During the winter time, the lack of sun and overwhelm from the holidays are just some of the many contributors to imbalanced serotonin levels, our happy hormone. One effective way we can increase our serotonin is through our diet. Foods don’t have serotonin in them, but foods do have Tryptophan. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid found in many protein-based foods and dietary proteins including meats, dairy, fruits, and seeds. It is a precursor of serotonin synthesis but must be obtained through diet because it cannot be synthesized by the body. In other words, tryptophan converts to serotonin in the brain, but that must be achieved through the diet.
The recommended daily intake for Tryptophan is 280 mg.
Below are 5 Serotonin Boosting Recipes that are quick, easy to prepare, and high in Tryptophan. Use these recipes anytime you are needing a boost to your serotonin levels. Recipes can be adjusted based on your dietary preference.
The Sunshine Smoothie (Vegan)
1/2 cup Blueberries
1 ripe Banana
1-2 handful of leafy greens(spinach and/or kale)
½ -1 cup Soy milk (dependent on preference of thickness)
1 tbsp. Almond Butter
1 tbsp. of Pumpkin Seeds
1 tsp Hemp seeds
½ tsp Flax meal
¼ tsp Spirulina
Add the leafy greens and blueberries to a blender and blend for 10 seconds. (Blending up the greens first allows them to break up more.)
Add remaining ingredients to blender and blend until smooth.
*Optional: add ice to get a cold, crunchy-textured smoothie.
3 Mixed Nuts
1 cup-Pistachio Nuts
1. Combine all nuts in one bowl and mix.
Keep in an airtight container/jar
*Optional: Chop up walnuts and halve the almonds beforehand.
Salmon Quinoa Bowl (Dairy and Gluten Free)
3-4 oz Wild-caught Salmon (cooked to your preference)
1 large Egg (with yolk)
1 cup cooked Tri-blend Quinoa
1-2 handful of Leafy Greens (spinach and/or kale)
¼ cup Cooked Edamame
¼ cup chopped Almonds & Walnuts
1. Prepare the quinoa over the stove or in rice cooker.
2. Prepare your Edamame while the quinoa cooks.
3. Coat the salmon with an oil, then bake in the oven 400 °F for 9-12 minutes.
4. Cook your egg to your liking (hard-boiled is my preference for this recipe).
5. Chop up almonds and walnuts and slice up the avocado.
6. Once everything has cooked, make a bed of quinoa at the bottom of a bowl.
7. Add the salmon, edamame, leafy greens, and egg.
8. Top with the avocado and chopped almonds and walnuts.
1 ¼ cup cooked Edamame
½ cup low or Zero-Fat Yogurt
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1/2 tsp Sesame Oil
1/2 tsp Chili Powder (optional)
Handful chopped Cilantro
A pinch of salt and pepper
1. Simply blend all the ingredients in a blender or food processor. If the dip is too thick, you can add more yogurt to get the consistency you like, but it should be coarse, not smooth. Use it as a dip or serve on toast!
Lentil & vegetable Stew (Vegan)
1 pound of Lentils, soaked overnight and rinsed
1 chopped Onion
2 chopped Carrots
2 chopped stalks of Celery
1 chopped bunch of Kale, with ribs removed
1 chopped Sweet Potato
1 tbsp of Nutritional Yeast
8 cups of Vegetable Broth
2 tbsp of Avocado Oil
Chopped Parsley for garnish
1. In a large pot, warm up the oil over medium heat, and add the onion, carrots, and celery. Sprinkle in salt and pepper and sauté the ingredients until soft and brown.
2. Add in the lentils, vegetable broth, kale, sweet potato, and nutritional yeast. Bring to a slight boil, stirring now and then to mix in the kale.
3. Lower the heat to medium-low, then cover, leaving the lid ajar. Simmer the stew, stirring as needed, until lentils become tender.
4. Garnish with chopped parsley.
Find all of these ingredients at the Co-op!
Avocado Oil? But I have always used Olive Oil!
Similar to olive oil, avocado oil is one of a few cooking oils that is extracted directly from the pulp of the fruit as opposed to chemically extracted from the seed.
While avocado oil has long been used in cosmetics and self-care products like shampoo, conditioner, and lotion, it has also become a favorite for many to cook with. The high smoke point of the oil (up to 520 degrees Fahrenheit!), makes it great for high temperature cooking, such as frying and sauteing.
It is creamier in texture and has a less bitter flavor than olive oil which makes it extremely versatile in a number of dishes. Some vegan recipes even use it as a butter replacement.
While avocado oil has a similar fatty acid profile as olive oil (around 75% fat with a substantial dose of monounsaturated compounds), there’s also a few other key nutrients that make it a healthy option:
- It has 25% more Vitamin E than Olive Oil, which helps nourish skin and hair . You can actually rub a small amount of avocado oil into the skin in dry areas to provide relief; even some cases of psoriasis have been helped with a topical treatment.
- It has more potassium than a banana to help stabilize blood pressure and promote heart health.
- This oil has nearly triple the amount of carotenoids as olive oil. These soluble antioxidants help fight cancer growth, protect the eyes from macular degeneration, and halt the physical signs of aging
- It contains lutein, a plant compound that helps to preserve eyesight
- Around 23% of the daily recommended amount of folate, a B vitamin that’s important during pregnancy to support the development of a healthy fetus can be found in Avocado Oil
- Studies from the National Center for Health Statistics have shown that those who eat avocados regularly are better off than those that don’t. And avocado oil is just as effective as the raw fruit. Those that ate one serving of avocado every day found these benefits:
- 22% lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind)
- 11% increase in HDL cholesterol (the good kind!)
- 20% less blood triglycerides
This isn’t to take away from Olive Oil; it is still a cheaper alternative with its own health benefits and a classic flavor that shines in cold dishes like salad and meals with lower cooking points. But if you are looking for an oil that can withstand a higher cooking point while providing you with some extra health benefits and a pleasant taste, Avocado Oil may be the oil for you!