pieces – no sugar added
1/8th – ¼ cup organic coconut flakes
1 cup raw almonds
Measure out all ingredients into a bowl.
Mix together and serve.
Recipe 2: Goji Pop Trail Mix
1 cup of cashews
¼ – ½ cup goji berries – no sugar added
¼ – ½ cup goldenberries – no sugar added
1 cup popcorn – I used skinny pop
Measure out all ingredients into a bowl.
Mix together and serve.
OVEN BAKED RECIPES
Recipe 3: Chickpea Snack Mix
1-15 ounce can chickpeas – drained and rinsed
½ tablespoon unrefined coconut oil
½ tablespoon pure maple syrup
Sprinkle to taste – cinnamon, sea salt and smoked paprika
¼ cup raw almonds
¼ cup spicy roasted pumpkin seeds – I used Eden brand
1/3rd cup unsweetened dried cherries
¼ cup 100% cacao dark chocolate chips – I used the Pascha, no sugar added brand
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Line a baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
Place drained chickpeas on a double layer of paper towels and cover with another paper towel to soak up all the moisture in them.
Spread the chickpeas in a single layer on the baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
Remove the chickpeas from the oven and drop into a medium size bowl. Cover with the coconut oil and maple syrup.
Then sprinkle with the cinnamon, salt and paprika until you have the desired flavor you want. Mix together.
Place chickpeas back onto the baking pan, spread out and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and add the almonds to the baking sheet. Mix in with the chickpeas. Bake another 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
Return to the bowl and add the spicy pumpkin seeds, cherries and chocolate chips. Mix together.
Mocktails are alcohol free drinks that were invented to mimic regular old cocktails with alcohol.
Typical bar made mocktails contain some pretty unhealthy ingredients including simple syrup, refined sugar, sodas, high fructose corn syrup, concentrated juices, artificial colors (think Red 1) and artificial flavors.
Healthier versions are home made using fresh local fruit, cold pressed juices and fresh herbs and spices.
Try this much lighter, healthier version using fresh Colorado cantaloupe and fresh mint.
1 Colorado grown cantaloupe (rind removed, deseeded and cut into chunks)
½ cup fresh, cold-pressed orange juice
¼ cup lime juice
¼ cup fresh mint leaves
2 cups ice
Optional: Drizzle of local raw honey
Fresh mint leaf sprigs and triangle sliced cantaloupe for decoration
1. Add the cantaloupe, orange juice, lime juice, mint leaves, ice and optional honey to a blender. Blend until smooth.
2. Pour into 4 cocktail glasses and serve immediately.
With summer right around the corner, we often start turning to lighter and simple recipes. Salads are tops on the menu.
5 Benefits of Eating Salad for Dinner:
Helps you meet your daily fruit and vegetable intake.
Lightens up your dinner meal, so you have plenty of time to burn it of before bed.
Are full of gut supporting fiber.
Provide protein and healthy carbs, if they are the hearty kind.
Are full of healthy fats to help you absorb anti-oxidant rich vitamins.
This recipe is full of the sweet and spicy ingredients that Thai sauces often provide without the added refined sugars.
This recipe is also an excellent source of protein (23 grams per serving) and contains 324% of your daily recommended amount of Vitamin A and 110% of your daily recommended amount for Vitamin C.
It is rich in fiber, iron, folate and potassium.
FUN FACT: Tempeh is a fermented soy product that originated in Indonesia. Today food makers are starting to also make it with chickpeas, lentils or other beans for those that don’t like a to eat a lot of soy.
Day 1: Marinate the tempeh
Ingredients for tempeh marinate
8 ounces tempeh
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 ½ tablespoon unrefined sesame oil
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons low sodium coconut aminos
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons real maple syrup
Remove tempeh from package.
Add it to a skillet with 1 inch of water. Bring it to a boil over medium heat. Steam for 10-12 minutes (flipping ½ way through)
Pat dry. Then cut the tempeh in ½ and cut each ½ into small triangles. This process will remove the sourness of the tempeh.
