These recipes aren’t just for fuel. They’re for happiness.
Sometimes when we’re feeling low or stressed, it’s easy to reach for a quick fix when it comes to food- takeaways, microwave meals and sugary snacks.
Though they may provide momentary comfort, these foods could be doing your mental health more harm than good, as research shows the clear relationship between poor nutrition and increased stress and low mood.1
These recipes contain ingredients which are proven to enhance mental health, offering a bounty of brain-boosting nutrients, which help produce feelgood neurotransmitters like GABA.
Steamed salmon with gotu kola salad |2 portions
A dynamic duo of salmon and hemp oil offer an abundance of omega 3 fatty acids, known to improve mental wellbeing.
Salmon is rich in tryptophan, which is an essential amino acid we must get from our diets. Tryptophan helps produce serotonin, which balances our mood.
Gotu kola isn’t just any salad leaf either- it’s proven to reduce stress.2
2 salmon fillets
1 cup of gotu kola leaves, chopped
1 cup of coriander leaves, chopped (optional)
1 cup of broccoli, chopped
½ cup of desiccated coconut
½ red onion, diced
2 tsp of lime juice
2 tbsp of hemp seed oil
1 tsp of sesame oil
1 tsp of coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
Organic dried goji berries
A sprinkle of salt and pepper
- Blanche, or steam your broccoli until it is a vibrant green colour, and still slightly crunchy. Drain, then let it cool on the side.
- Sprinkle your salmon with salt and pepper and use a steamer or air fryer to cook the fillet. Set a timer for 8 minutes once you’ve put the salmon on.
- While your salmon is cooking, add all the wet ingredients and the coconut to a bowl, mix and season your dressing with salt and pepper.
- Then add the red onion, gotu kola and broccoli. Mix your salad until it is coated with the dressing.
- Once your salmon has finished cooking, plate your salad and top it with your fillet. Sprinkle goji berries on top, and enjoy!
Baked sweet potato with purple cabbage slaw | 2 portions
Sweet potatoes are a great source of complex carbs, providing our brains with consistent energy over a longer period of time, for better, more balanced moods. They also contain nutrients essential for mental wellbeing, including vitamins B6 and C.
Sweet potatoes and purple cabbage are rich in fibre, boosting gut health and nourishing the gut-brain axis which helps improve our mental health.
Easily adapted for different diets, this meal contains a health dose of tryptophan from either turkey or beans.
2 medium sweet potatoes
¼ of a purple cabbage, finely sliced
1 carrot, grated
½ cup parsley, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1-2 tbsp of good quality whole egg mayonnaise, or natural yoghurt
A sprinkle of salt and pepper
2 tbsp dried blueberries (optional)
1 turkey breast (optional)
Tinned haricot or black beans (optional)
- Wash your sweet potatoes thoroughly and prick several times with a fork before adding to a roasting tray with a little coconut oil, and your favourite spices- think paprika, cumin and turmeric. Roast in the oven at 200°C, or 400°F for 35 minutes.
- While your potatoes are cooking, make the slaw by mixing together your purple cabbage, carrot, parsley, garlic, mayonnaise (or yoghurt) and dried blueberries. Season to your liking.
- If you’re adding turkey, sprinkle the breast with salt and pepper, and fry with a little oil in a hot pan until cooked. Put aside to cool.
- If using beans, then warm through on stove with a sprinkle of salt, pepper and warm water.
- When your sweet potato is ready (it should be soft and yield easily to your fork) take it out of the oven, slice it in half, and add your purple slaw.
- Add your toppings, sliced turkey breast, beans and anything else you fancy.
- Sprinkle your pumpkin and chia seeds on top.
Vegan mushroom and sage pasta | 2 portions
Rich in B vitamins, vitamin D and beta glucans, mushrooms are medicine your mental health. Studies show that beta glucans relieve stress and improve energy levels for better overall wellbeing.3
Rosemary, sage and walnuts also boost brain health, improving our mood and memory.
1 cup of coconut cream
2 large portobello mushrooms, chopped
A small bunch of sage, chopped
½ tsp of fresh rosemary
½ vegan stock cube
½ a tin of black beans, drained and washed
½ a tin of chickpeas, drained and washed
4 tbsp of walnuts
Sprinkle of salt and pepper
- Sautee your mushrooms in pan with olive oil and pepper. Cook until soft, then put aside to cool.
- Boil your pasta. While this is cooking, put your coconut cream, mushrooms, sage, rosemary and stock in the blender. Whizz until your sauce is smooth, then add a little salt and pepper.
- Once your pasta is cooked, strain and combine it with the sauce on a medium heat. Stir through the chickpeas and black beans.
- Once it’s hot, plate your pasta and garnish with crushed walnuts.
Chocolate and peanut smoothie bowl | 1 portion
Eating well for your mental health doesn’t mean cutting out the treats! It just means re-thinking them. This smoothie bowl highlights the powers of L-Theanine, a calming amino acid which helps relieve stress and improve sleep.
Bananas are another great vegan source of tryptophan, and the addition of protein powder supports the production of feelgood neurotransmitters.
Cacao is also a great source of magnesium, a key mineral for easing stress. For an extra dose of magnesium, we like to add dark chocolate shavings and cashews to our smoothie bowl.
1 cup of almond milk (or alternative)
2 tsp of 100% peanut butter
1 heaped tsp of cacao powder
1 scoop of vanilla protein powder
1 capsule of L-Theanine
Any additional toppings
- Empty the capsule of L-Theanine and add it to your blender, along with all of your other ingredients.
- Once blended, you can either pour your smoothie into a tumbler and drink, or add it to a bowl along with your favourite toppings for a delicious (and calming) smoothie bowl.
Simple salad dressing
Salads are a fantastic way to reap the benefits of antioxidants. These help boost your mental wellbeing by relieving oxidative stress which can contribute to stress and low mood.
This simple salad dressing features a vegan blend of omegas 3, 6 and 9, as well as a healthy dose of vitamin C from lemons and oranges.
1 tbsp of Omega Nutrition’s 3-6-9 Oil
1 tbsp of lemon juice
1 tbsp of orange juice
A sprinkle of Himalayan salt
- Simply combine all of your ingredients, season to your liking, and pour over any salad.
Weaving wellness into your daily routine
Though we wish there was, there is no quick fix for anxiety and depression. The key to finding your way back to happiness is by incorporating wellness into your daily routine. This could be as simple as taking 5 minutes during your working day to get up from your desk and stretch. It could be by taking time to think of what you’re grateful for before bedtime. Or, it could be by nurturing your mind with food.
Nutrition is a great place to start, but if you’d like further support, our team of counsellors and psychotherapists are here to listen.
 J Firth, J E Gangwisch, A Borsini, R E Wootton, E A Mayer, Food and mood: how do diet and nutrition affect mental wellbeing?, 2020.
 J Sarris, E McIntyre, D A Camfield, Plant-based Medicines for Anxiety Disorders, Part 2: A Review of Clinical Studies with Supporting Preclinical Evidence, 2013.
 S M Talbott, J A Talbott, Baker’s yeast beta-glucan supplement reduced upper respiratory symptoms and improves mood state in stressed women, 2012.