Winter’s cold and gloomy days can get your mood down and make you want to indulge in comfort foods that may not be the healthiest choices.
We may not realize it but what we eat can have a big impact on our overall mental health. To help promote a healthy diet and improve your mood during these long winter months, we’ve put together some good-mood recipes for every meal of the day. These recipes can help raise your spirts and boost your mind and body function.
Breakfast: healthy granola
Start your day off right with this mood-boosting granola recipe. Granola is very easy to make and highly customizable to fit any diet. Get creative with your granola and experiment with different variations! Add any of your favourite nuts, seeds or dried fruit.
Oats are a versatile and healthy whole grain to add to any breakfast recipe. Adding oats to your diet provides a great source of fibre, which helps improve your mood and digestion, and increase energy levels.
- 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 ½ cups raw nuts and/or seeds
- 1 tsp fine-grain sea salt (if using standard table salt, scale back to ¾ tsp)
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ cup melted coconut oil or olive oil
- ½ cup maple syrup or honey
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ⅔ cup dried fruit, chopped if large
- Optional: ½ cup chocolate chips or coconut flakes
- Preheat oven to 350°F and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, nuts and/or seeds, salt and cinnamon. Stir to blend.
- Pour in the oil, maple syrup and/or honey and vanilla. Mix well, until every oat and nut is lightly coated. Pour the granola onto your prepared pan and use a large spoon to spread it in an even layer.
- Bake until lightly golden, about 21 to 24 minutes, stirring halfway (for extra-clumpy granola, press the stirred granola down with your spatula to create a more even layer). The granola will further crisp up as it cools.
- Let the granola cool completely, undisturbed (at least 45 minutes). Top with the dried fruit (and optional chocolate chips, if using). Break the granola into pieces with your hands if you want to retain big chunks, or stir it around with a spoon if you don’t want extra-clumpy granola.
- Store the granola in an airtight container at room temperature for one to two weeks, or in a sealed freezer bag in the freezer for up to three months. The dried fruit can freeze solid, so let it warm to room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Lunch: black bean power bowl with avocado pesto
Power bowls are ideal for quick and delicious lunches. What makes this power bowl so special is it’s packed with some of the healthiest and colourful good-mood foods.
Sauerkraut is an important ingredient in this recipe to boost those good feelings. Fermented foods help improve digestion and influence the release of serotonin (the hormone that helps to stabilize moods, sleeping and eating). Kimchi is also a great substitute.
- 1 medium head cauliflower, chopped into florets
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup farro, or other grain of choice
- 1 bunch kale, chopped
- 1–2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup sauerkraut
- Sliced green onions or cilantro, for garnish
For avocado pesto:
- 1 avocado
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, packed
- Handful of spinach (optional)
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp walnuts
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
- Place cauliflower florets on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Stir to coat evenly. Bake for 20 minutes, until tender.
- In a medium saucepan, cook farro (or other grain) according to package directions. Transfer the cooked grains to a bowl.
- In the same saucepan, heat a little water. Add kale, garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook until the kale is wilted, about 5 minutes.
- To arrange bowls, add kale, grains, beans, cauliflower, sauerkraut, avocado pesto and a garnish of fresh herbs.
- For the avocado pesto: In a blender or small food processor, add avocado, basil, spinach, lemon juice, garlic and walnuts. Pulse until smooth, adding a couple tablespoons of water if needed.
Dinner: perfect baked salmon with lentil and lemon herb sauce
This baked salmon recipe can be made in one dish and uses simple ingredients, including two key good-mood foods: salmon and lentils. Salmon provide a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids that have been linked to decreased levels of depression. Lentils are very high in fibre, provide a delicious source of protein and a great source of Vitamin B, which can improve moods by increasing serotonin and dopamine levels.
Tip: Substitute the green beans for asparagus, which is a super food that will also play an important role in feeling those good vibes!
- 1 cup black lentils
- 1 cup red quinoa
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 12 oz salmon
- 2–3 cups green beans or other vegetables
- Purple sauerkraut
Lemon herb sauce:
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic
- Generous pinch of salt (to taste)
- Quick squeeze of honey or agave (to taste)
- Chopped parsley (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Rinse the lentils and the quinoa. Place in a large oven safe skillet or casserole with the broth. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until almost fully cooked. Remove and fluff with a fork.
- Make the lemon dressing by blending all ingredients in a food processor or just shaking up in a jar. Set about half of the dressing aside.
- When the lentils and quinoa are done, place the salmon and any other vegetables you want on top of the lentils (skin side down) and drizzle or brush with half of the lemon dressing. Bake for another 10 minutes. Broil for the last 2 minutes. Depending on how thick the salmon is, if it still needs time, just turn off the oven and let it sit in there for a few minutes to finish.
- When the salmon is fully cooked, serve with reserved sauce and purple sauerkraut, and enjoy!
Which good-mood recipe put you in the best mood? Upload a picture of your dish to social media and tag us @uhnfoundation.