Good Mood Food!
With the days getting shorter and the evenings getting darker it is important that we do what we can to avoid SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD is a depression associated with the lack of sun light that occurs in the autumn and winter. There are different degrees of this but it often presents itself in that feeling of sluggishness, difficulty to self-motivate, moodiness and that constant feeling of being tired.
So here are a few nutritional ways to boost your mood and hopefully eliminate or lesson the effects of SAD this year:
1. Fats – the brain is made primarily of fats, and in order for our brain to properly send us signals, such as mood and touch, we need to give it a healthy dose of fats. But not just any fat, we want to provide our brain with healthy Omega-3 fatty acid. Fish Oil provides our body with one of the most efficient sources of Omega-3, however if you are a vegetarian or vegan don’t worry coconut, nuts and seeds also provide you with a good hit of those healthy fats.
Pepita Crusted Salmon Fillet
1 cup Pepitas, raw
½ cup Parsley, chopped
1 tbsp Lemon Juice, freshly squeezed
1 tbsp Avocado Oil
½ tsp Himalayan Rock Salt
4 Salmon Fillets
– Preheat oven to 350F, line a baking she with parchment paper
– In a food process crush Pepitas, parsley, lemon juice, oil and salt into a chunky paste.
– Place the Salmon fillets on the parchment lined baking sheet. Spread the Pepitas mixture on top of the fillets evenly.
– Place salmon in the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes, depending on their thickness. Remove from oven and enjoy.
2. Caffeine – is that boost we grab in the morning and even sometimes in the afternoon, but did you know that it is also a natural anti-depressant. Caffeine helps to stimulate the nervous system, while also stimulating the brain’s production of feel good hormones like dopamine and serotonin.
• Just because caffeine is this wonderful mood booster doesn’t mean you should be reaching for just any old caffeinated product. When choosing your caffeine, the source is important. Opting for something less processed and organic is always your best bet.
• If you are choosing to get that caffeine from coffee do what you can to choose organic, whole bean when possible to reduce the potential for mold contamination. If coffee isn’t something you enjoy perhaps try green tea or matcha as a good source of quality caffeine.
– You can also do the coconut cream for a luxurious and healthy fat add in HERE
3. Carbohydrates, but remember not all carbohydrates are created equal. Sometimes during these darker months our cravings play tricks on us asking us to grab those processed, heavily refined products like sugary cookies and cakes when really what your body needs are some complex carbohydrates. When we say complex carbohydrates what do we mean? We are talking about all those glorious winter squashes that are now in season, sweet potatoes, potatoes and unrefined whole grains. When we choose the healthy complex carbohydrates we assist our body in the production of serotonin and dopamine, which help energize us and keep our moods up.
4. And don’t forget about chocolate!! Unfortunately for some of the chocoholics out there we don’t mean milk chocolate we are talking about good quality dark chocolate (70% or higher). Dark chocolate has been proven to help lower cortisol levels in the body, which really means lower physical stress on the body. Less stress means our body can focus on producing feel good hormones instead of our stress hormone cortisol. Plus it’s chocolate, is a reason really needed?
Pumpkin Brownies with Chocolate Avocado Icing
4 eggs, large whisked
1/2 cup maple syrup or Xylitol
1 can pumpkin puree (or 1.5 cups works if you roast it yourself)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut oil melted
1/2 cup coconut flour
3/4 cup cocoa/cacao powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup dark chocolate chips (optional)
-Combine wet ingredients (exception is xylitol for the first portion) in a large bowl. Whisk your eggs. Add in maple syrup, pumpkin, and vanilla extract. Melt your coconut oil and add in last. Mix it well. Set aside.
-Next combine your coconut flour, cocoa or cacao powder, coconut sugar or Xylitol, baking powder and chocolate chips.
-Add the dry ingredients to the wet and then combine well. You can do this in a food processor or by hand with a good mixing spoon and a little bit of a workout! 😉
-Once mixed place in a parchment paper lined pan or glass baking dish 9×9 works well. Bake at 350 for about 45 mins or until you can poke a toothpick in and it comes out clean!
Once cooled get the recipe for Avocado Chocolate Frosting HERE!
5. Vitamin D & Sunshine -It is getting colder and we are all fighting that urge to just hibernate for the next 8months, but it is important to get outside and get moving. Sunshine and exercise are some of the best mood boosters around, and unfortunately because of the cold we often don’t utilize them as much as we should.
• Happy light – if it is just too cold or the idea of going on a 30 minute walk in winter just isn’t sitting right with you, investing in a blue light might be something to think about. These lights replicate natural daylight helping to reduce sluggishness, give you a boost in energy and are often used to combat SAD.
• A general rule is if your shadow is longer than you are tall you aren’t absorbing enough vitamin D from the sun, so it is important to supplement your diet in order to support your mood and your immune system as we get less and less sun for the next 8 months.
• Mushrooms, surprisingly the skin on mushrooms is absorbent much like our own skin, so leaving them in the window to catch a few rays will increase the amount of vitamin D they will deliver to your meal.