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Healthy Eating

Meal plans for enhanced academic performance, improved sleep and lowered stress.

 
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'Big Brains' Eat Grains

The following meals are packed with brain-friendly nutrients that will help enhance your academic performance.

Breakfast

Start your day with a comforting bowl of oatmeal topped with flavorful berries and crunchy nuts.

Lunch

Up next on the menu: a crispy 'burrito' stuffed with fluffy eggs, gooey cheese, juicy tomatoes, and spinach ( I promise you won't even taste it) !

Supper

End the day by treating yourself to a restaurant-worthy salmon sushi bowl. Cucumbers, carrots, and avocado have never tasted this good.

Snacks & Dessert

Still hungry? Homemade chewy granola bars and dark chocolate have got you covered.

Please note that additional costs will apply!

 

Oatmeal with fruits and nuts

Ingredients

1/2 cup whole grain oats

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup blueberries

1/4 cup blackberries

1/4 cup strawberries, chopped

15 g (approx. 2 tbsp) walnuts

15 g (approx. 2 tbsp) almonds

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp honey

Pinch of salt

Optional: splash of milk of choice

Instructions

  1. Bring the water and salt to a boil in a small saucepan.

  2. Stir in the oats and reduce the heat to medium.

  3. Cook for approximately 5 minutes (stir occasionally).

  4. Let cool for 2 minutes and transfer to a bowl.

  5. Top with berries and nuts, then sprinkle with cinnamon and drizzle with honey.

Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from: Eating Well

Estimated cost: $2,37

Image source: VegKitchen

Important INgredients

Whole Grain Oats

Whole grains are complex carbohydrates (a macronutrient) which means they are comprised of three or more sugars.

 

This longer structure results in slower digestion and absorption, providing constant energy over a longer period of time. Thus, they provide a steady stream of 'fuel' for the brain, imperative when it comes to adequate brain activity.

 

Furthermore, without complex carbohydrates, the amino acids (i.e. "building blocks" for different tissues in your body) that stimulate the synthesis of neurotransmitters become less available.

Neurotransmitters are chemical "messengers" that allow the conveyance of impulses ("messages") between nerve cells throughout the brain and the body.

Berries & Cinnamon

Berries, as well as cinnamon, are extremely rich in antioxidants, i.e. molecules that neutralize unstable molecules called free radicals which can harm your cells. In other words, antioxidants protect your brain from damage.

Moreover, antioxidant-rich foods, especially blueberries, ensure optimal brain function by enhancing the signaling between nerve cells. School-wise, this results in better performance during exams, better memory, and better calculations.

Almonds & Walnuts

ALMONDS are not only a great source of antioxidants but are also rich in iron. Iron is a mineral (a micronutrient) that allows red blood cells to carry oxygen to nerve cells in the brain and all other cells in the body. It also helps eliminate carbon dioxide from your cells.

Thanks to these properties, iron is linked to...

  1. Longer attention spans;

  2. Higher IQ and intelligence;

  3. Better concentration;

  4. Improved motivation;

  5. Overall better academic performance.

WALNUTS are an equally good source of antioxidants, but most importantly, they are one of the few excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are further discussed below.

The Importance of Eating Breakfast

Breakfast is the first and the most important meal of the day. According to Dr. Alan C. Logan, author of The Brain Diet, eating breakfast enhances vigilance, attention, arithmetic, and problem-solving abilities of the brain, as well as logical reasoning skills.

Skipping breakfast not only deprives you of these benefits, decreasing your mental well-being, but also detrimentally affects attention, problem-solving abilities, short-term memory, and episodic memory.

Cheesy egg burrito

Ingredients

2 eggs

1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or other cheese of choice)

1/2 cup fresh spinach

1/2 large tomato (or 2 medium tomatoes)

1 medium whole wheat tortilla wrap

Optional: salsa and/or seasoning (to taste), eg. salt, pepper, chili flakes

Instructions

  1. Scramble the eggs over medium heat until cooked through.

  2. Warm the tortillas in the microwave for 10 seconds so they are pliable. Fill with half the egg, cheddar, torn spinach leaves, and chopped tomatoes (drizzle with salsa if using).

