Green Tea Banana Ice Cream

Green Tea Banana Ice Cream

Smoked Salmon Avocado Toast

Have you been searching for a sweet treat you can enjoy without any guilt? Hear your sweet tooth calling but don’t want to derail your nutrition and health goals?

This Green Tea Banana Ice Cream comes to the rescue! With only two ingredients, and in less than five minutes in the kitchen, this creamy dessert can be in your bowl.

Did you know bananas are a good source of potassium? An imbalance of potassium can cause many different symptoms, including weakness, fatigue, muscle cramps, and mood changes such as anxiety. Low levels of potassium can increase mental fatigue and reduce your body’s ability to handle stress.

Green tea is known for it’s antioxidant effect, but it is also a great source of amino acid theanine. According to the research, theanine can increase feelings of relaxation and calm. One study found that participants who drank green tea showed “improvements in mood, cognition and a reduction of stress and anxiety-like symptoms”.

If you are like most folks and have a bunch of frozen bananas in the freezer for that banana bread you’ve been meaning to make, try this instead! It’s way fewer dishes too!

 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31758301/

 

Green Tea Banana Ice Cream

This Green Tea Banana Ice Cream comes to the rescue! With only two ingredients, and in less than five minutes in the kitchen, this creamy dessert can be in your bowl.
Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Servings 2 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 2 Banana sliced and frozen
  • tsps Green Tea Powder

Instructions
 

  • Add frozen bananas and green tea powder to food processor and blend. Occasionally scrape down the sides and continue to blend until smooth (approximately 3 to 5 minutes).
  • Scoop into a bowl and enjoy immediately as soft serve or for firmer ice cream, place in an airtight, freezer-safe container and freeze for at least 1 hour before scooping.

Notes

Nutrition Per 1 Serving:
 
Calories - 105
Sugar - 14g
Fiber - 3g
Carbs - 27g
Fat - 0g
Protein - 1g
 
Sweet Potato Black Bean Quinoa Bake

Sweet Potato Black Bean Quinoa Bake

Smoked Salmon Avocado Toast

We’ve all fallen prey to boxed dinners in our lives as a result of the convenience. But, what if we could keep the convenience and boost the nutrition and help us to feel satisfied, and energized?

This recipe is ideal for convenience and low stress because it is a one-pan dish for easy prep and easy clean-up. You can feel good about this comfort food choice instead of dreading lots of work in the kitchen or a giant mess afterwards. This ease means you’ll enjoy the meal even more! Try it yourself tonight!

Beans are a powerhouse food when it comes to satiety. Beans are loaded with soluble fibre that helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Beans are also a good source the B-vitamin, folate. Folate is the natural form of Vitamin B9, while folic acid is the man-made form of B9 that we use to fortify foods. There is solid link between folate or folic acid and mood. One such paper states that “The incidence of folic acid deficiency is high in patients with various psychological disorders including depression, dementia and schizophrenia.”[1]

 Sweet potatoes are complex-carb rock stars here. They are high in beta-carotene, which is what gives them their beautiful orange colour. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that helps to protect the cells of the body, including the brain, and our DNA from oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can be used as a biomarker for many psychological disorders, including depression and anxiety. So, sweet potatoes are not just feeding our bellies, but our brains too!

 

[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2682787/

Sweet Potato Black Bean Quinoa Bake

This recipe is ideal for convenience and low stress because it is a one-pan dish for easy prep and easy clean-up. You can feel good about this comfort food choice instead of dreading lots of work in the kitchen or a giant mess afterwards. This ease means you’ll enjoy the meal even more! Try it yourself tonight!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 55 mins
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 3 Sweet Potato small, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups Black Beans cooked, from the can
  • 1 cup Quinoa dry, uncooked
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper chopped
  • 3 stalks Green Onion chopped
  • 1 tbsp Chilli Powder
  • 1 tbsp Cumin ground
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • ¼ tsp Sea Salt
  • 2 cups Vegetable Broth
  • 1 Lime juiced
  • 1 Avacado diced

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
  • In a large baking dish, add the sweet potatoes, black beans, quinoa, pepper, onion, chili powder, cumin, garlic and sea salt. Stir well to combine and then add the broth.
  • Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes or until the broth has absorbed completely, the quinoa is fluffy and the sweet potatoes are tender. Remove from the oven.
  • Let the quinoa bake sit for 5 minutes before dividing between plates. Top each plate with lime juice and avocado. Enjoy!

