Saturday, 19 October 2013

Sweet Potato Soup with Coconut & Lime


Comforting, interesting and healthy...and so easy to make.  Thank you to a foody friend of mine for this lovely recipe.
This soup packs such a flavour punch you could serve it as an 'amuse bouche' at a posh dinner party...or make up a big freezer batch to liven up your weekday lunch whenever you want it.

Ingredients
750 Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cut into 2" cubes
1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1-2 stp red Thai Curry Paste
tbsp olive oil
1ltr chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 can coconut milk
Freshly squeezed lime juice

Method
1. Heat oil in a large heavy based pan and fry onions for 5-10 mins until softened and golden.
2. Add curry paste and fry for a further 2-3 mins
3. Add sweet potatoes and stock, bring to boil then reduce to a simmer for 20-30 mins until potatoes tender.
4. Add coconut milk then puree smooth with handheld blender.
5. Season to taste.  
6. Serve with generous squeeze of fresh lime juice in each bowl.

Why is it Good Mood Food?
Low GI to keep you going for longer.
Vitamin C from the sweet potatoes aids absorption of essential brain chemicals.
It's great comfort food with not too many calories!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Turkey Bolognese

Until recently my lazy recipe for bolognese involved opening a jar of Dolmio sauce...I thought the ingredients looked ok....until I realised how much sugar there is in there!  No wonder I felt overloaded and 'tetchy' an hour after eating.

This healthy take on a family favourite is a lighter way to enjoy bolognese.



Prep Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 30 mins
Serves 4

Ingredients
400-500gg turkey breast mince
390g carton chopped tomatoes
1 medium carrot fimnely chopped*
1 stick celery finely chopped*
1 med onion finely chopped*
2 tsp tomato purée
2 tsp sundried tomato puree
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
1 beef stock cube dissolved in 100ml of boiling water
50ml red wine (optional)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

*(or 1 pack of Waitrose Soffritto and avoid all that chopping!)



Method
1. Heat oil in a frying pan and soften the onion, celery and carrot for 5-10 mins until translucent.
2. Add the Turkey, fry for 5 mins until browned.
3. Add the remaining ingredients, bring back to boil then simmer for 25-30 mins.
4.  Season to taste and serve with wholemeal spaghetti.


Why is it Good Mood Food?
Same as my two burger recipes - provides high quality protein and carbohydrate and is low in fat.  It is also low GI if wholemeal spaghetti is used.

Turkey is a great source of Tryptophan - an amino acid used in our bodies to make the brain chemical Serotonin. Low levels of Serotonin can be associated with feelings of depression and poor sleep. In fact most anti-depressant medications act to alter how our brains produce and use Seratonin.

Our bodies do not make Tryptophan - an important building block for Serotonin so we must meet all of our requirements by eating tryptophan rich foods such as Turkey.  Also it is recommended we eat this as part of a carbohydrate rich meal to aid absorption to the brain.


Thursday, 6 June 2013

Turkey Burgers - With Apple and Sage

Another of my 'fave' Turkey Burger recipes - My kids love this one so there's always some in the freezer.

 
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 15 mins
Makes 4 - 6 burgers

Ingredients
400g turkey mince
50g white breadcrumbs
2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions finely chopped
1 small apple, peeled and grated
1 tsp fresh sage leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method
1. Heat oil in a frying pan and soften the chopped onion for 5-10 mins until translucent then cool.
2. Place all of the ingredients including the oinions in a large bowl and combine thoroughly.
3. Form into burger shapes using your hands (dusted with a little flour). Freeze at this stage if desired.

4. Heat oil in a large pan and fry burgers for 5-7 mins on each side until cooked through (12-15 mins from frozen).
4. Serve in wholemeal or seeded rolls with salad and tomatoes.

Time Saver Tip
Chopping the onions can take a bit of time.  Waitrose do a great bag of frozen onions that works well and they do fresh breadcrumbs.  Keep some in the freezer if you want to make life really easy.



Why is it Good Mood Food?
These burgers provide high quality protein and carbohydrate, are low fat and low GI.  It is important to eat them with carbohydrate to maximise their contribution to mood.

