Good Mood Orange Foods: 8 Pumpkin Breakfasts

Eating more rainbow foods boosts mental fitness and brain health. Each color is caused by specific phytochemicals phytochemicals (natural chemical compounds) that

Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamin C and carotenoids. There are more than 600 different types of carotenoids! These beneficial nutrients can

  • protect you from disease and enhance your immune system
  • some carotenoids convert to vitamin A in your body
  • Vitamin A helps promote healthy vision, cell growth and is essential nutrient for your brain health. It  facilitates neuroplasticity – your brain’s ability to build new neurons and create new connections
[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”full” source_author=”Drew Ramsey, MD” source_title=”Eat to Beat Depression and Anxiety” full_quote=”Eating rainbow fruits and vegetables is a great way to not only get important phytochemicals, but also fiber for the good bugs in your gut to thrive on. Flavonoids are responsible for the bright colors of these foods – and you can only get these health-promoting molecules in the plants you eat. Orange options get their sunny color from carotenoids, which convert into brain-boosting vitamin A.” short_quote=”Orange plant foods get their sunny color from carotenoids, which convert into brain-boosting vitamin A.”]

An easy way to eat more good mood orange foods is to put pumpkin into your breakfast.  Here are 8 of my favorite pumpkin breakfast recipes because they are delicious and nutrient dense. All can be made with canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling) – a great time saver. These recipes are good sources of:

  • healthy fats from nature
  • carbs from vegetables and fruit
  • Vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals
  • Fiber
  • spices

Boost the protein content by enjoying with Greek yogurt or kefir, or having hard boiled eggs or breakfast sausage on the side with the baked oatmeal and pancakes.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie Bowl – Hummusapien

I add plain Greek yogurt or kefir for protein, and 1 tablespoon of flax or hemp seeds.

Skinny Pumpkin Granola – Minimalist Baker

Granola is a staple in my kitchen. I always make a double batch, usually a variation of CMF Granola, but this caught my attention for the additional nutrients: flaxseeds and the combination of oats and quinoa. It’s delicious, nutritious!

Enjoy granola over a plain-Greek yogurt, with a tablespoon of hempseed/ground flaxseed and tossed with seasonal fruit.

Pumpkin Pie Chia Pudding – Eat the Gains

This makes a marvelous breakfast parfait – simply layer chia pudding with plain Greek yogurt  or granola, or both!

OR add 1/4 cup of cooked quinoa to the chia pudding for more nutrient density. Add more milk of choice to desired texture.

Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats – My Whole Life

A favorite because I can make it ahead. I always multiply by 4 and put in mason jars so breakfast is easy.


  • Chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts usually)
  • Dried cranberries
  • Fresh, chopped pear on occasion

Make Ahead Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal – Kiwi and Bean

When the temperature drops and calls for hot breakfast, this is a delicious, nutritious option that you can make ahead. I love the option of millet as an extra grain. Replace with quinoa or buckwheat – I cook the additional grain with the oatmeal rather than toasting to put it on top.

Top with

  • Ground flaxeed or hempseed
  • Granola
  • Chopped nuts
  • Dried cranberries

Double (or triple depending on your family size)

Creamy Pumpkin Quinoa Breakfast – Cotter Crunch

In winter months I alternate between hot oatmeal breakfasts and this type of quinoa breakfast. Make the night before and warm up individual portions the morning as needed. Add a dollop of plain Greek yogurt and sprinkle with granola for texture contrast.

Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal – Joy of Sunshine

Use old-fashioned oats. I really like the apple sauce in this and reduce maple syrup by half. Make it the night before. Keep the cream cheese separate. Warm up in the morning and top with some of the cream cheese.

It also freezes nicely in individual portions. Makes a great after school snack.

Pumpkin Quinoa Pancakes – Simply Quinoa

Pancakes are always popular at our house, so I’ve searched out more nutrient-dense options. These are hearty and filling. As always, make a double (or triple batch) and freeze for later in the week. In general I make sausage too. They freeze well.

Top with:

What to Do?

