Foods that Help With Stress + A Garden Veggie "Frittata"

I'm back! I've had the craziest, hectic, and most exciting past few weeks! I finally completed my senior thesis, graduated from NYU, and spent an unbelievable ten days in Israel. Now that I'm back in Los Angeles, it's pretty bittersweet. I miss New York, but I'm enjoying the more laid back lifestyle of California. Going to Israel was an amazing graduation treat, and now I'm absolutely hit with the travel bug again!

Things are beginning to calm down, but at the same time, life is a bit crazy. I'm sure I'll be managing a lot of my post-graduate stress by taking some time for myself and cooking (and I'll post it all for you to see!). But, I figured I'm not alone in the chaos of trying to figure out what I'm doing with my life. I thought this would be a good time to talk about foods that can help with stress, especially since this was a large part of my senior thesis on nutritional therapy for anxiety and depression--which, by the way, is fully complete if anyone is interested in reading.

I have previously posted the power of food and mood in my post about Brain Boosters, but now is a good time to focus on what foods help alleviate stress. Many people don't realize that the foods we consume greatly affect our overall mood. To put it VERY simply, healthy foods are the best for your mood, obviously. But there are some other foods that surprisingly play a large role in mood regulation, such as animal proteins.

If you are interested in this field, I would highly recommend reading The Mood Cure by Julia Ross. This book, recommended to me by my friend Brooke, is what inspired me to write my senior thesis, and almost every person I interviewed for my piece was inspired by this book and Ross's findings. The book explains how you can overcome anxiety and depression simply by changing your diet. And while you may be skeptical, you might be surprised on the amount of scientific and psychological research that supports this. I spent a year writing and reporting about this subject, and I can tell you, I'm pretty convinced.

Anyway, for those of us who are beginning to get a little bit stressed out over the big changes in life, I would recommend eating these foods to help make your life a little easier:

  • Animal protein, especially beef, turkey, chicken, fish and eggs: The tryptophan found in animal protein converts into serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for feeling pleasant. And fish are high in omega-3s, which have been proven to boost mood. Remember-- it's important to eat organic, free range, and grass-fed meat whenever possible!
  • Seaweed: The high amount of minerals and nutrients present in seaweed is helpful for when your body is depleted after continuous stress.
  • Whole Grains/Complex Carbohydrates: Bust out the whole wheat pasta, quinoa, or brown rice! Like meats, complex carbohydrates boost serotonin levels to help calm you down.
  • Berries: Berries replete the body with all the vitamins you lost when you were freaking out!
  • Almonds: Almonds help lower your blood pressure to help your body from going too crazy.
  • Dark Chocolate: Dark chocolate has been proven to reduce stress hormone levels. 
Maybe even combine a few power stress relievers.. I'm thinking some Greek yogurt with berries, almonds and dark chocolate shavings. 

In the end, if you are eating well, it will help you cope with stress. Fill up on those fruits and veggies! 

In the spirit of veggies, here is a recipe for a delicious egg I made a month or two ago that I couldn't get over. I have to have eggs for breakfast, so I love to try tons of combinations. I fell in love with all the different textures of this "frittata." I call it a "frittata"in quotes because you actually don't need to stick it in the oven like a typical frittata, which actually makes it a bit easier. 

I'd like to remind everyone, in case anyone forgot, that when I cook I don't really measure. It's all about what you like and experimentation, so I always estimate when I write out the ingredients. 

Garden Veggie "Frittata"

2 eggs, beaten (plus egg beaters if needed)
6 or so grape tomatoes, chopped
1/4 avocado
2 green onions, chopped
Handful of cilantro, chopped
1/4 medium onion, chopped
Handful of shaved brussels sprouts
1/2 cup of kale
Handful of nonfat feta cheese
1/2 lemon, to squeeze

1. Sautee chopped onion, brussels sprouts, and kale in a pan until onions are translucent and slightly browned. Brussels sprouts should be soft, and the kale should be wilted.

2. Spread vegetables so they are even across the pan. Lower the flame, and pour eggs over the vegetables evenly. Keep the heat low and give the eggs about 5 minutes to cook thoroughly. Lift and tilt pan to distribute runny egg if necessary. 

3. Once the egg is cooked, top with your remaining ingredients (tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, green onion, and feta cheese). Squeeze lemon on top for extra zest. Enjoy!