Thursday, July 1, 2010
Recipes That Make You Feel Better
By Judith J. Wurtman, PhD and Nina T. Frusztajer, MD,
Authors of The Serotonin Power Diet: Eat Carbs -- Nature's Own Appetite Suppressant -- to Stop Emotional Overeating and Halt Antidepressant-Associated Weight Gain
There are some evenings when we all wish our Moms were in the kitchen cooking a meal that would make us feel better. We are too old to be fretting over a bad test grade or nasty remark from someone on the playground but being grown up doesn't mean we don't need comfort when we return home.
Fortunately, it is really easy to prepare a dinner yourself that will calm you down, soothe away your stress and turn down that chatter in your brain about what went wrong with your day.
Comfort dinners work because if they have the right components, your brain will make the calming , feel-good chemical, serotonin as soon as the food is digested. And that means that by the time you put the dishes in the dishwasher, the troubles of the day will be forgotten. Serotonin is made when you eat any sweet or starchy carbohydrate (except the carbs in fruit). Carbohydrates set in motion a process that brings an amino acid called tryptophan into the brain. When tryptophan arrives, it is immediately converted to serotonin. And serotonin immediately makes you feel better. Only two rules must be followed if your comfort dinner is really going to comfort:
Keep the protein portion of the dinner to a minimum. No more than 1-2 ounces. This is because protein interferes with tryptophan getting into the brain. Keep the fat portion of the dinner to a minimum. No more than two tablespoons of olive oil, butter, high fat cheese or cream. This is because fat slows down digestion and will make you wait too long to feel comforted. Here is an easy to prepare, tasty and comforting dinner recipe. Enjoy!
Pasta with Meat and Mushroom-Tomato Ragu
This is a simple and delicious dish made with a mushroom sauté. The pasta and mushrooms take about the same time to cook, so the dish should be ready 12 minutes after the water boils for the pasta.
Rigatoni or any short pasta, cooked according to package directions
Women: 1 cup/Men: 1½cups
Olive oil cooking spray
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ pound mushrooms
Lean ground beef or turkey
Women: 2 ounces/Men: 4 ounces
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning or several fresh basil leaves
1 cup low-sodium reduced-fat or fat-free jarred tomato sauce
1 tablespoon low-fat shredded mozzarella cheese or shredded mozzarella cheese with sun-dried tomatoes
Place drained pasta back into the pot. Set aside. Coat a large skillet with cooking spray, add the oil, and warm over medium-high heat. Sauté the garlic, mushrooms, and ground beef or turkey for 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are soft. Add the pepper, sugar, and Italian seasoning or basil and continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring several times. Add the mushroom mixture and tomato sauce to the pasta and heat until warm. Put in a large bowl and sprinkle with the cheese. Serve with Lemon Garlic Spinach.
Makes 1 serving
Per serving (women): 473 calories, 30 g protein, 65 g carbohydrates, 13 g total fat, 8 g dietary fiber, 772 mg sodium
Per serving (men): 649 calories, 44 g protein, 81 g carbohydrates, 19 g total fat, 9 g dietary fiber, 814 mg sodium