7 Foods to Help Fight Depression

There’s no magic cure to stop depression. It takes a lot of work. Having a solid treatment plan is the best way to combat it. But there are other things you can do on your own to help your mood and keep depression at bay… that includes what you eat. We all know we should be eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains while cutting down on processed food. But sometimes that feels like an unrealistic goal. Instead, just try to incorporate a few of these 7 foods that will improve your mood and fight depression.

1. Carbohydrates and Whole Grains

pablo.pngWhen looking for foods to help fight depression definitely consider whole grains. These high-fiber “smart carbs” are great for a quick mood boost. Complex carbohydrates release seratonin, making you feel happier. Try to avoid simple carbs and sugary foods. Instead turn to whole grains, brown rice, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and whole wheat pasta. They can really help with stress.

2. Low-Fat Dairypablo(1)

Dairy is great for your body for a variety of reasons, but low-fat dairy is the richest source of two important nutrients: calcium and vitamin D. In addition, dairy has specific proteins called peptides that help relax you and give you a sense well-being. Try skim milk, yogurt and low-fat cheeses.

3. Turkey

vegetables-glass-meal.jpgYou may associate tryptophan with feeling tired after eating a Thanksgiving meal, but it turns out the chemical in turkey also has big health benefits. Tryptophan stimulates seratonin production, giving you a natural happy feeling. Keep in mind most lean proteins are good for fighting depression, but turkey is the best option thanks to tryptophan. You might just want to take a nap after eating it!

4. Fatty Fish Like Salmon and Tuna
salmon-seafood-fish-restaurant-cuisine-gourmetIf you guessed omega-3 fatty acids for the reason why salmon and tuna are on the list, than you’re right. The fatty acids found in the fish have brain-boosting properties to help fight depression, according to research published in January 2014 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Fatty fish is also good for overall health, they improve circulation and reduce inflammation in the body. It’s not just salmon and tuna that have these properties. Also try mackerel or bluefish! A serving a few times a week could do great things for your mental health!
5. Green Tea
green-tea-press-flowers-kitchen-drink-beverage.jpgGreen tea is a great source of antioxidants, but it’s also a great beverage for fighting depression. The amino acid known as theanine is naturally found in tea leaves and provides a natural anti-stress benefit. So if you’re a coffee drinker (like I am) try switching to cup of green tea every once in awhile to absorb some of its relaxing benefits.
6. Walnutswalnuts-nuts-peeled-baking
If you’re not a fish fan, or want another way to get those omega-3s, try walnuts. While most nuts are a great source of protein and healthy fats, walnuts are the best for fighting depression because they are one of the richest plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
7. Dark Chocolate
close-up-of-dark-chocolate-pieces-and-cocoaCan’t forget about desert! While most people would say they feel happier after eating chocolate, it turns out that chemically that might actually be true. Dark chocolate helps release seratonin and relaxes the blood vessels of the cardiovascular system. So in addition to tasting amazing, also know it really can make you feel better! It’s a good excuse for the next time you indulge.
There are a lot of great foods to help improve your mood or fight depression, but if you’re really struggling, just don’t leave it up to your diet. Talk to your doctor and counselor about the best treatment plan for your condition, but that does generally include making sure you’re taking care of your body. So try these foods they could make a big difference!
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Treat Yourself Tuesdays- Homemade Crispy Thin Crust Pizza

IMG_2737IMG_2739Mmmmm pizza. Really what else can you say about it? It’s also this week’s Treat Yourself Tuesday. This week’s post was recommended by a great friend of mine! So if you ever have any ideas for a post let me know!

The nice thing about making pizza is you can top it with whatever you’d like. This gives you the opportunity to throw in some veggies and get a little extra nutrition. Treat yourself this week, and enjoy this pizza one night.

My sauce recipe is also perfect for any pasta dish you may want to cook up.

What You’ll Need:

For the pizza dough:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 packet dry yeast (1 tsp)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2/3 cup warm water (between 105 and 110 degrees)

(If you have a bread machine, throw all the ingredients in and put it on the dough setting. The wet ingredients should be on the bottom, and the dry on top. The yeast should be the last thing you put in. If you don’t have a bread maker, read on.)

Add the sugar and water in a large bowl until dissolved. Add in the yeast and let sit for a few minutes. The liquid should be foamy. Stir while adding the olive oil.

In a separate bowl, add together the flour and salt. Add the wet and try ingredients together. Knead together until dough forms. (I would suggest dusting your hands in flour). When you get a smooth ball, put it in a oiled bowl, and turn to coat. Cover with a clean towel and leave to rise for an hour.

