Eating when stressed can be a bad habit when the food of choice is a candy bar or bag of chips. Try these healthy foods that are actually proven to lower stress levels.
Go bananas. Bananas are high in potassium, which aids in the regulation of blood pressure. Lots of other fruits and vegetables contain potassium, but it’s especially high in bananas. In addition to stress benefits, bananas can also relieve heartburn and keep your blood sugar levels up.
Snack on a handful of nuts. They’re packed with magnesium, which seems to help keep cortisol levels low. Nuts are high in calories, so if you’re watching your weight, make sure not to eat more than a dozen a day.
Eat broccoli. Broccoli has folic acid, which aids in stress reduction and prevention of irritability.
Enjoy a little sugar. Sugary foods decrease levels of anxiety-producing hormones, specifically through the production of glucocorticoid, a stress hormone linked to storing more fat in the belly. Just a little sugar on the tongue is enough to produce a feel-good effect, so don’t overdo it!
Have something whole grain. Complex carbohydrate-rich foods raise serotonin levels, boosting your mood and helping you relax. Try an English muffin with jam or honey.
Choose the salmon. Omega-3 fatty acids help brain cells to function more collaboratively, helping you to deal with stress more effectively.
Indulge in some dark chocolate. By far the most potent endorphin-producing food on earth, chocolate contains more than 300 different compounds, including anandamide, a chemical that mimics marijuana’s effects on the brain, and theobromine, a mild stimulant. Look for imported dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 70% or more.
Drink a glass of milk. It contains tryptophan, which as it is metabolized is converted to mood-boosting serotonin. Plus, its calcium, magnesium and potassium content may help keep blood pressure down.
Drink hot cocoa. Warm drinks raise your body temperature-a feeling we associate with comfort, so it triggers a similar response in our brains.
Order black tea instead of coffee. Research shows that drinking black tea four times a day for six weeks lowered the stress hormone cortisol after a stressful event.
Drink green tea-packed with theanine, which increases the brain’s output of relaxation-inducing alpha waves and reduces the output of tension-making beta waves.
Here are some de-stressing recipes to try!
Baked Banana Chips
Slice a banana into 1/8-inch-thick rounds and lay on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 200 degrees F until golden, 2 to 3 hours. Let harden at room temperature.
Healthy Broccoli Cheddar Soup
1 bunch broccoli
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 medium red-skinned potato, diced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup grated extra-sharp Cheddar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
One 12-ounce can fat-free evaporated milk
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Separate the stems and the florets from the broccoli. Trim and discard the bottom of the broccoli stems and peel the tough outer layers. Finely chop the stems and coarsely chop the florets and set aside separately.
Mist a large pot with nonstick cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add the broccoli stems, onions and potatoes and cook, stirring, until softened, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Stir in the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and continue to cook; stirring occasionally, until thickened and the vegetables are tender, 12 to 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the reserved florets and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover and continue to steam until the florets are bright green and crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add the entire contents of the pot with the florets to the soup along with the nutmeg. Stir to combine and remove from the heat. Stir in the Cheddar, Worcestershire and milk. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with the scallions.
Light Frozen Chocolate Mousse Pie
(adapted from a Bobby Deen recipe.easy and tasty)
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup low-fat milk
2 tablespoons dark corn syrup
2 tablespoons chocolate-flavored liqueur
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons meringue powder
1 1/2 cups fat-free frozen whipped topping, thawed
One 9-inch pre-made rolled pie crust, baked according to directions on box and cooled
Half 1-ounce-square semisweet chocolate, grated, for garnish.
Melt both chocolates and the milk in a double boiler over low heat. Remove from the heat and add in the corn syrup, chocolate-flavored liqueur and vanilla extract. Mix together and allow to cool completely.
With an electric mixer on high speed, beat the meringue powder with 6 tablespoons water in a medium bowl until glossy peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the beaten meringue and the whipped topping into the cooled chocolate mixture until no streaks of white remain. Spoon into the prepared crust and spread evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until frozen, for a couple of hours. Garnish with grated chocolate and serve.
Cook’s Note: Meringue powder can be found now at most grocery stores or at craft stores in the cake decorating supplies section
If you are looking for ways to eat smart, move more and weigh less join us next Thursday. The Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less program consists of 15 weekly sessions that provide you with educational information, materials, and other incentives to live a healthy lifestyle. The classes will be held at the Center for Health and Wellness on Thursdays from 12:00 noon to 1:00 PM beginning March 7th and running through June, but you must attend the free information session first. The cost of the class is $40.00. For more information please contact Kim Reid (910) 592-7161.