8 Nutrients to Lift Your Spirits

Are you battling with the winter blues?! According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 9% of adult Americans have feelings of depression or hopelessness. In fact, major depression is the leading cause of disability for Americans between the ages of 15-44 years old.

What if I told you that you could help fight feelings of depression at your dinner table?!

What if your mood could be lifted simply by what you choose to pack for lunch?!

A healthy cognitive system is essential in regulating mood and maintaining normal brain function and this starts with NUTRITION!

Over the next several days, I'm going to share with you 8 Nutrients that can help Lift Your Spirits!!!




  • The most abundant mineral in the body and helps maintain strong bones
  • Calcium is a critical chemical involved in the release of neurotransmitters, which acts as messengers between cells.  Deficient amounts of calcium can be linked to various problems, including depression
  • Calcium deficiency affect women more than men
  • Since estrogen plays a large role in calcium production, calcium consumption may improve PMS related depression
  • The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) is 1,000mg per day for adults



  • Don't Skip Breakfast!  Enjoy low-fat milk or yogurt as part of a morning meal.  1 cup of milk has 305mg of calcium and 6oz low-fat yogurt has 310mg per serving
  • Pack Greens for Lunch!  Kale has 179mg per 1 cup serving or serve a warm brussels sprouts salad for dinner! 
  • Add beans to soups, chili, and pasta dishes. 1/2 cup beans has up to 30mg of calcium per serving
  • Snack on Hummus with baby carrots, raw broccoli florets, or whole wheat pita crackers.  Add hummus to sandwiches for a healthy fat source!  Hummus has approximately 60mg of calcium per serving.
  • Drink fortified Orange juice or Soymilk which can provide about 300mg of calcium per 1 cup serving. 
  • Don't Skip on Sardines!  4 sardines can provide almost 250mg of calcium!! 
  • Get familiar with Ricotta!!! Ricotta cheese provides almost 350mg per 1/2 cup serving!!! Ricotta is great in lasagna, a perfect addition to an omelet, or use as a healthy spread to replace cream cheese. 


salat herz


Recipe Review: Quick Fall Minestrone Soup

With the temperature slowly dropping and the holidays are around the corner, my desire for comfort food is evident.  Comfort food means different things to different people, but to me, comfort food means a dish is warm, satisfying, inviting, and hearty.  This week’s recipe caught my attention because of the variety of hearty ingredients, ease of preparing, and the warmth that soup brings to a table. This week’s recipe review is a “Quick Fall Minestrone” soup from Cooking Light.  The preparation for this dish was extremely easy because it mainly consisted of chopping vegetables and opening a can of beans!  The most time consuming part of the prep work was cutting the butternut squash and taking the skin off the potato.

I really liked the fact that this soup incorporated BUTTERNUT SQUASH. Unfortunately, a lot of individuals steer clear of butternut squash because of its odd shape that can be intimidating. But don’t let that keep you away from incorporating this fall favorite into your meals. A few simple steps and you will have cubed butternut squash in no time!  Connect to the following link for easy to follow instructions:


The other star ingredient in this recipe is KALE!  Kale is a leafy, green vegetable that belongs to a family of veggies that include collards, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage.  Kale can be spotted at your local grocery throughout the year, however, it is more widely available, and at its peak, from late fall through the beginning of spring.

Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables around and is a cruciferous veggie you should consider eating up to 4-5 times per week, with an average serving size of 2 cups.  Kale can provide a significant source of vitamin K which is the key nutrient in lowering your risk of chronic inflammation.  Recent research indicated that 45 different antioxidant flavonoids are found in measurable amounts of kale which is the key that makes kale rank high on the list of cancer-preventative foods.

If you are considering picking up kale on your next grocery trip, it is important to know what to look for when choosing this vegetable.  Fresh kale will have firm, smaller-sized, deeply colored leaves, hardy stems that are moist, no signs of wilting leaves, and free from browning, yellowing, or small holes.  Kale should be displayed in a cool environment to prevent warmer temperatures from negatively affecting the flavor.

Improper storage can bring out a bitter flavor in kale.  To properly store this vegetable, place unwashed kale in a plastic storage bag and remove as much trapped air as possible.  Avoid washing kale before storing to prevent spoilage.  Kale will typically keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Blog Pics Nov 2010 001
Blog Pics Nov 2010 001

Recipe Review Summary: This soup was over-the-top DELICIOUS! I must say, it ranks on the top of my list of recipes I’ve recently reviewed!  It is a broth based soup, but due to the starch in the potatoes, butternut squash, and orzo, the broth had a creamy texture.  The kale added next text and a fresh flavor.  I served the soup with a Tomato, Bacon, and Havarti Grilled Cheese Sandwich.  Mike and I each enjoyed a bowl, as well as, I’ve packed us each a bowl for lunch and put 3 bowls worth in the freezer for a later date so this recipe would make plenty for a large family with no problem!

Blog Pics Nov 2010 004
Blog Pics Nov 2010 004

Quick Fall Minestrone Soup


Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups soup and 1 tablespoon cheese)


  • 1  tablespoon  vegetable oil
  • 1  cup  chopped onion
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 6  cups  vegetable broth
  • 2 1/2  cups  (3/4-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
  • 2 1/2  cups  (3/4-inch) cubed peeled baking potato
  • 1  cup  (1-inch) cut green beans (about 1/4 pound)
  • 1/2  cup  diced carrot
  • 1  teaspoon  dried oregano
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 4  cups  chopped kale
  • 1/2  cup  uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
  • 1  (16-ounce) can cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese


Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 2 1/2 minutes or until tender. Add broth and the next 7 ingredients (broth through salt); bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes. Add kale, orzo, and beans; cook 5 minutes or until orzo is done and vegetables are tender. Sprinkle with cheese.