Turkey is a great source of Tryptophan - an amino acid used in our bodies to make the brain chemical Serotonin. Low levels of Serotonin can be associated with feelings of depression and poor sleep. In fact most anti-depressant medications act to alter how our brains produce and use Seratonin.

Our bodies do not make Tryptophan - an important building block for Serotonin so we must meet all of our requirements by eating tryptophan rich foods such as Turkey.  It is also important to eat with carbohydrate to maximise the Tryptophan available to the brain.

See also Turkey Burgers - Thai Style


Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Turkey Burgers - Thai-Style

Turkey is a super food.  It's low in fat, a rich source of protein and contains the amino acid Tryptophan which is essential for brain health.

This is one of my two favourite turkey burger recipes.
They freeze well - so make a double batch and cook from frozen.



Prep Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 15 mins
Makes 4 - 6 burgers

Ingredients
400g Turkey mince (thigh mince or a mixture of breast mince and thigh mince)
4 spring onions finely chopped
1 red chilli de-seeded and finely chopped
2 cm cube fresh ginger finely chopped
1 small bunch coriander finely chopped
1 egg
50g breadcrumbs
1tbsp oil

Method
1. Combine all of the ingredients thoroughly in a bowl - use your hands!
2. Form into burgers (freeze at this stage if desired).
3. Heat oil in a large pan and fry burgers for 5-7 mins on each side until cooked through (12-15 mins from frozen).
4. Serve in wholemeal or seeded rolls with salad and sweet chilli sauce.

Time Saver Tip
Chopping the flavouring for these burgers can take a bit of time.  Waitrose do a great frozen thai spice mix in that works well and they do fresh breadcrumbs.  Keep some in the freezer if you want to make life really easy.



Why is it Good Mood Food?
These burgers provide high quality protein and carbohydrate, are low in fat and low GI.  It is important to eat them with carbohydrate to maximise their contribution to mood.

Turkey is a great source of Tryptophan - an amino acid used in our bodies to make the brain chemical Serotonin. Low levels of Serotonin can be associated with feelings of depression and poor sleep. In fact most anti-depressant medications act to alter how our brains produce and use Seratonin.

Our bodies do not make Tryptophan - an important building block for Serotonin so we must meet all of our requirements by eating tryptophan rich foods such as Turkey.


Saturday, 1 June 2013

Very Quick Turkey Korma

A delicious way to spice up Turkey.  



Prep Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 25 mins
Serves 4

Ingredients
1tbsp oil
500g diced turkey breast
3 tbsp Korma paste eg Pataks
1 medium onion finely chopped 
4 tbsp low fat greek yoghurt
150ml boiling water

In Waitrose this week I found really useful frozen diced onion - it reduced prep time to the time it took to open the packet!  And its frozen so you can use as little or as much as you need.  



Method
1. Heat oil in a large heavy based pan.
2. Sauté the onions on low heat until translucent and golden but not browned 4-5mins.
3. Add the Korma paste and fry for a further minute.
4. Add the turkey pieces and fry in the spice mix until the meat is sealed.
5. Add boiling water and bring to boil. 
6. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until turkey is tender.
7. Remove from the heat and stir in yoghurt.

Serve with Basmati rice.

Why is it Good Mood Food?
Turkey is a great source of Tryptophan - an amino acid used in our bodies to make the brain chemical Serotonin.  Low levels of Serotonin can be associated with feelings of depression and poor sleep.  In fact most anti-depressant medications act to alter how our brains produce and use Serotonin.

Our bodies do not make Tryptophan - an important building block for Serotonin so we must meet all of our requirements by eating tryptophan rich foods such as Turkey. 

Eating them with carbohydrates such as rice, pasta or bread is important to maximise the amount of Tryptophan available to the brain.


Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Zingy Sweet Potato with Tuna

Sweet potatoes - so easy in the microwave!

Here's a totally yummy baked potato recipe full of carbohydrate, protein, essential omega oils and antioxidants.  Low in fat and super healthy. 

The combination of lime, chilli, onion and tuna complements the sweetness of the potato with a punch of freshness.  Try it - it's delicious!



