By Tiffany Block
With the holidays over, shorter periods of daylight and temperatures dropping, it is common to feel a little “down” in the first few months of the year. Many of us tend to look back at the last year and focus on what we didn’t achieve or what goals we didn’t meet.
A mild decrease in mood and energy is extremely common this time of year, and can be improved through certain mood-enhancing foods. The old saying is true – “You are what you eat.”
Lifting your spirits can be just a matter of eating the right mood food!
Tuna is loaded with good-mood inducing Omega-3 fatty acids. Keep your pantry and desk at work stocked with tuna pouches. Simply add tuna to a salad or to a whole-wheat cracker for a healthy mood-boosting snack.
Cut down on the caffeine. I know many of us feel as though we can’t do without our morning “Joe.” Although it can provide an initial boost in energy and concentration, too much caffeine is linked to depression, anxiety and mood swings.
Spinach is an excellent source of Vitamin C and folate – both mood-boosting nutrients that help make serotonin. Serve as a side or add it to dishes like omelets, quiches or casseroles.
Poultry, such as turkey and chicken, are excellent mood enhancers. They release the amino acid, tryptophan, which is converted into serotonin. A turkey sandwich is a great way to get tryptophan, however this amino acid can also cause fatigue. Therefore, it’s best to stick to a tuna sandwich for lunch and have turkey in the evening, closer to bedtime.
Eat small meals or snacks every few hours to avoid peaks and valleys in blood sugar levels. This will result in positive energy levels and a stable mood throughout the day.
Exercise also increases serotonin levels, so try to add 30 extra minutes of activity a day. This will especially help with getting rid of those extra holiday pounds.
King Ranch Chicken Casserole
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
2 cups chicken broth
1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chile peppers
1 (12 ounce) package corn tortillas
3 cups cooked, diced chicken breast meat
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
8 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the chicken soup, mushroom soup, broth and tomatoes with chiles. Set aside.
Lightly grease a shallow 3-quart casserole dish. Layer half the tortillas, half the chicken, half the onion, half the bell pepper and half the cheese in the casserole dish. Pour half of the soup mixture over the layers. Repeat the layers of tortillas, chicken, onion and bell pepper; pour the remaining soup mixture over the top, then top with the remaining cheese.
Sprinkle with chili powder and garlic salt and bake for 30 to 45 minutes.
Spinach and Mushroom Salad
4 slices bacon
2 teaspoons white sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound spinach
1/4 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly browned. Crumble and set aside. Reserve 2 tablespoons bacon fat.
Place eggs in a saucepan and cover completely with cold water. Bring water to a boil. Cover, remove from heat, and let eggs stand in hot water for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from hot water, cool, peel and cut in wedges.
Return 2 tablespoons bacon fat to skillet, stir in sugar, vinegar, water and salt. Keep warm.
Wash and remove stems from spinach, dry thoroughly and break into pieces in salad bowl. Pour warm dressing over and toss until coated.
Top salad with mushrooms and bacon, garnish with egg.
Cold Tuna and Macaroni Salad
3 cups macaroni
1/2 (10 ounce) package frozen green peas
2 (6 ounce) cans tuna, drained
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup red onion (diced)
1 celery stalk (diced)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Place eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Over medium heat, bring water to a full boil. Lower heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Immediately plunge eggs into cold water.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add macaroni pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and rinse under cold water.
Put frozen peas into a colander and rinse with hot water; drain well. In a large bowl place the macaroni and peas. Peel eggs and dice them into the bowl. Add onion and celery. Place the tuna in the bowl, flaking it apart.
Stir mayonnaise into the mixture a little at a time, so the mixture is moist but not soggy. Sprinkle the salt and pepper and mix one last time. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.