Can Food Really Boost Your Mood?

mood-foodIt’s commonly accepted that some foods can relieve depression and make you feel happier just by eating them. Of course, we all have comfort foods – dishes that evoke warm memories from our childhood – which can oftentimes invoke a feeling of safety and security. But is there something about the actual makeup of chocolate and other foods that can boost our moods?

A Chemical Cause for Depression

One of the reasons why people feel depressed is a drop in the serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical that helps to transmit signals between nerve endings. Serotonin helps to control anger, regulate sleep, reduce irritability, and encourage feelings of well-being. It also has a peripheral role in digestion.

When serotonin levels drop too low, the body is left vulnerable to a number of physical and mental problems ranging from irritable bowel syndrome and migraines to chronic depression, compulsive behavior, and bad moods.

Serotonin and Foods

So what does serotonin have to do with food? When we eat, we experience chemical reactions between the foods and our bodies. Some foods can trigger the release of serotonin, which is logical considering the neurotransmitter’s use in the digestive system. Other foods can increase the effect of serotonin by making the cells in the body more receptive or helping it travel through the body more easily.

So yes, foods can affect the chemical state in the brain which influences moods, having a physical as well as mental effect on our state of mind.

Good for the Soul, Bad for the Body?

The problem, however, is that many of the foods that boost serotonin are also the ones that the health-conscious among us tend to avoid. The best serotonin boosters are high in fats and carbohydrates, like chocolate, candy, and macaroni and cheese. And despite mood-enhancing benefits, there are drawbacks to relying on these kinds of foods too much:

• Simple carbohydrates give a quick boost to energy and mood, but they are also digested quickly leaving you feeling even more down than before.
• Long-term reliance on high carb, fatty foods will have a serious negative influence on your health.
• While the chemical reason for bad moods and depression might be alleviated, adding pounds and losing fitness could give you a logical reason for feeling down.

How to Reap the Benefits of Food on Mood — and Stay Healthy

It is possible to enjoy the serotonin-raising benefits of foods while still staying healthy, if you follow some simple guidelines:

Choose Complex over Simple Carbohydrates
Complex carbohydrates like potatoes, rice, squash, and whole-grain breads raise serotonin levels without the crash that follows eating simple carbs. Complex carbohydrates have other benefits as well – they digest more slowly and include more fiber and nutrients, giving you a longer-lasting feeling of satisfaction.

Satisfy Your Cravings – In Moderation
If you have a craving for fatty or carbohydrate-rich foods, it might be your body’s way of telling you that you need more serotonin. It’s all right to give in to those cravings occasionally, as long as you exercise moderation about how often and how much of these “unhealthy” foods that you eat.

Enjoy a Wide Variety of Fresh Foods
By eating a wide variety of foods, you can ensure that you get a full range of the vitamins and minerals that your body needs to stay healthy, including mood-elevating serotonin.

Some Foods Work Better in Combination
One of the reasons why people feel so content and sleepy after a big turkey dinner is that tryptophan, a chemical found in turkey, aids the production of serotonin when eaten in combination with carbohydrates. Experiment with different combinations to determine what makes you feel best.

The chemicals in our foods can have a very real effect on our moods as well as on our weight and strength. By paying attention to what we eat, we can sleep better, feel better, and be more successful.

What is Kosher Salt

Kosher SaltSalt comes from the ocean. Even the salt that is mined from inland deposits originally came from the sea. The salt that is mined from the ocean itself is called ‘sea salt’. All other salts will have been mined from inland deposits.

Once the salt is mined it is then refined to make different types of salts. For instance, the common table salt that most people use has added iodine. Salt can also be ground into very small grains.

Kosher salt is a much larger grained salt than regular table salt and has an almost flaky appearance. In general, it contains no additives but this isn’t the reason that it is called kosher. In actual fact, the salt itself isn’t kosher or at least in most cases it isn’t.

