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Heather's Health Habits, LLC

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How to Make Calming and Relaxing Dinners

June 18, 2019

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 or just trying to take care of it all. 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. 

 It also matters if we are avoiding chemicals and pesticides in the foods we eat. When we eat foods that contain chemicals, it confuses our body. It makes our body fight the foods we ate versus accepting the food and extracting nutrients necessary for good health. When our body spends all of its time trying to fight the foods we eat, it can get 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. 

 

As soon as I tell someone to eat organic, the first reaction is the food is too expensive. This is 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 like to 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.

I also 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 and variety so if I want to use an ingredient that I haven't found an organic option, I use it. 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 tea-bags. I do the best I can to avoid chemicals and I know you can find strategies that will work for you as well. 

 

When creating meal-plans for the week, there are specific foods that are calming and relaxing. One thing you will notice is the meat, chicken and fish are not part of the list. Even organic meats, chicken 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 be aware of how large of a portion you eat and serve to others. We actually don't need a lot of meat, chicken or fish at any meal. The portion size should be the size of your fist or a deck of cards. By reducing the amount of meat at dinner, you can help the body start relaxing several hours before sleep.

 

RELAXING FOODS:

Cucumbers, zucchini, parsnips

Romaine lettuce

Bok Choy, Brussels Sprouts

Vegetable based soups

Walnuts, pecans

Plums, oranges, mango, blackberries

 

CALMING FOODS:

Sweet Potato, beets, cauliflower

Carrots, bell peppers, garlic, onions

Apples, pears, pineapple, raspberries, strawberries, peaches, kiwi

Oats, sprouted lentils, Almonds

 

I can already see the recipes I am going to share given those ingredients! So many possibilities. 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 will be making the largest portion on the plate a combination of the relaxing and calming foods, it will be much easier for everyone to reduce stress at the end of the day. Reduced stress will promote better sleep. 

 

RECIPES:

 

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.

 

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.

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. 

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.

 

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 for the recipe.

 

I hope you are inspired to make more relaxing and calming dinners by using a few key ingredients. Helping to reduce stress with foods that we eat will make you and your family healthier and happier.

 

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