I think we can all say that we are experiencing stress right now. Feelings of uncertainty, financial anxiety, job loss, changes to daily routines: the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting each one of us in some way. While it is tempting to hide on the couch eating comfort food, I know, eating the right foods during times of stress makes us far more resilient to its effects. We also have an increased need for nutrients like antioxidants and B vitamins when stress is high.
If we are not getting enough nutrients through diet, our adrenal glands suffer- the hard working glands behind the stress response- which can lead to poor digestive health and low thyroid function. Now is the time to support your adrenals! Here are four stress-busting foods that you can enjoy. They are pantry items that you should be able to find at the grocery still- I know lots of stores are out of fresh meat and produce.
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of magnesium: a mineral that is essential for energy production, for maintaining nervous system function and is quickly used up under stressful conditions. They are also a good source of zinc, which is highly beneficial for the immune system.
How to enjoy them: sprinkle as a topping on oatmeal, add as crunch-factor in salads, grind them to use as a binder in homemade burgers.
Salmon packs a triple whammy for adrenal-supporting nutrients: protein, selenium and omega 3 fats. Selenium is a mineral that is required by a group of enzymes that play a key role in the body’s detoxification system. They also provide protection against oxidative stress. Omega 3 fats have many health benefits: for the brain, heart, inflammatory-response, skin. Most people do not get nearly enough omega 3 fats in their diet. Other sources of omega 3’s include walnuts, flax seed, hemp seed and sardines.
How to enjoy: one of my favorite snacks is a salmon boat. Mix canned or baked salmon with mashed avocado, lemon and salt and serve in hollowed out bell pepper halves.
Not what you would expect from a legume but chickpeas are a unique source of antioxidants. They are a wonderful option as a vegetarian protein source and their high fiber content provides blood sugar stabilizing benefits.
How to enjoy: toss with olive oil, maple syrup, nutmeg and cinnamon and bake in the oven to make a tasty snack.
A fiber superstar, lentils are a good source vitamins B1, B5 and B6 and magnesium. They are a great addition to an adrenal-supporting diet to boost energy and provide a source of healthy carbohydrates that will not spike blood sugar.
How to enjoy: toss cooked lentils with noodles, broccoli florets and leeks for a vegetarian main. Use in soup or salad.
How to prepare: if using dry lentils (instead of canned): To boil lentils, use three cups of liquid for each cup of lentils. Lentils placed in already boiling water will be easier to digest than those that were brought to a boil with the water. When the water returns to a boil, turn down the heat to simmer and cover. Green lentils usually take 30 minutes, while red ones require 20 minutes.
Spicy Lentil Coconut Soup
- 3/4 cup Brown Basmati Rice (uncooked)
- 3/4 cup Dry Lentils (uncooked)
- 1/3 cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
- 1 tablespoon Smoked Paprika
- 1 1/2 teaspoon Chili Powder
- 1/3 teaspoon Turmeric (ground)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon Cumin (ground)
- 3/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
- 10 1/2 cups Water
- 1/3 cup Cilantro (optional, chopped)
Rinse the dry rice and lentils in a fine mesh sieve and add to a large pot along with the shredded coconut, smoked paprika, chili powder, turmeric, cumin, and sea salt. Add the water to the pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer.
Cook for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until the lentils and rice are cooked through. Divide into bowls and garnish with cilantro (optional). Enjoy!