Prep Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Serves 2

Ingredients
1 large sweet potato
1 medium red chilli de-seeded and finely chopped
1 can tuna in sunflower oil drained
1 spring onion finely chopped 
1 fresh lime
4 tblsp low fat greek yoghurt


Method
1. Scrub the potato and pierce with a knife all over.
2. Cook in the microwave on full power for 10-15 minutes until tender.
3. Once cooked, slice the potato in half lengthways
4. Top with the tuna then sprinkle over the onion and chilli.
5. Finish with a generous squeeze of lime and a dollop of yoghurt
6. Serve with lime slices on the side.

Why is it Good Mood Food?
I love this recipe because it is truly packed with nutrients great for boosting the brain chemical Seratonin.  Low levels of Seratonin can be associated with feelings of depression and poor sleep.
  • Protein from the Tuna - As well as boing a great source of energy, proteins provide the body with important building blocks, such as Tryptophan which is used in the brain to make Seratonin.
  • Vitamin C - Sweet potato is a very good source of vitamin C which is an antioxidant beneficial to all cells in the body.  Vitamin C is important when the body converts Tryptophan into Seratonin.  
  • Carbohydrate - Sweet potato is a good source of carbohydrate, lower in GI than white potatoes.  Absorption of Tryptophan from the blood (where it ends up when we eat protein foods) into the brain (where it is made into Seratonin) is helped by eating carbohydrate rich foods.  Carbohydrates are also a great energy source.



Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Spaghetti with Sardines

Here's a flavour packed mood boost thats really quick and cheap to make.


Prep Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 10 mins
Serves 2

Ingredients
1 small tin Sardines in Tomato Sauce  
1 small red chilli finely chopped (or use chilli flakes)
1 clove garlic finely chopped
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tblsp capers
2 spring onions finely chopped (optional)
1 tblsp Olive oil
150g Spaghetti (mixture of wholemeal and white)

Method
1.  Cook spaghetti according to instructions
2.  Heat olive oil in heavy based pan and fry garlic and chilli for 1 minute.
3.  Add sardines, tomatoes, capers and onions and stir though, breaking up the fish a little.
4.  Heat the sauce through until just simmering, season well and remove from heat.
5.  Drain pasta and toss into the sauce.
6. Serve sprinkled with fresh parsley if desired.


Why is it Good Mood Food?
Low GI so will keep you going - especially if you use wholemeal spaghetti
Omega 3 from the fish
High in vitamin C from tomatoes - good for the immune system and aids iron absorption.



Sunday, 19 May 2013

Mood Boosting Ingredients

Keep these key ingredients in the cupboard and rustle up a mood boosting meal in minutes.  Grab, assemble, eat. 

Sardines in tomato sauce
Canned tuna in sunflower oil
Peppered smoked mackerel
Salmon Fillets
Smoked Salmon
Turkey - minced/diced/stir fry strips
Free range eggs

Humous
Cottage cheese
Cream cheese e.g. Philadelphia
Cheddar Cheese
Yoghurt

Watercress 
Baby spinach
Cherry tomatoes
Red pepper
Sweet potato
New Potatoes

Strawberries
Blueberries
Raspberries
Bananas
Kiwi

Canned lentils, kidney beans, chick peas
Sunflower, Pumpkin, Flax seeds
Dried apricots
Nuts

Whole rolled oats

Unsweetened muesli eg Dorset cereals
Honey
Agave nectar
Lemon juice


Uninspired? Do a recipe search with one of these ingredients....find something you fancy. I find these sources reliable:

BBC Good Food Website
Delia Online

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Time Saver - Boiled Eggs

Isn't it difficult to stick to healthy eating when you're tired, busy and stressed? 
Boiled eggs are convenient little packages of goodness - keep some in the fridge....



Breakfast
Soft boiled eggs and dippy soldiers are a favourite with my kids and a very healthy low GI way to start the day for everyone.  Serve with grilled tomatoes and seedy or wholemeal toast and you're off to a good start. 

Instant Protein for lunch
Whenever you make soft boiled eggs add 2 or 3 extra eggs to the pan.
Leave the extras to hard boil whilst you eat. After cooking for 10 mins cool immediately in cold water.  Keep them, shell on in the fridge for 1-2 days - instant protein for lunch.

