If you’re trying to better manage holiday stress this Christmas season, you’ll love these delicious, cozy meals. Each dish is full of nutrients that support and balance your nervous system, helping to soothe holiday stress when you’re feeling frazzled and overwhelmed. Better yet, they’re very easy to make, so you aren’t adding even more to your already full to-do list.
What Nutrients Help to Calm, Relax, and Soothe Holiday Stress?
Several nutrients play a crucial role in supporting and calming the nervous system:
- Magnesium: Known as nature’s relaxation mineral, magnesium helps regulate neurotransmitters and has a calming effect on the nervous system. It can be found in foods like nuts, seeds, leafy greens, and legumes.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Found in fatty fish (like salmon and mackerel), flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts, omega-3s support brain health and can reduce inflammation, benefiting the nervous system.
- B Vitamins: B vitamins, especially B6, B9 (folate), and B12, are essential for nerve function and the production of neurotransmitters. Foods like leafy greens, legumes, eggs, and fortified grains contain B vitamins.
- Vitamin D: Deficiency in vitamin D has been linked to mood disorders. It’s important for overall health and can be obtained from sunlight exposure and foods like fatty fish, fortified dairy, and supplements.
- Antioxidants: Foods rich in antioxidants (like berries, dark chocolate, and colorful fruits and vegetables) help reduce oxidative stress, which can impact the nervous system.
Each of the following recipes contains one or more of these key nutrients to actively soothe holiday stress with every delicious bite!
BREAKFAST: Rainbow Fruit and Veggie Smoothie
This smoothie is not only visually appealing but also packed with a variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber from the assortment of fruits and vegetables. Feel free to adjust the quantities or swap out ingredients based on your preferences and what’s available seasonally (eating seasonal food, which in the winter includes kale and similar veggies, is important for your immune system) for a fresh and delicious smoothie experience!
1 cup spinach or kale (for the green base)
1/2 cup frozen strawberries (red)
1/2 cup frozen mango chunks (yellow/orange)
1/2 cup frozen pineapple chunks (yellow)
1/2 cup frozen blueberries (blue/purple)
1 small carrot, peeled and chopped (orange)
1/2 small beet, peeled and chopped (red/purple)
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt or dairy-free yogurt alternative
1-1.5 cups unsweetened almond milk, coconut water, or water
Optional: Honey or sweetener to taste (if desired for sweetness)
Start by adding the spinach or kale to your blender as the green base.
Add the frozen strawberries, mango, pineapple, blueberries, chopped carrot, and beet to the blender.
Spoon in the Greek yogurt or dairy-free alternative.
Pour in the almond milk, coconut water, or water to achieve the desired consistency. Start with 1 cup and add more if needed.
Optional: If you prefer a sweeter smoothie, add a drizzle of honey or your preferred sweetener to taste.
Blend all the ingredients until smooth and creamy. If the consistency is too thick, add more liquid gradually until it reaches your desired thickness. Taste the smoothie and adjust sweetness or texture as needed by adding more sweetener or liquid.
Pour the colorful smoothie into glasses and enjoy the rainbow of flavors and nutrients!
LUNCH: Walnut and Chia Seed Salad with Mixed Greens
This salad offers a delightful combination of textures and flavors while providing a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids from the walnuts and fiber and protein from the chia seeds. Adjust the ingredients and dressing according to your liking for a personalized and delicious salad experience!
4 cups mixed salad greens (spinach, arugula, kale, or your choice)
1/3 cup walnuts, roughly chopped or halves
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
1/4 cup dried cranberries or pomegranate arils (optional)
1 small cucumber, sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, grated
Dressing of your choice (balsamic vinaigrette or honey mustard works well)
In a large salad bowl, combine the mixed greens, sliced cucumber, red onion, and grated carrot.
Sprinkle the chopped walnuts, chia seeds, and any optional ingredients like feta cheese and dried cranberries or pomegranate arils over the salad mixture.
Drizzle your preferred dressing over the salad. Start with a few tablespoons and adjust according to your taste preferences.
Toss the salad gently until the ingredients are evenly coated with the dressing.
Serve the walnut and chia seed salad immediately as a nutritious side dish or add grilled chicken, tofu, or chickpeas to turn it into a satisfying main course.
DINNER: Baked Lemon Garlic Salmon
This delicious and healthy baked lemon garlic salmon recipe is easy to make and incredibly flavorful. It’s full of omega-3s to help soothe holiday stress, and while it looks fancy and complicated to make, it won’t stress you out and takes only a few minutes to prepare.
4 salmon fillets (6 oz each), skin-on or skinless
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
Lemon slices for garnish
Optional: Red pepper flakes for added heat
Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C) and line a baking dish with parchment paper or lightly grease it.
In a small bowl, mix together the minced garlic, chopped parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Add red pepper flakes if you want some heat.
Pat the salmon fillets dry with paper towels and place them in the prepared baking dish.
Brush the lemon garlic mixture generously over each salmon fillet, covering them entirely.
If desired, place a few lemon slices on top of each fillet for added flavor.
Bake the salmon in the preheated oven for about 12-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets. The salmon should easily flake with a fork when done.
Once baked, remove the salmon from the oven and let it rest for a couple of minutes before serving.
Garnish with additional fresh parsley and serve the lemon garlic salmon with your choice of sides, such as roasted vegetables, quinoa, or a fresh salad (it’s a great way to use the leftover salad you made for lunch!).