  3. Roll the tortilla tightly and tuck in the ends.

  4. Warm the burrito in the microwave for another 10 to 15 seconds until warm.

Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from: Tasty Oven

Estimated cost: $1,66

Image source: Tasty Oven

Important INgredients

Tomato & Spinach

Tomatoes are a source of antioxidants, the benefits of which are further discussed above.

Spinach is a dark leafy green vegetable, which are full of brain-healthy nutrients, such as iron, vitamins E and K, calcium, and folate. Consuming dark leafy greens can slow cognitive decline.

Iron has great benefits for alertness, which is obviously crucial when learning, studying, and writing an exam. In fact, an iron deficiency can result in a perpetual state of tiredness. Iron is further discussed above.

Calcium's importance in terms of brain health is often underappreciated. Not only is it involved in each phase of brain cell development, but it also allows the signaling between nerve cells. When an electrical signal travels through the axon, or "tail", of a brain cell, nerve endings release calcium ions that rush into the cell. Then, the high calcium concentration alerts the brain cell that it must release neurotransmitters and thus convey the "message" to the next cell. The same process is then repeated.

Folate is a B vitamin that reduces homocysteine levels, which can be toxic to neurons (cells in the brain).

Whole Wheat Tortilla

Wheat is a type of grain. Like the breakfast oatmeal, the tortilla is made of a 'whole grain', which means it is in an unprocessed form and is, therefore, richer in nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Furthermore, like berries, whole wheat contains high levels of antioxidants, the benefits of which are further discussed above.

Eggs

EGGS are considered by many health experts as the healthiest food on the planet or "nature's multivitamin". Here is why they are an unparalleled brain food...

1. They are exceptionally rich in choline, an essential nutrient necessary to synthesize a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. Low choline intake is linked to neurological (brain) disorders. Scientists also observed decreased cognitive function in the baby of a choline-deficient pregnant woman.

​2. They contain large amounts of high-quality protein (a macronutrient), the best nutrient for keeping you full over a long period of time, and for building muscle (physical well-being benefits). Proteins consist of amino acids, the importance of which is further discussed above.

​3. They are one of the best sources of essential fats (a macronutrient) called omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, the importance of which is further discussed below.

​All these nutrients support memory and brain development.

SALMON SUSHI BOWL

Ingredients

1/2 cup uncooked brown rice

1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 salmon filet

1 pinch of salt

1/4 tsp of pepper

1/4 tsp chili powder

1/2 large cucumber, sliced

1/2 large carrot, thinly sliced

1/2 avocado

1 tbsp soy sauce

Spicy Mayo:

2 tbsp mayonnaise, 1 tsp Sriracha, 1/4 tsp sesame oil, whisked together

Optional:

1 tbsp eel or hoisin sauce for drizzling if desired, toasted sesame seeds

Instructions

  1. Cook rice according to package instructions and transfer to a bowl to cool.

  2. Preheat oven to 400 °F, then season salmon with salt, pepper, and chili powder.

  3. Heat oil in a large oven-safe skillet over high heat.

  4. Sear salmon on both sides until golden brown and caramelized on the outside 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat.

  5. Brush each piece of salmon with soy sauce and bake for 7 minutes or until the salmon is fully cooked (140 °F ).

  6. Assemble: top the rice with carrots, cucumber, and avocado. Add salmon and drizzle with spicy mayo (and/or eel or hoisin sauce, along with sesame seeds).

Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from: Chef Savvy

Estimated cost: $5,90

Image source: Chef Savvy

Important INgredients

Cucumbers & Carrots

Cucumbers are full of antioxidants, but most importantly, promote hydration because they are composed of about 96% water. This is of extreme significance because even very mild dehydration (2% water loss to the brain) is sufficient to cause fatigue, confusion, dizziness, memory lapses, concentration difficulties, reduced attention span, etc. Proper hydration, despite its simplicity, has great benefits, such as quicker reaction time and quick thinking.

Carrots are a wonderful source of antioxidants and essential minerals.

Olive Oil & Avocado

Fat (a macronutrient) is often demonized by 'wellness wannabes', but it is probably the most important nutrient for our brains. The brain is 60% fat and relies on dietary fat to ensure proper structure and function. However, not all types of fat are 'healthy fats'...

Most oils are extremely delicate. When they are processed and extracted from their whole food sources (to create oils like canola oil, grapeseed oil, etc.) they become "damaged": by making oils tasteless and scentless, we create unwanted trans fat. Trans fats, along with saturated fats, harden the membranes of our brain cells, which are supposed to be supple and flexible to ensure proper communication and optimal brain function. Therefore, it is recommended to consume fats naturally contained in whole foods such as nuts (see breakfast - almonds and walnuts) or avocado.

Avocado is a natural, whole-food source of monounsaturated fats (a safe, beneficial fat that keeps your brain "well-oiled"). It is also rich in antioxidants, iron, calcium, and folate, further discussed above. Moreover, it is one of the best sources of the nutrient lutein, which keeps you mentally sharp. Dark leafy greens (see lunch) are also rich in lutein.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil is also very rich in antioxidants and healthy monounsaturated fats and one of the safest oils to use, because it is the least processed (hence its name, extra virgin olive oil).

Salmon

omega-3 fatty acids are a type of fat. Fat's significance is already discussed on this page. However, it is imperative to stress that omega-3 fatty acids are the most important nutrient for our brains. In fact, they are featured in all the meals of 'Big Brains' Eat Grains (walnuts, eggs, salmon).

​Omega-3 fatty acids belong to polyunsaturated fats (these fats constitute a very large part of our brains) and are used by the body to form the special coating around nerve cells (neuronal membrane, mentioned under Olive Oil & Avocado). This allows for and improves communication between brain cells, which in turn improves brain performance and cognitive function.

 

 

REcommended drinks

Green Tea

Green tea contains a stimulant substance, caffeine, but in lesser amounts than coffee. Caffeine increases the firing of your neurons, but unlike coffee, green tea is less likely to make you feel jittery. Furthermore, it contains an amino acid that increases the activity of certain neurotransmitters and is loaded with antioxidants. Therefore, it has been shown to provide an immediate improvement of mental focus, and to improve vigilance, reaction time, and memory.

Water

As discussed above, adequate hydration has significant benefits. It is recommended to drink warmer water, because it promotes the expansion of blood vessels, increasing the distribution of oxygen to all the cells in your brain and body.

Image source: Eat This, Not That!

Still Hungry?

Snack Idea

Try out this simple and customizable trail mix granola bar recipe. It is filled with different nuts, providing some healthy fats for your brain, but the chewy dried fruits and the delicious maple syrup holding everything together are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth!

Get the full recipe here: Downshiftology

Dessert Idea

Did you know that dark chocolate is highly nutritious? In fact, it is filled with many of the brain-friendly nutrients discussed in 'Big Brains' Eat Grains. A bar of dark chocolate with 70% to 85% cocoa contains significant amounts of iron and is one of the most powerful sources of antioxidants, even more so than berries! Dark chocolate is shown to increase blood flow to the brain, resulting in improved brain function. It also contains stimulant substances like caffeine, which can help increase short-term alertness.

Remember: Healthy eating doesn't mean going on a strict diet, eating only green vegetables, and depriving yourself of the foods you love. Balance is key to building healthy and sustainable eating habits. If you love dark chocolate, have a bite, or two, or ten. But if you prefer ice cream, donuts or cake, honor your cravings just the same!

