By Guest: Nick Polizzi
I grew up in my mom’s New England restaurant, and the kitchen has always been my sanctuary. The ritual of making a meal, in and of itself, can bring calmness and deeper connection — but when you prepare herb-infused foods that relax the body, as well as the mind and spirit, you’ve got the perfect dish.
It’s easy to forget to eat… or to eat too much… when we’re stressed. That’s one of the #1 reasons that people experience both weight fluctuation and illness during intense times. Your body desperately needs proper fuel to process emotions, heal tired tissues, and ward off disease.
So today we’re bringing you 5 healing foods (and recipes) that have the power to help calm your entire system.
#1 Berries (of all kinds)
If you’re at all like me, it’s easy to want to eat lots of sugary foods when you’re stressed. That’s an evolutionary reflex that our ancestors passed down to us. Sugar releases dopamine — which makes us feel good in the moment.
But while it may take the edge off — it doesn’t heal you.
So instead of reaching for a tub of ice cream, make sure to have berries on hand!
The antioxidant content, including vitamin C, helps rebuild and fortify cells. Antioxidants also reduce inflammation and can calm down acute anxiety as well as your long-term stress response.
Stress-Be-Gone Smoothie Recipe
- ½ cup chamomile tea – chamomile relaxes tense muscles and calms your central nervous system
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds – helps your body recover from illness twice as fast
- ½ cup almond milk – healthy fat that allows you to hang onto energy from carbs
- 1 frozen banana – boosts memory
- 2 cups mixed berries – antioxidant-rich goodness
- Add all ingredients to a blender (solids first)
- Blend to desired consistency
I highly recommend adding yogurt to your daily routine. If you’re vegan, there are some awesome cashew-based alternatives to traditional dairy yogurt. Yogurt’s probiotic cultures bring new strains of good bacteria to your gut microbiome, making other nutrients available for absorption.
By enabling your body to heal and absorb nutrients more quickly, you allow your body to focus its energy reserves on balancing your neurotransmitters and hormones.
Stress-Free Yogurt Bowl
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt – gut healing probiotics
- 1/2 tbsp goji berries – strengthens immune system + has anti aging properties
- 1/2 tbsp coconut shavings – protects the brain from neurodegenerative disease
- 1/4 cup granola – great source of fiber
- Mix all ingredients together in bowl
- Enjoy immediately OR seal in an airtight jar overnight to let the granola soak up the moisture from the yogurt!
#3 Dark Chocolate
Good news! If you do have a sweet tooth, you’re definitely doing yourself a favor by choosing dark chocolate over a sleeve of Chips Ahoy. Several studies have confirmed that dark chocolate immediately reduces stress. It’s more than just the serotonin release too! Dark chocolate’s antioxidants go deep and heal the adrenal system by reducing the amount of cortisol (the fight-or-flight hormone) in your system.
Also, studies are being done right now on how dark chocolate affects the brain. It’s looking like dark chocolate can bring down inflammation in the brain, which means more blood can flow and you can learn/retain new information more easily!
Brain Boosting Dark Hot Chocolate
- 1 cup almond milk – healthy fat that allows you to hang onto energy from carbs
- 1 tablespoon dark chocolate – mood boosting and brain healing goodness
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup/honey – just to sweeten things up
- Pinch of sea salt – for flavor balance
- Add everything to a saucepan
- Crank the heat to medium-high
- Whisk non-stop until the mixture is smooth and warmed through
Oats may seem like a bland breakfast food item, but they’re actually dense with nervous system-healing components.
Most people know that oats are a healthy source of dietary fiber that keep the BMs moving. But did you know that the beta-glucans in oats also have the power to balance both cholesterol and blood sugar levels?
Oats are packed with the B-vitamins your body needs to make stress-reducing hormones! Gramine is a chemical compound found in oats that has the ability to calm the central nervous system. Its alkaloid content can balance an exhausted adrenal system and chill you out without putting you down for a nap!
The cool thing about oats is that there are so many different ways to get oats into your everyday life. You can have oatmeal for breakfast, add it to smoothies, throw a cup of oats in the bath, eat oat bran cereal, or drink oatstraw tea!
Nourishing Tea Recipe
- 1 oz oatstraw – heals the nervous system
- .5 oz nettle – supports blood health
- .5 oz alfalfa – strengthens the internal tissues of the body
- 1 oz lemon balm – gives a little energy while helping you concentrate
- 1 oz rose hips – big source of vitamin C
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl
- Keep in an airtight jar and out of direct sunlight
- Use 1 tsp of the blend per 1 cup of water
- Steep for at least 6 minutes
- Enjoy up to 2 times per day for best results
#5 Brazil Nuts
Truth be told, all nuts are good for you. Not only are they a healthy source of good protein and healthy fat, they are high in some of those micronutrients that may be missing from your regular diet.
Specifically, Brazil nuts bring selenium into your diet. Not a lot of people think of selenium when they list necessary vitamins and minerals, but selenium is an important antioxidant that stops the chain reaction of inflammation in the body.
Researchers are currently studying the impact of inflammation on mood disorders like anxiety and depression. We already know inflammation is associated with discomfort and a lot of disease conditions. So it’s always a good idea to pack those antioxidants into our diet as much as possible.
Ease-Your-Anxiety Energy Bar
- 1/4 cup honey or molasses – immune boosting and full of potassium
- 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter or almond butter – packed with protein
- 1 cup Brazil nuts chopped roughly – anti-inflammatory goodness
- 1 1/2 cups rolled oats – nervine balance
- Chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts, banana chips, vanilla – for comfort
- Toast your oats for 10-15 minutes
- Throw Brazil nuts (and any other goodies like chocolate, fruit or vanilla) into a processor until you have the consistency you want
- Combine oats and nuts together in a bowl
- Warm honey or molasses and nut butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Pour this over the oat mixture and stir it all together.
- Press the mixture into a lined baking sheet until even
- Cover with parchment paper and refrigerate about 20 minutes until solid
I hope these recipes provide some healthy, comforting inspiration for you!
Host of Remedy: Ancient Medicine for Modern Illness
& Founder of The Sacred Science