Taste Success Wellbeing: Winter Wellness

Here at Taste Success, we like to focus on keeping our moods and minds healthy through the winter months when the days are shorter and colder.

At this time of year, anxiety and depression can often spike, so if you feel that your winter blues or anxiety levels are in any way stopping you from enjoying your life, then it's a good time to talk things through and get some support to make your winter a much more enjoyable time. 

Our favourite Healthy Mood Foods

Stocking up on some of the following foods (and eating them!) can make a huge difference to how your brain biochemistry works – in a positive way:

  • Oily fish: Fish like salmon, sardines, trout and shellfish provide your brain with essential omega-3, which is a mood-boosting substance that your body can't make itself. Omega-3 helps boost the hormones dopamine and serotonin – boosting mood and happy sensations.
     
  • Tryptophan: This essential amino acid is needed to make serotonin in your body – the neurotransmitter that helps promote feelings of contentment and happiness. It also plays a large role in sleep, learning and appetite control, and low serotonin is of course linked to depression. Make sure your diet contains a regular intake of nuts, oats, beans, lentils and eggs, and if you are a meat eater, turkey, chicken and red meats contain Tryptophan in good quantities.
     
  • Quinoa: This gluten-free grain that contains more protein than any other grain. It is so rich in amino acids that it is considered a complete source of protein; high in lysine, methionine and cysteine. It is also high in folate, magnesium, phosphorus and manganese. A fabulous mood-boosting food that can also help your energy levels. 
     
  • Mushrooms: Mushrooms are often exposed to UV light in the growing process, which can enhance their Vitamin D content. It's hard to get the required amount of Vitamin D from food, especially in areas with low UV-B sunlight for a lot of the year (like Southern NZ), so adding mushrooms to your diet daily in winter can help regulate the brain's activity of serotonin, melatonin and dopamine – for a happier winter. Try the Mushroom Super-Immune Soup below and keep some in the freezer to use on low sunlight days. 
     
  • Cocoa and cacao powder: While you're not going to eat this on it's own (but alongside some form of sweet and fat, most likely as chocolate!), and also whilst using caution if you have any kind of caffeine sensitivity at all, the cocoa family gives facilitates a rush of dopamine that gives you a natural high. Reserve this for if you are feeling seriously low, rather than an every day food.
     
  • Vitamin C: the anti-oxidant properties of foods containing vitamin C have been shown to decrease depressive symptoms by reducing the build up of free radicals from stress. Foods naturally high in vitamin C are: berries, citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, broccoli, chillies, red peppers, strawberries, pineapple and cauliflower.

If you are experiencing frequent episodes of low mood, or your anxiety levels are increasing, please make a time to see us – we can work with you to find a natural strategy to help.

Our nutrition programmes provide excellent support for your winter wellness with a wide range of the above healthy mood foods included in our recipes. We also offer ongoing 1-to-1 support from our caring team, ensuring your health and wellness is our priority.

Mushroom Super-Immune Soup

This soup is great to make in batches and pop in the freezer for any low sunlight days. The mushrooms, ginger and turmeric amongst all the other goodies provide your cells with fuel for fighting bugs (and it doesn't taste half bad either!)

Ingredients:

  • 225g oyster mushrooms        
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil        
  • 3 medium onions (chopped)
  • 2 large leeks (chopped)         
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp fresh or dried thyme leaves            
  • 4 garlic cloves (minced)
  • Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon       
  • 1 litre vegetable stock     
  • 2 cups cooked white beans (navy, butter, cannellini)             
  • Freshly ground black pepper        
  • 2 tbsp cold-pressed olive oil

Method:

Clean the mushrooms by removing any dirt or natural debris with a damp cloth (do not submerge them in water). Chop the mushrooms that are large, leaving the smaller ones intact.
Heat the coconut oil in a large pot and add the onions, leeks, sea salt and the thyme. Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat, until the onions and leeks are soft. Add the garlic to the pot and stir. Sprinkle the lemon juice into the pot and stir. 
Stir in the mushrooms and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms are soft. Meanwhile, combine the vegetable stock and beans in a blender, and blend on high speed until creamy. When the mushrooms are cooked, remove a few from the pot for garnish.
Add the broth and bean mixture to the pot, stir well, and simmer for 5 minutes. Ladle the soup into the blender and blend on high speed until completely smooth. Add water or more stock to thin if necessary.
Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste.  Ladle the soup into bowls, and garnish with the spare cooked mushrooms, a drizzle of olive oil, and some fresh thyme sprigs. Serve hot and enjoy.

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Tracey Loughran