A food that is kosher is made following Jewish dietary laws and just because a salt is called kosher doesn’t necessarily means it meets these guidelines. The reason that kosher salt gets its name is because of the way it is used in the curing process to create kosher meat. As part of Jewish dietary law, blood cannot be eaten so the role of kosher salt is to draw out the blood.

In terms of every day cooking, Kosher salt is used where a coarser salt is required. It is also often used for pickling. Table salt can cause the pickling liquid to go cloudy because of the iodine. As Kosher salt doesn’t have iodine it prevents this from happening.

Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Chili Ketchup Recipe

Red Bell PeppersIn our household, we are moving more and more towards cooking foods from scratch rather than purchasing processed pre-prepared foods. With that in mind we are starting to make our own homemade sauces, jams, preserves, relishes and mustards.

It is definitely simpler to buy it all of course but I really like knowing exactly what I am eating. These days it is getting harder and harder to determine what all those chemicals in those processed foods actually are and what they are doing to our bodies.

One recipe that the cook in the house tried recently was for Roasted Red Bell Pepper & Chili Ketchup from the Best-Ever Book of Preserves by Catherine Atkinson and Maggie Mayhew. This turned out really delicious and with a bit of a mild kick due to the addition of the chili.

Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Chilli Ketchup

Ingredients

  • 2lbs red bell peppers
  • 8oz shallots or if you can’t get them then choose a mild onion
  • 1 green cooking apple
  • 4 red chilies
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1 sprig of parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp coriander seed
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 arrowroot

Directions

  1. Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Chili Ketchup IngredientsCore the apples and chop roughly.
  2. Remove the seeds from the chilis and chop.
  3. Place the red peppers under a broiler and grill for 10 minutes or so or until the skins turn black.
  4. Place the peppers in a plastic bag and leave for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Remove the peppers from the bag and peel off the skin and remove the seeds. Chop roughly.
  6. Put the shallots into a bowl of water and leave for 5 minutes.
  7. Drain the shallots, then peel them and chop them.
  8. In a pan, combine the shallots, apple pieces, chilis and red peppers.
  9. Create a little bag of herbs using a square of cheesecloth and add the thyme, parsley, bay leaf and coriander seeds. Add the bag to the pan.
  10. Add the water to the pan and bring to the boil.
  11. Cover the pan and simmer for 30 minutes.
  12. Remove from the heat and cool for 10-15 minutes.
  13. Remove the herb bag and then puree the rest of the ingredients in a food processor.
  14. Press the mixture through a strainer and place the puree into a clean pan.
  15. Keep 1 tbsp of the vinegar and then add the rest to the puree.
  16. Add the salt and sugar to the pan.
  17. Stir and bring to the boil.
  18. Simmer for 45 minutes.
  19. Mix the 1 tbsp of vinegar with the arrowroot and then stir into the puree. This should help to thicken the sauce so place back on the heat and stir for a few minutes until it does thicken slightly.
  20. Remove from the heat and pour into sterilized bottles.
  21. Seal and store in a cool dark place. We store ours in the fridge.

Place the bell peppers under the broiler for about 15 minutes Soak the shallots in a bowl of water Combine the shallots, apple, chilis and red pepper pieces in a saucepan Combine the herbs to make a herb bag

Limoncello Recipe

LimoncelloMy mother was Italian so I have a bit of an affinity with all things Italian and this includes drinking Limoncello.

For those that don’t know, Limoncello is a liqueur with the main ingredient being lemons. It has a sweet lemon taste but with a typical alcoholic aftertaste since this is after all an alcoholic drink.

In the past, we had always bought it ready made from our local bottle shop but eventually found a recipe for it so we now make it at home on a regular basis. There is always a bottle of Limoncello in the house ready for drinking.

The actual recipe itself is quite simple but it does take a couple of months for it to brew so you won’t be able to drink it straight away….well you can if you like, but it really won’t be anywhere near as good as it doesn’t allow for the lemons to release their wonderful flavor.

