Food & Mood

People living in my corner of the world have been blasted with some of the coldest weather and heaviest snow in more than 50 years. Cabin fever has set in as the snow and cold increases and the amount of sun decreases. For many, this has also brought on Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. The good news is that spring is coming and there is an end in sight for all of us. In the meantime there are some foods and nutrients that may help relieve the grayness of a harsh winter.

sad

http://www.layoutsparks.com/pictures/sad-8

Research supports the finding that lack of sunlight and vitamin D have been linked to the onset of SAD. While our body is able to make vitamin D when we are exposed to regular sunlight, it is limited even then by the sunscreen we apply to prevent overexposure to sun. Since we are lacking safe access to sunshine, many of us are vitamin D deficient. It is now recommended that we take a vitamin D supplement to assure we are getting enough. Vitamin D is considered one of the most important vitamins for preventing and reducing symptoms related to depression. There are several food sources of this important vitamin we can consider to include in our diet.

maitake

http://www.ehow.com/how_5154650_grow-maitake.html

Foods rich in vitamin D include: many types of mushrooms such as Maitake 131% DV, Portabello 64% DV, Chanterelle 19% DV, Morel 23% Dv, and Oyster 4% DV. Other good food sources of vitamin D include Salmon, eggs, tofu and other soy products, almond milk, dairy, cod liver oil, beef liver, fortified cereals and orange juice. The RDA for Vitamin D is 600 IU (international units) for people age 15-60.

Other “mood” boosting vitamins and minerals that may help chase away the winter blues include Calcium, Chromium, Folate, Iron, Magnesium, Vitamin B6, B12, Zinc and Omega-3 fatty acids.

Calcium is important in maintaining healthy bones and blood vessels. Some studies show that low levels of calcium in women (could not find similar studies for men) may increase symptoms related to PMS and depression. The RDA for calcium is 1000mg per adult. Good food sources for calcium include: Broccoli, collard greens, kale, edamame, bok choy, figs, oranges, sardines, salmon, white beans, tofu, dairy, almonds and okra.

calcium 

http://fightosteoporosis.ca/calcium-and-vitramin-d-for-bones

Chromium is a trace mineral needed to help the body metabolize food and regulate insulin. Chromium also plays an important role in increasing the levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, and melatonin in the brain which are all critical to regulating mood and emotions. The RDA is 25 mcg for women and 35 mcg for men. Food sources include: Broccoli, grapes, whole wheat products, potatoes and turkey.

Folate, or B9 supports the health and creation of cells in the body and regulates serotonin. Serotonin is the brain’s messenger, passing messages between nerve cells and assisting the brain in regulating mood among other things. Folate and B12 are often paired to treat depression. The recommended daily amount is 400 mcg (micrograms) per adult. Foods rich in Folate include: leafy greens, avocado, black eyed peas, brussel sprouts and asparagus.

folate

http://nutrition4health-iliana.blogspot.com/

Iron transports oxygen through the bloodstream, supports muscle health and energy. Low levels of iron leave us feeling tired and depressed. Iron deficiencies are more common in women. RDA 18 mg for women and 8 mg for men. Foods rich in Iron include: Soybeans, lentils, turkey (dark meat) beef or pork liver, clams, mussels, oysters, nuts, leafy greens and fresh ginger.

Iron_Rich_Food-460x233

Magnesium is responsible for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It helps to break down glucose and transform it into energy. Make sure to take in enough magnesium daily. The RDA is 300mg women 350 mg men – grab a handful of edamame, cashews, almonds or hazelnuts for snacks; add more whole grains such as millet, quinoa and brown rice and eat fish (halibut in particular).

B6 promotes the health of our neurotransmitters. A deficiency of B6 can lead to a weakened immune system, depression, confusion and short term anemia. B6 is known to relieve mood related symptoms of PMS. RDA is 1.3 mg daily for adults. Foods containing healthy amounts of B6 include: Chickpeas, tuna, Atlantic salmon, chicken or turkey (white meat), sunflower seeds, pistachios, bananas, lean pork, dried prunes, avocado, spinach and lean beef.

Omega-3 fatty acid is not naturally produced by the body but it is critical to mood health. Deficiencies in omega-3 can contribute to mood swings, fatigue, depression or decline in memory. Salmon, sardines, tuna and rainbow trout contain omega-3s. Chia seeds are also a good source. Vegetarians relying on plant based sources may consider supplements as plant and animal omega-3 differ.

 salmon-category1

B12 is critical to good brain health. Our mood depends largely on the signals from our brain making B12 one of the most important nutrients. B12 synthesizes a group of nutrients that are critical for neurological function. Low levels of B12 can contribute to increased fatigue, depression, lack of concentration, mania and paranoia. RDA for B12 is 2.4 mcg. (micrograms)B12 is found naturally in animal proteins such as eggs, beef, fatty fish and pork. It is also added to enriched cereals and breads. Taking a supplement is wise as the body can store what it does not use for a later time.

