Good Mood Food

Do you experience brain fog, mood swings or constant anxiety?

Eating more nutrient-dense whole foods can help balance your emotions, your mood and improve your cognitive function. Good mental health, just like physical health, depends on adequate nutrition. If you are low on a few key vitamins or minerals, you are more likely to experience issues with mood swings or anxiety.  Give your brain the building blocks it needs to thrive.

[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”right” source_author=”Drew Ramsey, MD” source_title=”Eat to Beat Depression and Anxiety” full_quote=”There are a variety of food categories that can aid in your quest for a healthier brain –and remission from depression and anxiety symptoms. They are leafy greens, rainbow fruits and veggies, seafood, meat, eggs and dairy, fermented foods, dark chocolate. Foods from these groups contain the important nutrients you need to feed the good bugs in your gut, reduce inflammation, and put your brain into grow mode. All things that can help with depression and anxiety” short_quote=”Foods from these groups contain the important nutrients you need –and can help with depression and anxiety symptoms.”]

You can get brain essential nutrients in these food categories. Make greens and rainbow foods the major components of your meals.

Greens and Cruciferous Vegetables

Leafy vegetables are the most nutrient-dense (nutrients per calorie) foods on the planet. Spinach, kale, arugula, watercress, beet greens, collards, Swiss chard are all great options. Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage.

Rainbow Fruits and Veggies

Every color in our vegetables represents a different family of phytochemicals (protective, healing chemical compounds found in plants).

Red/purple foods are especially nourishing for your brain. Berries are the rock stars for brain health, but all red/purple foods have especially powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and DNA-enhancing properties that help keep your brain fighting fit.

[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”right” source_author=”Leslie Korn” source_title=”Nutrition Essentials for Mental Health” full_quote=”There are a variety of nutrients that act as antioxidants to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain. Carotenoids found in fruits and vegetables, especially the dark leafy greens and red spectrum, are anti-inflammatory and antioxidant and they improved cognitive health. Several high fat foods like avocado or avocado oil significantly increase absorption of the carotenoids” short_quote=” There are a variety of nutrients that act as antioxidants to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain.”]

Quality-sourced Protein:

  • Pastured eggs: Rich in nutrients needed to build brain cells, linked to lower rates of anxiety symptoms.
  • Fish and seafood: Anchovies, sardines, oysters, mussels, salmon, cod are among the most nutrient dense foods you can eat –  rich in brain nutrients omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins.
  • Sustainably raised meat (beef, lamb, goat, and chicken).  Loaded with essential amino acids, vital healthy fats, rich in B12 and E, vitamins, essential minerals iron, selenium, and zinc.

Essential Fats: Avocado, coconut, olives, nuts and nut butters, olives, grass-fed butter. Omega-3 fatty acids are vital to the brain. They also help you absorb the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients essential for brain health.

Fermented Foods: Kefir, yogurt, miso, sourdough, sauerkraut, kombucha and kimchi add beneficial bacteria to your system to help support brain health. These feed the good bacteria in your gut that support brain health.

Nuts, Beans and Seeds: A small serving nuts and seeds gives you a mix of plant-based protein, healthy fats and slow burning carbs, fiber, zinc, iron and essential vitamins. Think of nuts and seeds as a condiment; add to overnight oats, salads, grain bowls, curry, and meatloaf.

What to Do?

Choose the foods in these categories that you enjoy eating. Experiment and gradually add in those you’re not familiar with. Try new ways of eating foods you may think you don’t like. Here are a couple of ways to are just a few fun ways to add in more of these foods on a regular basis.

Be mindful of what you eat. Keep a food journal for a week and jot down the foods from each category that you every day. How many colors did you get? How many plant foods? Quality protein? This about progress, not perfection. Wherever you are is ok, just build up one food, one day at a time.

Eating nutrient dense, whole foods from nature is a powerful way to care for  your brain and your body.


Ramsey, Drew (2021). Eat to beat depression and anxiety. New York, NY: HarperWave.

Korn, Leslie (2016). Nutrition essentials for mental health. New York, NY: W.W. Norton and Company.

