Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Day Thirty - Two : Getting over the hump

Happy Wednesday Folks! The week is half over for those of us who work Monday to Friday, isn't that good news? Do you ever get stuck on Wednesdays? Feeling like you are having problems concentrating at work or just are not motivated to finish up your tasks? Or did you receive some bad news and therefore seemingly spend the day working and checking items off your to-do list but just not feeling that into it? That's exactly how I felt today...yes I got a lot done but my mind was constantly drifting to other places, I had to continually reel myself back in..

So what sort of food should you eat to get you through the week, functioning at a high level of productivity and keeping you happy? Let me tell you one thing, that food is not necessarily chocolate, sugar, processed fast foods that satisfy you in the now or alcohol. Consuming any sort of the above might give you a momentary feeling of elation (a quick tryptophan fix!) but to be honest, its not going to improve your mood or your productivity in the long run.  So what should you eat?

To increase your productivity and alertness, you should eat protein rich foods like fish, meats, CHEESE (which we will discuss a recipe in a moment), beans, milk, tofu, etc. The protein rich foods will stimulate higher levels of dopamine and norepinephrine (brain chemicals) which will block the serotonin production in your brain. But the key here is you do not want to block the full serotonin production in your brain because then you do not get the needed happiness/mood boost! But what you do get with the protein rich foods is a blockage of the relaxed feeling you get from too much serotonin production due to the ingestion of foods rich in carbs. So what you want is a nice mix of protein rich foods with foods that have "slow release tryptophan" which improve your mood and give you a longer term sense of well-being -- definitely our goal here! If this is successful, then you won't crave overly sugary foods that aren't good for you!

Here are a few examples of foods that have slow release tryptophan and will help balance out your moods:

Turkey, Chicken, Fish, Bananas, Eggs, Nuts, Avocado, Wheat Germ, Milk, Cheese and Legumes..

Isn't it interesting how cheese overlaps both categories?!!? Granted, there are some other overlaps, but for our purposes, I'd like to focus on cheese. Here's a recipe that combines the best of both worlds and will give you a little bit of added serotonin for relaxation tonight, if this were meant to be for lunch, don't worry, it would be very different, but since we are focusing on dinner, here you go:

The carb: Whole Wheat Pappardelle -- basically the same as the difference between processed, white flour breads and whole wheat breads -- it is much better for you.

The proteins: Smoked Salmon and Vermont Butter and Cheese Crottin (A young quintessentially goat-y cheese, you can substitute with a goat log if you prefer, I find the VBC crottin to have more of a delicate and dynamic flavor profile than a regular log, but it is your call. The reason I like to utilize a soft cheese here is because when mixing all the ingredients together the goat cheese will coat everything nicely and evenly) -- Both give you protein and slow release tryptophan to enhance your overall happiness/well being and to stimulate your productivity

The other: Some chopped up fresh avocado which helps heart health, lower cholesterol, prevent cancer and also a slow release tryptophan rich food

The add-ons: Chopped zucchini, sauteed garlic and shallots, olive oil, a little white wine, salt, pepper, and chives

Once your pappardelle is cooked, toss with avocado, smoked salmon, goat's cheese, then throw this all into the pan with the zucchini, garlic, shallots, olive oil, white wine, salt, pepper, and chives. Combine for a few minutes over low heat. Now you have a healthy, nutritious, protein and slow release tryptophan rich meal that provides you with whole grains as well.

Enjoy and I hope this gets you through the week!

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