Zinc protects our digestive system as well as promoting a healthy immune system. Research has shown that healthy levels of zinc in the body reduce the risk of depression. Zinc has been known to enhance the effectiveness of antidepressants in some studies. RDA is 11mg men and 8 mg women. Foods rich in zinc include: pumpkin seeds, cashews, Swiss cheese, crab and pork loin.

Tea – In a study conducted by The Journal of Nutrition researchers linked theanine, an amino acid found in most teas, increased alertness and reduced depression. They believe that the theanine acts with caffeine to boost attention and focus and suggest drinking 4-6 cups daily as a trial.

It is really fascinating to learn the many sources and combinations of good food we can include in our diets to reduce our risk for depression and improve our overall health. It takes thought and planning to assure we are eating well but it is truly worth doing!

Here is a favorite recipe that includes many of the foods listed in the blog post.

Vegetarian Quinoa Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

 Quinoa:

  • ½ cup red quinoa
  • 1 cup hot vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary

Mushrooms:

  • 8 portabella mushrooms
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 1 cup white beans, rinsed and soaked 6 hours
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 2 cups packed baby spinach
  • 4 ounces feta cheese

Place while beans in saucepan with ½ strip kombu and enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for approximately 45 minutes until beans are soft. Check often to make sure the water has not cooked out.

Combine quinoa, broth and rosemary in saucepan. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for at least 5 minutes until all liquid is absorbed.

While quinoa is cooking, preheat oven 375. Prepare mushrooms by removing stems and rubbing with olive oil. Place cap side up on baking tray covered with parchment paper and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast mushrooms for 5 minutes, then flip them over.

Place cooked white beans in bowl and mash with potato masher of fork. Add garlic, lemon juice, pinch sea salt and pepper. Cut spinach into strips and add to bean mixture along with the feta. Stir filling until well blended.

Divide the quinoa mixture among the caps. Return to oven and bake for 15 minutes until the filling is lightly browned. Serve immediately.

Eat Well and Be Well

Leanne Yinger, M.Ed. @ Kira’s Kitchen

Board Certified Holistic Health & Nutrition Coach

blog: http://kirasgoodeatskitchen.com

website: http://leanne-yinger.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com

 

Herbs for the Spring or Autumn Soul

http://www.today.com/money/tag/fall-foliage

Fall weather brings out the cook in me along with some scrumptious ingredients for one pot meals. I love to play around with the different combinations of herbs, spices, vegetables and legumes to create new dishes. Between my little backyard garden and my CSA (community supported agriculture) there is quite a variety of fresh produce at this time of the year.IMG_0697

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/preserving-the-color-of-fall-foliage.html

This week I was reacquainted with an old favorite herb, sorrel. A member of the oxalis family, sorrel is used widely in European dishes. I was first introduced to sorrel when working with two wonderful herbalists in Branford Connecticut. I’ve mentioned these women in a previous blog post and it occurs to me each time I am reminded of them how much they positively impacted my life. One of my jobs was to run the day to day operations of their herb gardens and shop. I loved getting paid to be in the cutting and formal herb gardens. Sorrel was a favorite herb of mine at the time and so I learned how to prepare it. Since then I have learned more about it’s health benefits and potential risks for certain people.

Sorrel is a good source of iron, potassium, vitamin A and C. Health benefits of sorrel include aiding good eyesight, strengthen the immune system, stimulate the liver, aid digestion and it can increase circulation and energy level. However, due to it’s oxalic acid content people with kidney stones, gallstones or with rheumatic conditions should use it moderately if at all.

