How to Make Calming and Relaxing Dinners

Updated: Sep 24, 2020

If I told you what you eat affects your mood, would you believe me? When you eat foods that are high in certain nutrients, it affects your mood. Stress is such a big issue for everyone that sleeping a deep restful sleep is often difficult.

We may be stressed about work, school, home school, viruses, taking care of older parents or just trying to get it all done. Stress affects our moods, our behaviors and our health. One of the easiest ways to reduce stress is to eat foods that promote a calming and relaxing mood.

relaxing and calming dinner recipes

Below is a list of calming and relaxing foods, including an explanation of why they can relax and calm you. One thing you will notice is meat, chicken, pork and fish are not part of the list. Even organic meats, chicken, pork and fish are not calming or relaxing. They are slightly acidic and can promote indifferent and indecisive feelings.

It doesn't mean you can't eat them. It just means you need to be aware of how large of a portion you eat and serve to others. We actually don't need a lot of meat, chicken, pork or fish at any meal. The portion size of any meat should be the size of your fist or a deck of cards.


Food helps you remain relaxed and calm through the nutrients it provides. This is why a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is not only good for weight management, it helps you feel good. Vitamins, amino acids and minerals are necessary for the functioning of our nervous system as well as producing feel good hormones. Below are popular fruits, vegetables and nuts with an explanation as to why they make you relaxed and calm.

  • Cucumbers are rich in B vitamins, which relax your nervous system.

  • Parsnips and onions are high in Vitamin B6, which helps the body produce serotonin and dopamine. These hormones help the body cope with stress and anxiety. Low vitamin B-6 levels cause neurological symptoms, including emotional disturbances -- such as depression -- as well as confusion. (Source: Psychology Today)

  • Zucchini and carrots are rich in magnesium, which creates a good mood and eases symptoms of digestion. Lack of magnesium has been shown to lead to anxiety and irritability.

  • Romaine lettuce, bok choy, bananas, pears and kiwi are high in potassium, which is involved in positive thoughts and feelings. (Source: Mental Health Food)

  • Plums are high in both potassium and magnesium.

vegetable stand at a farmers market
  • Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, bell peppers, apples, pineapples, peaches, oranges, mangoes, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries are high in vitamin C. While we mostly think about vitamin C for immune support, it has been studied for its role in reducing stress. One study of 120 people gave the participants a very stressful task: public speaking combined with math problems. Half of those studied were given 1,000 mg of vitamin C. Those who received the Vitamin C felt less stressed. (Source: Psychology Today)

  • Nuts, including almonds, contain Vitamin E. A lack of vitamin E has been linked to mood disorders.

  • Sweet Potatoes are rich in fiber and complex carbohydrates, which help maintain blood sugar levels. Studies show eating foods that spike blood sugar results in increased anxiety.

  • Beets and walnuts are packed with L-tryptophan, which helps increase serotonin levels. Serotonin makes us feel relaxed and calm. Other foods that promote serotonin production are: bananas, brown rice, fennel and legumes. (Source: PCC Markets)


Eating a lifestyle rich in fruits and vegetables will improve your mood. However, if you are eating healthy foods that have been grown with pesticides and chemicals you are defeating the purpose. Non-organic food interrupts processes in our body, such as hormone production.

Remember the hormones serotonin and dopamine? If your body is filled with chemicals, it is really hard for the body to produce these beneficial hormones.

As soon as I tell someone to eat organic, the first reaction is the food is too expensive. This is simply not true anymore. Prices have been coming down and there are times when I can buy organic food cheaper than conventionally grown foods.

It comes down to knowing your prices. Just like any other grocery trip. Look for coupons, reduced prices and buy in bulk to stock up. I also rely on frozen fruits and vegetables. They are perfect for quick dinners and are cost effective when fresh produce is not in season or available.

organic foods

When we eat foods that contain chemicals, it confuses our body. Our body starts to fight the foods we ate versus accepting the food and extracting nutrients necessary for good health. When our body spends all of its time fighting the foods we eat, it gets inflamed, fatigued, ill and unable to fight disease.

When we eat organic foods, which are chemical free, our body is able to focus on getting nutrients and energy from what we just ate. When our body is supplied the nutrients it wants, our health is better and we feel happier, relaxed, calm and in a good mood. I recognize that eating 100% organic is not always possible. I strive for every meal to have at least 80% organic ingredients.

This gives me flexibility if I need to use an ingredient that I haven't found in an organic version. Also, life happens! When visiting family, friends or going on business trips, I try to balance organic with conventionally grown food.

I may eat breakfast and lunch 100% organic to balance a non-organic dinner. If I am on a business trip, I bring organic protein and snack bars to eat as well as my own organic herbal tea to drink. I do the best I can to avoid chemicals that will impact my health negatively.


Did you know when you feel anxious, moody or upset, it means our gut is unhealthy? It's true! Our gut has a communication pathway directly to our brain. When the gut is healthy, we feel good, relaxed and calm.

How do you know if your gut is unhealthy? Does any of this sound like you?

👉Diarrhea and/or constipation

👉Bloating and gas

👉Weight gain

👉Congestion, coughing, wheezing

👉Brain fog, difficulty recalling words, short term memory issues

👉Headaches and migraines

👉Moody, anxious and depressed

👉Acne and itchy skin

👉Tired all the time

👉Sensitivity to fragrances and chemicals

If you said yes to just one of the above, your body is telling you something is not right. Discovering the root cause and how to get healthy can be confusing and hard! I am here to help.

I am a Certified Holistic Nutritionist obsessed with teaching people just like you how to heal their gut so you can stop suffering and get back to living!

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woman on the phone looking out window

How would eliminating your symptoms improve your life? You could:

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✅Have more energy

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Below is a collection of recipes using some of the ingredients above. I know you will need to add in grains, pasta, beans or rice and maybe some meat, chicken or fish to keep everyone satisfied. The key is to make the star ingredient on the plate from one or two of the relaxing and calming foods listed.


Grilled Romaine Salad from Sunkissed Kitchen. This salad is so hearty and not only has romaine lettuce, but it also has bell peppers. Of course you can add cucumbers and walnuts or almonds to increase the amount of relaxing and calming foods. I can see serving this with grilled chicken or fish. Click here for the recipe.

grilled romaine lettuce with bell peppers, tomatoes and onions recipe

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers from Culinary Hill. Stuffed peppers are one of my favorite meatless Monday dinners. They can be made on the weekend and simply heated up during a busy week. You can stuff them with so many other ingredients that even meat-eaters forget there isn't any meat in them. This recipe calls for black beans, corn, rice and chipotle peppers. Click here for the recipe.

vegetarian stuffed peppers recipe

Chicken Broccoli Sweet Potato Sheet Pan Dinner from Cooking Classy. I love when a recipe uses just one pot or pan. A sheet pan dinner is so easy and healthy. The sweet potatoes, onion and pecans are the calming and relaxing ingredients. More healthy ingredients are added with the broccoli and dried cranberries. The dinner is so colorful I think everyone will want seconds! Click here for the recipe.

chicken broccoli sweet potato sheet pan dinner recipe

Stuffed Zucchini Boats from Crazy for Crust. Stuffed zucchini can be made with or without meat. This recipe uses ground turkey. Combine the turkey with garlic, onions and sauce to help add in some calming and relaxing ingredients. Click here for the recipe.

stuffed zucchini boats recipe

Chicken Spinach Cauliflower Casserole from 12 Tomatoes. This cauliflower casserole is delicious and makes a hearty meal. Serve this with a romaine lettuce salad, including cucumbers as one of the ingredients to add in more relaxing and calming foods. Click here fo