During the midst of all the snowstorms we are getting, you can chase the winter blues away by eating yourself happy with healthy, satisfying foods. Eat Yourself Happy, a recently published book by Gill Paul, is an informative guide to eating right and improving your mind-set. Everyone at some given time feels low and discouraged, especially when we are cooped up and snowed in because of the cold as with the polar vortex and seemingly endless snow storms. Sometimes these feelings can carry on for weeks, maybe months. There are many types of depression with different causes, but almost all are improved by eating the right kinds of foods that make you feel good and stimulate your mind.
Avoiding sugary substances and alcohol is helpful as it can only lead to feeling down in the dumps. According to Paul, lack of sunlight is an additional factor that makes us depressed, because sunshine stimulates estrogen, serotonin, and the synthesis of vitamin D. By making simple dietary changes, most depressions can be eased. It a matter of including foods that stabilize blood sugar, supply vitamins and minerals where your body might be lacking and supplying food to stimulate the brain. Most of the foods on Paul’s list are favorite foods for most people – dark chocolate, avocado and garlic.
Here's Paul's complete list of 21 winter-blues-busting foods:
Salmon, mackerel, almonds, eggs, kale, sweet potatoes, Brazil nuts, turkey, dark chocolate, oats, strawberries, avocado, romaine lettuce, bananas, dairy, pineapple, sour cherries, barley, garlic, lentils, and sesame seeds
Out of this list, you are sure to find many foods that will appeal to you and perk up you winter doldrums.
Here is one recipe from Paul’s book and, as you may know, kale is the new wonder food.
Thai Turkey Burgers with Crispy Kale
- 1 lb ground turkey thigh meat
- 4 scallions, finely chopped
- 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 lemongrass stalk, outer leaves removed and core finely chopped
- 1/2 red chile, seeded and finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 4 whole-wheat buns, warmed
- sea salt and black pepper
- Crispy kale
- 4 1/2 cups bite-size kale pieces
- finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- sesame seeds, for sprinkling (optional)
- To make the crispy kale, put the kale into a large bowl and toss with the lemon zest, olive oil, and a little sea salt. Arrange in a single layer on 1 or 2 baking sheets.
- Place in a preheated oven, at 400°F, for 15–20 minutes, turning halfway through cooking time, until crunchy and crisp. Sprinkle with a little more salt or some sesame seeds, if desired.
- Meanwhile, put the turkey into a large bowl with the onions, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, chile, and cilantro. Mix well, then season to taste and stir in the egg.
- Use your hands to shape the mixture into 4 large balls, then press them firmly into patty shapes. Place under a preheated hot broiler and cook for 5 minutes on each side, or until golden and cooked through.
- Serve in warm whole-wheat buns with crispy kale on the side.
According to George Mateljan on his website, whfoods.org, turkey has recently been shown to fall into a group of high-protein foods (including tuna and egg whites) that can help keep post-meal insulin levels within a desirable range. Four ounces of skinned turkey breast will provide 30-35 grams of protein, with less than 1 gram of total fat. The rich amount of protein contained in turkey is enough to help stabilize and regulate meal digestion thus helping to stabilize insulin levels. Pasture-raised, organic turkey has increased levels of omega-3 and is a food that we would consider whole and natural.
Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables around and one way to be sure to enjoy the maximum nutrition and flavor from kale is to cook it properly. Mateljan recommends healthy steaming kale for 5 minutes. To ensure quick and even cooking cut the leaves into 1/2" slices and the stems into 1/4" lengths. Let them sit for at least 5 minutes to enhance their health-promoting qualities before steaming.
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