Food has such a big impact on how we feel both mentally and physically, this is why I want to share as many of my ‘good mood food’ recipes as I can. Recipes that not only taste amazing but are packed with feel good ingredients that have a positive impact on our minds and bodies. As I’ve mentioned previously it’s not just that certain ingredients give us a bit of a lift but in fact considerable research shows that deficiencies in certain vitamins, minerals, amino and fatty acids can actually worsen certain mental disorders such as depression. Eating well is such a positive and achievable way to take some control over your symptoms. Eating a balanced and varied diet full of lean protein, a rainbow of fruits and vegetables and good fats will enable us to naturally take advantage of the mood-boosting properties in food.
Turkey contains lots of tryptophan, an essential amino acid which our body converts into serotonin (a chemical that makes us feel good). Our body isn’t able to produce tryptophan so we have to obtain it from food. Amino acids are proteins so protein-rich ingredients, such as turkey, chicken or tofu and eggs should make up a high percentage of our diets .
Avocados are a super food full of the good fats our bodies need, they contains so many different nutritional properties they’re actually one of the best ingredients there is for relieving stress and anxiety.
Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of magnesium, a mineral which helps maintain a healthy nervous system, regulates our energy production and relaxes the muscles in the body. Magnesium is essential for keeping stress at bay.
If all that doesn’t convince you to make this salad then let me just say it’s also delicious. Full of fresh and zingy Mexican flavours, it’s really summery and substantial as well – happy cooking and eating!
Mexican Turkey Salad with Avocado, Beans & Chipotle Dressing.
4 turkey breast steaks, approx. 440g
FOR THE MARINADE:
75ml low fat natural yogurt
juice 1 lime
2 slices of pickled jalpeinos plus 1 tbsp of vinegar from the jar (leave these out if you want a milder taste, use cider or white wine vinegar instead)
½ tsp smoked paprika
1/3 pack coriander (leaves and stalks)
1 tsp agave
2 heaped tbsp tomato chutney or relish, I used Ballymaloe tomato chutney
1 tbsp mild chipotle sauce
3 tbsp cider or red wine vinegar
1 tbsp agave
juice ½ lime (use the other half to dress the avocado)
FOR THE SALAD
1 ripe avocado, peeled and chopped then ½ a lime squeezed on top to stop it going brown
400g tin black beans, rinsed
100g sweetcorn, drained
3 tomatoes, deseeded and diced
½ small red onion, finely chopped
about 150g salad veg such as mixed leaves, thinly sliced radishes, grated carrots and shredded cabbage
50g crumbled feta cheese
1-2 tbsp pumpkin seeds, toasted
jalepenos (optional), to garnish
Blitz all the marinade ingredients along with some salt and pepper and pour over the turkey steaks. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight if you have time.
To make the dressing whisk all the ingredients together. Taste and add a little extra chipotle sauce if you like it slightly hotter, the sauce I used was a mild one so I added another tbsp at this point, adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Heat the grill to it’s highest setting. Lift the turkey from the marinade onto a baking tray lined with foil. You want the grill to be scorchingly hot before you start cooking and the turkey to be as close as possible underneath as you want the marinade to caramalise without the turkey getting dry. For this reason as they are so think we’re just going to cook on one side for 4-6 minues until you have a really good colour. Remove and rest for 5 minutes before slicing into strips.
Toss the avocado, beans, tomato, corn, red onion, salad veg and feta with the dressing until everything is coated. Divide between bowls and add the sliced turkey then garnish with the toasted seeds and jalepenos (if using).