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Prenatal Mood Boosters

Pregnancy is a time to really focus on taking the best care of yourself in terms of nutrition since you’re now providing not only for yourself, but for your unborn baby too! Yet, even with the best intentions, many women struggle with being healthy, especially when dealing with prenatal blues. Using food as “medicine” by increasing your diet with natural mood boosters is one piece of advice to consider. So, what can you put on your plate? Plenty!

Get enough Omega-3’s

Studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids can help with prenatal depression, which means that this natural element works as a mood-booster. Increase your intake of foods rich in omega-3 oils such as walnuts, omega-3 fortified eggs and flaxseed oil. Fish, such as wild salmon, is also a great resource of these essential fatty acids, which are also important for your baby’s brain development. Note: Do steer clear of fish high in mercury such as shark, swordfish and king mackerel.

Oatmeal

This popular breakfast food is high in soluble fiber, slows down sugar absorption and produces serotonin – a type of chemical, or neurotransmitter, that can improve your mood. It’s a great way to get your day started on a good mood!

Milk or Soy Milk

Choose milk or soy milk fortified with vitamin D, which increase the levels of serotonin. You should also try to get some natural sunlight for 10-20 minutes, for a boost of Vitamin D.

Leafy Greens

Powerhouse vegetables such as kale, spinach and mustard leaves contain folate, a natural source of the vitamin B group, known to affect the neurotransmitters that affect the mood of humans. Folic acid in these greens helps in the making of feeling-good neurotransmitters too!

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants that mop up free-radicals in your system, but it doesn’t stop there. It also raises serotonin levels in the brain, providing a mood-elevating effect.

Brazil Nuts

Have a few of these each day for your daily dose of selenium, the natural ‘feel-good’ mineral.

Lentils

Just like leafy greens, these legumes are high in vitamin B and are an excellent source of folate. Studies have found that a folate deficiency has been linked to depression. Folate helps to make the neurotransmitter dopamine, which promotes pleasure.

Bananas

Not only are bananas delicious, they are also high in vitamin B6, and as mentioned earlier, B vitamins produce the calming neurotransmitter, serotonin.

Almonds

Not only a great source of protein (important for all pregnant women), almonds are high in magnesium, which helps promote the production of the neurotransmitter GABA associated with pleasure.


Simple Greens

Ingredients:

3 tbsp unsalted butter

1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice

2 pounds collard greens, washed and cut into 3-inch pieces

1 tsp coarse salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

For added zest: 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Method:

  1. Heat butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add diced onion, and saute until translucent and slightly brown, about 6 minutes. Add the prepared greens, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Toss until greens are just wilted, adding more greens as they will fit into the pan. Toss with lemon juice just before serving.

Soy-banana Smoothie with Ginger

Ingredients:

1 banana, sliced

3/4 cup (6 oz) vanilla yogurt

1 tbsp honey

1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger

Ice cubes (optional)

Method:

  1. Place all ingredients in blender or smoothie maker and blend until smooth.
  2. Enjoy!

Lentil Cakes & Yogurt

Ingredients:

1 cup (200g) red lentils, rinsed well

2 potatoes (350g), chopped

1/4 cup (60ml) light olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 large clove garlic, crushed

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 cup (75g) crumbled feta cheese

1/2 cup (85g) semi-dried tomatoes, chopped

2 tbsp chopped coriander

2 tbsp chopped mint

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup (110g) dried breadcrumbs

1/2 cup (125g) Greek yogurt

Method:

  1. Place lentils and potatoes in a saucepan with 2 cups of water. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring, for 15 minutes until tender. Drain.
  2. Heat 1/2 tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Cook onion for 3 minutes, then add garlic and cumin. Cook for 30 seconds before adding lentils, potato and feta.
  3. Mash until combined, remove from heat and add tomatoes, coriander and mint. Season to taste.
  4. Using wet hands, form into 12 patties. Dip into beaten egg and coat in breadcrumbs. Chill for 30 minutes until firm.
  5. Heat a non-stick frying pan with half the remaining oil over a medium heat. Fry cakes in batches for 3-4 minutes each side until golden. Drain on paper towel. Serve with yoghurt.

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