Ah, serotonin…that stuff that flows in our brains and tries to make us “happy”.
Studies have proven that serotonin levels can have an major impact on our mood and behaviors. The chemical is often linked to better health and feeling bliss. Considering this year is a dumpster fire….we could all use A LOT more serotonin.
Besides exercise and medication, one of the most popular/natural ways to increase serotonin levels is diet. Foods with tryptophan (an amino acid that helps boost serotonin) can actually help stabilize mood disorders like anxiety and depression.
Here are 5 Foods that can help serotonin flow to your brain
YES! FINALLY! ANOTHER EXCUSE TO EAT CHEESE! In all seriousness, cheese is an excellent source of tryptophan. Maybe that’s why so many of us love eating it?
High in Omegas, fatty acids, and rich in tryptophan – you really can’t go wrong with salmon.
Eggs are filled with protein that are known to boost tryptophan in blood levels. For those of you who think your saving calories with egg whites – DON’T SKIP OUT ON THE YOLK! The yolk is known to hold all the nutrients of the egg along with the tryptophan,
Sweet, delicious, and known to carry seratonion. Make sure to eat them fresh though, the more time passes the more the serotonin is depleted from the fruit.
Believe it or not foods that contain soy are high in tryptophan. This is a perfect alternative of protein for vegetarians and vegans as well!
Now go eat up, take a nice stroll in the sunshine, and brighten up the day!
Healthy Lunch Box Meals For Kids
Packing lunch for the kids can be a challenge! Of course you want them to enjoy healthy food, but it doesn’t always appeal to them. Plus, it can be really expensive to constantly be providing organic lunches. However, theres no need to worry anymore! Here are some delicious, nutritious and affordable lunches that your kids are guaranteed to love.
Let’s Start Packing!
The Breakfast Box
This box is for the kid that just loves breakfast foods! It is filled with Natural sugars, carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats to keep them attentive throughout the whole day. The box includes:
- 10 Grapes
- 6 Mini pancakes
- 4 Strawberries
- Tablespoon of peanut butter
- Mozzarella cheese
The Cheese Lovers Box
This box is for the kid that loves to snack and can not get enough cheese!! This box is filled with vitamins, minerals and tasty snacks to keep your kid satisfied. This box includes:
- Grilled cheese, made with mozzarella and whole wheat bread
- A cucumber slices
- 1/2 Cup of blueberries
- 1/2 Cup of popcorn
Mexican Bento Box
This box is perfect for the kid who loves a spicy kick to their meal. With delicious sauces and sides, it’s the perfect box to mix and match food combinations. This box includes:
- Handful of sweet potato crackers
- Tablespoon of guacamole
- Tablespoon of salsa
- Cheddar cheese quesadilla
- 1/2 Red bell pepper, sliced
The Pizza Party Box
If your kid loves pizza, this an easy to make and healthy alternative that they are guaranteed to be excited about when they open their lunchbox! Paired with a sweet treat, it is like getting an appetizer, entree and dessert! This box includes:
- Chocolate, fruit or nut bar
- Green apple, sliced
- 15 Cherry tomatoes
- Mini pizzas! made from two english muffins, a tablespoon of sauce on each and 1/4 mozzarella cheese sprinkled on top. Melt in the toaster oven for 5 mins!
The Snackers box
Does your child like snacks more than meals? Well this is the perfect box for them! Filled with both savory and sweet flavors. This box includes:
- Tablespoon of peanut butter
- 6 Celery sticks
- 1/4 Puff snacks, such as pirate booty
- 2 Mozzarella sticks, wrapped in 2 slices of ham
- Bag of mini cookie bites
The Sweet Tooth Box
This box is for the kid who loves a sugary and sweet treat! Sugar doesn’t always have to be a. bad thing and this box is a great example, filled with natural sugars to satisfy your child’s sweet tooth and avoid the sugar crash! This box is filled with:
- 1 Banana, sliced
- 1/2 Red bell pepper, sliced
- 1 String cheese
- 1 Chocolate treat, like a chocolate kiss
- 6 Ritz cracker sandwiches. This consists of 12 crackers sandwiched together with peanut butter!