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Eat. Sleep. Repeat.

Are you tired of your restless nights? The following meals are full of foods and nutrients that will help you improve your sleep.

Breakfast

Start your day with a thick, creamy, and sweet banana cherry smoothie.

Lunch

Up next on the menu: a variety of foods and spices are combined in a flavorful sweet and sour tofu stir fry.

Supper

End the day with a dreamy, Thanksgiving-reminiscent cranberry almond turkey wrap.

Snacks & Dessert

Still hungry? Moist and soft banana bread cookies, along with a warm glass of milk, are the perfect snack before you turn in.

 

Banana cherry smoothie

Ingredients

½ cup milk

1 cup frozen pitted cherries

1 large banana

¼ cup plain yogurt

1 tbsp maple syrup

Instructions

1.Place the milk, frozen cherries, banana, yogurt, and maple syrup into a blender.

2.Place the lid on the blender.  Pulse and blend the ingredients for 1-2 minutes, until smooth.  Serve immediately. 

Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from: The Salty Marshmallow

Estimated cost: $1,87

Image source: The Salty Marshmallow

Important INgredients

Cherries

Cherries are one of the few natural sources of melatonin, a hormone that is also naturally released in the brain, and that promotes sleep. When the amount of melatonin in the brain increases, whether naturally or through dietary intake, it sends a message to the body that it is time to sleep. Studies show that the combination of melatonin and antioxidative properties of cherries aids in sleep quality and can reduce insomnia.

Banana

Bananas contain magnesium, a mineral that helps the body release tension and relax by decreasing the stress hormone, which can disturb your overall nervous system and cause sleep troubles. Magnesium is also shown to relieve insomnia because it maintains GABA levels: the neurotransmitters that promote sleep by slowing brain waves and calming the body. Along with calcium, another mineral found in bananas, magnesium has the ability to relax (or contract) muscles, and to subdue (or stimulate) nerves. The high levels of potassium (mineral) in bananas can also relax muscles and relieve muscle cramps (which can inhibit sleep) because potassium balances the sodium and electrolytes in the body.

Furthermore, bananas are a great source of vitamin B6, which is used by the body during melatonin production (sleep-regulating hormone).

Last, but not least, bananas contain tryptophan, an amino acid, often referred to as "Nature's sleeping pill", that converts to serotonin, a sleep-promoting neurotransmitter.

Milk & Yogurt

Dairy Products contain both calcium and tryptophan. This combination helps the nervous system produce melatonin (hormone) and serotonin (neurotransmitter), which induces a restful sleep and is shown to help individuals fall asleep faster.

Sweet and sour tofu stir fry

Ingredients

Note: This recipe yields 4 servings (use as a meal prep or divide the ingredients by 4 for 1 serving)

Tofu:

450 g extra firm tofu, cut into 1 cm cubes

2 tbsp sodium-reduced soy sauce

¼ cup cornstarch

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

Sweet & Sour Sauce:

½ cup pineapple juice, from a can of pineapple chunks

¼ cup rice vinegar

¼ cup tomato paste

3 tbsp sodium-reduced soy sauce

2 tbsp maple syrup

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tsp cornstarch

1 tsp freshly grated ginger

*All ingredients whisked together

Stir Fry:

1½ cup dry white rice, cooked according to package instructions

 

2 tsp vegetable oil

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

1 large carrot, finely chopped

1 bell pepper, thinly sliced

½ cup canned pineapple chunks

1 green onion, thinly sliced, for garnish

Instructions

  1. To a large shallow bowl, add the tofu cubes and soy sauce, and gently toss to coat. Then add the cornstarch, salt, and pepper. Gently stir until all the pieces are well coated.

  2. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat, and add in the oil. When hot, add the tofu and cook the tofu for 7 to 10 minutes, or until it's crispy and golden on all sides. Don't disturb the tofu too much while it's cooking, otherwise, it might crumble. Only stir it every couple of minutes. Once golden, transfer to a bowl and set aside.

