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8 Stress-Relieving Foods to Add to Your 2016 Meal Planning + Recipes

Posted by Katie Orphey on

As you strive to maintain those New Year’s resolutions, it’s time to rethink your comfort food! Instead of the holiday leftovers and the baked goodies at the office, we have some healthy alternatives that can help fuel your busy days, while reducing your stress levels. Here are eight superfoods (and recipes for inspiration) to help you leave your “comfort food” in 2015 and take a body-boosting approach to reducing stress:

1. Avocado
Yes, #avotoast is one of our go-to’s for breakfast (beside Perfect Bar, of course!) because it’s just so dang tasty! But, did you know Avocado is one of the top food sources for monounsaturated fats: the good kind of fat that helps reduce heart disease and stroke? It’s also ripe full of Vitamin B, which nourishes the mind and helps create a balance of our mood.

Avocados are a great addition to almost any meal, but to get the most nutrient-bang for your buck, make ‘em the main ingredient, like in this Tuna Stuffed Avocado:

Tuna Stuffed Avocado

2. Wine
If you’ve ever come home from a stressful day and poured yourself a glass of wine, you’re not alone. Turns out we’ve all had the right idea all along – but in moderation, of course! The calming effects of red wine are due, in part, to the slowing effect it has on your central nervous system, which causes tension relief. A glass of red wine has a number of other health benefits beyond stress reduction, including improved cardiovascular health and immune system function.

As you can see, incorporating wine into your cooking is a great way to unwine (wink, wink). Try making this Shrimp Pasta with Pesto White Wine Sauce and Baby Kale next time you have a bottle laying around.

Shrimp Pasta

3. Oranges
There’s a reason why orange juice is said to be part of the breakfast of champions: Vitamin C! This nutrient has the ability to lower blood pressure and the stress hormone: cortisol. Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed grab a glass of OJ; or better yet add this mood-boosting beverage to this Orange-Rosemary Glazed Salmon:

Orange glazed Salmon

4. Bananas
A little know fact about bananas is that they’re rich in potassium: a nutrient that helps boost energy levels. But, did you know that this fantastic fruit can provide up to 30 percent of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin B6? This vitamin is also involved in the process of making serotonin and norepinephrine, which are chemicals that transmit signals in the brain and can affect your mood. Treat your stress on the go or indulge a bit with this guilt-free Banana Ice Cream recipe:

Banana ice cream

5. Blueberries
Blueberries may be small, but they sure are mighty! These little berries are packed full of antioxidants to help build our immune systems. But, did you know they’re a great source of Vitamin C, which is needed when our bodies are stressed to repair and protect cells? Eating them as an afternoon snack or in this Blueberry Muffin recipe will be sure to help boost your mood when you’re feeling down:

Blueberry muffins

6. Spinach
Popeye had the right idea when he fell in love with — spinach! This superfood is chock full of magnesium: a mineral that helps maintain our body’s balance, avoid illness, and help us perform well under stress. With all of these benefits coming from this leafy green, we should consider including it in almost every meal of the day! Give it a try in your eggs for breakfast or in this Spinach and White Bean Soup recipe:

Spinach white bean soup

7. Oats
Oats are a healthy whole grain that helps keep the calm-inducing hormone serotonin flowing. If you want the calming feeling to last, try thick-cut, coarse oats that are high in fiber – which takes your body longer to digest. To add this mood boosting superfood to your daily routine, try out our Almond Butter Overnight Oats recipe:

Almond Butter overnight oats

8. Turkey
We’re still full from Thanksgiving leftovers, but turkey’s key ingredient has got us wanting more. The amino acid Tryptophan, found in turkey, gets a bad rap over the holidays for making us feel sleepy, but its claim to fame should be helping you de-stress! Tryptophan signals the brain to release serotonin – the feel good chemical – from the brain, which causes an overall calming effect, reducing those high levels of stress. Give Turkey (and Tryptophan) a chance and try this Turkey Pesto Panini all year around:

Turkey pesto panini
Try incorporating one or two of these easy, calming, and nutritious recipes into your weekly menus to kick off the New Year and see if you can feel the difference. Let us know by tagging us @Perfect_Bar on Twitter.