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Springtime mental health is an often overlooked aspect of your mood and emotions, as we explored in our recent mental health guide. And what you eat this spring matters. “Research using data from large observational studies — like the Nurses’ Health Study and the Women’s Health Initiative, which included middle-aged to older and mostly postmenopausal women — has found links [between mental health and diet],” explains Harvard Medical School. These three spring-themed meals incorporate foods that are in season right now, each of which contain vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients that researchers say can help boost our mood and overall mental health.

What Ingredients to Include in Your Spring-Themed Meals For Better Mental Health

According to doctors, some of the best ingredients to include in your spring-themed meals if you want to improve and protect your mental health include:

  • Fresh fruits
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Starchy vegetables
  • Red meat, poultry, and eggs

Get started with these three spring-themed meals, with each dish containing one or more of these mental health-boosting powerhouses. For the best results, always source your food when it’s in season and from local farmers for maximum nutritional benefits!

BREAKFAST: Grapefruit and Mango Smoothie

Unfortunately, many fruits grown locally in North America are not in season just yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a seasonal smoothie bursting with the antioxidants that researchers say help to bolster a healthy mood and state of mind. This smoothie is the perfect way to kick off your day of spring-themed meals and it’s bursting with vitamin C and other nutrients that support your overall health and immune system. Plus it’s high in probiotics (key for improving your gut health) and protein.

1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
1 medium-sized grapefruit, peeled and segmented
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (or coconut yogurt for a vegan option)
1/2 cup almond milk (or any milk of your choice)
1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup (optional, depending on your sweetness preference)
1/2 cup ice cubes (optional, for a colder smoothie)
Fresh mint leaves for garnish (optional)

Prepare your ingredients by peeling and dicing the mango and segmenting the grapefruit. Make sure to remove any seeds or tough membranes from the grapefruit segments.

Place the diced mango, grapefruit segments, Greek yogurt, almond milk, and honey or maple syrup (if using) into a blender. If you prefer a colder smoothie, add the ice cubes to the blender as well.

Blend all the ingredients until smooth and creamy. If the consistency is too thick, you can add more almond milk or water to reach your desired consistency.

Garnish each glass with a sprig of fresh mint leaves for an extra burst of flavor and a beautiful presentation. Serve immediately and enjoy!

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LUNCH: High-Protein Kale Salad

“Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, collards, and broccoli are rich in brain-healthy nutrients like vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta carotene,” reports Harvard, which adds that these foods may even help to slow cognitive decline as you age. And kale is in season right now!

This salad is not only delicious but also packed with protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, making it a top choice for our collection of healthy and balanced spring-themed meals. It also contains hemp, a great plant-based source of omega-3s which also support improved mental health.

4 cups chopped kale (stems removed)
1 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup hemp seeds
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional, omit for vegan version)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large mixing bowl, combine the chopped kale, cooked quinoa, hemp seeds, cherry tomatoes, diced red onion, crumbled feta cheese (if using), and chopped fresh parsley.

In a small bowl or jar, whisk together the extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper to make the dressing.

Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients in the large mixing bowl.

Toss the salad until all the ingredients are evenly coated with the dressing.

Taste the salad and adjust the seasoning if necessary, adding more salt and pepper to taste.

Once the salad is well combined and seasoned to your liking, transfer it to serving plates or bowls. Sprinkle some additional hemp seeds on top for extra protein and texture.

Serve the high-protein kale and hemp salad immediately as a nutritious and satisfying meal or side dish.

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DINNER: Grass-Fed Beef Stir Fry

When buying beef, go with local beef that’s been grass-fed. Research suggests that grass-fed beef contains more nutrients, such as high levels of mood-boosting omega-3s. It’s also better for the environment and for the animals.

We round out our list of spring-themed meals with this easy stir fry that combines that mental health-enhancing perks of grass-fed beef with spring veggies that also help to bolster positive, balanced emotions.

1 lb (450g) grass-fed beef steak (flank steak, sirloin, or strip steak), thinly sliced against the grain
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 cup broccoli florets
1 carrot, julienned
Optional: sliced mushrooms, snap peas, baby corn, or any other vegetables of your choice
Cooked rice or noodles, for serving

In a bowl, mix together the soy sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, and cornstarch. Add the sliced beef to the bowl and toss until well coated. Let it marinate for at least 15 minutes.

Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the marinated beef and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes until browned. Remove the beef from the skillet and set aside.

In the same skillet, add the remaining tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add the minced garlic and ginger, and stir-fry for about 30 seconds until fragrant.

Add the sliced onion, bell pepper, broccoli florets, and julienned carrot to the skillet. Stir-fry for 3-4 minutes until the vegetables are tender-crisp.

If you’re adding any additional vegetables like mushrooms, snap peas, or baby corn, add them to the skillet now and stir-fry for another 2-3 minutes.

Return the cooked beef to the skillet and toss everything together until heated through.

Taste the stir-fry and adjust the seasoning if necessary, adding more soy sauce or salt if desired.

Serve the beef stir-fry hot over cooked rice or noodles. Optionally, garnish with chopped green onions, sesame seeds, or a drizzle of sesame oil before serving. Enjoy your delicious homemade beef stir-fry packed with flavorful vegetables!

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