Lunch ideas
Slice on a salad of leafy greens, peppers, cucumber, sunflower/pumpkin/flax seeds.
Mash with mayonnaise for wholemeal sandwich filling or baked potato topper.
Kedgeree


Why is it Good Mood Food?
Eggs are packed with low-cost high-quality protein. Addition of protein will lower the GI of a meal. Eggs contain lots of nutrients essential to good health, particularly vitamin D, vitamin B12, selenium and choline.



Smoked Mackerel and Boiled Egg Wraps

Still on the theme of Omega-3, another easy lunch I threw together last week.


Ingredients
Wholemeal or Seeded Flour Tortilla
Mayonnaise
Leafy Greens (watercress, rocket and baby spinach)
1 hard boiled egg
1-2 peppered smoked mackerel fillets
A sprinkle of sunflower and pumpkin seeds
Drizzle of salad dressing ( I like a sweet honey and mustard one for this savoury recipe)

Method
1. Hard boil the egg for 10 minutes, plunge into boiling water to cool
2. Spread the tortilla with mayo
3. Break up the fish and slice the egg
4. Arrange filling on top of the tortilla and wrap

Simple!



Sardines on Seedy Toast

On the theme of Omega-3 here's a great speedy lunch idea...Sardines in Tomato Sauce on Seedy Toast. Had it today, I'd forgotten how yummy Sardines can be.


So simple, no need for a recipe.  
Seedy bread toast, handful of leafy greens (watercress my fave) and a tin of Sardines in Tomato Sauce mashed.  Grind lots of fresh black pepper on top and hey presto an Omega-3 packed lunch.

Choose sardines with bones included to boost calcium.


Sunday, 14 April 2013

Easter Egg Muesli Bars

These crunchy, chocolaty muesli bars make Easter eggs into good mood food....That's got to be better than scoffing big lumps of chocolate!



Ingredients
1 Milk Chocolate Easter egg
Unsweetened Wholegrain Muesli
Handfull Raisins
Handfull Sunflower seeds
Handfull Flax Seeds (Linseeds)

Method
1.  Line a small brownie tin or similar with cling film
2.  Break the Easter egg into pieces into a glass bowl and melt in a microwave or over a bowl of simmering water.
3.  Mix in the raisins and seeds and enough muesli to take up all of the chocolate.
4.  Press the mixture into the lined tin, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or so.
5.  When firm, remove from tray and slice gently into squares or bar shapes. 

The Muesli Bars pictured above started life as this egg.
Which would you prefer to eat?

Why are they Good Mood Food?
The addition of whole grains from the muesli and seeds lowers the GI of the chocolate from very high to medium so less of a sugar hit and slump.
Whole seeds add valuable Omega 3 and Micronutrients to otherwise empty calorie chocolate.
Whole grains and seeds are full of insoluble dietary fibre which helps lower the GI and promotes a healthy digestive system.  


OMEGA-3 Fatty Acids - What's it all about?

Chatting with friends the other evening about taking vitamin supplements, most felt they didn't need to take them. One however insisted it is important to take extra Omega-3 fatty acids.

I thinks she's right...for the reasons below....

Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids
Both of these acids are found in every cell in the body. Our bodies can't make them so we must eat them. Most of us have an imbalanced diet, over-rich in Omega-6 and too low in Omega-3.  
It seems this imbalance is a factor in many common diseases including heart decease,  arthritis, asthma, cancer, psoriasis, inflammatory bowel diseases and depression.  

It's the link to depression and mood that got me interested.

Omega-3 and Good Mood

Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the basic building blocks of the brain and seem to be crucial for keeping brain signals moving smoothly.  By implication, imbalance is therefore likely to adversely affect brain function and so mood. 
I've read that countries with diets rich in fish have lower rates of depression, bipolar disorder, postpartum depression and suicide. If you do a web search on Omega-3 and mood there is a huge consensus that boosting Omega-3 intake will help improve mood. 

So I'm sold...Take a fish oil supplement every day and eat oily fish at least 3 times a week.  I've added walnuts to my jar of fruit and nut mix and I try to sprinkle linseeds on my cereal, porridge or yoghurt for breakfast.



