Ginger Turkey Stir Fry — A New Recipe For Depression Support

I received a lot of feedback and traffic to the blog when I posted the High Protein Smoothie recipe for depression nutrition support. The post seemed to strike a nerve, and it’s no wonder. Depression and anxiety are on the rise. Kids, especially, are suffering at ever increasing rates. According to a New York Times article today: “In 1985, the Higher Education Research Institute at U.C.L.A. began asking incoming college freshmen if they “felt overwhelmed by all I had to do” during the previous year. In 1985, 18 percent said they did. By 2010, that number had increased to 29 percent. Last year, it surged to 41 percent.”

In 32 years, the rate of U.C.L.A. freshman who feel overwhelmed rose by over 200%. This is startling.

I can’t begin to address the issue of depression and anxiety in depth like mental health professionals can. It’s an intricate problem with many factors, and I primarily focus on the nutrition aspect. But, I can say that we as a civilization seem to be moving further away from spending time together in person. People feel isolated and alone. This is one reason why I proposed Crappy Dinner nights, which have taken off like gangbusters and are now a weekly occurrence amongst my friends. Another factor that has been studied is our lack of time in nature. Children are given less time to play outside during school and adults spend most of their days indoors as well (I wrote a post about this, you can read it here).

One thing I know for sure is that our diets, what we eat and drink, is negatively affecting our mental health. Inflammation plays a role in our mental well-being, just as it does with cardiovascular, metabolic, and brain health. When we eat mostly pro-inflammatory foods like highly processed flours and sugars, our brains aren’t being fed what they need to be happy and healthy. Our gut health, which is a key factor in the health of our other bodily systems, is worse for the wear when we eat these pro-inflammatory foods. If our gut microbiota is out of whack, so is the rest of us. You can read about it in the paper titled “The Gut-Brain Axis: The Missing Link in Depression” in Clinical Psychopharmacology and Neuroscience. In the conclusion, the authors write: “Poor diet is a risk factor for depression; thus, a healthy diet may prevent depression. Regulation of the gut microbiota using diet, probiotics and FMT may have important benefits for preventing and treating depression”.  For those wondering what FMT means, it’s fecal microbiota transplantation, which is a process used for certain gastrointestinal diseases like Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis.

To be clear: I do not believe people who are depressed or anxious can magically cure themselves with diet. If it were that easy, no one would be suffering. But I do believe diet can play a role in mental health and wellness, just as it can when we are battling cancer, heart disease, or diabetes. It’s a piece of the puzzle.

So, my advice to anyone with depression or anxiety is to, little by little if that’s what’s feasible, add in some anti-inflammatory foods to your diet. Try to crowd out the cookies and crackers with whole foods like high quality proteins, fats and complex carbohydrates. These foods will nourish your brain and help reduce inflammation. Use lots of herbs and spices a.k.a. “booster foods”. And please, don’t ever go off any medications or treatments without the express consent from your doctor. 

See below for an easy and delicious Ginger Turkey Stir Fry recipe. If it were me, I’d make the brown rice using frozen pre-cooked rice from the grocery store. It saves a lot of time and leaves you one less pot to wash. If you feel like having chicken or beef, use that instead. Opt for high-quality, grass fed meat as much as possible. They are higher in Omega-3 fatty acids. 

**I am not a doctor nor am I qualified to give medical advice. Please see a licensed medical professional for any medical concerns you might have.

 

 

RECIPES FOR ANXIETY_DEPRESSION

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Maybe A Portobello Patty Melt For Dinner Tonight?

Ever since I cut down on my red meat consumption, I’ve really missed one of my favorite splurges: the patty melt. Maybe they taste good going down, but then reality sets in. Indigestion, the meat sweats, that brick-in-my-gut feeling. So when I saw this recipe I just knew I had to try it.

I made these Portobello Patty Melts last night for dinner, and they were GOOD. Like, really good. A few things I did differently: instead of caramelizing the onions for 40 minutes, I did it for about 20. Also, instead of roasting the portobello mushrooms for 40-45 minutes, I put them in a pan with the marinade and sautéed them with a cover on until they were ready. It saved about 20 minutes which is huge when you have a hungry family.

My daughter hates mushrooms so she opted for a grilled cheese but my husband and I really liked them. I can’t wait to have them again. Maybe next week?

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Healthy Breakfast Recipe: Pumpkin Waffles

The third healthy breakfast recipe I want to feature this week is one you can make ahead of time and keep in the freezer until you are ready. We regularly make extra batches of waffles and pancakes on the weekend to pull out on busy weekday mornings. These waffles are gluten-free and paleo friendly (even though we are neither in our household). To add a bit of extra protein to your breakfast, I would suggest a serving of chicken breakfast sausage. I really like Applegate. Their chicken apple link sausage only contain Chicken, Dried Apples, Water, Honey, Salt, Spices and Parsley. 3 links are 120 calories and will add 9 grams of protein to your meal.  They are pricey, but because I eat mostly vegetarian and my husband does his own thing for breakfast, we use them sparingly.

If you don’t have a waffle iron, you can use this as pancake batter instead.  Enjoy!

pumpkin-waffles

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Midweek Mashup

MIDWEEK MASHUP

It’s the most wonderful time of the…

You know how the rest of it goes. Is it truly the best time of the year? For many of us, yes! The beautiful lights, the nostalgic music, the opportunities to spend time with people we love. For many others, not so much. So much stress, so many additional responsibilities, poor eating habits, a few too many extra cocktails, and obligations, obligations, obligations.