Notes

Nutrition Per 1 Serving:
 
Calories - 311
Sugar - 5g
Fiber - 12g
Carbs - 52g
Fat - 8g
Protein - 12g
 
 
Top 10 Foods To Reduce Anxiety

Top 10 Foods To Reduce Anxiety

Mental Health Gut Article

Current polls suggest that as many as 4 in 10 Canadians are experiencing anxiety. The mental and emotional toll anxiety can take on a person can be significant, and the physical symptoms that can come from having anxiety can also be uncomfortable and unpleasant – headaches, nausea, chest pain or shortness of breath, restlessness and insomnia, fatigue, and poor immune function are just some of the physical manifestations of anxiety. In short, many Canadians are suffering.

Thankfully, as we covered in a recent blog post, there are simple dietary and lifestyle habits that can be implemented to help reduce anxiety. In this blog post, we’ll be exploring our Top 10 Foods to potentially help you get some relief from your anxiety symptoms.

Eggs

Eggs are one of the most economical food sources of Vitamin D3, the sunshine vitamin. Optimizing Vitamin D has been shown to be effective at reducing the symptoms of anxiety (1). Plus, they are protein-packed, which can help promote balanced blood sugar levels, which in turn promotes a more even mood. If you’ve ever been “hangry”, then you’ve experiences some of the mood instability that can occur with poorly managed blood sugar levels. Consuming adequate amounts of protein-rich foods such as eggs, is one step toward controlling blood sugar levels.

Eggs also contain an important amino acid, tryptophan, used to make serotonin in the body. Serotonin is an essential neurotransmitter that regulates mood, sleep, memory and behaviour. And as if all that wasn’t enough, eggs also offer a large dose of choline, an essential nutrient that supports brain and nervous system function, including mood and memory.

Boiled eggs are an easy food to keep on hand to slice and toss on a salad, or just peel and eat for a snack when you don’t feel like cooking. Boiled eggs can be stored in the fridge, for 7 days in the fridge, so make a batch for the week and this will be a great grab and go snack. You can also use eggs in baked goods, frittatas or quiches, omelettes and more!

Salmon

Studies have shown that salmon consumption three times per week can significantly decrease anxiety. (2) Salmon is not only delicious and another good source of vitamin D, it’s also full of healthy, brain-building omega-3 fats! Consuming adequate amounts of EPA and DHA may also promote your brain’s ability to adapt to changes, allowing a person to better handle stressors that can trigger anxiety symptoms. (3) Salmon also contains Vitamin B12 which helps convert amino acids (the building blocks of protein) into neurotransmitters that send messages within our brain and nervous system and help regulate many functions including mood.

If you are not a big fan of consuming fish, take an omega-3 supplement. Researchers found that people who took high doses of omega-3s (up to 2,000 mg a day) seemed to have the most reduction in anxiety symptoms. (4)

Salmon is enjoyable baked, fried, or barbequed! Plus, we have several sources of recipe inspiration to get you cooking up more salmon, including Salmon Avocado Toast, Smoked Salmon Egg Cups, and Salmon Chowder.

Spinach

Increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables can improve feelings of wellbeing in as little as 2 weeks! (5) In one study, participants who were given three extra servings of fruits and vegetables per day for just two weeks felt improvements in their vitality and motivation, although the study authors note that longer-term intervention is necessary to impact anxiety levels. Focussing on consuming a variety of nutrient dense plant foods is a cornerstone of solid nutrition that, in turn, supports our body and mind.

