Looking after our mental health has never been so important; the usual channels that we use to take a break from the stresses of everyday life aren’t available to us at the moment. It’s harder to work out, see your friends, get into nature and do lots of the activities that we love doing, so it’s crucial that we find other ways to nourish our mental as well as physical wellbeing. In this article, we’ll recommend three foods that may help ease some of the negative feelings that we are all experiencing in the current environment and suggest some delicious ways that you can prepare them.
DISCLAIMER: These foods are not a replacement for the medical treatment of depression, anxiety or any other mental health condition. If you suspect that you may be suffering from a mental health condition, please speak to your doctor or a qualified mental health professional. If you are in crisis and in need of support, please call Lifeline: 13 11 14.
Pomegranates have been harvested for culinary use since ancient times, particularly throughout the Middle East and the Mediterranean, who have used pomegranates and their seeds in juice, sauces, syrups, and broths. Nowadays, you often see pomegranate used in salads and desserts, but there are a variety of ways that you can use this versatile fruit, and its amazing health benefits might persuade you to use it more! Pomegranates are rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and potassium, all extremely important nutrients that help maintain healthy brain and tissue function. Pomegranates are also a great source of fibre and have been shown to contain high levels of antioxidants; in fact, pomegranate juice has three times more antioxidants than green tea! Not only are pomegranates great for your physical health, but research has shown that pomegranates may help improve mental health and wellbeing too, with one study recording improved mood levels in healthy adults who drank pomegranate juice. There has also been research into the role that antioxidants play in mitigating symptoms of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, so Harvard Medical School recommends that you include lots of antioxidant-rich foods in your diet to help relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression. Check out our Pomegranate Spritzer recipe for a fun way to incorporate some pomegranate into your diet!
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Like pomegranate, rhubarb contains a large amount of the necessary vitamins that our bodies need to function properly, such as vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese and magnesium. Rhubarb is also a great low-GI source of energy and has very low levels or none of the stuff we shouldn’t eat a lot of like fat, sodium and cholesterol. There have been a number of studies showing that rhubarb may play a role in protecting the gut microbiome (Chen et al., Cui et al. and Yao et al.) and research into the link between our mental wellbeing and our intestinal microbiome is becoming more and more persuasive. You can find this underappreciated vegetable in any supermarket and use it in anything from cakes to tarts and even gin! This year, we harvested the rhubarb from our Kitchen Garden and used it to make Farm Grown Rhubarb Vinegar which can be used in a number of delicious ways:
- To make beetroot carpaccio (keep an eye out on our Instagram for a recipe coming soon!)
- In vinaigrettes drizzled over salads like salad niçoise, vitello tonnato, salmon salad or smoked chicken salad
- To moisten trout, smoked mackerel or cooked chicken
- To deglaze a frying pan
- To add a refreshing twist to a glass of cold, carbonated water on a hot day
- As a unique gift!
Pumpkins were one of the the first plants to be domesticated and for good reason; they are extremely versatile and most parts of the plant can be eaten including the flesh, the seeds, the leaves and the flowers. The flesh of the pumpkin, the bit that we use the most, is pack full of vitamin A – half a cup of pumpkin contains just over the recommended daily intake of vitamin A! Its richness in vitamin A is what gives pumpkin its orange colour and orange foods such as pumpkin, carrot and red lentils have been shown to reduce the risk of degenerative eye conditions, lower blood pressure and boost the immune system. Pumpkin seeds contain tryptophan which is the amino acid that your brain turns into serotonin, commonly known as the ‘happy chemical’, so adding pumpkin seeds to salads or snacking on roasted pumpkin seeds throughout the day could be helpful in elevating your mood. Plus – nothing can beat that warm fuzzy feeling of enjoying a pumpkin soup or some delicious roast pumpkin in your PJs in the winter. If anything’s going to ward off the winter (or coronavirus) blues, it’s going to be pumpkin! Watch our video to learn how to make the most warming and comforting pumpkin soup (the type your nanna makes!) and how to add a delicious and healthy twist on traditional chocolate chip cookies with the addition of some pumpkin!
Stay safe and healthy during these difficult times. Exercise, eat well and lean on your friends and family, even if it has to be over Zoom! We are staying connected to our community via our Instagram and Facebook, so feel free to engage with us if you’re feeling down and need to be cheered up with some cute dog photos or be distracted by all of the wonderful things happening at the farm. Beyond Blue, headspace and the Victorian Government have some great resources for coping with the challenges of coronavirus if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Remember – we WILL get through this!