Good sources of OMEGA-3 fatty Acids
Oily Fish (eg Sardines, Salmon, Mackerel), Linseed (Flax Seeds), Kidney beans, Soya beans (and tofu), Walnuts, Avacado.

To aid your body's use of Omega 3 it also needs sufficient micro nutrients Vitamin B6, vitamin B3, vitamin C, magnesium and zinc.


Here's an Omega-3 packed lunch I made recently with ingredients to boost vitamins and minerals too: 
Peppered Mackerel and Boiled Egg Wrap




Saturday, 13 April 2013

Review backs OMEGA 3 for Post Natal Depression

Found this article last month in Inspired Health 2013 New Year Edition - a magazine from my local health food shop....More evidence that OMEGA 3 fatty acids are so important.

A recent review of 75 studies investigating the risk factors for postnatal depression found that women could be at higher risk if their Omega 3 levels are lowered. “The literature shows that there could be a link between pregnancy, Omega 3 and the chemical reaction that enables serotonin, a mood regulator, to be released into our brains”  explained the review’s leader Gabriel Shapiro of the University of Montreal.

As Omega 3 is transferred from the mother to the foetus as it develops and later via breastfeeding, the mother’s Omega 3 levels decrease during pregnancy and remain birth.  Without adequate intake of Omega
3 to counter this, levels of Omega 3 will be significantly lowered in the mother and could result in higher risk of postnatal depression.

Whilst this study gives an indication as to the link between Omega 3 levels and Post natal depression, further research is needed to clarify the link and the specific reasons for it.

Reference: ‘Emerging Factors for Postpartum depression: Serotonin Transporter Gentype and Omega 3 Fatty Acid Status’ Gabriel D Shapiro, William D Fraser, Jean R Seguin.




Thursday, 28 February 2013

Eat more of....Eat less of....

Thank you to the lovely ladies who welcomed me this morning at The Guildford Cedar House Support Group.  (Cedar House Support Group website)

We chatted about how small changes to eating habits can help you travel the journey of recovery from Post Natal Depression.  Here is a summary of the info I shared:

What's Important
  • Good Hydration
  • Stable Blood Sugar through the day and overnight
  • Enough Building Blocks for Brain function
    • B Vitamins
    • Omega 3 Oils
    • Minerals eg Zinc, Magnesium, Manganese, Copper Iron
    • Amino Acids eg Tryptophan
What to Eat More of
  • Oily Fish 
  • Chicken and Turkey
  • Eggs 
  • Fresh fruit and veg 
    • More than 5 a day if you can 
    • As much uncooked as you can 
    • Easy on the potatoes 
  • Nuts and seeds 
    • unsalted, unadulterated. 
  • Oats and wholegrain pulses 
  • Honey for sweetening 
  • Low Fat Dairy
What to Eat less of
  • Refined Sugar 
    • sweets, chocolate, biscuits cakes, breakfast cereals 
    • watch out for hidden sugars in processed foods..even bread 
  • Refined/heavily processed foods 
    • sweets, chocolate, biscuits cakes, ready meals, pre-prepared foods 
  • Tea/Coffee/Caffeine containing drinks 
    • including ‘health’ drinks, energy drinks

Monday, 25 February 2013

Easy Salmon Parcels

This is a favourite of mine - keep it simple for weekday supper or jazz it up asian style for a dinner party.  Packed with Omega 3.  

Thank you to my mother-in-law for the original recipe.



Prep Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Serves 4

Ingredients
4 Salmon Fillets  
1 large Courgette
1 large Carrot
2-3 tablespoons Light Soy Sauce
Fresh ground black pepper
2 spring onions finely chopped (optional)
1 inch cube fresh garlic finely chopped (optional)
1 red chilli finely chopped (optional)

Method


  • Pre-heat the oven 180 degrees/ gas mark 4.
  • Chop or grate the carrot and courgette into matchstick sized strips.
  • Arrange each salmon fillet skin side down on it's own square of tin foil.
  • Top each fillet with carrot and courgette and onion, ginger and chilli if using.
  • Sprinkle each with half tablespoon of soy sauce and half tablespoon water and season with pepper (no slat, plenty in the soy sauce).
  • Wrap loosely into pasty shapes with the tin foil making sure you leave a gap above the fish and veg and you have a tight seal so the steam cannot escape.