Spinach is high in dietary fibre, which, along with protein and healthy fats, assists in balancing blood sugar levels. Generally speaking, with more stable blood sugar levels come more stable moods. (6) Spinach is also rich in B-vitamins, which are known to support nervous system functioning, brain health, and boost energy levels.

While spinach is a great option… don’t forget about other leafy greens such as kale, beet greens, Swiss chard, bok choy, cabbage, and collards. These leafy green vegetables have many of the same nutritional benefits!

Turmeric

Curcumin, the bioactive compound found in the culinary spice turmeric, is a powerful anti-inflammatory. In studies, curcumin has been shown to be as effective at reducing anxiety, depression, and PTSD symptoms as leading SSRI prescription medications. (7) It is believed that curcumin may help boost serotonin and dopamine, two of our “feel good” neurotransmitters.

Turmeric is well-know for it’s distinct flavour in curries, like our Coconut Chicken Curry and Zoodles, whereas, the extract curcumin, is available in many supplement forms.

Jicama

Jicama is a low calorie tuber, native to Mexico and Central America. It has all the comforting feeling of other starches (like potatoes), but without spiking blood sugar levels, which as you’ll recall from above helps maintain a more even mood!

Jicama also contains inulin, a fibre that supports gut health by feeding the good bacteria in our intestinal tract. Our gut and brain are intricately connected via a pathway dubbed the “gut-brain axis”. When attempting to reduce anxiety symptoms, it is imperative to strengthen gut health as an unhealthy gastrointestinal system can be a cause of anxiety. (8)

If jicama isn’t available in your area, other healthy, slow-digesting carbohydrate options include sweet potatoes, winter squashes, beets and turnips.

Sardines

For many of you, including sardines in your diet may mean trying something new! Like other oily fish, sardines contain large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. You brain is made of approximately one third Omega-3 fats. So, to keep your brain functioning well, consuming Omega-3s is critical! In addition to omega-3s, sardines contain Vitamin D, Vitamin B12 and the antioxidant mineral selenium. Studies show the lower the levels of selenium in the diet, the higher the reports of fatigue and mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. (9)

Making a paté is an easy and tasty way to introduce yourself to sardines!

If you aren’t interested in sardines, other oily fish include mackerel, herring, and Arctic char.

Cashews

In addition to containing a blood sugar balancing combination of proteins, fats, and fibre; cashews also contain an important amino acid called typtophan. Tryptophan is used within our body to create the neurotransmitter serotonin, which helps boost mood in folks with both depression and anxiety.

Most nuts have brain-boosting omega-3 fats and antioxidant vitamin E. Anxiety is believed to be correlated with overall lower levels of antioxidants. (10) The vitamin E in cashews and other nuts, is the most abundant fat-soluable antioxidant in the human bodies, so optimizing our intake of this vitamin may improve our overall antioxidant status, and therefore reduce anxiety levels.

Cashews are a great snack option, because you can just grab them and go! Cashew butter is delicious as a fruit or vegetable dip, as the base of creamy sauces or salad dressings, and in granola or these Crunchy Yogurt Clusters. If you don’t love cashews, you could reach for almonds, pecans or walnuts instead!

Sauerkraut

We’ve written in more depth about the connection between gut health and mood, here and here. But for the purposes of this blog post, suffice it to say, probiotics and the fermented foods that provide them, are key to the health of our digestive system – which is where we manufacture 95% of our serotonin! You may recall from above that serotonin is the neurotransmitter believed to regulate anxiety, happiness and mood, among other things.

If sauerkraut isn’t your favourite, other naturally fermented foods such as pickles, pickled carrots or beets, kimchi, and yogurt also boast probiotic benefits. We recommend trying to include some type of fermented food daily. A scoop of sauerkraut with dinner, some kefir in a smoothie, maybe a tablespoon of kimchi on your salad, or some pickle juice in a salad dressing; a little goes a long way to building a diverse microbiome, a happy gut, and a balanced mood!