The Protein Box
This box is for the health conscious child. It is filled with delicious protein options that will keep them full for a long time! This box includes:
- 1 Cup of vanilla yogurt, add a dish
- 1/2 Green apple, sliced
- 1/4 Pretzels
- 1 Tablespoon of chocolate chips
- 4 Large strawberries
Which box will you try?
Yummy Toast Recipes To Make This Week
Toast is one of the most versatile and delicious foods. You can make sweet, savory, spicy or salty toast. Not only is toast so easy to make, but it is great meal to have at any time of the day! Here are some of our favorite toast recipes you have to try to make this week.
It is getting toasty in here
Vegetable Cream Cheese
Puree 2 ounces cream cheese with 1 tablespoon each chopped dill, chives, tarragon and parsley in a food processor; season with salt and pepper. Spread on slices of toasted pumpernickel bread. Top with thinly sliced carrots, radishes, cucumbers and mushrooms.
Mash 1 ripe avocado with 1 teaspoon rice vinegar and season with salt, pepper and chipotle hot sauce; spread on slices of toasted whole-wheat bread. Top with thinly sliced radishes, sliced scallions and alfalfa sprouts.
Scallion Pesto with Ricotta
Cook 1 bunch chopped scallions in salted boiling water, 1 minute; drain and rinse under cold water. Puree in a food processor with 1/3 cup olive oil, the juice of 1/2 lemon, 2 tablespoons each chopped parsley, grated Parmesan and toasted walnuts, and 1/4 teaspoon each red pepper flakes and kosher salt. Spread on slices of toasted sourdough bread; top with ricotta. Drizzle with olive oil and top with lemon zest and pepper.
Cheddar and Chutney
Spread fig or apple chutney on slices of multigrain bread. Top with sliced aged cheddar. Bake at 425 degrees F until golden and bubbly.
Caramelize 2 sliced onions in 2 tablespoons each butter and olive oil over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, 45 minutes; season with Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Divide among slices of toasted white bread; top with shredded Gruyère. Broil until the cheese melts. Top with chives.
Burrata and Mortadella
Puree 2 ounces burrata cheese, 1 cup pea shoots and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a food processor; season with salt and pepper. Spread on slices of toasted multigrain bread. Top with deli-sliced mortadella, shaved Parmesan and more pea shoots.
Puree 2 ounces cream cheese with 1 tablespoon each chopped dill, chives, tarragon and parsley in a food processor; season with salt and pepper. Spread on slices of toasted pumpernickel bread. Top with smoked salmon, baby arugula and a squeeze of lemon juice. Season with pepper.
Middle Eastern Egg Salad
Mash 2 hard-boiled eggs; mix with 1/3 cup hummus and 2 teaspoons harissa (Moroccan chile paste). Spread on slices of toasted whole-grain bread; drizzle with olive oil and top with chopped mint and cilantro.
Mix 2 ounces of softened cream cheese with 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup; spread on slices of toasted sourdough bread. Top with crumbled cooked bacon and blueberries; drizzle with more maple syrup.
Which toast will you make this week?
4 4th of July Vegan Recipes
Fourth of July is a holiday that is surrounded by the idea of eating hot dogs, hamburgers, macaroni salad, cupcakes and usually non-vegan friendly food. However, this year does not have to be this way! We have found 4 awesome vegan meals inspired by the youtube channel, Minimalist Baker , to make on Fourth of July this year!
let’s get to cookin’
Instead of hamburgers this year try..