  3. Returning the same large pan to heat, add the oil, onion, and carrot. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, then add the bell peppers and pineapple chunks. Cook for another minute.

  4. Add the sweet & sour sauce to the veggies in the pan, along with the tofu. Let it simmer for 3 minutes, or until the sauce thickens a bit.

  5. Remove it from the heat, serve with rice and garnish with green onions.

Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from: Pick Up Limes

Estimated cost: $2,11

Image source: Pick Up Limes

Important INgredients

Tofu

Soy products are rich in the sleep-inducing minerals magnesium and calcium, further discussed above. Additionally, soy-based foods are rich in isoflavones, compounds that increase the production of serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for sleep. Finally, tofu has a very high protein content. This macronutrient makes you feel more full by reducing levels of ghrelin, a hunger hormone, and increasing levels of peptide YY, a hormone that induces a feeling of satiety. This can prevent you from waking up in the night and craving a midnight snack.

Carrots & Green Onion

Carrots and green onion, as well as most vegetables, are extremely rich in fiber, which prevents blood sugar surges that can lower melatonin, the sleep hormone.

 

Studies also show that higher fiber intake leads to longer slow-wave sleep, i.e. a phase of restorative, dreamless sleep.

Cranberry almond turkey wraps

Ingredients

1 or 2 precooked, pre-roasted, and preseasoned turkey breast strips

1/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries

1/4 cup sliced almonds

2 tbsp mayonnaise

1/2 cup shredded romaine lettuce

Salt and pepper to taste

1 large regular tortilla

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the cranberries, almonds, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper. Stir until combined.

  2. Place the tortilla on a pan on medium heat and warm them on both sides until it becomes lightly golden and pliable.

  3. Fill the tortilla with lettuce and turkey. Top it with the mayonnaise mixture.

  4. Roll the wrap like envelopes, place seam side down, cut in half if desired, and enjoy.

Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from: Zona Cooks

Estimated cost: $4,15

Image source: Zona Cooks

Important INgredients

Romaine Lettuce

Romaine Lettuce contains a phytonutrient called lactucarium, a natural sedative that relieves pain, induces relaxation, and promotes sleep.

'Thanksgiving Combo'

Thanksgiving dinner often leaves us feeling drowsy and relaxed thanks to its festive, often cozy atmosphere, but also because of very scientific reasons.

Turkey is one of the best sources of tryptophan, the amino acid that converts into serotonin (sleep-inducing neurotransmitter), further discussed above. However, when it is consumed along with a high glycemic carbohydrate (a carbohydrate that highly increases blood sugar), such as stuffing on Thanksgiving or the tortilla in this meal, it is absorbed a lot better into the bloodstream. This happens because high-glycemic carbohydrates reduce the level of neutral amino acids that compete with tryptophan for absorption. When adding the antioxidative properties of cranberries, whether they are in sauce form or dried, the 'Thanksgiving combo' is one of the most effective ways to make you fall asleep faster and sink into a deep, restful sleep.

Almonds

Almonds are an excellent source of magnesium, the sleep-inducing mineral further discussed above. They are also one of the few natural sources of the sleep hormone melatonin. Eating almonds has been shown to result in a longer and deeper sleep. They can even relieve insomnia.

REcommended drink

Chamomile Tea with Honey

Chamomile tea is a natural sleep inducer thanks to the compound called flavonoids found in the plant. Flavonoids bind to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain, acting as a mild tranquilizer. This tea also contains various bioactive phytochemicals that could provide therapeutic effects. Indeed, studies show that chamomile tea improves sleep quality.

Honey replenishes glycogen in the liver which is needed to prevent your brain from subduing triggers regarding sleeplessness crisis. It also raises blood sugar levels, better allowing for tryptophan to enter the brain.