Wherever you land on the spectrum of Holiday cheer, one thing is for sure: we all need ways to help manage it all. I like to ramp up my Green Smoothies this time of year. I feel like no matter what else happens on any given day, I’ve at least had lots of veggies and fiber. Sort of like a little insurance policy.

Some years I’m simply too overwhelmed to consider adding intentional exercise to the mix. This year I’m feeling like I really want to get to the gym a couple of times a week in addition to walking my dog and playing platform tennis. I have been using Aaptiv on my iPhone and love it. It’s full of personal trainer-led workouts that can be customized to your level of fitness. Choose from treadmill, outdoor running or walking, yoga, indoor cycling, strength training and even 5k, 10k, half and full marathon programs. All workouts are set to really great music you actually want to listen to.  It’s not cheap. At $75/year it’s a commitment. But I’ve more than gotten my money’s worth since I got the app this summer. (I was not compensated for recommending this app. I just really like it!)

And finally, here is an easy recipe for zesty three bean salad. I made it for a party in October and loved it. It’s the perfect healthy dish to make on a Sunday to eat all week for lunch.

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Headspace

New Recipe! Roasted Salmon with Garlic and Dill

Did you know studies have shown eating fatty fish with high omega 3 content once a week can help protect your brain? It’s true! If you have a family history of Alzheimer’s Disease, have Type II diabetes (which predisposes you to Alzheimer’s) or just want to do something healthy for yourself, I highly recommend eating salmon on a regular basis. Wild caught salmon is best — farmed salmon generally has less omega 3 content and is sometimes fed a diet of corn and soy. Read below for more information on why salmon, garlic, and olive oil are healthy for your body and brain.

 

roasted-salmon-with-garlic-and-dill

 

If you like this recipe, please share it on your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or other social media pages! Please leave a comment too, I love to hear from you!

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Friday Cocktails: The Painkiller

painkiller-cocktail

We went to our friends’ Halloween party recently where they served something called The Painkiller. It’s one of those cocktails that is very very easy to drink a lot of because it tastes like a beach vacation. There’s coconut. There’s rum. There’s pineapple juice. If you close your eyes and sip on the Painkiller, you might just swear you are sitting under a palapa in the tropics. Some might say that it’s too sweet, but I love a sweet cocktail (I love savory cocktails too, it’s all about the mood).

Some might argue that a cocktail called The Painkiller is the perfect antidote to this contentious election season. I’m not advocating that we drink to suppress our feelings (that would be an unhealthy behavior!) but a delicious cocktail with a fun name might just add a little bit of whimsy, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

This cocktail is perfect for a big party because it’s so easy to make a large amount. Luckily we are entering party season, so make a batch of this next time you need a crowdpleaser and prepare for the compliments.

The Painkiller is high in vitamin C thanks to the OJ and the pineapple juice, so maybe it’ll help you ward off those winter germs!

INGREDIENTS FOR ONE COCKTAIL:

2 oz Rum
4 oz Pineapple juice
1 oz Orange juice
1 oz Cream of coconut
Grated nutmeg if desired
Mint
NOTE: If you can’t find cream of coconut, you can substitute with 1 cup heavy whipping cream (35%) plus 1/2 cup coconut cream powder
METHOD:

Add all of the ingredients into a shaker and fill with ice.

Shake vigorously and strain into a hurricane glass or snifter filled with crushed ice.

Garnish with freshly a sprig of mint and grated nutmeg.

(If making a large batch, pour all ingredients into a pitcher and use a spoon to combine)

 

Bottom’s up!

NEW RECIPE! Kale Chips

kale-chips

Have I lost you already? Did you stop reading when you saw the word “kale”? Please stay with me, it’ll be worth your while.

If you are like me you love salty, crunchy snacks. Unfortunately most commercially made salty crunchy snacks aren’t so healthy. They usually have hydrogenated or other low quality oils, super processed flour or potatoes, and tons of sodium.

May I suggest making a batch of kale chips? They are salty. They are crunchy. There is that pleasing release of olive oil when you bite into them. And dangit, they are good for you too!

What I love about kale is that it’s low calorie, high in fiber, and has tons of antioxidants. It is high in iron (beating beef calorie for calorie) and Vitamin K, C, and A. It has magnesium (which you’ll remember is the “relaxing” mineral) and calcium. You really can’t say that about a bag of potato chips.

Every time I make this recipe for our neighbor gatherings, adults and kids gobble it up immediately. Just make sure you sip on your Aviation or Cucumber Sangria cocktail after you eat them to rid your teeth of any pesky green pieces.

Here’s how to make kale chips.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 head of kale, any type, washed and dried (make sure it’s really really dry. Try wrapping and blotting it with paper towels, or just spreading it out for a bit to air dry)
  • Generous drizzle of olive oil
  • Flake sea salt (or any salt you prefer)
  • Garlic powder (optional but super delicious)

METHOD:

  • Preheat oven to 275 degrees
  • Separate the leaves from the ribs of the kale. The ribs are gross and you don’t want them.
  • Cut or tear the leaves into 1-2″ pieces
  • Spread leaves out on a rimmed baking sheet
  • Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder and salt.  Jiggle the baking sheet to coat the leaves with the good stuff.
  • Bake until crispy, being sure not to burn. This will take about 20 minutes. Make sure to stir the leaves around about halfway through.
  • Serve

Did you try this recipe? Please let me know what you think!

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