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are a tasty way to add some crunch to your day, even if you are nut free. These little green gems, also known as pepitas, are a rich source of protein and the minerals potassium and zinc. Zinc modulates nearly countless neurological actions in the brain, and zinc deficiency is associated with many brain disorders, ranging from anxiety to Alzheimer’s. (11)

One study noted, that raising levels of zinc in the body helped to raise GABA levels. And because GABA is primarily known as a calming neurotransmitter, increasing GABA levels in turn reduced anxiety levels (12).

Chocolate

You have likely heard of theobromine. It’s the part of chocolate that is toxic to dogs, but in humans it acts as a vasodilator, relaxing smooth muscles and enhancing blood flow to the brain. Less well known is anandamide, the “bliss chemical” which, when consumed, produces a feeling of euphoria. And perhaps even more obscure, Phenylethylamine (PEA) known as the “love chemical”. PEA increases signals to the nervous system that increase the release of endorphins, promoting alertness and focus while elevating mood and boosting memory.

In one study, individuals who consumed 74% dark chocolate twice daily for two weeks had improved levels of stress hormones commonly associated with anxiety, such as catecholamines and cortisol. (13) Eating dark chocolate has also been shown to increase levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is our happy neurotransmitter and this may help reduce the stress that leads to anxiety (14, 15)

We bet we won’t have to do much convincing for you to include a little dark chocolate in your day! In recent years, chocolate avocado pudding has been popular. But, in case you need an extra little nudge, we’ve got you covered with some awesome chocolatey recipes like this Hot Chocolate Elixir, Chocolate Cauliflower Shake, JuicePlus Chocolate Bark, Pistachio Pomegranate Bark, or Black Bean Brownies.

Dark Chocolate Love Bites

Dark Chocolate Love Bites

Smoked Salmon Avocado Toast

Although these cute little “Love Bites” make an adorable Valentine’s Day treat, they come together so easily you’ll want to make them often for your partner – or even just for yourself. You know you’re worth it! Plus, they are good for you.

In one large study of 13,000 people, those who ate dark chocolate in the previous 24 hours were 70% less likely to report depression. And it didn’t take much, just 12 grams of dark chocolate was enough to elicit this effect. That’s just 2 or 3 of these treats!

Not only are these treats potentially mood enhancing, they offer so much pleasure on the palate! The smooth velvety chocolate, the crunchy snap of the slivered almonds, and the sweet burst of fruit from the pomegranate arils make for a satisfying indulgence.

The season for pomegranates is short, and this is a fun way to add a pop of colour and nutrition to make the most of these Dark Chocolate Love Bite delights.

 

https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/dark-chocolate-depression

 

Dark Chocolate Love Bites

Although these cute little “Love Bites” make an adorableValentine’s Day treat, they come together so easily you’ll want to make them often for your partner – or even just for yourself. You know you’re worth it! Plus, they are good for you.
Prep Time 20 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Servings 15 servings

Ingredients
  

  • ozs Dark Chocolate at least 70% cacao
  • ¼ cup Pomegranate Seeds
  • ¼ cup Slivered Almonds

Instructions
 

  • Fill one large pot with water and place a smaller pot inside. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Ensure no water is able to get in the smaller pot.
  • Add the dark chocolate into the smaller pot and stir continuously until melted.
  • Spread a large piece of wax paper across your counter. Dollop a heaping teaspoon of melted chocolate onto the wax paper so it forms a circle. Repeat until all chocolate has been used up. Immediately place 4 or 5 pomegranate seeds in the centre of each chocolate and then surround with slivered almonds.
  • Let chocolate cool for 1 hour before peeling off of the wax paper. Arrange on a decorative plate or store in a mason jar. Enjoy!

