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Serotonin Stir Fry

As Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine thy food.” If you’re needing a good mood booster, look no further than your kitchen! And no, I’m not talking about the box of cookies and bag of potato chips in your pantry! Certain foods have actually been scientifically proven to boost serotonin levels in the brain, which is your body’s ‘happy hormone’. And the best part? All these foods are good for your body AND your mind. So let’s get stirring with this simple and healthful recipe for some feel-good-foods!


Salmon Pineapple Stir Fry

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic

  • 1 Tbsp minced ginger

  • 10oz pineapple

  • 1/2 onion

  • 2 red peppers

  • 1/2 Tbsp sesame oil

  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce

  • 6 oz salmon (or tofu)

  • 1/2 cup cashews

  • 1/2 cup spinach

  • 2 eggs, scrambled

  • Pinch of salt

  • Pinch of pepper

Saffron Rice

  • 1 cup Brown Rice

  • 2 cups water

  • 1/4 tsp saffron

  • 1/4 tsp turmeric

  • Salt to taste

For Rice: Rinse rice in cold water and drain. Boil water; add rice, saffron, turmeric, and salt to the water and stir together. Cover pot and bring water down to medium/low heat; leave covered until rice is done. For Stir Fry: In a small bowl, whisk eggs and add salt and pepper. Coat medium pan with olive oil, cook eggs on low heat and stir continuously until eggs are cooked. Remove from heat. In wok or large pan, sauté garlic and ginger in olive oil for 45 seconds. Add pineapple and stir to coat in the oil mixture. Once pineapple is coated, stir in red bell pepper, onion, and sesame oil. Cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat. Place entire contents of pan into a separate bowl. Re-oil the pan and add salmon, cook for 3-4 minutes. Add in cashews, spinach, soy sauce, scrambled eggs, and cooked vegetables. Stir gently for 3 minutes.

Serve stir fry over rice and enjoy!

Cap it off with a cup of green tea, which contains the amino acid theanine and can boost serotonin, GABA, and dopamine in the brain, and you’ll be sitting pretty the rest of the day!

The power behind the ingredients:

Salmon, tofu, egg, pineapple, spinach, cashews, and soy sauce are excellent sources of the essential amino acid tryptophan, which helps the body produce more serotonin. Salmon, olive oil, and sesame oil contain omega-3's, a mood-boosting fatty acid that contributes to brain health.

Red bell peppers and cashews are rich in vitamin B6, which helps the body make serotonin and norepinephrine (influencing mood), as well as melatonin (influencing sleep). Onion contains folate, which aids in sleep, improves mood, and reduces depression. Brown Rice is a complex carbohydrate that helps to stabilize mood and increase serotonin levels in the brain. Garlic has antioxidant properties that slows deterioration in the brain, as well as normalizes the brain's serotonin system. Ginger contains 14 unique bioactive compounds that sharpen cognitive function and protect the brain against stress-related damage. Saffron (the inspiration for this recipe!) has been shown to exert anti-depressant effects by keeping balanced levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin in the brain; one study showed it exhibited similar influence over depression as Prozac.

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