5 Good Mood Foods

by Sara Sullivan


Every day, millions of Americans complain of being tired & moody. Most of us chalk it up to having too much to do and not enough time to do it. But often the true culprit is an everyday habit: what we eat, which impacts how we cope emotionally. The food-mood connection has been the subject of recent research, and many experts now recognize that certain foods have a powerful effect on our mood as well as energy.

Let’s face it, sometimes the holidays don’t always make us feel our best.

November and December can bring as much stress and bad food possibilities as the previous months combined, but this year neither stress nor fatigue need ruin your holidays! The following 5 Good Mood Foods are for anyone who wants to finally experience superior health and happiness in an affordable, natural and easy way. You’ll feel calmer and happier (and be energized) throughout the upcoming holiday season.

1.) Leafy Greens (kale, spinach and chard)

Leafy greens are packed with magnesium, a nutrient essential for the biochemical reactions in the brain that boost energy. They are also packed with chlorophyll and iron which can give energy levels a big boost. Who doesn’t feel better when they are bursting with energy? But the benefits don’t stop there! They’re a great plant-based source of dietary calcium, vitamin C, antioxidants and iron. Try my pineapple mint smoothie for mid-afternoon pick me up or sip on it before heading to your holiday party!

Pineapple Mint Green Smoothie Pineapple Mint Green Smoothie from LaughingLemonPie.com
Pineapple Mint Green Smoothie

Pineapple Mint Green Smoothie

(yields 1 serving)
1/2 cup water or coconut water (more to blend if necessary)
1/4 cup loosely packed mint leaves
1 1/2 cups of fresh or frozen, chopped pineapple
1 1/2 cups loosely packed spinach
the juice from half a lime (don’t leave this out!)
Add all the ingredients to a blender. Start on a low speed and increase to high. Blend until smooth.

Follow directions above and add 1 banana (fresh or frozen)
Follow directions above and replace the water with 1/4 cup coconut milk & 1/4 cup coconut water

2.) Whole Grains: (oatmeal, quinoa, millet, brown rice & farro)

Carbohydrates have been demonized over the years, but your body needs carbs to produce serotonin—a feel-good brain chemical that elevates your mood and helps to regulate your appetite. In addition, you’ll also get protein, iron, and a host of beneficial vitamins and minerals. Only complex carbs (whole grains that are high in fiber) have a positive effect on mood, whereas simple carbs like candy, cake, cookies, and other sugary treats, will bring you down.

Quinoa, Chickpea & Apple Salad from LaughingLemonPie.com
Quinoa, Chickpea & Apple Salad

Quinoa, Chickpea & Apple Salad

I keep a big batch of this in the fridge at all times so that I am never caught without a healthy lunch or dinner.

For the salad:

1 1/2 c. water or vegetable broth

1 c. quinoa

1/2 c. toasted nuts, chopped (walnuts or pecans)

1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas

1 large, crisp, red apple, cored and chopped

3 green onions, sliced (green and white parts)


For Dressing:

4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1-2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt


Rinse and drain quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer. In a medium pot, bring water to a boil.  Add quinoa, bring back to a boil, then cover and turn heat to low. Cook until water is absorbed, about 12–15 minutes.Remove from heat, fluff quinoa with a fork, and pour quinoa in a large mixing bowl. Let cool, fluffing occasionally, until room temperature. Meanwhile, prepare vinaigrette by whisking together all ingredients in a small bowl. Taste and adjust any ingredients to achieve desired balance. Set aside. Once quinoa has cooled, add in nuts, chickpeas, apple, and green onions. Toss with dressing. Serve immediately or cover and place in the refrigerator to let flavors develop.

3.) Nuts & Seeds: Walnuts & Flaxseeds

Nuts and seeds are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids—a type of fat that your nerve cells and brain chemicals love. Research shows that omega-3s may also help ward off depression. They are also a great source of plant-based protein, fiber, and vitamin E. With no cooking involved, they’re a wonderful grab-and-go snack. You can also add raw nuts and seeds to oatmeal, salads, and stir-fries.

4.) Berries: (Strawberries, Blackberries and Blueberries)

Berries contain the antioxidant anthocyanin which helps to reduce stress and depression and fight oxidative stress. Additionally, the natural sugars in fresh berries, such as blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries, are great at giving a quick energy boost.The key, however, is their high fiber content that will help you sustain the energy.

Chia Seed Porridge from LaughingLemonPie.com
Chia Seed Porridge

Chia Seed Porridge

This is one of my all time favorite breakfasts! It keeps me satiated for hours and hours and hours!

(makes 2 servings)
2/3 cup chia seeds
1 cup coconut water
1 cup coconut milk {regular or light}
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. real maple syrup
loads of berries to garnish

In a Vitamix or other high-speed blender or food processor, combine all the ingredients and blend until smooth. Either eat immediately or transfer to a glass container and chill for 20 minutes or overnight before serving. Top with berries to garnish!

5.) Water, Water, Water!!

What you drink affects your spirits as much as what you eat. A 2009 Tufts University survey found that a lack of adequate water consumption has a tangible impact on our mood. Dehydration can make you feel exhausted and one of the first sign of depression is often fatigue. Drinking adequate amounts of water will help your cells to rebuild & repair and proper hydration can give blood oxygen levels a boost!  Are your bored with plain old water? Put a little spring in your step with my flat-belly spa water!

Flat-Belly Spa Water

Mix 1/2 lemon, sliced, 1/2 cucumber, sliced, 1 cup watermelon chunks and 1 sprig rosemary with 40 ounces water. Sip throughout the day.

Sara SulivanSara Sullivan is a Certified Nutritionist & Certified Holistic Health Practitioner. She has a private practice in Yarmouth, Maine where she creates personalized menu plans for her clients and teaches them manageable and sustainable steps to help them lose weight and feel amazing in their bodies. Learn more about Sara’s good mood foods on a segment she did for her local news station!


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