Learn more:

Mood Food: Nutrition for Your Brain – GBC Nutrition

20 Foods to Naturally Increase Your Brain Power – Mind Body Green

Eat to Beat Depression and Anxiety – Drew Ramsey MD

Updated  – original posted August 2021 

4 Detox Salads

Your body is constantly detoxifying — literally taking out the toxins. The problem is that it is often overwhelmed by inflammatory foods.

By eating more of these salads more regularly, you displace inflammatory foods on your plate and in your diet. Loaded with nutrients to help remove toxins and waste, these salads will aid your digestion and elimination.

General guidelines for a nutrient dense salad that supports your body’s natural detoxifying processes:

  • Shred a whole cabbage (or broccoli or Brussels sprouts) in the food processor. (Or buy it already shredded).
  • You can mix with leafy greens — lettuce, spinach or arugula — especially if these nutrient dense salads are new for you
  • Make it a complete meal adding hummus, canned salmon or sardines, or other proteins and fats (avocado, nuts, seeds). You need good fats to absorb essential vitamins A, D, E and K, and to obtain essential fatty acids necessary for building cells, hormones and fueling your heart and brain. You need the protein as building blocks for your tissues, enzymes, antibodies, as well as insulin and glucagon that regulate your blood sugar.
  • Or make it part of dinner alongside meatloaf, chicken or other protein side dish
  • BONUS – Use what you need for the salad. Save the remainder to use as a base for a grain bowl or stir fry. Make a lunch wrap with hummus or guacamole. Add it to soup.

One of my superpowers is crazy delicious, nutritious salads.

My kryptonite is that I can’t seem to write down the combinations and concoctions that come out of my kitchen every day.

So here are 4 recipes to use as building blocks for 2023. Rich in nutrients – vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals oh my! – you will also improve your immune system.

Use them as building blocks for meal planning throughout the year. As a start, pick one of these salads to make each week for the next four weeks.

CAVEAT! – Every body is unique. A mega dose of salad may not be best for everyone. If you have gut health issues all these raw veggies may be too much for your system. This is where mindful eating and a Food and Mood Diary come in. Eat a small serving. Pay attention to what you eat and how you feel. For at least 5 – 7 days write down what you ate and how your body feels.

Seriously Delicious Detox Salad Gimme Some Oven


  • Use dark leafy greens (spinach, arugula, red leaf lettuce) instead of kale
  • Shredded beets or apple instead of carrots
  • Other nuts instead of almonds

Rainbow Power Greens Black-Eye Peas SaladCotter Crunch
This salad is similar to the previous one. I share this one

  • because of the collard greens – so important to expand beyond eating the same greens ones over and over. Each one has different nutrients though they may look the same
  • for the combination of beans and quinoa, an easy and powerful way to boost nutrient-density!


  • Add green onion or some finely sliced or chopped red onion; the synergy of greens and onions boosts your immune system
  • Use other dark leafy greens instead of collard greens – Swiss chard or kale
  • Switch out black-eyed peas for other beans (black beans, cannellini beans, even lentils)
  • Use other grains (brown rice, barley, faro)
  • Add herbs – parsley, cilantro are easy options

Kale Detox SaladWell and Full

I share this one for the roasted vegetables and the pesto. Easy to make with leftover roasted vegetables and store bought pesto. You can use any herb to make pesto; cilantro helps remove heavy metals and protects against oxidative stress. Make a double batch of pesto and use it:

  • On roasted fish, on chicken breast
  • On a wrap with roasted veggies, chicken, fish or even steak
  • Mix into goat cheese, for snack with veggies and seed crackers
  • Add to a vinaigrette and make it into a salad dressing


  • Change out the veggies. I use sweet potatoes rather than fingerling because that’s what I usually have
  • Add additional roasted veggies; I always double up when roasting any vegetable to use in salads or wraps later
  • You can skip the rice unless you have leftovers, or use other leftover grains: quinoa and barley are my favorites

Super Food Detox SaladFit Foodie Finds

Yes, I chopped this by hand. For me cooking can me a mindful meditation practice. It’s a major mind shift to go from cooking being an obligation to considering it a privilege. Far too many people go hungry each day.