For the sauce:

  • 2 28oz cans of crushed tomatoesIMG_2735
  • 1 8oz can of tomato sauce
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp crushed black pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 very small white onion chopped.
  • olive oil.

Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add the chopped tomato, stirring occasionally until somewhat caramelized. Add the rest of the ingredients. When it starts to bubble, turn down to a simmer. Leave on the stove for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep tasting and add anything you think it needs.

What you need for toppings:

  • 1 oz package of fresh mozzarella
  • fresh basil leaves
  • *any other toppings you desire.

IMG_2734Preheat the over to 450 degrees. When the dough is done rising, roll out into one large pizza, or two small ones. Because this is a thin crust pizza, the dough doesn’t behave as well. Stretch out, or use a rolling pin to roll out the dough extremely thin. Place on a baking sheet. Slice the fresh mozzarella and put it on the pizza. Add whatever other toppings you decide to use. I used sliced peppers. Put in the oven for 10-15 minutes.

Take out when the cheese is melted and the edges of the crust begin to brown. Take out of the oven and top with fresh basil leaves. Enjoy your fresh crispy thin crust pizza!

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Delicious Summer Recipes!

I’ve been lazy about positing. Mostly because I’m at the beach, and unfortunately I’ve still had quite a bit of work to do here. But here’s something I wanted to share for awhile! I know for many summer might be winding down, but lets face it, it’s still going to be hot for awhile. So if you’re still looking for a great treat here’s some delicious summer recipes for your next BBQ, or just to keep cool.

Summer Berry Sorbet with Homemade Whipped CreamIMG_2506

This is the perfect treat to cool down, and you don’t even need an ice cream maker. (Although admittedly it’s just so much easier. Wish list for Kara: ice cream maker to go with my KitchenAid blender.) It’s only a few ingredients, so prep only takes a few minutes. The whipped cream makes for a really delicious addition, especially when the sorbet begins to melt.

 

basil watermelon slushWatermelon & Basil Summer Slush

A great drink to cool down with! If you’re planning on having people over on a hot August day, this is the perfect thing to cool them down. (If you really want to have a party just add a shot of vodka 😉 haha.) It’s extremely flavorful and the flavors are perfect for summer. The recipe makes one drink so make sure to multiply if you’re having company!

 

IMG_1482Seared Tuna with a Chili Soy Blood Orange Glaze

I love this recipe. I’m also a sucker for seared tuna. This works well for summer because it’s still somewhat cold. The edges are seared but its not a heavy or hot meal. Technically blood oranges are a winter fruit, so you may have some trouble finding them. If you can’t, you can always use regular oranges. Crush a few raspberries into the marinade and that will be closer to the flavor of a blood

orange.

salmon with border

Grilled Salmon with Ginger Soy Glaze

Fire up the grill. This is another great fish dish for summer. This glaze is incredible and really infuses a lot of flavor into the fish. Add some grilled veggies as a side and you’ve got an entire meal. It’s also much a quick and easy meal to make during the week. This is also a great option for those who want another option for the grill besides meat.

IMG_2510Savory Sweet Potato Burrito

I love sweet potato burritos. It sounds funny, but it’s amazingly good. I first had one at this great place in West Philadelphia. I then tried to replicate the recipe to the best of my abilities. I never thought about a sweet potato burrito before, but really it’s pretty incredible. This is another delicious summer recipe. If you haven’t had sweet potato in Mexican food before, definitely give this a shot.

 

 

Image-1-1Grilled Chilies Rellenos

Another great Mexican-inspired dish.  love the added tastiness of the grill, however you can of course do this in the oven. But who doesn’t love the taste of the grill? The mix of the poblano pepper, cotija cheese and chicken thighs is awesome. I think chicken thighs are really underutilized sometimes. This is something a little different than just the typical burgers and fries to throw on the grill.

 

zuchhini pasta w/ borderZucchini Pasta w/ Old Bay Ship, Heirloom Tomatoes & Fresh Corn

Zucchini pasta is such a great option for summer! It won’t weigh you down in the same way normal pasta will. Plus who doesn’t love Old Bay on shrimp? This is a great light summer dish that’s perfect for dinner. Zucchini pasta is extremely easy to make. You don’t even need one of those veggie pasta makers. I just use my cheese grater! Use all the great summer vegetables in this dish.

bruschetta with borderSummer Bruschetta

I really am not a fan of raw tomatoes. But I love this bruschetta recipe. Fresh tomatoes, corn and goat cheese makes for a delicious summer recipe! This is also such an easy and great option for entertaining. Check out the recipe!

 

FullSizeRender(3)Egg White Lemon Crepes w/ Berry Filling

A light crepe filled with summer berries! The light lemon flavor really comes through nicely in the crepe. These are really easy and quick to make. Top with some tasty whipped cream and serve it up for breakfast. Great for yourself or the entire family. You can really put any berries in the filling, but take advantage of all the in season berries. They’re so good right now!

