Author: Diane Howden

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Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007 at 2:57 am
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Tastebuds

Eat Yourself Happy

If you’ve woken up to 2007 feeling tired, fed up and depressed then you’re not alone. In fact, according to official figures 3 million of us suffer from the ‘winter blues’ each year. The main reason for feeling down during the winter months is that levels of serotonin, the brain’s ‘happy’ neurotransmitter, fall because of lack of sunlight. This, coupled with the fact that many of us will be nursing a ‘festive hangover’, explains why, when we should be welcoming in the New Year, we’re often feeling at our lowest ebb instead. But one easy way to overcome these feelings is to eat yourself happy and here’s a recipe to help.

For most of us, a few simple steps are all it takes to overcome the worst of the blues and one of the most effective methods is by eating foods that are proven mood boosters. First off, up your intake of protein and complex carbohydrates and consume foods that are are high in tryptophan, such as oil-rich fish in conjunction with complex carbohydrates such as bananas, oatcakes, apples & walnuts. Consuming more fruit and vegetables is also essential.

Government research shows that the average person in the UK eats less than 3 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, instead of the recommended 5. Choose vegetables that are high in antioxidants that will help your body to ‘detox’; a great option that is quick and easy to prepare and available throughout the winter months is Tenderstem® Broccoli.

What the experts say
There’s no better advocate for the humble vegetable than celebrity greengrocer and Masterchef presenter Gregg Wallace. Gregg says, “If you eat lots and lots of vegetables, you don’t need to take vitamin supplements. I really believe that the recipe for a long and energetic life is a lot of fresh air, a lot of fresh vegetables and a lot of exercise.”

And the experts back him up. According to experts at the Brain Bio Centre, simple lifestyle changes such as eating healthily, going outside in natural daylight for at least an hour a day and regular exercise can help us banish the blues for ever.

Upping your daily intake of immune-boosting, low calorie vegetables need not be difficult. Gregg Wallace continues, “Tenderstem® is a very versatile vegetable. Steam it if you can with a colander over a pan of boiling salted water. Alternatively use it in a stir fry. Generally, I would say the rule is ‘veg meet pan and pan meet veg’. It has to be a quick introduction, not become a long term relationship!”

Top tips to beating the blues

  • Expose yourself to as much bright light as possible. If it’s sunny make sure you go outside
  • Eat foods to improve your mood. Up your intake of protein and complex carbohydrates
  • Consume more fruit and vegetables. Combined with regular exercise not only will you boost your mood but a low fat diet will also help you shed any excess pounds that may have crept on over Christmas
  • Get active, one of the best and most effective ways to boost your mood and better your body!
  • Stay positive. Try to get the best out of the winter months – there’s no escape so you might as well make the most out of them.

broccoli on spoon

Recipe – TENDERSTEM® BROCCOLI AND CHILLI BEEF STIR FRY

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 200g Tenderstem® broccoli
  • 2 tablespoons groundnut oil
  • 450g lean rump steak, cut into thin strips
  • 1-2 red chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
  • 1 large carrot, cut into thin sticks, about 6cm in length
  • 2cm piece root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, crushed
  • 6 spring onions, trimmed and sliced
  • small handful coriander leaves
  • rice or noodles, to serve

Sauce:

  • 2 teaspoons cornflour
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry or Chinese rice wine
  • 150ml beef stock
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Method:

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the sauce and set aside.
  2. Prepare the Tenderstem®. Cut the floret ends off the Tenderstem® spears and leave whole. Slice the remainder of the Tenderstem® spears thinly, on the diagonal.
  3. Heat a wok or large frying pan until hot. Add 1 tablespoon groundnut oil, then the rump steak and stir-fry for 4 minutes, adding the chilli for the final minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm.
  4. Add the remaining tablespoon of groundnut oil to the pan. Add the prepared Tenderstem® and carrot, plus 2 tablespoons of water, and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic and spring onions to the pan and continue stir-frying for another 2-3 minutes.
  5. Return the cooked steak to the pan along with the sauce, and stir-fry for another minute until the sauce has thickened.
  6. Serve the stir-fry topped with coriander leaves on a bed of rice or noodles.
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