  1. Make a double batch of the pumpkin granola as a staple for the month
  2. Choose either chia pudding or overnight oats and make enough to have a couple times throughout the week
  3. OR instead of cold chip pudding/overnight oats, make oatmeal one week and quinoa the next
  4. Make pancakes or muffins on the weekend. Double batch to have throughout the week.

Voila! You have a whole week of breakfast.

Originally published November 2021

Good Mood Orange Foods: 8 Sweet Potato Recipes

Did you know sweet potatoes have more potassium than bananas? Sweet potatoes are an easy way to boost your overall health, and are loaded with good mood nutrients.


  • High in vitamins A, C and E – one sweet potato has 5x the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin A
  • Essential minerals magnesium and potassium. Potassium helps maintain fluid and electrolyte balance in the body cells, as well as normal heart function and blood pressure
  • Carotenoids. These powerful phytochemicals protect against oxidative stress and facilitate communication between your cells. Beta carotene is good for your brain. It is also strong immune enhancer (boosts your immune system)

Fiber Rich
Fiber swerves two functions in your digestive tract which aid mood balance

  • Helps with digestion and feeds “good” gut bacteria
  • Removes toxins and waste from your body

You can get two meals out of one effort. Just double the amount of sweet potato you cook

  • Roasted – use the additional sweet potato for breakfast, use as the base for leftover chili or bolognaise for twice-baked potatoes
  • Pureed –turn into a Sweet Potato Shepherd Pie or use for breakfast in smoothies, oatmeal, pancakes, or muffins
  • Steamed – use in breakfast hash or add to salads

Sweet potato can be substituted for pumpkin. I’ve certainly done that a number of times. Especially in oatmeal, smoothies and pureed soups.

NOTE: A yam is NOT a sweet potato. Nutrient-rich sweet potatoes are a native plant of the Americas. Yams are a starchy root that originated in Africa and Asia.

Here are some of my favorite recipes.

Black Bean Sweet Potato Enchiladas – Weelicious

I add either chopped kale or spinach.

Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash Puree as a side to meatloaf or pork tenderloin. Re-purpose into Sweet Potato Shepard Pie

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
So many options online! Choose recipes that include all macronutrients (protein, healthy fats) and have micronutrient diversity (multiple veggies). Add spices and herbs to boost the nutrient content – and flavor.

Here a couple of my favorites:

Chickpea and Spinach – The Last Ingredient

Use this as a base recipe. Add additional veggies:

  • Red bell peppers or poblano peppers
  • Broccoli or shredded Brussels sprouts

Add fish or meats

  • Shrimp, or salmon (canned or leftover roasted salmon)
  • Leftover ground beef/turkey or chicken

Mexican Quinoa Stuffed Sweet Potatoes – Simply Quinoa

Turkey Taco Stuffed Sweet Potatoes – Cookin Canuk
Add more veggies — . It’s a great ways to use leftover roasted vegetables!

Sweet Potato Shrimp Hash – Babaganosh

Make a double recipe. Re-purpose into another meal

  • Make into a wrap with guacamole and greens
  • Toss with leafy greens and cilantro into a salad. Add chopped veggies like bell peppers, celery and tomato.

Meal Salads

Lentil and Sweet Potato Salad – NY Times Cooking
Enjoy as a side dish with roasted fish, meatloaf or pork tenderloin.
Re-purpose into a meal by mixing with greens (arugula, spinach, shredded kale or green leafy mix) tossed with balsamic vinaigrette.
You can use canned beans (black, white or kidney beans) instead of lentils

Roasted Beet and Butternut Salad – Girl Heart Food
LOVE this! The colors are glorious, the flavor delicious. Use as a side with dinner; pairs nicely with pork tenderloin. Make extra to turn into into lunch the next day:

  • Toss with greens
  • Add roasted pumpkin seeds or chopped nuts (almond, pecan, walnut)

What to Do?

Eating orange foods has never been so easy 😁

Good Mood Seafood

Why are fish and seafood brain healthy foods?

