Did you know that diet is one of the most readily available tools to improve mood and reduce anxiety? Food as medicine applies to the mind as well as the rest of the body. Leslie Korn, PhD a leading expert in natural healing for trauma and mood disorders offers two recipes that will soothe the mind and calm nerves. Her book, Good Mood Kitchen, Nutritional Essentials for Mental Health ((WW Norton, 2017) is a wealth of easy to understand guidance on how food affects the brain, your mood and cognition.
Recipes for a Good Mood
Calm the Nervous System: Repose Broth
This broth, made from nutritious alkalinizing vegetables, relaxes the parasympathetic nervous system, which governs the enzymes juices and movement of digestion.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 1-2 hours
Yields 2 quarts broth
2 qts. water
2 large potatoes, chopped or sliced to approx. Half-inch slices
1-2 c. carrots, and ends and carrot greens, shredded or sliced
1-2 c. celery and ends chopped or shredded, leaves and all
Handful of beet tops, turnip tops, parsley, onion, or whatever you have from the garden or left over from cooking and salads during the week.
2 cloves crushed garlic
Fresh herbs like sage, rosemary, thyme
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 tsp. mineral-rich sea salt (supports adrenal function)
1 tsp. miso (add at the end)
- Place all ingredients (except fresh herbs, cayenne, sea salt, and miso) in a large stainless steel, enamel, glass, or earthenware pot. Cover and cook slowly for about 1 hour.
- After the vegetables are finished cooking add fresh herbs like sage, rosemary, thyme, and a pinch of cayenne pepper and sea salt.
- Strain the broth off, squeezing the liquid off the vegetables, then add a teaspoon of miso after the broth is finished cooking and serve warm or as a cool drink.
If not used immediately, keep in refrigerator. You can also use this as a base for any soup to enhance its value and of course freeze it in containers and add to the slow cooker when making soups.
Cooking Tip: Miso is a very versatile food made from fermented beans or grains. Start with a mild tasting miso, like white or barley miso. Never boil miso as it will kill the healthy bacteria. Always add it to soup after you have turned off the heat.
Shopping Tip: Not enough vegetables for your broth? The local food coop often has a “seconds basket” with two-day old veggies that are inexpensive and perfect for this broth.
Teaching Tip: This is a great way to teach our children about how to use almost every part of the food we eat.
Calming Green Tea Smoothie
“Green tea is an ideal beverage to reduce anxiety while staying alert and focused,” says Leslie Korn, PhD. Matcha green tea is a good source of the anxiolytic amino acid theanine, which has calming properties. This smoothie can be eaten any time of day but preferably before 6 pm. She recommends experiment with seasonal ingredients. The tea will last a week in the fridge.
½ c. almond or hemp milk or whole milk yogurt (cow or goat)
¼ c. frozen blueberries or raspberries
1 tsp. matcha, green tea powder, or ½ c. concentrated green tea
3 drops liquid Stevia or a tsp. raw honey to taste
Optional: half a banana
Blend until smooth.
TIP: Use stevia liquid; the powder can leave a bitter aftertaste.
TIP: Use honey sparingly but when you do, buy raw honey that is local to your neighborhood or region. Raw, local honey can also help reduce allergies and is anti-bacterial.
NOTE: If you use the green tea bags, steep 6 in a quart of hot water for 20 minutes. After you use the bags, save them in the fridge and apply them to your eyes while you rest to reduce inflammation or tired eyes. Benefits all around!
For more on recipes and how foods calm the mind and reduce anxiety, see Leslie Korn’s book, Good Mood Kitchen. “Revolutionize your personal cooking and eating habits for optimal energy, health, and emotional well-being. This book of mood-savvy tips, tools, and delicious recipes guides you step by step through all the essentials. It features dozens of easy-to-understand graphics, lists, and charts to help prioritize choices for maximum benefit.”
Stewart is an award-winning editor, food and health journalist and best-selling author of Eating Between the Lines, the supermarket shopper's guide to the truth behind food labels (St. Martin's Press).