What we’re cooking to boost your mood?

What’s for lunch?

Did you know that eating well can actually boost your mood? Research is showing that certain foods seem to improve overall brain health and some types of mood disorders. Check out these recipes, selected by GESMV’s own registered dietitian, Nancy Poeschl.


Beans and Lentils

In addition to being high in fiber and plant-based protein, beans and lentils are full of feel-good nutrients.  They’re an excellent source of B vitamins, which help improve mood by increasing levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), all of which are important for regulating mood.

Red Lentil & Vegetable Soup

Total Time: 30 minutes    Makes: 4 Main-dish servings

Recipe from goodhousekeeping.com


A bowl of soup served with French bread

1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into ½” chunks

1 small onion, chopped

¾ tsp. ground cumin

1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes

1 (14.5 oz) can chicken or vegetable broth (1 ¾ cup)

2 cups water

1 cup dried red lentils

1 bag (5 oz) baby spinach

¼ tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. ground black pepper


  1. In a 4-quart saucepan, heat oil on medium heat until hot. Add carrots and onion, cook 6-8 minutes or until lightly browned and tender.  Stir in cumin; cook 1 minute.
  2. Add tomatoes, broth, lentils, water, salt, pepper; cover and heat to boiling on high. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, 8-10 minutes or until lentils are tender. Stir in spinach. Makes about 7 ½ cups
  3. As listed, each serving: About 265 calories, 16 g. protein, 41 g. carbohydrate, 5 g. total fat (1 g saturated), 13 g.

Fiber, 0 mg. cholesterol, 645 mg. sodium


Load up on Leafy GREENS!

Spinach, kale, broccoli, collard greens and other green vegetables contain the B-Vitamin Folate. Low levels of Folate may impair the metabolism of neurotransmitters important for mood. Studies suggest Folate deficiency in the diet may increase the chance for depression. Folate is also plentiful in lentils.

This salad is a Goodwill Easterseals Community Services favorite, assembled by our own Miracle Clubhouse Members, and sold during Clubhouse Coffee Cart lunch hours.

Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which play a role in brain functioning, and tryptophan, an amino acid responsible for producing mood-boosting serotonin. Cranberries are rich in antioxidants, which help manage inflammation associated with depression and other mood disorders. Cheeses like Gouda are rich in Vitamin D, which helps protect against seasonal affective disorder.

Clubhouse Coffee Cart’s Savory Autumn Apple Salad:

Total time: 20 minutes        Makes 4 servings

Recipe created by: Nancy Poeschl, MS RD LD, Coordinator, Consumer Operated Services, Goodwill Easterseals Miami Valley

Homemade Autumn Apple Walnut Spinach Salad with Cheese and Cranberries


5 ounces baby spinach or mixed greens

12 ounces pre-cooked, chilled fajita chicken breast strips

2 Honey Crisp or Braeburn apples, cut into ¾” chunks or thin slices

¼ cup chopped walnuts, toasted

1/3 cup English or baby cucumbers, diced

1 cup shredded, smoked Gouda cheese

¼ cup dried cranberries


  1. Divide spinach or greens among 4 chilled salad plates. Cut or tear chicken strips into bite-sized pieces and divide evenly among plates.
  2. Top with apple chunks, bacon crumbles, cucumber, shredded cheese and dried cranberries. Drizzle with dressing and serve.
  3. As listed, each serving: 332 calories, 28.2 g protein, 23.5 g carbohydrate, 14.9 g total fat (6 g saturated), 3.8 g fiber, 92.3 mg cholesterol, 722.4 mg sodium

Recipe created by: Nancy Poeschl, MS RD LD, Coordinator, Consumer Operated Services, Goodwill Easterseals Miami Valley

Balsamic Vinaigrette

2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp. honey

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

¼ cup Extra virgin olive oil

Coarse ground pepper and salt to taste


  1. Measure all dressing ingredients in a small jar and shake vigorously to combine. Divide between 4 salads.
  2. As listed, each serving: 141.2 calories, 0.0 g protein, 5.3 g carbohydrate, 14.0 g total fat (2.0 g saturated), 0.0 g fiber, 0.0 g cholesterol, 32.7 g sodium


Sweet potatoes get their orange color from the nutrient beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant.

Sweet potatoes get their orange color from the nutrient beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant. Studies have shown that people with higher levels of antioxidant carotenoids were less likely to have symptoms of depression. Carotenoids occur naturally in bright red, yellow, and orange pigments in fruits and vegetables like pumpkin, cantaloupe, peaches and peppers. Cinnamon stimulates neurons, and can influence brain function by boosting concentration, memory and attention. Spicy foods seasoned with cayenne pepper increase circulation and cause your brain to release endorphins helping to boost your mood. Fire up the flavor of your favorite foods – and your mood-with a pinch of cayenne pepper.

Cinnamon Spice Sweet Potato Fries

Total time: 30 minutes       Makes: 4 servings

Recipe created by: Nancy Poeschl, MS RD LD, Coordinator, Consumer Operated Services, Goodwill Easterseals Miami Valley


fried sweet potato

1 lb. unpeeled sweet potatoes, cut into ¼ match sticks

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

1 tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. allspice

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

2 Tbsp. peanut or canola oil


  1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F. Place racks in upper third and lower third positions.
  2. Mix cinnamon, allspice and cayenne pepper together. Set aside
  3. In a large bowl with a lid, toss together sweet potatoes with cornstarch, shaking to coat evenly
  4. Add oil, cover and shake again to coat evenly
  5. Add spices, cover and shake to coat evenly
  6. Arrange in a single layer, evenly spaced on 2 baking sheets lined with parchment
  7. Bake until bottoms start to brown, about 15 minutes
  8. Remove from oven. Flip fries using tongs or spatula.
  9. Return to oven, rotating sheets between the top and bottom racks.
  10. Continue baking until brown and crisp, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately
  11. As listed, each serving: 136.7 calories, 2.0 g protein, 27.4 g carbohydrate, 2.4 g total fat (0.2 g saturated), 4.1 g fiber, 0.0 g cholesterol, 69.0 g sodium.

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