Looking for inspiration for some healthy meals? Try these delicious, healthy mid-week meals. Yes, there’s pudding, too!
A hearty soup always hits the spot. Whether homemade or bought fresh from your local supermarket, antioxidant-packed low-GI minestrone soup is ideal for keeping your appetite and blood sugar levels in check and combating carb cravings. Also, French studies report that regular vegetable-based soup eaters tend to be slimmer and have higher intakes of vitamin C and folic acid.
Cheer from chillis
The natural compound capsaicin gives chillis their fire and triggers the brain to release feel-good neurotransmitters known as endorphins. Chilli may also improve sleep and daytime alertness. You need to love chilli, though, as your daily recommended allowance is 15g (that’s one fresh green or red chilli or three teaspoons of a hot chilli spice blend).
Real goodness of roast venison
Not only does it boost your iron intake (120g provides 44% of the RDA and 3g fat), it also contains protein and nervous system-maintaining B vitamins. One in four of us is at risk of iron deficiency, a cause of irritability, poor concentration and fatigue. Non-meat eaters can find iron in fortified cereals, pulses, nuts, leafy greens and dried figs.
Why brown rice is best
Like other healthy wholegrains, brown rice not only adds mood-friendly B vitamins, including B6, to your diet (a 200g/five heaped tablespoons portion provides 14% of the RDA) – its special contribution is the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which calms the nervous system. Brown rice also contains the amino acid glutamic acid, which the body uses to make GABA with the help of vitamin B6.
Studies link low intakes of fish and long-chain omega-3 fats with a higher risk of depression, including post-natal. These omega-3 fats may help optimise brain cell communication and blood flow and reduce inflammation. Oily fish, such as mackerel, salmon, trout, pilchards and fresh tuna, are the richest sources (include one 140g portion weekly); also try prawns, crab and crayfish. For vegetarians, omega-3 enriched eggs are a good option.
It’s filling, satisfying and rich in vitamin C and folic acid, both essential for building mood-regulating neurotransmitters. This wonderful mash also packs in healthy carbs, the brain’s favourite fuel. To serve four, use 2 x 85g bags of watercress, 675 g potatoes, plenty of black pepper, and a little low-fat milk. Add a tablespoon of capers and it’s an ideal partner for fish.
The pleasure of rice pudding
A comforting dessert or snack with a beneficial 19% of your RDA for calcium. Essential for healthy nerve function, a calcium status helps keep mood balanced and limits the discomfort of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).