Warm tea is a great way to enjoy a mindful, peaceful and soothing moment before turning in.

Still Hungry?

Dessert Idea

Made with bananas and fiber-rich oats, and packed with sleep-inducing vitamins, minerals, and other compounds, these delicious banana bread cookies are a wonderful snack to munch on before bedtime, ideally with a warm glass of calcium-rich and tryptophan-rich milk.

Get the full recipe here: Simply Jillicious

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Eat Snacks & Relax

If you want to feel less stressed, less anxious, and improve your overall mental well-being and mood, the following meal plan is for you.

Breakfast

What better way to begin a 'Self Care Sunday ' than with a heaping pile of pancakes, the ultimate feel-good breakfast food.

Lunch

Up next on the menu: a fancy-looking yet simple meal consisting of eggs, asparagus, baguette, and vinaigrette.

Supper

End the day with a steaming bowl of creamy coconut chana dal. You will be sure to add this meal to your list of ultimate comfort foods!

Snacks & Dessert

Still hungry? Sweet and sour candied oranges, dipped in luscious dark chocolate, are sure to put a smile on your face.

 

Sweet potato pancakes

Ingredients

2/3 cup sweet potato, cooked and well mashed

1 banana, well mashed

2 eggs

2 tablespoons any nut butter, warmed

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl until well mixed with no large clumps. The consistency should be perfect for pancakes, but if it seems too thick for you, add a couple of tablespoons of water or almond milk.

  2. Heat a large skillet (or griddle) over low-medium heat. Wait about 2 minutes for the pan to heat up and then coat with non-stick cooking spray.

  3. Spoon approximately 1/3 cup of batter onto skillet or griddle for each pancake. I cook my pancakes two at a time since I don’t have a griddle. Let the pancakes cook for approximately 3-4 minutes. Flip when bubbles form on the surface and do not fill with batter, and the edges are no longer shiny. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, checking the bottom for golden brown color.

  4. Repeat until your batter is gone, spraying the pan between each set of pancakes.

  5. Top with warm nut butter and maple syrup.

Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from: Project Meal Plan

Estimated cost: $2,29

Image source: Carlsbad Cravings

Important INgredients

Sweet Potato

Sweet potato is one of the top sources of carotenoids, an antioxidant. Studies have shown that individuals with higher levels of carotenoids tend to be more optimistic about the future, which in turn results in lowered anxiety, possibly because the antioxidant is very effective at raising blood levels of vitamin A, important for growth, development, and feeling of strength. Antioxidant-rich foods such as sweet potatoes also decrease oxidative stress and neutralize free radicals, linked to neuropsychological disorders such as depression.

Moreover, sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin C, which makes the body dispense mood-enhancing neurotransmitters, resulting in benefits such as anxiety relief, lowered irritability, and overall mental health improvements.

Finally, nutrient-rich carbohydrate sources like sweet potatoes help lower the stress hormone cortisol, which brings about stress relief.

Banana

Bananas are especially high in folate, a vitamin that plays a key role in treating and preventing depression. A study found that 33% of teenage patients suffering from treatment-resistant depression had a folate deficiency. When they increased their dietary intake of the vitamin, their mental health improved dramatically. It was concluded that without folate, the healthy white matter cannot be formed in the brain.

​Folate benefits on mental health include reduced depressive symptoms in people with normal and low folate levels, reduced levels of anxiety, an important boost in mood.

Fancy Egg & Asparagus

Ingredients

1 egg

8 stalks of baby asparagus

1/2 avocado

Salt and pepper, to taste

Balsamic vinegar, to taste

Extra virgin olive oil, to taste

Optional: Baguette on the side

Instructions

  1. Boil or fry the egg. If boiling, let cool, peel, and cut in four.

  2. Boil the asparagus for 3 to 5 minutes.

  3. Place the asparagus, egg, and avocado on a plate, then drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.

Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from: Yummly

Estimated cost: $3,34

Image source: Yummly

Important INgredients

Eggs

Eggs are extremely rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce depressive symptoms, to have a mood-stabilizing and mood-improving effect, and to treat various mood disorders, including bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder. Researchers have yet to determine a clear explanation for these benefits. However, many suggest that they are likely linked to the ease with which omega-3 fatty acids travel through the brain cell membrane and interact with mood-related molecules inside the brain. They also have anti-inflammatory properties that might relieve depressive symptoms.