Smoky BBQ Black Bean Burger
1 cup cooked cooled quinoa
1 15-ounce can black beans (rinsed and dried)
2/3 cup raw pecans
1 Tbsp coconut or avocado oil
1 heaping cup sliced and peeled sweet potato (cut into 1/4-inch rounds)
2 heaping cups thinly sliced cremini or button mushrooms
2 Tbsp coconut aminos
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 1/2 tsp chili powder
2 1/2 tsp cumin powder
3 Tbsp vegan-friendly BBQ sauce
- if you haven’t yet, cook quinoa and set aside to cool.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spread black beans onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Bake beans for 6 minutes. Then add pecans to the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes more. The nuts should be fragrant and golden brown, and the beans should appear dry and cracked open. Set aside to cool. Increase oven temperature to 375 degrees F
- In the meantime, heat a medium to large cast-iron or metal skillet over medium/medium-low heat. Once hot, add oil and the sweet potato. Cover and cook for 3-4 minutes, turning heat down if the potatoes are browning too quickly. Once browned on the underside, flip and cook for 3-4 minutes more or until tender and golden brown. Remove from the pan.
- To the still-hot pan, add the sliced mushrooms and coconut aminos and cook on medium/medium-high for about 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently, or until they’re browned, fragrant, and cooked down to half their size. Set aside.
- To a food processor, add beans and pecans and blitz/pulse into a loose meal
Next, add cooked sweet potato, mushrooms, half the quinoa, sea salt, chili powder, cumin, and BBQ sauce and pulse a few times to combine
- Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and stir in the rest of the quinoa. Then taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more cumin for smokiness, chili powder for heat, BBQ sauce for sweetness / depth of flavor, or salt for saltiness.
- If the mixture appears too wet, add more quinoa. If it looks too dry, add more BBQ sauce to moisten.
- Divide the mixture into four even balls and form into patties with your hands or by lining a 1/2 cup measuring cup with plastic wrap, packing the mixture inside, then lifting the plastic wrap out – mash slightly into more of a disc. Refrigerate burgers for 30 minutes.
- Once chilled, heat the cast-iron or metal pan from earlier over medium heat. Once hot, add a bit more oil and the burgers. Cook for 4-5 minutes. Then carefully flip and cook for 4-5 minutes on the other side. Then turn off heat, glaze/brush with a bit more BBQ sauce, and transfer the pan to the oven. Bake at 375 F for 10-15 minutes more. The burgers should appear browned.
- Serve as is or with toppings. We enjoyed ours on buns with butter lettuce, shredded red pepper, shredded cabbage, pickles, radish, and more BBQ sauce. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or in the freezer up to 1 month.
Instead of hot dogs this year try…
Grilled Corn With Sriracha Aioli
3/4 cup raw cashews
5 cloves garlic (minced/smashed)
1/4 cup water
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp lime juice
Sea salt + black pepper
1 tsp sriracha
1 pinch each chili powder, smoked paprika, and ground cumin
1/2 tsp nutritional yeast
8 large ears corn (unhusked)
- Place cashews in a bowl and cover with boiling hot water. Let set, uncovered, for 45 minutes – 1 hour or until very soft. Then drain thoroughly and set aside.
- In the meantime, prep corn by putting in a large bowl and covering with cool water for about 10 minutes to prevent it from burning too much on the grill. Then place on a baking sheet and set aside. Prep any other toppings at this time you may want for example cilantro, limes, chili powder, etc.
- Begin preheating grill once cashews are almost soaked. Then add soaked, drained cashews to the blender along with fresh garlic, water, olive oil, maple syrup, lime juice, salt, pepper, sriracha, and spices. Nutritional yeast is optional.
- Blend on high until creamy and smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more water if too thick, salt for flavor balance, sriracha for heat, cumin for smokiness, garlic for zing, maple syrup for sweetness, or lime juice for acidity.
- Transfer to a serving dish and set aside.
- To grill corn, place directly on the hot grill for about 7-8 minutes and close the lid. Rotate/flip at the halfway point to ensure even cooking. This begins gently cooking the corn before laying it directly on the grill.
- Once the husk is browned, pull back the husk and place back on the grill. Close the lid but watch closely, rotating until all sides of the corn are deep golden brown.
- To serve, drizzle corn with aioli, lime juice, chili powder and sprinkle on fresh herbs. Best when fresh.
Instead of macaroni salad this year try…
Simple Vegan Potato Salad
1 pound small red potatoes
2 1/2 cups diced vegetables (i.e. bell pepper, celery, red onion, etc.)