IMG_2432Green Bean Fries

This is a great side dish for the summer. If you’re firing up the grill for burgers and want a side of fries, here’s a summer veggie option instead. They aren’t the same as normal fries obviously, but they’re crispy and delicious. A quick breading and they’re off in the oven. So easy to make! Think of this side the next time you’re making dinner or want a healthy snack.

 

IMG_2445

Fresh Corn & Quinoa Congee

I am sorry to all the people out there who have grown up with congee. This won’t be nearly as wonderful as anything your family used to make. But man this is still a delicious recipe. Quinoa is an awesome substitute for rice, and the fresh corn screams summer. It’s a great breakfast or lunch option. Honestly, I could eat it all day long.

 

IMG_1791Green Pea and Avocado Soup

This soup is great for summer, not only because of the fresh peas and avocado, but because this can be served hot or cold. I’m not the biggest fan of cold soups, but this is really flavorful and perfect when you don’t feel like eating something hot in the summer heat! Serve alone or with any protein you want. I chose fish. YUM.

 

So this is the 2016 list. Let me know whether or not there’s anything you like to see, or if you like the recipes or not!

Savory Sweet Potato Burrito

Philadelphia residents are familiar with the iconic burrito IMG_2510joint “Honest Tom’s.” Now I’ve talked before about my love of a certain breakfast burrito in DC. Now I’ve found another burrito love, and it’s the sweet potato burrito at “Honest Tom’s.” It sounded weird to me at first, but this burrito is so soft, tender and flavorful. So I wanted to try and replicate it. Now I know I’ll never even come close to achieving the perfection that is “Honest Tom’s” burrito, but I still wanted to make my own version. So that’s the recipe I’m posting today. This will make a couple of burritos, so it’s perfect for a small group or for leftovers.

 

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 package cotija cheese
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 package large tortilla shells (the largest you can find
  • Mexican Rice (You can find my recipe here.)
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Adobo seasoning
  • olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Take a cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil or give a generous spray with non-stick cooking spray. (I like to cover my pan with aluminum foil for easy clean up.)

IMG_2509Peel the sweet potatoes, and cut them into large strips. They should be about an inch wide. Place them on the baking sheet, and flip over so they’re coated. Season with salt, pepper and the adobo seasoning. Put the sweet potatoes in the oven for about 20 minutes or until soft. I put the broiler on for the last few minutes to kind of get a crust and add some texture into the sweet potato.

Chop up the poblano pepper, put it on the stove with some olive oil until the peppers soften a little. Then add the black beans and a little salt to heat them up.

Put to tortillas in the microwave for 30 seconds to get them soft and warm. This is easier for folding the burrito.

Put the cheese, black bean mixture, sweet potatoes, Mexican rice, avocado strips and tomato in the tortilla and fold into a burrito. (I’m still working on perfecting that.)

If you like it spicy, like i do, eat with your favorite hot sauce! Enjoy!

Grilled Chiles Rellenos

IMG_2443Now for anyone who really knows a lot about chiles rellenos, this might be a total sham. But this is such a great summer option. Fire up the grill and enjoy a great summer treat. Poblanos are one of my favorite peppers. They’re not really spicy, but they have such a powerful flavor. Plus the interesting way of making the chicken, really adds a lot of moisture and flavor.

 

What you’ll need:

  • 4 poblano peppers
  • 2 large chicken thighs
  • 2 tbsps butter
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 medium tomato
  • 10-12 oz queso cotija (more cheese is always better)
  • salt
  • chili powder
  • pepper
  • garlic powder
  • adobo seasoning
  • olive oil
  • can of refried beans (This is optional. I prefer black if available)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Take the two chicken thighs, season them with generous amounts of salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic powder and adobo seasoning. Take the tomato and puree it in a blender or food processor. Take an oven safe skillet or pot with a lid. Add the milk, butter and tomato. Heat over very low heat, just to warm and melt the butter. Add in a tsp of salt and a pinch of chili powder. Keep stirring occasionally until heated and the liquid becomes almost a salmon color. Place the chicken thighs in the pan with the tomato and milk mixture. Put in the oven for about 20-25 or until the chicken thighs are done. Luckily thighs cook pretty quickly.