Asparagus & Avocado

Asparagus, like bananas, are loaded with antioxidants and the vitamin folate, namely folic acids (a type of B vitamin). Studies show that people with low levels of folic acid tend to suffer from depression and anxiety, and vice versa. Thanks to its high levels of vitamin C, further discussed above,  asparagus can make you feel happier, more vigorous, and less stressed.

​Avocado  is full of healthy fats, which reduce blood pressure and, as a result, stress levels.

Creamy coconut chana dal

Ingredients

Note: This recipe yields 4 servings (use as a meal prep or divide the ingredients by 4 for 1 serving)

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled, minced

1 chili pepper, minced

 

1 Tbsp curry powder

2 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp garam masala


 

1½ cups dry chana dal (split chickpeas), soaked overnight

1 vegetable bouillon cube

 

1½ cups dry brown rice

 

1 can coconut milk (reserve some for serving)

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 yellow bell pepper, chopped

1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

Instructions

  1. Add oil to a large pot on high heat. When hot, add the onion and cook until lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Add splashes of water as needed to deglaze the pot. Then add the garlic, ginger, and chili pepper and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes more.

  2. Drop the heat to medium, and add the curry powder, turmeric, and garam masala, and sauté for 30 seconds.

  3. When the spices are aromatic, add the drained chana dal, bouillon cube, and 2 cups of boiling water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer with the lid partially covered.

  4. Let cook for 30 -to 40 minutes until the chana dal is soft and cooked through, stirring every 10 minutes to avoid burning. If the dal is looking dry and is not yet cooked, add a splash of water as needed.

  5. Cook the rice according to package instructions and taste test the dal; when fully cooked, add the coconut milk, and bell peppers, and cook for 10 minutes more with the lid uncovered. Then add the cherry tomatoes and cook for another 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

  6. Serve the dal with rice.

Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from: Pick Up Limes

Estimated cost: $1,55

Image source: Pick Up Limes

Important INgredients

Garlic

Garlic contains high levels of sulfur compounds which help increase levels of an antioxidant called glutathione, considered as "the body’s first line of defense against stress". Indeed, studies show that boosting glutathione can improve stress resilience, reduce anxiety, treat various mood disorders, calm the mind, and improve mood.

Turmeric

Turmeric has been shown to be as effective against depression as antidepressants. Depression is linked to low levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Curcumin can boost BDNF in the brain, and as a result, reverse depressive symptoms. It can also increase levels of dopamine, a 'feel-good' neurotransmitter, and hormone.

Chickpeas

Chickpeas are very rich in protein and B vitamins, the benefits of which are further discussed above. Furthermore, they contain tryptophan, an amino acid that the body uses to produce various mood-regulating neurotransmitters. Research shows that individuals who consume chickpeas regularly experience a better mood and are less stressed.

REcommended drink

Rooibos Tea

Rooibos tea has been used for centuries to help calm the nerves and reduce anxiety, easing mental health problems. This tea reduces levels of cortisol, your body's main stress hormone, which in turn promotes the release of more 'happy' hormones, such as dopamine.

Still Hungry?

Dessert Idea

Oranges are one of the most obvious sources of vitamin C, which reduces levels of cortisol, your body's main stress hormone, and blood pressure, resulting in significant stress relief. Nothing can make you feel better than treating yourself to something delicious and sweet, so make sure you check out these chocolate covered candied orange slices!

Get the full recipe here: Chocoley

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