  • Place on a baking tray in the oven for 20 minutes.
  • Take care when opening - steam will escape and burn!
  • Serve with wholegrain rice and or pulses. 





Why is it Good Mood Food?
Very low GI especially when served with whole grains
Packed with Omega 3 from the fish and kidney beans if you use Food Doctor Easy Grains.  Omega 3 is essential for brain health. Deficiency in Omega 3 (common in most of us) has been linked with depression, particularly Post Natal Depression.


Sunday, 24 February 2013

Breakfast - start the day right and the rest will follow

Since January I've been eating a slow release energy boosting breakfast each day...it's made eating healthy the rest of the day easy...


Before: I used to eat a normal breakfast usually highly processed and/or sweetened.
Most cereals, breads (wholemeal included) and sweetened muesli fall into this category even the ones marketed as healthy.  As a result I rode the emotional roller coaster of sugar highs and lows all day.  It made eating healthy and happy near impossible.


Does this sound familiar?:
Mid morning:  " I'm hungry and craving biscuits and coffee" I resist - new healthy me.  
Lunchtime: "Oh dear I'm starving and these kids are really annoying me"  
I grab my my healthy lunch: "Oh still hungry, I've been good all morning I can have a sweet treat"
After Lunch:  "Why do I feel so sleepy? I could curl up in the cot while my little one naps couldn't I?" 
Mid Afternoon:  Grab a snack for the kids "It won't hurt if I have just one choccie biccie...oh dear I had three....mmmm tastes gooood".  "Oh I'm still snapping at the kids".  
Tea time:  "..Oh what the heck - all my healthy eating plans went out the window earlier, I'll  cook a few extra chips to keep me going till supper"  
.....you get the picture.

After:  Eat a Low GI Breakfast
-  Jumbo Oat Porridge and fresh fruit sweetened with honey
-  Poached Eggs on wholemeal seedy bread with grilled tomatoes
-  Whole grain unsweetened muesli with natural yoghurt and fresh fruit
-  Kippers on wholemeal seedy bread
-  Scrambled eggs on wholemeal seedy bread

  
I no longer get a sugar low mid morning so can last until lunch without feeling stressed and starving.
I no longer need to supplement my healthy lunch with treats as I'm not so hungry.
I no longer get a sugar low mid afternoon because my lunch is still keeping me going.
Tea time is still a danger point but I stay on track by grabbing a slow energy release snack like my flapjacks - see previous entry - or handful of nuts and cranberries.

Yippee I made it to supper time!   (ok so the kids still got me stressed a bit).




Good Mood Flapjacks

We've eaten lots of Oats this half term holidays.   They're an excellent mood food, rich in B-Vitamins, a good source of Magnesium and Low GI.  

These flapjacks are pretty healthy because they're made with honey, not syrup BUT not low fat so don't eat too many if you're on a diet!  Great for the kids and the grownups.


Prep Time: 5-10 mins
Cooking Time: 30-40 mins
Makes 12-15 squares

Ingredients
100g Butter
3tbsp Honey
200g Large Rolled Oats
40g Walnuts roughly chopped
40g Dried Apricots chopped into small pieces

Method
1.  Pre-heat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4
2.  Melt the butter in a heavy based pan then stir in the honey until dissolved.
3.  Stir in the oats, nuts and apricots and combine thoroughly.
4.  Squash firmly into a brownie tin and bake for 30mins approx. until golden brown.
5.  Leave to cool in the tin then cut into squares. 

Tip
If some squares break up crumble them on top of yoghurt for a yummy breakfast or on stewed fruit to make a healthier fruit crumble for pud.

Why are they Good Mood Food?
Low GI - Jumbo Oats are whole grain and rich in soluble fibre so release energy slowly and these flapjacks are made with Honey which is lower GI than syrup so your blood sugar will not shoot up when you eat them.  They will keep you feeling fuller for longer.