I share this salad for its Brussels sprouts. Often people who don’t like cooked Brussels sprouts discover they like them raw.  And sharing for the almonds too. Almost all my salads have nuts or seeds -one of the most nutrient dense food categories – and loaded with vital brain nutrients.


  • Having highlighted the Brussels sprouts, it seems contradictory so suggest another cruciferous vegetable, but a) they are not always available and b) there are only so many Brussels sprouts salad even the most enthusiast eater can eat – so, switch them out for shredded cauliflower or broccoli
  • Blueberries are a summer food, so in winter use pomegranate or shredded beet
  • Use dried cranberries instead of raisins
  • Any nut instead of almonds (or seeds — pumpkin, sunflower, sesame)

30 Healthy Salads – Dinner at the Zoo

A fabulous collection of delicious, nutritious salads – make one each week and you have 34 weeks of salads.

Let’s make it a delicious, nutritious year!

Which salad will you start with?

Updated from January 2022 post

January is for Detoxifying

January is an opportunity to “reset” for health and habits. December always brings excess sugar and flour, stress and craziness – happy crazy but crazy nonetheless. Smart eating, routines, and exercise go out the window. So how do I reset this first month of the year?

  • From the inside: Detoxify my body and my family through renewed menu planning and cooking.
  • On the outside: Detoxify my kitchen. Remove the candy, cookies, processed treats etc that crept into my pantry from Halloween to December. This “outside” detox, makes possible the inside detox and sets the playing field for healthy eating throughout the year

Detox sounds like a trend. But the human body has a miraculous capacity to detoxify and eliminate waste. The problem is the  explosion of processed and fast foods over the last century AND exposure to environmental pollutants humans never experienced before. “Detox” is a necessary conscious choice to support a natural process.

In a healthy body, the process of detoxification runs smoothly. But we’re exposed to a staggering amount of toxic chemicals in the air, water and our food (pesticides). Add to that, from Halloween in October through New Year’s Day we pile on excessive sugar, white flour (same inflammatory effect as sugar) and stress.

When excessive toxins build up,  our livers get overwhelmed;  toxins remain active longer than our systems can handle. This impedes normal metabolism, causes fluid retention, bloat, and puffiness. As waste builds up, we get fat and sick. Did you know that most environmental chemicals like pesticides and plastics are stored in our fat tissue?

“We are exposed to 6 million pounds of mercury and 2.5 billion pounds of other toxic chemicals each year. Very few have been tested for their long-term impact on human health.” Mark Hyman, 10 Day Sugar Solution

Why Detox?

Nearly every chronic disease is linked to toxicity, including food allergies, and digestive issues, dementia, heart disease, and autoimmune disease.

When our detoxification system becomes overloaded we start developing symptoms and get sick.  It may take years of accumulated toxins and stress to get to that point, but why take the chance of chronic, possibly fatal disease?

So January rings a bell in my head to recommit to a nourishing eating lifestyle. I know from experience that detoxifying makes me feel better, more vibrant, happy and full of energy. Adios fatigue, brain fog, headaches and lethargy!

Let’s reboot! Detox drinking water (half your body weight in ounces of water and with simple, delicious foods.

Foods that help detoxify

Focusing on plant-rich meals, quality protein and fats from nature. These are foods not only detoxify our body but can reignite our metabolism and reduce inflammation.

“70 to 80 percent of all major chronic diseases are lifestyle diseases, so the only way to treat them effectively, and even reverse them, is to change the lifestyles that led to them in the first place. Primarily that’s what we put in our mouth. The number one cause of death in the United States — and the number one cause of disability  — is our diet. Cigarettes now only kill about a half million Americans every year, whereas our diet kills hundreds of thousands more. Food — what we eat three times a day — is killing more Americans than cigarettes. Michael Greger, How to Not Die.

I’ve posted many times about the importance of phytonutrients (natural chemicals in plants to for survive against pests and infection). These phytonutrients can help detoxify our bodies, strengthen our immune system and help us function better. Eating organic food provides higher concentrations of these protective detoxifying, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory compounds.

So what to eat?

