If you’re feeling a little down this time of year, you’re not alone. After all, the holidays are over and, with brutally cold temperatures throughout much of the country, it may seem like all you can do is hunker down and count the days until spring arrives. But your kitchen could hold the keys to boosting your mood this winter.
For example, did you know that nutrition can have a huge influence on how you feel not just physically, but emotionally and mentally as well? Certain foods as well as particular ingredients, vitamins and minerals can have a major impact on your mood. Check out this list of eight recipes that are sure to put some pep back in your step.
1.Roasted Butternut Salad With Barley And Candied Bacon
You probably already know that you should get more whole grains and veggies into your diet. What you might not realize is that in addition to warding off disease and keeping you trim, these food can also be good for your mental well being. Barley is a hearty ancient grain that is loaded with antioxidants, which can help quell symptoms of anxiety. Squash, too, is a powerhouse for your mood—thanks to plenty of magnesium, potassium and vitamin C.
2. Ultimate Healthy Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
Yes, cupcakes can be a party of a healthy eating plan. Plus, I don’t know about you but dark chocolate always has a way of improving my mood! This cupcake recipe from Amy’s Healthy Baking are meant to taste similar to 72-percent dark chocolate and are made with cocoa powder and whole wheat flour. The flavonoids present in cocoa have been shown to help enhance feelings of calmness and contentedness.
3. Garlic Butter Salmon In Foil
This super-easy salmon recipe is ready in a flash and would be great served alongside a salad or roasted veggies and quinoa. Salmon is chock-full of Omega-3s and B-12, both of which have a positive effect on your mood.
4. Flaxseed Banana Smoothie (With Coffee)
If you’re looking for a quick breakfast that also gives you a caffeine fix, this flaxseed banana smoothie from Pickled Plum is the perfect healthy start to your day. Flaxseed is another great source of mood-boosting Omega-3s. The caffeine in the coffee provides a pick-me-up, and it’s also full of flavonoids, the same antioxidants that make dark chocolate a great way to improve your mood.
5. Italian Lentil Quinoa Meatballs
A diet high in fiber is essential for a happy mood, thanks to it’s blood sugar-stabilizing abilities. “Blood sugar-stabilizing foods can affect mood by helping to regulate brain neurotransmitter secretions,” Marjorie Nolan Cohn, RN, CDN, told Everyday Health. These vegetarian “meatballs” from Stacey Homemaker are made from fiber-packed lentil and quinoa.
6. Kimchi Fried Rice
Fermented foods such as kimchi and yogurt can pick you up when you’re feeling blue because of the way they interact with the bacteria in your gut, which is connected to your brain. Get your fix with this kimchi fried rice featuring bacon from My Korean Kitchen.
7. 30-Minute Coconut Curry
Coconut seems to becoming a more popular ingredient, and with good reason—in addition to their unique flavor profile, coconuts have medium-chain triglycerides, which are fats that fuel better moods through the neuroprotective effect. This coconut curry from Minimalist Baker comes together in just a half hour.
8. Mashed Blue Potatoes
Sure, you’ve heard about white potatoes and red potatoes, but do you know about blue potatoes? These colorful spuds not only look cool, but they can also cheer you up thanks to their anthocyanins and iodine—nutrients responsible for reducing inflammation in the brain and regulating mood. These mashed blue potatoes from Living Sweet Moments are sure to put a smile on your face.