A dear friend and co-worker reminded me, "you are what you eat." This friend's invaluable practices and advice truly opened my eyes to the adage.
Until I spoke to her, I did not realize the impact of anxiety upon a person but also upon that person's relationships. One of her guiding principles was eating a lot of green foods to reduce anxiety and to eat garlic for its anti-bacterial properties, when life is getting you down. Though I no longer work with her on a daily basis, I treasure all of the great advice she gave me over the years.
Managing anxieties by managing what is eaten (along with regular exercise) leads to a happier and healthier life.
Joy Bauer's Joy's Simple Food Remedies: Tasty Cures for Whatever's Ailing You has been a wonderful resource to access when looking for foods that holistically aid various ailments. Joy Bauer is often seen on NBC's Today show, as she is a leading health and nutrition expert. Anxiety and stress is actually number 3 in her list of lists: Ease Anxiety and Stress, page 28.
She lists five foods that are at the top of the list for reducing each ailment. Other ailments on her lists include: boosting energy, relieving seasonal allergies, and preventing migraines and headaches.
Easing Anxiety and Stress
Here are Joy's top five foods that ease anxiety and stress:
- Fatty Fish: Eating fish with high omega-3 content is best. The omega-3 content aids in reducing inflammation and anxiety, according to a study at Ohio State University. Certain kinds of fish also have large amounts of vitamin D, which reduces depression.
- Chickpeas (or Garbanzo Beans): Rich in tryptophan, which reduces anxiety (remember the sleepiness after eating Thanksgiving turkey?) Folate, a mood regulator, can also be found in these beans.
- Steel-cut Oats: The carbohydrates and tryptophan in steel-cut oats produce serotonin, a relaxing hormone. Joy likes steel-cut oats better than regular oats because they are minimally processed.
- Oranges: The vitamin C in oranges seems to help reduce stress.
- Chamomile Tea: According to Joy, chamomile tea appears to act as a mild sedative and helps relieve muscle tension and eases anxiety according to a study with placebos.
Orange-Chamomile Blondies: A Dessert That Reduces Anxiety!
Joy Bauer not only includes her 5 food lists, she also includes tasty, healthy recipes after each of her lists. Since I love desserts, I am including one of Joy's anxiety reducing desserts: Orange-Chamomile Blondies:
- 1 15.5 ounce chickpea can, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup almond butter
- 1/3 cup honey
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp dried chamomile
- 1 1/2 to 2 tbsp orange zest
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1/3 cup chopped pecans (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 350º F. Spray an 8 inch square pan with cooking spray.
- Process all ingredients except for chocolate chips and optional pecans. Process until smooth and creamy.
- Fold in chocolate chips and optional pecans.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.
- Let cool for 20 minutes on a wire rack before cutting.
I love brownies, but blondies are definitely great too!
Garlic Chicken (Not on Joy's List, But Very Soothing!)
I have a dear friend who loves to eat garlic chicken! Eating garlic chicken is very soothing and anxiety-reducing for her because of it's stress-reducing properties. She loves it in any way: fried, slow cooked, stir fried. (If she could subsist on garlic, I think she would!)
Here are three of her favorite recipes. Enjoy! All you need for these recipes is a large frying pan or wok or slow cooker.
Garlic Chicken Stir Fry
- Marinate over night:
- 3 pounds chicken cut into strips (I like chicken breasts, personally)
- 6 cloves minced garlic
- 1 tsp ginger
- 2 sweet onions, sliced thin
- 6-8 stocks of green onions, chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sugar
- Mix 1 cup of chicken broth with 2 tbsp of cornstarch. Set aside.
- Fry 1 tbsp of peanut oil in a frying pan or wok. Heat hot enough to stir fry.
- Add marinated chicken and seasonings to the pan/wok. Be careful to add slowly, not splashing.
- Constantly and carefully stir for about 4-5 minutes on high heat until chicken is no longer raw. Make in 2 batches (1 tbsp of peanut oil per batch.)
- Remove everything from the pan/wok. Set aside.
- Add another 1 tbsp of peanut oil in pan/wok.
- Add a package of your favorite frozen vegetables. Be careful not to splash! Cook for about 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
- Add back the chicken and marinade that you set aside.
- Add the cornstarch mixture you set aside and mix until thickened.
Sesame Chicken with Garlic Sauce
- Marinade 30 minutes to overnight:
- 3 pounds of chicken, cut up into strips.
- 3 tsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp minced garlic
- 3 tsp ginger
- 4.5 tsp brown sugar
- 6 tbsp soy sauce
- 1.5 tsp black pepper
- 1/4th tsp salt
- Mix 1.5 cups of chicken stock with 2 tbsp of cornstarch. Set aside.
- Toast 3/4th cup of sesame seeds.
- Slice 6 stalks of green onions.
- Stir fry on medium high the marinade and chicken in 2 batches until the chicken is cooked (about 4-5 minutes per batch.)
- Combine 2 batches again in the pot.
- Add the chicken stock and cornstarch that you set aside. Cook until thickened (about 1-2 minutes.)
- Add the sesame seeds and green onions before serving.
Slow Cooked Garlic Chicken
- Cut up 3-4 pounds of chicken. Place in slow cooker.
- 1 tbsp chopped garlic
- 1 tbsp chopped ginger
- 6 tbsp vinegar
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/8th tsp black pepper
- Pour combined spices over the chicken.
- Add enough water to cover the chicken in the slow cooker.
- Slow cook on low for about 8 hours for tender chicken!
Please let me know if you have any questions!