  • Organic green tea in the morning instead of coffee (green tea boosts liver detoxification)
  • Half your body weight  in filtered water a day (for example if you weight 140 lbs, aim for 70 oz of water); prepared herbal detoxification teas are a nice option
  • Avoid white sugar and white flour
  • Eat detoxifying food: 8 to 10 servings of dark leafy greens and colorful produce daily,  (kale, spinach, arugula, Swiss Chard etc), cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower), garlic, berries, celery, cilantro and rosemary
  • Eat clean. Focus on organic produce and high-quality animal products to eliminate the toxins, hormones, and antibiotics in our food
  • Add lots of detoxifying and anti-inflammatory herbs and spice like turmeric, cayenne pepper, thyme, rosemary, chili powder, cumin, sage, oregano, onion powder, cinnamon, coriander, cilantro, paprika, and parsley – hello ethnic foods! …curry, chili, tagines…)
  • Fast at least 12 – 14 hours from dinner to the first meal the next day

Food choices help enable important normal detoxification mechanisms. Fasting signals our immune system to discard old cells and waste, shifting our body into a mode of maintenance and repair.

“The body has detoxification mechanisms that are working all the time, both healthful eating and intermittent fasting accelerates those processes. The body enhances the removal of toxins when not digesting food and burning fatter for its energy needs. Our fat supply stores toxins, and when we lose body fat we release more toxic waste simultaneously. The body also needs adequate phytochemical and antioxidants for the liver to most effectively process fat-soluble toxins so they can be excreted via the urine. Fasting stimulates autophagy, an important self-repair process. Autophagy removes damaged components from cells and tissues.” Joel Fuhrman, How To Live



3 Breakfast Smoothies: Antioxidant, Digestive Healer and Energizer

Golden Tumeric Chia Pudding

Overnight Oats for a Gentle Digestive Cleanse

Overnight Date Oats with Berries

Cozy Pumpkin Porridge


African Coconut Garbanzo Soup

Spicy Kale and Garbanzo Soup

Tumeric Broth Detox Soup

Oh She Glows Green Soup

Chili and Curry 

Red Lentil Curry

Golden Yellow Lentil Dahl


Baked Paleo Meatballs with Kale Pesto

Veggie Loaded Tikka Masala

Quinoa Kale Pesto Bowl


Kale, Apple Salad

Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad

Probiotic Beet and Red Cabbage

Master Green Detox Salad


For More Empowerment

Dr. Hyman: The Truth about Detoxification

Includes 10 Simple Steps to Enhance Detoxification

Dr. Hyman: 7 Reasons to Detoxify

Dr. Hyman: Ultimate Detoxification Foods

Dr. Axe: Detox Diet

24-Hour Ginger Detox Cleanse Meal Plan

Eating Clean: The 21 Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation and Reset Your Body


Originally posted January 2019

4 Holiday Anti-Inflammatory Soups

‘Tis the season of overeating.  Delicious, nutrient-dense soups help flush out toxins from your body and reduce inflammation. The anti-inflammatory and immune-protective micronutrients in rainbow foods and spices support your body’s natural detoxifying and defensive abilities. These soups are also an effective great way to prevent:

  • constant cookie nibbling
  • waylaid dinner plans

Ahoy the marvelous combinations of GBOMB nutrient-density stars Greens, Beans and Onions!

[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”right” source_author=”Joel Fuhrman, MD” source_title=”Super Immunity” full_quote=”GBOMBS – an acronym that you can use to remember the best anti-cancer, health-promoting foods on the planet. These are the foods that you should eat every day, making up a significant proportion of your diet. They are extremely effective at preventing chronic disease, including cancer and promoting health and longevity.” short_quote=”GBOMBS – an acronym that you can use to remember the best anti-cancer, health-promoting foods on the planet. These are the foods that you should eat every day, making up a significant proportion of your diet. “]

Yay for mighty spices! Ounce for ounce the flavor compounds in spices have more anti-inflammatories and antioxidants than any other food group. Make or buy spice blends to pack an extra power in each bite. Spice blends

  • increase your intake of essential micronutrients
  • enhance the anti-inflammatory benefits
  • provide a balance of flavors for great tasting food

Think global “flavorprints” – herbs and spices associated with cuisines from different parts of the world

  • Asian
  • Mediterranean
  • Middle Eastern
  • Moroccan

Double these recipes to enjoy throughout the week. Or after the first meal, freeze in mason jars for individual servings to defrost as needed.