I made a lovely sorrel soup this weekend. It is a very simple recipe for such a yummy soup that can be served either warm or cold. While sorrel is considered a spring herb it can also be added into fall recipes as can other leafy greens. Sorrel is one of the first leafy greens to appear in gardens in the spring and it’s tart flavor reawakens our winter palate. In the fall sorrel is equally delicious when started late in the growing season. If it is an older plant it will contain higher levels of oxalic acid which not only effects the taste but is less beneficial in terms of health benefits. Make sure late season sorrel is from a late season crop. Here’s all the ingredients you need…so simple
prep3
I adjusted this recipe from Mother Earth News http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/sorrel-soup-recipe-zmrz1301zmat.aspx#axzz3FHXPZbNK, I swapped out butter for Earth Balance.

onionsSautee onions

sorrel potato prep1Cut sorrel into ribbons and chop potato into small chunks

ss cookingAdd sorrel and potatoes to onions

sorrel soupBlend together and top with plain Greek yogurt

I served this hot as a first course with ginger glazed salmon and wild rice to follow. I was lucky to have fresh tender sorrel greens available through my CSA, but you can keep this recipe tucked away for spring if you’d like when the new tender growth is readily available.

Happy cooking and eating!

website: http://leanne-yinger.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com

 

Herb Woman

Roots and herbs she gathers, morning, night and noon, by raising dog star underneath the moon.

In her fragrant kitchen while the lost world sleeps, Gentle midnight priestess, she mixes and steeps.

Shakes the leafy brethren, sorts and scraps with skill, on her vibrant fingers wood and field and hill-

Poppy leaves and wormwood, Peony petals split, dreamy hop flowers added for a headache quilt.

Hands only made for healing, nostrils made for smell, forehead wide and yearning, eyes fixed in a spell.

With the loose prescriptions floating through her head, Such are prayers she mutters ere she goes to bed.

By Eleanor C. Koenig

 

 

 

 

Berries, Berries Everywhere

If you’re like me you love picking berries. There is something meditative about the process of gently pulling ripe berries from the vine while leaving those not yet ready to be picked. This weekend the berry focus was blueberries. I went to my CSA, Bradley Farms right here in Lanesborough and the blueberry bushes were heavy with berries. 24 pints later my freezer is well stocked for the mid winter lack of fresh local berry blues. I even picked again today with my daughter. And since I gave a talk this morning I decided to make a blueberry buckle for the occasion that was a hit…recipe to follow.

blueberry

a couple weeks ago I made this little fruit tart with mixed berries and kiwi that was also pretty yummy.

fruit tart

AND…I made this delicious cherry cheesecake when my daughter Hannah came to visit from sun scorched California last weekend. It is a gluten free recipe with almond meal crust.

cherry cheesecake

I am continuously struck by nature’s generosity. This year in Massachusetts it seems that berries in particular have been very happy. Last month we picked cherries and red raspberries locally. All the rain has been a plus for the berry patches (well not strawberries) so I complain much less about a long string of rainy days. The blackberry patch I cultivate in my own yard that may look just wild to passersby has offered up over 5 pounds of fruit for me to pick along with much to share with the birds and chipmunks who favor fresh berries like me.

raspberry cherries 

A wise teacher once told me that if I eat what the animals eat I will have optimal health. I thought about that (being a baker it was hard to take in) and it has proven to be true. As much as I love fresh baked goods including breads and pastries, I know that sooner or later I don’t feel well when I over indulge. True confession time, I am at that point!

So for now the baking will cease as I reclaim my clarity and energy with more whole grains and fresh vegetables and less sweet treats. I will practice what I teach and have a sympathetic ear to those who also experience the sweet over load. It’s all good because my freezer if full of potential desserts for future days.

garden

I send prayers of gratitude to all that has given of itself on this day.

The strong beans, and the hardy grains, the beautiful leafy green plants and the sweet juicy fruits.

I thank the sun that warmed and vitalized them, just as it does me,

and the Earth that held and nourished them, as it does me,

and the waters that bathed and refreshed them, as they do for me,

I thank the fire that transformed them, just as I wish to be transformed by the fire of Spirit.

I thank the hands that grew and prepared this food, just as I thank all those that have touched me in so many ways. 

                                                                                    Sedonia Cahill

Leanne’s Blueberry Buckle

 Topping:

 ¼ cup whole oats

¼ cup garbanzo bean flour

¼ cup flax meal

¼ cup maple sugar

Nutmeg about ½ tsp

6 Tbsp Earth Balance butter

 Cake:

 ¾ cup brown rice flour

¾ cup garbanzo bean flour

¼ cup flax meal

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

Pinch sea salt

6 Tbsp Earth Balance butter

1/3 cup maple sugar

Lemon zest from half lemon

½ cup Greek yogurt

2 eggs (or if vegan use 1/3 cup applesauce)

2 – 3 cups fresh blueberries

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9 inch square glass baking pan with Spectrum organic all vegetable shortening.

