By Melissa Lafrance on October 23, 2018
Food and cooking are being appreciated for more than just satisfying hunger and nutritional needs; its psychological benefits and in some cases, even therapeutic benefits, are now being acknowledged. Food affects our mood and nourishes us to thrive and have productive days. In November, we explore the link between nutrition and mental health, mindfulness, and straightforward recipes you can prepare to nourish your body and mind.
Week 1: Brain Food
Nutrition plays a huge factor in keeping our brains healthy. Brains operate at a very high metabolic rate, and therefore use a lot of the body’s total energy and nutrient intake. Some nutrients that are key to brain health and functioning include carbohydrates, fat, protein and in particular omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, vitamins C and E, iron, zinc and magnesium. 1 2
Here are some healthy recipes to try:
- Scottish oat and leek pilaf with salmon (Cookspiration)
- Maple cinnamon apple and pear baked oatmeal (ModelEats). Try it with walnuts and soy milk for extra brain health benefits.
- Lentils with swiss chard, roasted beets and goat cheese (Feasting at Home)
Week 2: Minimal Ingredient Recipes & Cooking Basics
It’s been suggested that completing small creative tasks such as cooking and baking increases wellbeing, particularly enthusiasm and feelings of flourishing.3 Focusing on small tasks in a manner similar to meditation can help boost mood. Cooking or meal prepping can be similar to meditation; the outcome is good food if executed properly. Culinary therapy is being implemented as a viable part of treatment plans for mental health clinics for a wide range of mental and behavioural health conditions.4
The following resources can help boost your abilities and confidence:
- Simple and fun cooking videos with Sarah Carey in Everyday Food
- Quick and easy recipe videos via Jamie Oliver’s FoodTube
- Sheet pan dinner ideas(Food Network)
- 11 vegetarian sheet pan-inspired recipes(Brit + Co)
Week 3: Basic But Nourishing Recipes
Take out the guess work and try these wholesome and satisfying meals:
- Recipes from the Minimalist Baker require 10 ingredients or less and can be done within 30 minutes or less. Best of all, they are healthy and straightforward. Try their perfect bowl of oats to kick-start your day or their comforting one-pot everyday lentil soup
- Almond butter, banana and chia overnight oats (Berry Nourished)
- 12 no fuss breakfasts (Melissa Baker, UBC Food Services)
- Veggie and tofu stir fry (My Recipes)
- Sweet potato and white bean chilli (Jamie Oliver)
Week 4: Mindfulness
Cooking and preparing food are sensory experiences involving aromas, tastes, touch, visuals and sounds. It can even be a way to relieve stress because it serves as a creative outlet that can also improve daily happiness.5 Why not add a dash of mindfulness while you cook and eat? Cooking can be an activity that is grounding and keeps you in the moment while you focus on the task at hand. When we are mindful, we are more intuitive, and these eating practices involve minimizing distractions, truly savouring your meal and listening to hunger cues.6
- Check out Huffington Post’s five tips for mindful cooking
- Check out Melissa Baker’s blog post on meals to help you Thrive.
By Melissa Lafrance on September 11, 2018
September is here, and so is back-to-school time. This month, we offer ideas, recipes and tips that are as stress-free as possible.
Food fuels our bodies, including our brains. Nourishing ourselves with good quality foods will help ensure peak cognitive function. It starts with a fortifying breakfast, then a recharging lunch, followed by a delicious supper, with balancing snacks to keep us going throughout the day.
Week 1: Be breakfast ready
Breakfasts that include foods with a low glycemic index 1 will produce a slower rise and lower peak in blood glucose concentration after eating. Your first meal of the day can include carbohydrates such as low-in-sugar breakfast cereals, oatmeal or whole grain toast combined with some protein such as a plain dairy or non-dairy product, eggs and nut butters to keep you satiated for longer. Here are some breakfast options to try:
- No-fuss breakfasts (Melissa Baker, Manager of Nutrition & Wellbeing at UBC SHHS)
- Healthy breakfast ideas for busy mornings (Healthy Families BC)
- 34 healthy breakfasts for busy mornings (Greatist)
- Freezer-friendly breakfast sandwiches (Damn Delicious)
- Freezer-friendly spinach feta breakfast wraps (Kitchn)
- A week’s worth of oatmeal in jars (Kitchn)
Week 2: Transform leftovers into tomorrow’s lunch
With a bit of planning and making extra food when you do have time to cook or prep meals, you can transform leftovers into tomorrow’s lunch. Try doubling up on recipes so you have enough portions for a couple of lunches. It shouldn’t add any cooking/prep time.
Be prepared with these recipes, tips and healthy lunch spots:
- 15 kitchen staples to help you whip up a healthy meal (Melissa Baker)
- 13 hacks for quick lunches (Spud)
- Need to buy lunch? Find out what’s open on the Vancouver campus.
- Mouth-watering healthy lunch ideas for work (EatingWell)
Week 3: Who’s ready for snacks?
Avoid the mid-morning or mid-day run to the vending machine by incorporating healthy snacks that include a minimum of two food groups. That will help reduce the sugar spike and impending crash from eating highly processed, carbohydrate-based, easy-to-grab snacks.
Week 4: Home-Cooked Meals
How often do you get home after work, starving and with no idea what to make for dinner?
- Explore meal planners, including Martha Stewart’s Grocery Bag Weekly Meal Planner. You’ll get recipes for dinner (and possibly leftovers for lunch), grocery lists and the confidence to whip up simple meals.
Here are some time-saving tips:
- Wash, chop and store fresh veggies and fruit once or twice a week to minimize cooking and prep time on other days.
- Make grains galore. Cook extra whole grains or other sides and store portioned leftovers in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer for up to a month. That way, you’ll be ready when you need a healthy meal in a hurry.
- Slow saves time: consider using a slow cooker. Check out BBC good food’s vegetarian slow cooker recipes.
For those extra busy times when you don’t have time to grocery shop, consider online food ordering or meal delivery services. Here are some local options for online ordering: