In our attempt to address stress, it is vital that we establish a healthy and balanced diet. Food is an essential element of stress management and if we form a positive relationship with what we consume, we can have an incredibly positive effect on our overall wellbeing. In addition to this, the process of cooking is a beneficial form of stress management that offers a distraction from what is causing stress and gives us the opportunity to focus on creating wholesome and enjoyable meals. In this blog post, we will investigate the ingredients that are beneficial in stress management and the promotion of a better relationship with food.
Nourishing Ingredients for Stress Management:
When it comes to stress and food, we need to prioritize ingredients that will benefit our general health. By selecting foods that are nutrient-rich, we can control our hormones, raise our spirits and provide the necessary energy to battle against stress. Therefore, we should take the following ingredients into account when preparing our meals:
- Complex Carbohydrates: To maintain stable blood sugar levels and stop sudden mood swings, it is advisable to incorporate whole grains into our diets, such as quinoa, brown rice and oats, as they give us a steady flow of energy.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Salmon, walnuts and chia seeds are full of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been associated with reduced anxiety and improved cognitive function. Therefore, these make excellent additions to meals when tackling stress.
- Leafy Green Vegetables: Spinach, kale and Swiss chard, which are all dark leafy greens, are packed with magnesium. This mineral is key to regulating cortisol levels (the stress hormone).
- Berries and Citrus Fruits: To reduce stress and improve our immune system, we should include blueberries, strawberries, oranges and lemons, which are full of vitamin C and antioxidants, into our diets.
- Probiotic Foods: Consuming yogurt, kefir and sauerkraut on a regular basis can contribute to the wellbeing of our gut. Recent research has indicated that a balanced gut microbiome can lead to a more contented mental state and an increased ability to deal with stress.
Cooking as a Stress-Relieving Practice:
Choosing ingredients that support our mental health is not the only way we can deal with stress through food. The act of cooking can have an incredibly beneficial impact on stress management too. Being involved in the process of making a meal provides us with a break from the source of our stress, as it allows us to focus on creating something nutritious and pleasant. The act of cutting vegetables, smelling the spices and putting the food together can be calming and comforting. Furthermore, if we are completely present during the process of cooking, we can divert our attention from the stress triggers and build a state of mindfulness and tranquillity.
To get you started in the kitchen, we have compiled a few easy recipes base on the ingredients we suggested:
Smoked Salmon Roulade
- 1 bunch watercress Drizzle of Olive
- Oil Sat & Pepper to Taste
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) cucumber, peeled and diced
- 1 radish, diced
- 3 tbsp (45 ml) Boursin Cheese
- 3 large slices of smoked salmon fresh dill or parsley
- 2 lemon wedges
Quinoa Fried "Rice"
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp garlic (minced)
- 1/2 tsp ginger (minced)
- 1/4 cup onion (chopped)
- 1/4 cup carrot (chopped)
- 1/4 cup yellow bell pepper (chopped)
- 1/4 cup red bell pepper (chopped)
- 1/4 cup zucchini (chopped)
- 1/4 cup broccoli (blanched)
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp soy sauce
CREAMY COCONUT RICE WITH SPICED CHICKPEAS
(this one is a little bit more, but it's worth it!)
- 4 tablespoon olive oil, divided
- 15.5 oz can chickpeas, drained, rinsed and patted dry (439g)
- 2 shallots, thinly sliced, divided
- 6 cloves garlic, minced, divided
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger (or use ½ tablespoon fresh)
- ½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes(26g)
- 2 tablespoon raw sesame seeds
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
- 2 cups kale, chopped (135g)
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt, more or less to taste
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper, more or less to tate
- 13.5 oz can full fat coconut milk (400mL)
- 3 cups brown basmati rice, cooked and cooled (day old preferred) (600g)
- 3 stalks green onions, sliced
Beef & Kale Queso
- 1 1/2 cup cooked (leftover) beef Pot Roast, finely chopped (we used ground beef and it worked just fine)
- 1 can (10 ounces) diced tomatoes with mild green chilies, undrained
- 1/2 cup beer
- 2 cups shredded regular or reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 cup finely chopped kale leaves
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