We humans eat for many reasons; to nourish our bodies, to tickle our taste buds and to feel good! It’s been unseasonably warm here in NYC, but the winter blues have still managed to effect some of us. Luckily Mother Earth has given us “happy” foods to turn our glum into joy. Check out these 5 mood boosting foods, and create your perfect mood boosting culinary delight!
Coconut is all the rage nowadays, and for good reason; the stuff can put a smile on your face. Coconut contains medium chain fatty acids that help stabilize the blood sugar, boost energy and curb anxiety. Fatty foods, like coconut, are satiating and comforting. Instead of a slab of butter on your baked potato, reach for unrefined coconut oil. Coconut oil is also a delicious addition to green smoothies and desserts.
Asparagus contains not one, but two very important mood boosting nutrients; Thiamine (vitamin B1) and tryptophan. Thiamine is essential for the development of healthy brain cells and cognitive function. When you’re low on this vitamin, feelings of fatigue result : (
Tryptophan is an amino acid that is converted to serotonin in the body. Serotonin is responsible for aiding our sleep, regulating our moods and decreasing anxiety, thus keeping our moods in check. Oh, and asparagus is a known aphrodisiac too ; )
3. Dark Leafy Green Veggies
Leafy green vegetables are superfoods that support the health of our bodies in a number of ways. It’s no surprise that they contain a number of nutrients that are clinically proven to boost our moods. Dark leafy green vegetables, like spinach, kale and collard greens, are high in folic acid, calcium and magnesium. Folic acid, also called folate, is a B vitamin responsible for the healthy functioning of our nerves. When a deficiency is present, we may suffer from feelings of depression, irritability and mental fatigue. The calcium present in leafy greens sends a signal to your brain to release happy neurotransmitters; and with just as much absorbable calcium as dairy, you’re guaranteed to feel the good vibes pulsing within. Magnesium, found abundantly in dark leafy greens, helps to produce and support seratonin in the brain; thus improving our mood.
Make sure to eat ample amounts of dark leafy vegetables everyday. Each morning I start my day off with a mood boosting green smoothie filled with greens, fruit and a few other superfoods.
4. Sea Vegetables (aka Seaweed)
Like dark green leafy vegetables, sea veggies are superstars of the mood boosting club. Common sea vegetables include dulse, kelp, wakame, nori (the stuff your sushi is wrapped in), arame and hijiki. While each sea vegetable has a distinct texture and taste, they all boast magical mood boosting powers. Loaded with essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium and iodine, these exotic veggies will give you a fantastic boost in your mood and overall health.
Iodine is an important mineral needed for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland and balanced hormone levels; that equals a stable mood!
Try my Red Cabbage and Wakame salad with Sweet Miso Dressing for a tasty introduction to seaweed.
5. Dark Chocolate
The list would not be complete without chocolate. This magical mood enhancer contains a very special chemical called anadamine which may be responsible for the happy and high feeling you get after indulging. Chocolate also contains theobromine, a stimulate similar to caffeine, and phenylethylamine, another mood boosting compound. Still, some studies have shown that these chemical compounds present in chocolate should not be attributed to its obvious mood boosting ability. It could simply be the taste and experience of eating a luxurious piece of chocolate that gives you that awesome feeling!
Be sure to buy chocolate that contains at least 70% cacao; anything less will be higher in sugar. Though the taste may be to blame for the mood boosting powers, cacao is very high in antioxidants. A chocolate bar high in refined sugars may cancel out the affects of all those antioxidants. Raw chocolate is my personal favorite. Look for raw cacao powder at health food stores, and make these incredible cacao macaroons (no dehydrator required). Recipe below!!!
1 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup raw cacao powder
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon of coconut butter or oil
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 pinches of sea salt/Himalayan salt
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and stir well.
Scoop out batter in 1 tablespoon mounds and place on wax paper to be put in the refrigerator harden. Chill in the refrigerator for a couple hours. Feel free to place in the freezer to harden. They’ll be ready quicker, but I prefer the fridge.
If you have a dehydrator, dehydrate for 12 hours, then place in the refrigerator or freezer to harden a bit. I prefer to dehydrate these first, as the texture is better. Enjoy!