1 cup raw cashews
1/3 cup water
1 Tbsp grape seed, olive, or avocado oil
2 Tbsp white wine or apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp spicy mustard
1-2 Tbsp agave nectar or maple syrup
2 Tbsp dried dill
1/4 tsp each sea salt and black pepper
3-4 cloves garlic (minced)
1 tsp hot sauce
Fresh chopped parsley
- Add cashews to a small bowl and cover with boiling hot water. Let sit uncovered for 1 hour.
In the meantime, add potatoes to a large saucepan and cover with room temperature water.
- Bring to a boil over high heat. Then reduce to medium-high heat so the water is at a low boil. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until tender and a knife easily slides in and out. Then drain and set on a cutting board or counter to cool slightly.
- Once the cashews have soaked, drain well and add to a blender along with an additional 1/3 cup water then add grape seed oil, vinegar, spicy mustard, agave or maple syrup, dill, salt, pepper and garlic. Blend on high, scraping down sides as needed, until texture is creamy and thick but pourable. Add more water if it has trouble blending.
- Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more dill for herby flavor, garlic for zing/bite, salt and pepper for overall flavor, maple syrup for sweetness, or vinegar for acidity. At this time, you can also add some hot sauce for added spice.
- Chop cooked potatoes into bite-size pieces and add to a large mixing bowl along with chopped vegetables. Top with all of the sauce and stir to coat. Garnish with parsley and serve as is – slightly warm / room temperature – or cover, transfer to the refrigerator, and chill until cold – 4-6 hours or overnight.
- Leftovers keep in the refrigerator up to 1 week. Best in the first 72 hours.
Instead of cupcakes this year try..
1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
1/2 cup raw almonds
1/4 tsp sea salt
3 Tbsp coconut sugar
5 Tbsp coconut oil (melted)
1/2 cup raw pecans (finely chopped)
1 1/4 cup dairy-free dark or semisweet chocolate (chopped)
1/3 cup unsweetened plain almond or light coconut milk
2 Tbsp coconut oil (melted)
1/4-1 cup powdered sugar
1 pinch sea salt
1 10-ounce bag vegan, gluten-free marshmallows
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C) and line an 8×8 inch baking dish with parchment paper.
- Add oats, almonds, sea salt, and coconut sugar to a blender and mix on high until a fine meal is achieved, scraping down sides as needed.
- Add melted coconut oil and pulse to combine. This should form a loose dough when squeezed between two fingers. Add more if it’s too dry.
- Add chopped pecans and pulse a few more times to combine – you want a little texture here so leave a little chunky.
- Transfer mixture to parchment-lined baking sheet and spread evenly. Then place parchment paper on top and use a flat-bottomed object, such as a drinking glass, to press down firmly until it’s evenly distributed and well packed.
- Bake for 15 minutes, then increase heat to 375 F and bake for 5-10 minutes more, or until the edges are golden brown and there is some browning on the surface. Remove from oven to cool slightly.
- In the meantime, add chocolate to a medium mixing bowl. Add almond milk to a separate small mixing bowl or measuring cup and microwave for 30 seconds. Add milk to chocolate and don’t touch for 5 minutes so it can melt.
- Stir gently with a wooden spoon to incorporate. Then add melted coconut oil and cover. Let rest untouched for another 10 minutes to melt.
- Use a mixer to beat the mixture together. A few unmelted chocolate pieces are fine. If you prefer sweeter ganache, add powdered sugar at this time and whisk/beat to combine. Set aside.
- Spread the ganache over slightly cooled crust and sprinkle on a little sea salt for flavor balance. Freeze until ganache is no longer wet and slightly firm.
- Once the chocolate has set, lift the bars out of the baking dish and gently transfer to a baking sheet (remove parchment paper to avoid burning). Top with halved marshmallows and broil on the top rack on high for 30-45 seconds.
- Carefully chop into 9 bars and serve immediately. Best when fresh. Store leftovers at room temperature, loosely covered up to 24 hours.