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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

To Eat Gluten or not to Eat Gluten…is that the Question?

So what is all the fuss about gluten…and why would anyone want to “go gluten free?” I work with many people who ask me that question as they try to understand what exactly constitutes a gluten free diet. Many people now are wondering if they might want to consider eliminating gluten from their diet, but the messages in the public’s eye are often confusing leaving us unsure.

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Fortunately, there is a lot of information now about the benefits of a gluten free diet. In addition, the availability of real, whole foods that we can eat and not feel deprived is very encouraging. I emphasize real whole foods because there is a ton of processed gluten free foods out there that are not healthy so buyer beware. It is much better to avoid those processed products as it is challenging to truly know whether they contain gluten or not and in many cases they offer little to no nutritional value.

The question about who should consider removing gluten from their diet is not one that can be easily answered without knowing where people are on the spectrum of gluten sensitivity. There is a difference between wanting to eliminate gluten for improved energy and being gluten intolerant or having Celiac Disease. The spectrum regarding gluten below can help to show how many types of people are benefitting from removing gluten from their diets and some of the reasons they have chosen to do so:Image

For people electing to eliminate gluten they often find that they have better energy, their thinking is clearer as is their attention. They also find the added benefit of weight loss if they are looking to shed pounds. These folks have the option of “choosing” to eliminate gluten. For others who suffer from the health risks related to consuming gluten it is not a choice. For people on the higher end of the scale, who are allergic or intolerant it is not an option. These individuals often can develop the most severe gluten issues such as Celiac Disease. Now recognized as a major health issue, people with Celiac Disease struggle with diet and health related issues exacerbated by gluten.

Celiac Disease is an immune system reaction to gluten which affects about 1 in 140 people in the United States alone. It is a digestive disease that damages the lining of the small intestines (the villi) where much of our nutrients are absorbed into the body causing one to not be able to absorb needed nutrients. Celiac is a complicated disease as it not only a digestive disorder it is also an autoimmune disorder. It is genetic and so the likelihood you will have it increases dramatically if a family member is diagnosed with it or if there is a family history of autoimmune disease. For people in this situation it is important to know whether you have the disease and to take action to eliminate all gluten from your diet immediately. I advise people with symptoms related to gluten sensitivity to ask their doctor about how to get tested make sure, and to eliminate gluten as a precaution while they await test results. A typical course of testing may involve an endoscopy but there are many screening blood tests for celiac disease as well. The most sensitive and commonly used, whether symptoms are present or not, is the tTG-IgA test. Tissue Transglutaminase Antibodies (tTG-IgA) – The tTG-IgA test will be positive in about 98% of patients with celiac disease who are on a gluten- containing diet.

Common symptoms related to Celiac Disease are unexplained iron-deficiency anemia, fatigue, bone or joint pain, arthritis, bone loss or osteoporosis, depression or anxiety, tingling numbness in the hands and feet, seizures, missed menstrual periods, infertility or recurrent miscarriage, canker sores inside the mouth, an itchy skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis to name a few. Symptoms vary with each case making it challenging to identify. If you experience these symptoms and are not sure why speak with you doctor about whether you should be screened.

For those people in the optional low risk category who like to bake there are some good alternatives to regular flours on the market now so fear not. I love to bake and have found several good quality ingredients that are consistently certified GF.

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A favorite recipe of mine now available on my website is a bread made with brown rice flour, millet, quinoa and flax meal and it is super simple, http://leanne-yinger.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com/recipes. I have also added some good resources to determine if you want to seek medical support to address your gluten related issues.

http://www.celiac.nih.gov

http://www.cureceliacdisease.org

http://www.gluten.net offers information and recipes

Books:

Gluten Free Diet: A Comprehensive Guide by Shelley Case – http://www.glutenfreediet.ca

The Gluten Free Nutrition Guide by Tricia Thompson – http://www.glutenfreedietician.com/

Real Life with Celiac Disease by Melinda Dennis – http://www.deletethewheat.com

Hope you found this helpful. If it is sunny outside where you live get out in it for at least 30 minutes to absorb some that that vitamin D we all need for our immune systems function.

Be Well

Kitchen Remodel 101

I spent a good part of this day emptying my kitchen so that the deconstruction can begin with the construction to follow. This is what things looked like this morning…fortunately this scene has improved!

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AND…Yesterday some of my dearest friends came to help construct my IKEA cabinets. I can’t tell you how blessed I am to have these people in my life. That they would take time from their busy lives to come to my home and build cabinets is such a gift.

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My dogs are wondering why the refrigerator is parked in the living room along with several large cabinets built by the above good friends….my brain and whole body are screaming for a hot bath so I will close this post and oblige…be well fellow foodies life is good when we are able to enjoy good food, good company and the comfort of our home regardless of the mess!

Brightest Blessings

 

Big Ideas or Big Trees?

I have always been a person who does things the hard way without asking for much help from those I love. I’m not sure why that is my reality but I have become a pretty fearless person living this way. I have learned to take great comfort in nature because it is authentic no matter it’s state. Nature provides an abundance of beauty, life sustaining foods and peace when the business of life overwhelms us.

Let’s consider the mighty Sequoia tree. This gigantic tree comes from a relatively small cone which must be exposed to extreme heat in order to open and germinate.

ImageThis small tightly packaged cone if exposed to the proper conditions will grow into one of the largest and most majestic trees in our world. So large, it is hard to capture it’s size on a camera without falling over backward from looking up into the sky so high!

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Perhaps a photo with my daughters standing at the base of this mighty beauty will give some perspective.

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So what is my point here? Well I liken the process of this tree germinating and growing to maturation to the process of starting something new. We must find our resources and expose them to the best circumstances in order to achieve what we desire.

I am in the process of launching a new business on health and wellness through nutrition. I am studying with people who are leading authorities in the relatively new science of nutrition. The Kushi Institute, The Institute of Integrative Nutrition and tons of personal research are providing me with so much great information to share. I will also launch my website soon explaining in greater detail what I will be offering. I am taking the proverbial “leap of faith” that this adventure will provide support to those hoping to improve their health, while providing me an outlet for my passion for helping others. So far all indications are that this will be true as people at farmer’s markets, health food stores and in my cooking classes are also becoming passionate about how to eat well to gain or maintain their health. There seems to be a shift toward coming together to eat well and in some cases demanding that the foods we have available to us are the grown in the most healthful ways possible. It is a truly exciting time in the field of nutrition!

So the Sequoia trees are representative to me launching and growing my health and wellness practice. They stand together as I hope to with others looking for positive change in their health. It is my desire to provide the coaching people need to become mighty in their own way!

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I close with a dandy fall soup recipe that I think you will enjoy and guess what…it is oh so good for you!

Roasted Kabocha Squash Soup

1 medium kabocha squash

1 yam

1 sweet onion

4 cloves garlic

2-3 carrots

salt/pepper to taste

cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger (optional)

6 cups water

Cut the squash into quarters and scoop out seeds. Place on roasting dish and bake at 400 for 45 minutes or until tender. Prepare yam to be roasted at same time making sure to poke holes in it before placing in over.

While the squash and yam are roasting chop onion and carrots into small pieces and add to stock pot with minced garlic and some olive oil to saute 3-5 minutes. Add water and simmer for 30 minutes covered.

Once the yam and squash are roasted remove skin from squash and yam and cut into small bite size pieces. Add to stock pot and bring to boil, then reduce to simmer and cook for 45 minutes covered.

Allow to cool or take great care placing hot mixture in blender. Blend to smooth consistency. I add cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger to taste this time of the year…simply delightful!

Happy cooking and remember:

“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”
Laurie Colwin

Be Well!

Becoming

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First you need only look:

Notice and honor the radiance of everything about you…

Play in this universe.

Tend all these shinning things around you:

The smallest plant, the creatures and objects in your care.

Be gentle and nurture…..LISTEN…

As we experience and accept all that we really are…we grow in care

Anne Hillman

Now 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!