Fire up the grill! When the chicken is done, take it out to the grill and flash grill it. It adds a great smokiness and texture. About one to two minutes on each side. (obviously you can skip this step, but you need to use the grill anyway later and it makes a big difference)

IMG_2439Take the poblanos and make a circular cut around the top, and pull out the stem and the seeds. The results should be a hollowed out pepper. Take the cooked chicken thighs and start shredding the IMG_2440chicken with a fork. When done, add the chicken to the bowl with the cotija cheese. (leave a little off to the side for a topping later) take the chicken and cheese mixture and stuff the poblano peppers. Make sure they’re really stuffed to the brim to make sure you get the maximum amount of cheese and chicken.

When stuffed, grease the outside of the poblano peppers. Sprinkle with salt and wrap in aluminum foil. Grill the peppers for 6-8 minutes or until soft, turning the peppers occasionally.

Top the peppers with some refried beans and extra cotija cheese. Enjoy!!IMG_2443

Summer Bruschetta

IMG_1918Full disclosure: I hate raw tomatoes. I know. I know. What planet did I come from? And what business do I have making bruschetta? Well the tomatoes this summer are so good, that even I can eat them. So if you’re a tomato lover, then you’ll go crazy for this bruschetta. Super quick and easy for a party, or just a snack at home.

The recipe makes about 6.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 medium heirloom tomato (if you’re making multiple servings get several different colors to make it really pop!)
  • 1 cob of corn
  • 1 avocado
  • about 3 leaves of fresh basil
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil (or more if you prefer)
  • 5oz package goat cheese
  • baguette
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1/2 a lime (enough for a good squeeze)

Chop up the tomato and avocado. Mince the garlic. Chop up basil.

If you have a grill…. wrap up the cob in some foil. Heat over the grill, turning occasionally until there’s a slight char. If you don’t have a grill, the open flame on your stove will work… just grab the cob with some tongs. If you have an electric stove, you can put it straight on the burner… i find it doesn’t work as well… but it’ll get the job done.

Put a little olive oil in a pan and heat. Throw the garlic and cook until slightly brown (this should be super quick).

In a bowl add all of the ingredients except for the cheese and bread. Add the salt, pepper and lime to taste. I find just one good squeeze of a lime will get the job done. Mix well.

Slice the baguette into 1/2 inch thick slices.it’s up to you whether or not you want to toast the bread. if it’s really soft I’d suggest it… if the bread is a little harder you can skip that step. I’m always a fan of toasted bread.

Spread some of the goat cheese on each piece of bread & top with the tomato mixture. Yum! Enjoy a great summer snack!

Low-Calorie Breakfast Tacos

Over the last few years I’ve been in a love affair with, what I consider to be, the MOST AMAZING  breakfast burrito in the universe. (my friends think I’m insane.) It was a constant staple for me while I was living in the Washington DC area.

Now I am aware there are breakfast burritos in Philadelphia. But there are 2 problems. First, I’m not sure I believe I can ever find one that’s as soul-satisfying as the one I’ve grown to love. (Yes, I know I’m being a little dramatic.) Second, I’ve been doing so well at eating healthy, and I didn’t want to get derailed because of a burrito.

So to make a long story short, I wanted to find a healthy way to satisfy my craving for this burrito. So I came up with this healthier recipe for breakfast tacos.

(UPDATE! Turns out La Tortilla factory also makes a large tortilla, so you could make this same recipe into a burrito! I’ve yet to try but it should be the same recipe just with one big tortilla instead of two little ones!)

IMG_1483

Makes: 2 Breakfast Tacos  

Calories: 287

What you’ll need:

-3/4 cup egg whites

-1/4 cup poblano peppers chopped

-4 tbsp Black refried beans (I used Amy’s brand, I’m sure others are out there)

-1/4 cup shredded white cheddar cheese (I used Horizon brand)

-2 whole wheat low carb/ high fiber tortillas from “La Tortilla Factory” (They’re fantastic, and only 50 calories a tortilla. Of course you can use whatever tortillas you like, but these were a huge help in getting the calories lower. Of course if you’re looking to cut carbs all together make it a lettuce wrap!)

-2-3 tbsps of your favorite salsa (I used a poblano salsa made by 365. Can you tell I love poblano peppers?)

-Salt & pepper to taste

-lettuce & tomato if you so choose. And of course your favorite kind of hot sauce!!!

Heat up skillet. If needed, spray with a non-stick spray. Add the egg whites, poblano peppers, salt & pepper to the skillet. Scramble the egg mixture. Cook until firm.

Take the tortillas. To make them even better heat the tortillas on a skillet & brown. Gives it a great texture. Alternatively pop them in a microwave to warm.

Heat up refriend beans on microwave or stove.

Fill the tortillas with the scrambled eggs & refried beans. Top with salsa and cheese.

Make it your own by adding, whatever veggies you like like lettuce, fresh tomatoes and hot sauce. (I used a habanero garlic hot sauce. Really gave the tacos a flavor boost.)

ENJOY!