  • Highly digestible, complete protein – protects from degenerative diseases
  • Omega-3 fatty acids – boost the performance of brain neurons, stronger cognitive performance while also helping ease anxiety
  • B vitamins – key for overall brain functioning and preventing depression. They help the brain produce and synthesize the neurotransmitters that regulate mood and boost memory. B12 and niacin help with mental energy and memory. Choline strengthens mental focus.
  • Fat-soluble vitamin A helps regulate the brain’s plasticity (ability to form new neural pathways) and promotes the ability to learn new mental skills
  • Fat-soluble vitamins D helps avert cognitive decline as we get older
  • Essential minerals iron, zinc, copper, calcium, sodium, phosphorus and selenium.
    • Iron helps make the covering that protects neurons and helps control the synthesis of chemicals involved in mood. Depression has been linked to low iron levels
    • Selenium is required for the activity of 25 – 30 enzymes that protect the brain from oxidative damage
    • Zinc is important to the functioning of memory
[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”right” source_author=”Uma Naidoo” source_title=”This is Your Brain on Food” full_quote=”Omega-3s promote brain health by lowering inflammatory markers and protect neurons from excessive inflammation. Eating foods high in omega-3s may protect you against depression. The very best source of omega-3s, especially EPA and DHA, is fish” short_quote=”Omega-3s promote brain health by lowering inflammatory markers and protect neurons “]

Which Fish? These are especially nutrient-dense

  • Anchovies – Vitamin B12 and calcium
  • Halibut – Packed with vitamin D and Vitamin A
  • Salmon – Good source of niacin and choline
  • Sardines – Loaded with vitamin B12 and niacin
  • Scallops – Loaded zinc and magnesium
  • Shrimp – Loaded with B12, choline and B6
  • Tuna – Great source of 5 different B vitamins and vitamin D
[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”full” source_author=”Sarah Ballantyne” source_title=”Paleo Principles” full_quote=”Fish and shellfish are the richest sources of the long-chain omega 3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, which block multiple inflammation pathways in our cells. Deficiencies in these anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fats have been linked to dyslexia, violence, depression, anxiety, memory problems, Alzheimer’s disease, weight gain, cancer, cardiovascular disease and many others.” ” short_quote=”Deficiencies in these anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fats have been linked depression, anxiety, memory problems”]

Shellfish Refresh

These are avariety of small, mineral-rich fish from two families that have had an important role in the diets of coastal humans throughout history

  • Mollusks –include clams, oysters, mussels, and scallops
  • Crustaceans – crabs, lobsters, and shrimp
[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”full” source_author=”Drew Ramsey, MD” source_title=”Eat to Beat Depression and Anxiety” full_quote=”Sardines, oysters, mussels, salmon and cod are chockful of vital brain healthy nutrients B12, selenium, iron, zinc and protein. A lot of people have concerns about fish, especially around mercury and microplastics. But this food group can truly make a huge difference when it comes to preventing and managing depression and anxiety symptoms. One simple step is to simply eat small fish and bivalves. With so many seasonings, sauces, and methods to prepare seafood, there is an option that will work for you and your brain.” ” short_quote=”Sardines, oysters, mussels, salmon and cod are chockful of vital brain healthy nutrients B12, selenium, iron, zinc and protein”]

But What about Pollutants and Sustainability?

Generally, you can avoid mercury and microplastics by eating smaller fish (like anchovies or sardines), or shellfish like clams and mussels. Check out Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Watch for sustainably caught seafood.

Even with eating farmed fish, the health benefits far outweigh the risks. Especially because of the importance of Omega-3 fats for overall health.

Canned fish is generally the most affordable. Look for wild-caught varieties (anchovies, salmon, sardines) in BPA-free cans.

Learn more about choosing seafood at What’s the Catch, one of my earlier blogposts.

What to Do?

  • Experiment to expand your palate. Be adventurous. Try the seafood special at your favorite restaurant
  • Visit your local farmer’s market. Ask for recommendations
  • Try different fish. Prepare different ways.

Here are some of my favorites:

Sheet Pan Shrimp Fajitas – Number 2 Pencil

You can also use fish (i usually use cod, snapper)

Salmon Patty – Well Plated

Cajun Shrimp Sweet Potato Hash – Babaganosh

Paella inspired – Epicurious

Sardine with Shredded Potato Cake – Epicurious

Rice cake with mashed avocado and sardines is an excellent quick lunch or afternoon snack

Next Step

  • Share your favorite fish recipe! 😊 Or the new one you will try