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Earlier this week, we discussed the pillars of self-care. Namely, the importance of mental health in self-care. Food can be a powerful way to support your mental health, and whipping up delicious meals can be a hands-on way to practice self-care for yourself. These recipes are easy, delicious, and contain ingredients that boost your immune system while also being backed by research that shows how they support mood and mental wellness.

1. Breakfast: Dark Chocolate Smoothie

Who says you can’t have dessert for breakfast? Chocolate contains compounds like theobromine and N-acylethanolamine, which have been shown to support a happier mood. Chocolate’s effects have also been shown to improve brain health, in part by reducing inflammation.

This delicious breakfast shake isn’t just good for your mental health, but it also contains many other healthy ingredients. For example, dates are high in iron and fiber, while also giving this smoothie a touch of natural sweetness. Meanwhile, the yogurt supports optimal gut health — and gut health is linked with a more balanced central nervous system, a stronger immunity, and more!

2-3 pitted Medjool dates
1 cup unsweetened chocolate almond or oat milk
4-5 ice cubes
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
1 frozen banana

Add all the ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

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2. Lunch: Very Berry Salad

The rich, vibrant colors found in fresh berries aren’t just for aesthetics. Those colors come from anthocyanins, a compound that gives berries their color and also may reduce the risks of mental health concerns like depression by up to 39%! But you won’t be thinking of the health effects when you take a bite of this crisp, delicious lunch.

The slight spiciness of red onions, paired with the richness of goat cheese, makes this easy lunch absolutely unforgettable. The spinach is a great source of important minerals, and the pecans add texture and crunch, plus lots of healthy fats. Better yet, you can make this ahead and pack it into a Mason jar or container for a great work lunch or on-the-go snack.

SALAD

6 cups baby spinach
1 c strawberries, halved
1/2 c raspberries
1/2 c blueberries
1/3 c organic goat cheese, crumbled
1/3 c red onion, diced
1/4 cup pecans, chopped

DRESSING

1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 small shallot, minced
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp black pepper

First, make the dressing. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well combined. Set aside.

In a salad bowl, toss the salad ingredients with the dressing and enjoy!

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3. Dinner: Cozy Salmon Soup

The omega-3 fats in salmon improve brain cell signaling, which is foundational for mental health. It’s no wonder that salmon and other fatty fish are part of diets recommended for those who want to support a healthier mood and reduce their risks of mental health concerns. This entire recipe takes less than 30 minutes to put together, and is simultaneously packed with flavor, hearty, yet so easy to make!

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 green onions, green ends minced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 oz fresh dill, divided, minced
5 cups organic chicken broth
1 lb mini potatoes, sliced into small rounds
1 carrot, sliced into small rounds
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 lb salmon fillet, no skin, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 lemon, juiced and zested

In a hot skillet, add the olive oil. Once the oil is simmering, toss in the green onions, garlic, diced bell pepper, and half of the dill.

Saute until tender, then add the chicken broth, carrots, potatoes, and all the spices. Cook until the potatoes are soft.

Add the salmon for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until the fish is cooked. Whisk in the rest of the ingredients and enjoy!

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