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10 Healthy Foods that Calm & De-stress

The holidays are among us – a time of year that’s busy and can add to quite a stress load. After all, you likely have several invitations to gatherings, special cookies and meals to make, a long list of people you need to send holiday cards to, the daunting task of braving the shopping mall crowds, or a multitude of websites to find the perfect gifts for your loved ones. All of this, on top of your already packed schedule. It can be overwhelming to say the least. In fact, I am feeling a little stressed just writing this.

To help you "stay calm and soldier on" up through the end of 2018, I have a list of the top ten naturally calming foods to nosh on:

#10: Tulsi Tea (holy basil)

A tea made from the leaves of the holy basil plant, known to keep cortisol levels in check.

#9: Turmeric

Curcumin is the special ingredient in this spice, which helps combat inflammation and helps maintain liver health

#8: Sardines (recipe)

Omega-3s, baby! These little fatty fish are full of them and because they are small, you don't need to be concerned about mercury levels.

#7: Parsley

Rich in stress-reducing flavonoids, this herb can be added to smoothies, salads, sauces, and stir-frys

#6: Extra Virgin Olive Oil (recipe)

The polyphenols in EVOO helps combat inflammation, which is exacerbated by stress

#5: Swiss chard

It's loaded with magnesium, the "anti-stress mineral", as is any leafy green, and can naturally soothe the nerves

#4: Mushrooms

Stress reduces our vitamin C, which mushrooms can replenish, and further support your immune system

#3: Pumpkin seeds

Rich in zinc, which helps the body manage stress, balance mood and support the immune system. Besides, these are great sprinkled on top of salad!

#2: Asparagus

Besides being loaded with anti-oxidants, asparagus contains tryptophan, which calms anxiety attacks

#1: Turkey

Contains l-trytophan, the amino acid that helps produce serotonin, the "feel good" hormone

So, there you have it. Add or maintain these foods in your daily routine and it will help to keep you sane this holiday season.

Here is a recipe that is quick, easy, delicious and incorporates three calming items in one meal!

Recipe: Pasta de Sardines


8 oz pasta (I like fettucine) - cook per package instructions


1 medium onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 lemon, juiced (vitamin C)

1 3.75 oz can sardines, in tomato sauce

red pepper flakes - to taste

1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook for about 8 minutes, or until almost tender.

  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook for a few minutes until soft, then add the garlic, and cook until fragrant. Stir in the sardines with their sauce. When the sardines heat through, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the pasta is ready.

  3. When the pasta is almost done, drain, and add it to the sardine sauce. Stir, cover, and turn the heat off. Let stand for a few minutes to absorb the flavors of the sauce. Squeeze juice from the lemon over the pasta. Divide onto serving plates, and top with red pepper flakes and grated Parmesan cheese.

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