Notes

Nutrition Per 1 Serving:
 
Calories - 56
Sugar - 2g
Fiber - 1g
Carbs - 4g
Fat - 4g
Protein - 1g
Anxiety During A Pandemic: What Can We Do?

Anxiety During A Pandemic: What Can We Do?

Mental Health Gut Article

Canadian Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) policy advice in July 2020 reported that COVID-19 is having a negative impact on Canadians’ mental health, with many seeing their stress levels double since the onset of the pandemic. (1) People are struggling with fear and uncertainty about their own health and their loved ones’ health, concerns about employment and finances, and the social isolation that comes from public health measures such as quarantining and physical distancing. (2) A recent poll found that 50% of Canadians reported worsening mental health since the pandemic began with many feeling worried (44%) and anxious (41%). (3)

Although our individual circumstances are unique, these are stressful times for everyone and it is important to recognize when you or your family member maybe experiencing feelings or symptoms of anxiety.

What Are The Symptoms of Anxiety?

  • Headache
  • Diarrhea or frequent need to urinate
  • Nausea
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Light headedness and dizziness
  • Tremors or twitches
  • Excess sweating
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Unexplained pain
  • Digestive issues
  • Decreased libido
  • Impaired immune function

If you or your family member have ticked off many of the symptoms above, it would be wise to check in with your primary care practitioner. Additionally, below we’ve outlined some strategies that you can incorporate into your diet and lifestyle to help manage and reduce your experience with anxiety.

Diet and Lifestyle Strategies To Reduce Anxiety

  1. Balance blood sugar levels.

We are all living through unprecedented times; a pandemic and lockdown. People are out of regular routines and stretched for time with trying to work, manage a household, and – if you’re a parent – homeschooling, all while everyone is confined to their home.

When you are stressed or anxious your body naturally produces the stress hormone cortisol. However, excess cortisol can wreak havoc in the body if you are producing high amounts over a prolonged time period. High cortisol can lead to numerous health problems, which are compounded even further if you have unbalanced blood sugar levels.

Blood sugar imbalance is an extremely common issue for so many people who consume standard western diet. With the stress of a lockdown, and the impact of cortisol, blood sugar imbalance can become even more of an issue.

Skipping meals, consuming processed foods, sugars and refined grains, ordering fast food, and consuming caffeine or energy drinks can all contribute to a rollercoaster ride with blood sugar highs and lows. Unstable blood sugar levels can have a negative impact, not just on our physical health, but on our mental health as well.

When blood sugars drop (hypoglycemia), you can experience a multitude of symptoms similar to the ones described above, including insomnia, mood swings, fatigue, irritability, weakness, anxiety, depression, aggression, blurred vision, headaches, difficulty concentrating, dizziness, and frequent urination.

The problem is, after consuming processed or refined foods and sugars or consuming caffeine, blood sugar levels will rise steeply and then drop. When blood sugars drop too far too fast, your body naturally produces that stress hormone cortisol to help raise blood sugars back up into a health range. Starting the blood sugar rollercoaster cycle all over again.

For most people, cortisol also increases cravings and appetite – adding further issues to eating habits and blood sugar imbalances. Plus, cortisol has also been shown to interfere with the production of neurotransmitters to help you feel calm and relaxed. We need those feel-good neurotransmitters right now!

How To Balance Blood Sugar Levels:

  • Eat within one hour upon waking to avoid a blood sugar drop
  • Consume 3 meals (and 1-2 snacks if needed) during the day
  • Each meal needs to include a healthy fat, lean proteins and complex carbohydrates (such as whole grains, beans/legumes, and starchy vegetables)
  • Avoid all sugar and refined grains which will spike blood sugars
  • Avoid stimulants such as energy drinks, caffeine and pop
  • Don’t go long periods of time between eating
  1. Consume Foods High In Calcium And Magnesium

Calcium and magnesium help to relax the mind, as well as calm the nerves and muscles. A person with a magnesium deficiency can show signs of nausea, muscle pain, gastrointestinal problems, cravings for chocolate, insomnia, restlessness and muscle weakness as well as anxiety. A calcium deficiency can cause a person to experience joint pain, nervousness, irritability, anxiety, sensitivity to noise, heart palpitations, insomnia and muscle cramps.

Unfortunately, when your body is under stress it uses up vitamins and minerals more quickly including calcium and magnesium, along with B-vitamins and Vitamin C.

Sugar, refined carbohydrates, coffee and alcohol, salt and vinegar all interfere with calcium absorption and should be limited.

To help increase your intake of magnesium it’s beneficial to consume foods such as black beans, Swiss chard, spinach, avocados, pumpkin seeds, and whole grains such as quinoa. Whereas incorporating broccoli, almonds, kale, salmon, or sardines can help boost your calcium intake. 

  1. Support A Healthy Gut

Growing research has been showing the gut microbiome plays a role in a wide range of neurological conditions, including Autism Spectrum Disorder, chronic pain, stress, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease as well as depression and anxiety (4).

Research has also found that “good” gut bacteria can have a marked effect on GABA levels in the brain (a neurotransmitter that is involved in regulating anxiety, digestion, sleep and relaxation), which can reduce anxiety and elevate mood (5). So supporting healthy gut function can play an important role in supporting your mental health.

Dietary fiber supports the growth of positive intestinal bacteria that are critical to maintain proper digestion. One study found the diversity in the gut microbiome was based on the variety of fruits and vegetables in a person’s diet and that the microbial composition of the gut can be rapidly altered with dietary changes. This is great news!

To help support your mental health through optimizing your gut microbiome, consume a variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as other high fiber foods such as milled flax seeds, legumes, and whole grains. There are plenty of benefits to fermented foods such as kefir (dairy or non-dairy), sauerkraut, miso, and kimchi, and some folks choose to incorporate a probiotic into a supplementation program to boost good gut bacteria even further.

The other option to support a relaxed and clam state of mind is supplementing with GABA. Research shows that GABA helps to calm the mind and promote a sense of relaxation.

For more info on the gut-mood connection, check out our article.

  1. Exercise

Working out helps to release endorphins, which are “feel good chemicals” that act as a natural pain relievers, boost mood, burn off our stress hormones, help maintain a healthy weight, enable better sleep and help to stabilize mood and reduce anxiety. Exercise can also help to reduce fatigue, anger and tension associated with anxiety.

Although there might seem to be huge barriers to exercise – with gyms closed, kids at home, ski hills closed, and so on – there are a ton of great options for workout routines that you can do at home, even with kids! There are Avenger workouts, Pokemon yoga, dancing workouts, or indoor runs on the Wii! Although it might not be the typical exercise that you’re used to, it is a way to keep you (and your kids!) active.

Go out for family walks, nature hikes, sledding, skating, snow shoeing, or cross-country skiing. Plus, there are a plethora of apps and online workouts at your fingertips!

Our best advice is to create a schedule to establish consistency with exercise. Maybe getting up earlier to have some quiet time to exercise while everyone is sleeping could be the ideal workout time for you, or maybe you feel most energized after dinner. Whatever works for your life right now – just be sure to squeeze in some time to move your body! Your mind will thank you!

In Summary

If you or someone you love is struggling with anxiety, depression, or high stress – we would love to assist you in rebalancing mood through diet and lifestyle changes. Balancing blood sugar levels, increasing your intake of calcium and magnesium, supporting gut health, and committing to exercise are great places to start!

Plus you can follow us on Facebook or Instagram for more tips, or book an appointment today for one-on-one support!

References

  1. MHCC, 2020a
  2. MHCC, 2020a;Morneau Shepell, 2020; Pfefferbaum & North, 2020; Vigo, Patten & Pajer, 2020
  3. Angus Reid Institute, 2020
  4. Mayer EA, et al. 2014
  5. American Society for Microbiology, 2012