While tempeh is cooking, add the red pepper flakes, sesame oil, peanut butter, lime juice and maple syrup to a small bowl. Whisk together until mixture is thin.
Add the tempeh and mix again until tempeh is well-coated.
Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator overnight.
For dinner the next evening, preheat an oven to 375°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add the tempeh and bake for 20-30 minutes. Tempeh should be a deep golden brown when ready.
Add it to the Hearty Tempeh Thai Salad recipe below.
Day 2: Make the Salad
Hearty Tempeh Thai Salad
Ingredients for the salad
6 ounces black rice pad Thai noodles.
2 medium carrots, shredded
2 stalks scallions (finely chopped)
¼ cup chopped cilantro
2 ½ tablespoons chopped mint
1 cup loosely chopped spinach (chopped)
1 cup sliced red or purple cabbage (sliced thin)
1 medium red bell pepper (thinly sliced)
Marinated peanut tempeh from above
Ingredients for the dressing
1/3rd cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons low-sodium coconut aminos
2 tablespoons real maple syrup
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
3 tablespoons lime juice
Approximately ¼ cup water – to thin sauce to desired consistency
Cook noodles according to package directions.
While the noodles and tempeh are cooking, assemble the carrots, scallions, cilantro, mint, spinach, cabbage and red bell pepper in a large serving bowl.
Make the dressing by adding the peanut butter, coconut aminos, maple syrup, chili sauce and lime juice to a small bowl. Whisk together with a whisker. Add water a little at a time to thin it and achieved your desired consistency.
Take some of the salad ingredients and noodles form the big bowl and mix in a serving size bowl. Top with tempeh and some sauce and enjoy!
In honor of National Fruit Cocktail day on May 13th, we thought it would be fun to make an updated healthier version of this traditional fruit mixture. To make it “cocktail like”, we are serving it in a cocktail glass with a sauce vs serving it in a traditional salad bowl.
Fruit cocktail was originally made from bruised or less attractive pieces of fruit that couldn’t be sold whole. They would cut them into smaller pieces, and it looked like it was supposed to be this way.
A traditional fruit cocktail is from a can and often is laced with heavy syrup. This syrup contains high fructose corn syrup, sugar and corn syrup and packs a whopping 21 grams of sugar per serving!
To update this, we used fresh springtime fruits, strawberries, kiwi and pineapple. Then we added our own special sauce to it. One serving of this recipe contains a mammoth amount of 223% of your daily recommended amount of Vitamin C! Plus it contains calcium and iron.
It also contains poppyseeds which are thought to contain pain-reliving compounds, help with digestion and may improve chances of fertility.
Many people think fruit cocktail has the word cocktail in it because it was originally made with booze. Simply, not true. However, some people are actually now adding their favorite booze such as brandy or whiskey to their homemade versions.
FUN FACT: Fruit cocktails are one of the most popular accompaniments to wine.
Fruit cocktail –
1 fresh pineapple – cut into cubes
3 medium kiwifruit – halved and sliced
2 cups strawberries – chopped or sliced
Directions: Chop fruit and place it in a large bowl.
Fruit cocktail sauce – 2 ways
#1. Creamy Lemony Fruit Cocktail Sauce
2 tablespoons plain coconut yogurt – I used the Culina brand
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon (about 1 medium sized lemon). I used my fruit squeezer for this.
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon organic almond oil
¼ teaspoon poppy seeds
Optional: ¼ teaspoon lemon zest.
Optional: whole fruit or coconut flakes
1.Whisk all of the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.
2.Pour over fruit mixture and mix thoroughly.
3.Divide mixed fruit into martini or other cocktail glasses.
4.Top with a whole fruit or coconut flakes – if desired.
#2. Poppy Seed Fruit Cocktail Sauce
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon organic champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon ground mustard
Pinch of salt
Sprinkle of granulated onion
1/3 cup organic almond oil
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
Optional: whole fruit or coconut flakes
5.Whisk all of the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.
6.Pour over fruit mixture and mix thoroughly.
7.Divide mixed fruit into martini or other cocktail glasses.
8.Top with a whole fruit or coconut flakes if desired.