Boost Your Mood With Food

 

When life gets tough the tough eat salmon? Ok, that’s not how the saying goes, but if the tough want to keep their spirits high through trials and tribulations they might want to consider such notions.

We all know that maintaining a healthy, balanced diet contributes to a sense of well-being, but did you know that vitamin and mineral deficiencies effect state of mind too? Or that even the act of cooking can reduce stress? It’s true, especially if you love to cook. Follow these three tips to boost your mood with food.

 

Eat beans and spinach. Low levels of folate and other B vitamins has been shown to increase depressed feelings, and these two foods contain copious amounts of it. Other great sources include citrus fruits and juices, whole grains, and meats such as poultry, pork, and shellfish.

Eat Salmon. Salmon contains two mood enhancing nutrients: omega-3 fatty acid and vitamin D. Numerous studies show a correlation between low levels of vitamin D and mood irregularity. Omega 3s assist in brain function and help for a smooth connection of  neurotransmitters.

Love to cook. The act of cooking, especially once you discover the joy of preparing food, can improve your mood. If you’re too busy to plan a meal or go to the grocery store consider joining a cooking club like HelloFresh. This company lets you pick out the meals you like on-line, then they send you a box that includes three recipes and all the ingredients you need to make the meals at home. Also, don’t rush in the kitchen, make the time you are there your “me time”. Turn on your favorite music, pour yourself a glass of wine, and move to the rhythm as you chop-and-saute the day away. 

 

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Baked Beans Recipe: The Perfect Summer Side Dish

One of my go-to summer sides for day of grilling or campfire cooking is baked beans. I'm thrilled that Brian Nichols of The New York Times' T Magazine our baked beans at Red Rooster and featured the recipe in a recent article about summer grilling. Stop by at Red Rooster to get a taste of them for yourself with our Jerk Bacon, or try your hand at making them at home. The smoky flavor of the beans pairs great with a juicy burger fresh from the grill - try this tropical burger for a twist on a classic.

Are you vegetarian, or just need a summertime meal idea for Meatless Monday? I include bacon in my baked beans, but you can easily omit the bacon to make this recipe veggie-friendly. Pair with delicious grilled in-season veggies like zucchini, or a classic grilled cheese with some creative additions thrown in.

If you're going camping this summer, pack a premade batch of baked beans to start a fireside tradition. Pack a travel container full of them to enjoy alongside your grilled hot dogs, baked potatoes, and fire-grilled vegetables.

Thanks to Mr. Nichols and T Magazine. Get the baked beans recipe here.

Summer Ingredient: All About Fava Beans

Call them what you like - Windsor beans, broad beans, horse beans or pigeon beans - fava beans are delicious no matter their name. They have a slight bitter taste to them along with a nice nutty flavor, which is perfect for summer. They have been around as staples of the Asian, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern diets. So how do you cook them and what do you serve them with, you might ask? The process will be labor-intensive but well worth it. Invite a few friends over and provide them with delicious cocktails. Fava-shelling would be extra fun with a Sake Champagne Mojito or Sangria Flora.

* Fava beans come into season in the late spring and peak in July. Usually around 8 to 10 inches in length, the actual beans are protected by pods lined with a spongy material as well as a thick outer skin all of which needs to be removed before eating. Getting them shelled is a bit of work but you're left with a bright, emerald green bean with a buttery texture.

* To shell fava beans, snap off the stems at each end then pull down the "string" to remove and open the pods. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt so the beans stay green. Cook the beans for one minute then drain. Plunge the blanched fava beans into a bowl of ice water and let them cool for 3 to 5 minutes. Lastly, shell the beans once again by prying open the top with your thumb nail and popping out the fresh bean within.

* Fava beans are high in fiber and iron and low in sodium and fat. With no cholesterol and a whole lot of protein, fava beans are known as "the meat of the poor" because they were credited as saving Sicilians from starving during famine. Now they are not only considered good luck but they are super tasty when used in recipes!

* Use fresh favas in the typical Italian way by putting them in a spring salad along with parsley, hot peppers and young cheese and drizzle olive oil and lemon juice on top. You can also puree favas with garlic and arugula to make a great party dip. Fava beans are also great on top of crostini in any form and pair great with artichokes or morels.

Now you have a whole slew of options to get started. What will you make first with your next batch of fava beans?

Photo: Luvjnx

How to Cook Dried Beans

Along with the cost of fuel skyrocketing, food prices are also rising. Cutting corners and saving money is becoming a necessity and there are several ways to go about doing it. You can start out by buying dried beans instead of canned beans as you'll get more for your money. They'll also be healthier as they are preservative free and have no processed chemicals or sodium. 

Beans are a great source of protein and dietary fiber. They're really inexpensive compared with meat, which makes them a great choice for those on a budget.

Lastly, you'll be doing your energy bill a favor if you use dried beans and soak them before you cook them. This takes longer but it will cut off cooking time and you can do other things while your beans partake in a long soak. Here's how:

1. You'll want to soak your beans in about three times as much water as their volume anywhere from 8-12 hours to overnight. If you want to soak them for more than a day, be sure to change the water daily. Careful though, if you soak them for too long they may ferment, which affects the flavor and makes them difficult to digest. Soaking allows the beans to begin germinating and promotes enzyme release (aka breaking down all the complex sugars and making them easier to digest). Store soaking beans in the refrigerator.

2. After the beans are done soaking, you can start cooking them. Consult the packaging for cooking times.

By starting out with dried beans, not only will you have more of a selection of which beans to use (you can get anywhere from pinto to mung beans) but you'll also have more control on how they turn out. Gone are the days of opening up that can of beans and finding them too mushy!

Try adding the beans to a GRAB meal (Greens, Rice, and Beans) or into a delicious Brazilian feijoada recipe.

What are your favorite kinds of beans?