 To make topping place oats in magic bullet or food processor and pulse until ground. Add garbanzo bean flour, flax meal, maple sugar and nutmeg to the oats. Then add cold Earth Balance and blend until crumbly. Place in freezer until ready to use.

 For the cake sift together the flours, baking powder and soda and salt. In a large mixing bowl cream the Earth Balance, maple sugar, lemon zest until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time (or applesauce if vegan) and thoroughly blend.

 Alternate adding dry ingredients and yogurt and almond milk until all are blended well together. Once fully blended fold in half the blueberries. Transfer mixture to prepared cake pan. Top with remaining blueberries and then top with crumb mixture. Bake for approximately 50 minutes until brown and the center if firm when pressed down.

Enjoy and remember those leafy greens out in the garden too

http://leanne_yinger.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com

Orange Pan Glazed Tempeh

This dish has become one of my favorite tempeh recipes and it can be made in only 30 minutes…how’s that for fitting into a busy life? I added roasted kabocha squash, steamed kale and good old short grain brown rice. The pickle is “Crimson Kraut” a mild Kimchi made by Hosta Hill.  Hosta Hill also made the tempeh I used for this recipe. Learn more about them at this link

http://hostahill.com/tempeh/

So here is the recipe for Orange Pan Glazed Tempeh:

1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger

2 Teaspoons tamari (or shoyu)

1 ½ Tablespoon mirin

2 Teaspoons maple syrup

½ Teaspoon ground coriander

2 small cloves garlic, crushed

10 ounces tempeh (or extra firm tofu)

2 Tablespoons olive oil (use light as extra virgin will smoke)

½ lime

Optional – cilantro

1)      Squeeze juice and place it in a small bowl.

2)      Grate the ginger over the bowl making sure to add the juice.

3)      Mix together the tamari, mirin, maple syrup, ground coriander and garlic. Set aside this mixture.

4)      Cut the tempeh (or tofu) into bite size pieces (if working with tofu, pat dry and then cut up)

5)      Heat the olive oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking.

6)      Add the tempeh and sautee for about 5 minutes on each side until golden brown.

7)      Pout the orange juice over the tempeh and continue cooking for another 5-7 minutes until the sauce has reduced to a nice glaze.

8)      Make sure to turn the tempeh while the sauce reduces to prevent sticking.

9)      Serve the tempeh with grain side dish. Drizzle the remaining tamari sauce mixture over the top.

10)  Add lime juice and cilantro if desired.

Applesauce Corn Muffins

Try these applesauce corn muffins…they are sure to put a smile on you face!

1 cup organic corm meal

1 cup brown rice (for gluten free) or whole wheat pastry flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 cup soy, almond or rice milk

1/4 maple syrup

4 Tbls Safflower oil

Mix dry ingredients together then add applesauce, milk of choice and oil. Mix well and then divide into 12-14 muffin cups. Bake at 325 for 15-20 minutes or when a toothpick inserted into muffin comes out clean.

ENJOY!

Rice Krispy Treats

3 cups toasted brown rice cereal (Barbaras or Erewhan)
1 cup brown rice syrup
½ cup almonds, peanut butter or Tahini
1 tsp sweet miso

Variations:
½ cup golden raisins
Roll balls in chopped toasted nuts

1) Combined rice syrup, nut butter and sweet miso in small pot. Heat on low flame until well blended.
2) Pour over rice cereal and mix well.
3) Roll into 1” bals or press firmly into 8” x 8” glass dish. Let sit until cool.

The balls are very sticky so it is wise to drop spoonfuls of mixture onto parchment paper and allow to cool a bit before trying to roll into balls.

Give this recipe a try and make it with your children it will be a blast!

Tofu Nut Balls

½ cup uncooked short grain brown rice

1 cup water

2 Tblsp shoyu

½ lb firm tofu

½ cup ground almond

½ cup whole wheat bread crumbs

Sea salt to taste

1-2 Tblsp sesame oil

1 cup safflower oil (it is less likely to burn)

1)    Wash, rinse and soak the rice.

2)   Place prepared rice and water in small saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover and lower heat cooking for 35-45 minutes until rice is very soft.

3)   Place shoyu and ½ the tofu in a blender and then add about ¾ of the cooked rice. Blend into a thick paste.

4)   Place remaining tofu in a large bowl. Add the blended mixture to the bowl along with the bread crumbs and almond meal. Mix well, then add the remaining rice and sea salt to taste.

5)   Make small balls with your hands or flatter batter and use cookie cutters for special shapes.

6)   Pan fry balls in the sesame oil for 15 minutes or pan bake them at 350 for 30 minutes.