Good for neurotransmitters - Oats are a good source of B-Vitamins and Magnesium.
B-Vitamins and the minerals Iron, Copper, Magnesium, Manganese and Zinc are needed when the body makes and uses neurotransmitters in the brain.  It seems that by eating certain foods, the available amounts of some neurotransmitters can be changed. This in turn can affect mood.  (In fact most antidepressant medicines work by increasing abnormally low levels of neurotransmitters thought to be associated with depression).

Word of Warning - NOT LOW FAT!
These are made with butter so are not low calorie.
.....although I did see a report recently suggesting saturated dairy fats like butter are not as bad as we have been led to believe: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2274747/At-truth-Butter-GOOD--margarine-chemical-gunk.html#ixzz2KISbO042

References
The Food and Mood Handbook, Amanda Geary: http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/The_Food_and_Mood_Handbook.html?id=gE8t226wXhwC

Eat More Oats: http://eatmoreoats.com/health.html

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Breaded Chicken Fingers

Someone asked me today "How do you eat healthy without making separate meals for yourself, your kids and your husband?"  Here's one of my favourites: 

Breaded Chicken Fingers
I love this supper because it's so easy to give the kids breaded chicken with their favourite veg. (or homemade chunky chips for a treat) 



The kids version is healthy enough for us...BUT...to make it a super good mood meal I make a nutrient packed chefs salad. My hubby and I usually end up each with a slightly different combination so it suits us both.  It's pretty filling too.



Ingredients
Breaded Chicken
Salad Leaves
Your favourite salad trimmings (cucumber, red pepper, tomatoes, beetroot etc)
Roasted Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash (recipe for this coming soon)
Pumpkin seeds
Sunflower seeds


A word about the breaded chicken
I've looked at the ingredients and think supermarket Breaded Mini Fillets are pretty OK - but only the whole chicken ones.  When I have time I make a batch of Annabel Karmels recipe (and freeze uncooked)http://www.annabelkarmel.com/member-recipes/cheesy-chicken-dippers.  My kids are happy with seedy wholemeal bread so I use that instead of white for the breadcrumbs.


Why is it Good Mood Food?
Low Glycemic Index - The salad contains protein and slow release carbs from the sweet potato.  The addition of the seeds further helps keep energy release from this supper slow.

Chicken - most meats including chicken provide a good helping of the essential amino acid Tryptophan.  It's used by the body to make Seratonin - a brain chemical essential for good mood and brain function.

Seeds - great for essential minerals such as zinc, iron, magnesium, manganese and contain some protein too.






Tuesday, 12 February 2013

I am not a morning person..or so I used to think.

THEN...I made 2 key diet changes

1.  Drink little and often during the day
2.  Eat low Glycemic Index foods, especially in the evening.  

The result - I wake refreshed and bright and ready for the day!



Hydration
I read all over the place that most of us are on the verg of dehydration a lot of the time. It can result in lethargy, poor concentration, poor sleep and poor health and mood.

So for the past 3 weeks I’ve kept topped up with water, diluted juice (4:1 water to juice - took a bit of getting used to) and herbal tea - cammomile my fave at the moment.  I’ve also avoided tea, coffee (including decaff for both) as these are mild diuretics and tried to stay off the wine.

It's worked - I feel fresh and alert when I wake in the morning...and bonus - I don’t feel fuzzy the morning after a wine or two.

Slow Burn Energy
I’ve believed in using Glycemic Index for managing mood for a long time - eating foods that slowly release energy into the bloodstream so blood sugar doesn’t peak and crash throughout the day.  Now I’ve realised that how I do this in the evening is really important for quality of sleep.   

I recently learnt that a heightened blood sugar at bedtime can interfere with the way the brain establishes sleep and how it regenerates and rejuvenates.  In a nutshell sleep will be lighter and less restful and the brain less inclined to use up all those good mood nutrients I work hard to eat every day.

So - I’ve been careful to eat protein and low GI carbs at supper but not too much too late. If I eat early with the kids, I do top up with small low GI snack around 9pm but again not too much too late.  I’ve cut out all puddings and don’t reach for the biscuits with my evening cuppa and Bingo! 

I sleep really well, night sweats have almost gone and I wake up refreshed and ready to go!

All of my recipes aim to be low GI.  I'll share more about low Glycemic Index foods later...