We are what we eat is a saying we’ve heard many, many times. And there’s a lot of truth in it. If we focus on nutritious meals and snacks, it will help our mental health too.
It’s tempting to reach for a biscuit or chocolate bar when our energy levels are low but remember that sluggish feeling you get after the sugar high? Whereas if you focus on healthier snacks, you can actually increase your energy levels for the afternoon which can also keep your mood and spirits up.
It’s not that you can’t have a treat or have to avoid sugar altogether, we all deserve a treat every now and then. But we should remember the role that our diet plays in our physical and mental health.
Eating smaller, more regular meals, adding protein, focusing on slow release carbohydrates and staying hydrated: all great ways to nourish our bodies and minds. Your brain needs certain healthy fats such as omega 3 and omega 6 to keep it ticking over so include plenty of oily fish, chia seeds, and nuts in your diet. Bananas, garlic, and berries (all included in the recipes this week) are other mood raising ingredients you can include.
All of the recipes by renowned chefs and food experts Darina Allen, Michelle Darmody, Derval O’Rourke, and the Currabinny Cooks (James Kavanagh and William Murray), have been published previously in the Irish Examiner Weekend supplement.
Strawberry summer salad (Derval O'Rourke)
This salad has been the top pick by members on Derval.ie in May. It requires minimal ingredients and effort yet is packed with flavour and nutrition.
I love to add leftover chicken for a protein punch, you could also try feta, grilled halloumi, or torn buffalo mozzarella.
Serves: 6, as a side
Prep time: 10 minutes
- 2 carrots, grated
- 50g hazelnuts, toasted
- 4 spring onions, thinly sliced
- 1 punnet strawberries, roughly sliced
- Large bunch of mixed leaves
- Bunch of fresh mint leaves, roughly torn natural coconut yogurt, to serve
Add all ingredients, except the yoghurt, to a large mixing bowl. Toss well to combine and drizzle over the yoghurt.
Serve with some fresh sourdough bread on the side.
Blueberry crumble (Michelle Darmody)
- 100g of plain flour
- 50g of ground almonds
- 60g of golden caster sugar
- 60g of butter, cubed
- 50g of porridge oats
- 50g of mixed seeds
- 300g of bananas
- 150g of blueberries
- 1 tbs of maple syrup
Preheat your oven to 190 degrees.
Mix the flour, almonds and sugar, rub in the butter until the mixture looks like rough breadcrumbs. Stir in the porridge and seeds.
Roughly chop the bananas, leaving one whole for decorating. Place the chopped bananas, blueberries and maple syrup into an oven proof dish and very gently toss them. Sprinkle the crumble mix on top so that it covers the fruit completely. Half the extra banana lengthwise and place it on top of the crumble pushing it down slightly. This is optional.
Bake for about 20 minutes until the topping is golden. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
Wild garlic mash (Currabinny cooks)
This is the pinnacle of spring time comfort food. Creamy mashed potatoes, buttery soft leeks and the gentle, addictive flavour of wild garlic.
- 4 or 5 medium potatoes such as red rooster
- 100g butter 2 leeks, cleaned well and green ends removed
- 250ml of full fat milk
- 175ml of cream
- black pepper
- Good handful of chopped wild garlic
Peel the potatoes and cook in a large pot of water for 30 to 40 minutes until cooked through. Remove and drain.
In a large saucepan, heat the butter and add the leeks, cooking for around 10 minutes until softened. Add the wild garlic. Pour in the milk and cream and bring to a simmer. Add the cooked potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Mash with a potato masher until smooth. Stir through an extra knob of butter for good measure and transfer into a serving dish.