Your mental health to function at it’s best requires a multi-faceted care routine. Physical activity is one essential part. The input of human connection is another. Your brain needs creative exercises. Self care is important. Proper sleep is crucial. Professional support may become part too. Our food relationship plays into our mental well being too. At times our emotions start to over ride the food choices we make, “eating your feelings” or “moody eating.” This can lead to body and mental harming decisions. Or it could be telling us something important we need. What if you could flip your food life and eat for your moods? Give your brain and nerves what they need ahead of time and enhance their function.
When you eat for your brain, think “whole rainbow.” If it doesn’t require an ingredient list or has very few ingredients, eat it. Avoid chemical, dyes, etc as much as possible. They can harm your physical body then affect your mental health. Then aim for variety in fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains. Super food is a gimmick. There are some foods like avocados, spinach, kale, berries that are dense in nutrients. More bang for your buck. But their impact on your health is limited if you limit what you eat with them. The variety doesn’t have to be daily and balance is key. Eat seasonal or rotate. For us this week it’s mangoes, pineapple, tomatoes, carrots, cauliflower, green lettuce. Next week will be a different story. Go “whole rainbow.”
This is where my food life gets serious. I LOVE herbs and spices. Recently, a well meaning comment was made on a food item not having any flavor because it didn’t have salt. No salt doesn’t have to mean no flavor. We have much work to do in our food life if we believe that. Seasoning is more than flavor. Just as your food is rich in brain and nervous system nutrients, herbs can do the same. The herbs used in the recipes/ideas below have a variety of key nutrient players for mental wellness. We will cook with chives, parsley, ginger, dill, and garlic. These offer magnesium, iron, choline, potassium, calcium, vitamin C, copper, and zinc. All of these are important for your mental functionality. I come across magnesium and zinc often as natural options people use for mental wellness. Three out of six of our household members take magnesium for mental focus and help with migraines as a part of our medical conversations and care routines. Do caution with mixing with other meds and zinc should by food digestion only; just because it’s on a OTC shelf doesn’t mean it’s safe. Other herbs and spices help with brain and nerve function: rosemary, basil, cinnamon, peppermint, lavender, bay leaf, etc.
Let’s start with the A.M. Eggs and I have a love hate/relationship. I love eggs, the yolk hates me back. Pictured are egg whites due to this relationship but this works with scrambled eggs/omelet too. It’s as easy adding a teaspoon of dill/ teaspoon of chives to your eggs while cooking. You can do fresh herbs. In this case I did dried dill and 3 chive stalks chopped. Chives give a onion taste (similar to a green onion) with dill adding lively flavor. Another way to take your A.M. lightly.
This dish can go so many ways. The base consists of lightly cooked veggies such as zucchini, carrots, mushrooms, onion, bok choy, etc. I cooked them in a tablespoon of butter with two cloves of garlic chopped and 2 teaspoons of ground ginger. Not all veggies require the same amount of cooking. Carrots, onion, mushrooms take longer. After cooking five to seven minutes, add in things like zucchini and bok choy to cook a few minutes more. You can add rice, I chose rice noodles. Often I leave meat out of this part of the food relationship. However, meat can be added. I broke the routine by adding teriyaki marinated chicken in this case.
In all honesty, I thought all my children would hate this following meal. Redreignofterror did not disappoint but the feedback I got wasn’t half bad. The adults loved it. This adult loved the simplicity and cheese. Watching fats and getting in the good fats are important. This was part of a day with very low fat. A creamy, cheesy meal was well deserved. Herbs make the encounter interesting with a balanced, light flavor.
A couple of notes about the recipe. Dried herbs can replace fresh ones. I seriously did put in a packaged food. I truly did not feel like cooking and chopping bacon, I don’t like grease or touching grease. However, bacon can be cooked and chopped instead of the suggested ingredient. Dealers choice.
I am currently glued to culinary videos and trying out new recipes. Look out for more recipes and ways to liven up your food life soon.
Namaste in your mental health and food life journey