Cooking away the storm with chickpeas

I recently read about how some foods have anti-anxiety properties, so naturally, I went out and bought everything I’d found on my Google search and created another one of my famed random food concoctions. Spoiler alert – it turned out to be surprisingly delicious. According to the experts, there are certain types of food that make us feel happier and are rich in the vitamins our bodies need. Sticking to the basics for the benefit of the creative types who, like myself, chose to exercise their creative muscles in school rather than learn about lactic acid, protein rich foods such as eggs, lentils, cheese and beans do a pretty good job of improving energy levels, our reaction times, ability to heal cells and our general mood.

Last week I was having a particularly anxious time and thought I’d put science to the test and attempt to cook a spectacular mood-boosting feast. Between being up to my eyeballs in job applications, my computer crashing for the 87th time this year, getting caught up in four fire alarms, an apartment block blackout and spilling white hot chocolate all over my favourite coat, jeans, shoes and handbag, I was willing to give the humble chickpea a chance to save me from my misfortunes.

For this anxiety-fighting  recipe I chose:

Chickpeas

The gut is often known as the second brain. As chickpeas are bursting with vitamins B6, which is known to reduce the risk of suffering from fatigue and depression, it really is a no-brainer to stock your cupboards with the stuff. Whether you’re struggling with a break-up or a 12,000 word dissertation, they are your friends. The all round good guy of the food kingdom, they’re also a great source of fibre, iron and protein which helps the digestive system, bone health and blood pressure. Hummus and crackers can now be guilt-free.

Greek yoghurt

Low in fat and high in protein, whilst still passing the taste test, Greek yoghurt is great to keep in the fridge for snacking, spicing up your recipes and keeping healthy. Packed full of probiotics which support our immune and digestive systems, and brimming wih B12 vitamins which vegetarians like myself often lack, it is an unsung superfood which combats fatigue, stress and low mood. It also helps keep our memory, heart, skin and hair on point. Not too shabby for a tub of bacteria.

Mushrooms

A secret weapon for boosting your mood, mushrooms are great allies for helping you get the right dose of Vitamin D during the winter months. Often left in the dark and overlooked for more flamboyant  fruit and veg, mushrooms are exceptions to the ‘more colour means more nutrients’ rule. This fungi also does a pretty good job of preventing inflammation, maintaining heart health and blood pressure and fighting infection. A great excuse to indulge in a succulent mushroom stroganoff.

Tomatoes

Overloaded with antioxidants, new research suggest that the lycopene which gives tomatoes their distinctive red colour not only fights cell damage, but has been reported to be helpful in the fight against low mood and depression. Tomatoes are also linked to calming the liver, aiding digestion and relieving tired eyes. Move over cucumber, there’s a new star in town ready to steal the spotlight at meal times and during your beauty routine.

To add extra flavour to this tasty, nutritious, anxiety-busting recipe, I also added kale, yellow peppers, olives, pine nuts, mixed herbs, garlic, chilli powder, quorn, and stir fried it all together. My verdict was extremely positive. Taking a total of around 30 minutes to prepare and cook, this was a fuss-free meal that didn’t require any measuring jugs, super sharp knives, space or skill. All ingredients bar the pine nuts were reasonably priced and there was enough food to keep me satisfied for three evenings. I can’t say for certain whether this dish was the sole contributor to improving my mood, but it stopped me feeling hangry, distracted me from my workload and chocolate-stained clothing and satisfied my tastebuds. I definitely felt happier after eating it and you should too.

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