Once ready, you then store it in the freezer but you don’t have to worry about it freezing. It stays completely liquid but comes out nice and icy cold ready for drinking.

We originally got this recipe at Italyum so you can head over there if you need clarification of the recipe below.

Limoncello

Ingredients

  • 1 litre of Vodka
  • 10 unwaxed lemons
  • 350g sugar
  • 150ml water

Instructions

  1. Wash the lemons well in water.  Then dry well with paper towels.
  2. In a saucepan over low heat, stir the sugar and the water to make a syrup.
  3. When the syrup becomes a little clearer and it looks like the sugar has been dissolved, remove from the stove top to cool.
  4. Slice or peel the skin from the lemons. You want to end up with small pieces. Ensure you take the yellow rind only.
  5. Place the rind in a large glass jar.
  6. Pour in the vodka.
  7. Add the sugar syrup. Ensure the syrup has cooled before adding.
  8. Seal the jar and store in a cool dark spot for at least 30 days.
  9. You will need to mix the ingredients on a regular basis by turning the jar back and forward to stir the ingredients. We do it maybe once a week…if we remember.
  10. After the 30 days transfer the liquid to a bottle. You will need a funnel and some sort of strainer to ensure you don’t transfer any of the lemon rind into the bottle.
  11. Store in your freezer and when cold you are ready to drink.

Enjoy!

Make the sugar syrup Peel the lemons Add the lemon rind to the bowl Add the vodka to the lemon rind in the jar Add the sugar syrup to the bowl Seal the jar and store in a cool dry place

 

Health Benefits of Cinnamon and Honey

NOTE:
The owners of this website do not take responsibility for the claims quoted in the article. However, as both products are natural there is little likelihood of anyone suffering any side effects unless they are allergic to either product.

cinnamon-powderHere are probably some little known facts about Honey and Cinnamon.

A mixture of honey and cinnamon can relieve a number of ailments, and as honey is  produced in most of the countries of the world that means that a large percentage of the population can have access to this inexpensive medicinal product.

Modern Scientists accept that Honey is a very effective medicine  that can be used without any side effects for all kinds of ailments.

A Canadian magazine, The Weekly World News, provided a list of ailments that can be aided by taking honey and cinnamon,  in its issue dated 17 January,1995.

HEART DISEASES:
Make a paste of honey and cinnamon powder, spread on bread, instead of jelly and jam, and eat it regularly for breakfast.

The honey and cinnamon reduces the cholesterol in the arteries and may protect people from having a heart attack. And for anyone who has already had an attack, by following this practice, they may be less likely to have another attack in the near future.

Regular use of the honey and cinnamon paste on bread relieves loss of breath and strengthens the heart beat. With age the arteries and veins lose their flexibility and become clogged, honey and cinnamon revitalizes the arteries and veins. In America and Canada, some nursing homes treated patients successfully using this procedure.

ARTHRITIS:
To relieve arthritis take one cup of hot water with two spoons of honey and one small teaspoon of cinnamon powder daily, morning, and night.

If taken regularly even chronic arthritis can be cured.

Recent research conducted at the Copenhagen University on 200 patients who were given a mixture of one tablespoon honey mixed with a half teaspoon cinnamon powder before breakfast each day showed that within a week, 73 of those patients were totally relieved of pain. And within a month, almost all the patients who previously could not walk or move around because of their arthritis started walking without pain.

BLADDER INFECTIONS:
Take two tablespoons of cinnamon powder and one teaspoon of honey in a glass of lukewarm water and drink it. It destroys the germs in the bladder and relieves the symptoms.

CHOLESTEROL:
Two tablespoons of honey and three teaspoons of cinnamon powder mixed in 16 ounces of tea water, given to a patient with high cholesterol , was found to reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood by 10 percent within two hours.

As mentioned for arthritic patients, if taken three times a day, any chronic cholesterol is cured. According to information reported in The World Weekly News, pure honey taken with food daily relieves complaints of cholesterol.

COLDS:
Those suffering from common or severe colds should take one tablespoon lukewarm honey with 1/4 spoon cinnamon powder daily for three days. This  will cure most chronic coughs, colds, and clear the sinuses. (Only-Cookware: This one I tried and it did work).

UPSET STOMACH:
Honey taken with cinnamon powder cures stomach ache and also clears stomach ulcers from the root.

GAS:
According to the studies done in India and Japan, it is revealed that if honey is taken with cinnamon powder the stomach is relieved of gas.

IMMUNE SYSTEM:
Daily use of honey and cinnamon powder strengthens the immune system and protects the body from bacteria and viral attacks.

Scientists have found that honey has various vitamins and iron in large amounts. Constant use of Honey strengthens the white blood corpuscles to fight bacteria and viral Diseases.

INDIGESTION:
Cinnamon powder sprinkled on two tablespoons of honey taken before food relieves acidity and digests the heaviest of meals.

INFLUENZA:
A scientist in Spain has proved that honey contains a natural ‘ Ingredient’ which kills influenza germs and relieves patients from nasty flu symptoms.

LONGEVITY:
Tea made with honey and cinnamon powder, when taken regularly, arrests the ravages of old age.

Take four spoons of honey, one spoon of cinnamon powder and three cups of water and boil to make like tea. Drink 1/4 cup, three to four times a day.

It keeps the skin fresh and soft and arrests old age. Life spans also increases and even a 100 year old, starts performing the chores of a 20-year-old. (Only-cookware: Well I’m not too sure about the claim of a 100 year old doing the work of a 20 year old).

PIMPLES:
Make a paste using three tablespoons of honey and one teaspoon of cinnamon powder. Apply this paste on the pimples before going to sleep at night and wash it off the next morning with warm water. If done daily for two weeks, it removes pimples from the root.

SKIN INFECTIONS:
Mix up a potion of honey and cinnamon powder in equal parts and apply on the affected parts to cure eczema, ringworm and all types of skin infections.

WEIGHT LOSS:
On a daily basis, both in the morning, a half hour before breakfast on an empty stomach and at night before sleeping, drink honey and cinnamon powder boiled in one cup of water.

If taken regularly, it reduces the weight of even the most obese person.  Also, drinking this mixture regularly does not allow the fat to accumulate in the body even though the person may eat a high calorie diet. (Only-Cookware: This is definitely on the list of things to try)

FATIGUE:
Recent studies have shown that the sugar content of honey helpful to the strength of the body. Senior citizens, who take honey and cinnamon powder in equal parts, are more alert and flexible.

Research undertaken by Dr. Milton, shows that a half tablespoon of honey taken in a glass of water and sprinkled with cinnamon powder taken daily, after brushing  in the morning and again in the afternoon at about 3:00 P.M. when the vitality of the body starts to decrease, increases the vitality of the body within a week.

BAD BREATH:
People of South America, first thing in the morning, gargle with one teaspoon of honey and cinnamon powder mixed in hot water, so their breath stays fresh throughout the day.

HEARING LOSS:
Daily morning and night honey and cinnamon powder, taken in equal parts restore hearing.

Remember when we were kids? We had toast with real butter and cinnamon spread on it. Hmm delicious.

Well there you have it. As I said at the beginning, honey and cinnamon may not turn out to be a cure all but its healthy, tasty and most of all natural.

[ReviewAZON name=”honey” id=”11″ display=”multiinlineasins” asins=”B000VK08OC,B000YSQA7U,B001EQ4OBA,B00394VLL6,B001FOPQL8,B000VJUIN4,B0045GX660″ trackingid=”only-cookware-blog-20″ country=”us” width=”100%” float=”left” displaytype=”list” count=”10″]