[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”right” source_author=”Rebecca Katz” source_title=”The Healthy Mind Cook Book” full_quote=”When using dried herbs and spices add them at the beginning of the process. Heat, especially in combination with a bit of fat, like olive oil, breaks down the oils in the spices and releases them into the food. These oils carry much of the taste and with it the healing benefits of the spice. Fresh herbs like cilantro, mint and parsley are best added at the end to retain maximum flavor and color.” short_quote=”When using dried herbs and spices add them at the beginning “]

Winter Detox Moroccan Sweet Potato Lentil Soup –  Little Spice Jar

The Moroccan flavorprint (cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric) makes a powerful anti-inflammatory combination. And a sensory delight. Inhale the aromatic fragrance while it is cooking. Hold the warm bowl in your hands knowing it will warm you up from the inside out. Savor each bite for its texture, its flavor and its nourishment.

This recipe is for a slow cooker, but you can make it in a pot on the stove. It’s ready in 45 minutes.


  • Use pre-diced butternut squash chunks in place of sweet potato
  • Use (organic) canned beans (garbanzo, cannellini or kidney beans) instead of brown lentils
  • Add ground beef or turkey at the beginning when cooking the onion.
  • Top with chopped nuts (pistachio for an extra treat!) and mint or parsley

Tumeric Broth Detox Soup – Feasting at Home

Did you know tumeric is used in Ayurveda to calm, soothe and aid the body in balancing and healing itself?

The Indian flavorprint (chilies, cumin, curry, garlic, turmeric, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, anise seeds, cloves, mustard seeds) loads this soup with powerful inflammation fighters that give the liver (I see you holiday cocktails!) a little help.

This is an awesome base recipe that can be changed up many ways:

  • Add greens and legumes or basmati rice and lentils
  • Add leftover chicken, rice and spinach
  • Add shrimp and rice noodles

Green Goddess SoupGimme Some Oven

Ever since she was a toddler, my daughter would ask for sopa verde (green soup). To this day it’s still one of her favorites.

Bursting with a triple dose of mighty greens, onions and beans. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower are in the greens category of GBOMBS. They are loaded with health enhancing enhancing power, including boosting our liver detox enzymes. The lemon really makes a difference both for flavor and detox assistance. Zest the lemon for an extra health boost.

Add toppings for contrast in texture and more nutrient density

  • chopped cilantro (or parsley)
  • sunflower seeds (pumpkin seeds or chopped nuts)
[su_expanding_quote_web alignment=”full” source_site=”Well and Good” source_url=”” full_quote=”The lemon peel contains small amounts of calcium, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. They’re good for your immune system and digestive system. ” short_quote=”The lemon peel contains small amounts of calcium, vitamin C, potassium”]

Ginger Garlicky Chicken SoupRebecca Katz

Chicken soup is my everlasting comfort soup. Variations roam from a simple pot with only a whole chicken, onions, garlic, carrots and celery to putting in an enthusiastic, robust range of rainbow vegetables, herbs and spices.

This recipes is an especially anti-inflammatory recipe. Rebecca Katz is one of my all-time food gurus. She truly is THE master at maximizing flavor, nutrient-density and health boosting properties in every bite. Her books The Healthy Mind Cookbook, and Cancer Fighting Kitchen are some of my go-to resources on global flavor prints and culinary pharmacy.

What are your favorite  soup recipes?

For More Empowerment

25 Foods for Detox: Eat This Not That

The Ultimate Detoxification Foods: Dr. Mark Hyman

Originally published December 2020 

10 Nutrient-Rich Pancake Recipes

You can boost your brain health by eating more carbs from nature. These pancakes recipes are a great way to transition from refined flour/baked good breakfasts to more plants and macronutrient balance. This gives you stable energy and more brain essential vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.

Pancake toppings

  • Add a dollop of grass-fed butter. Drizzle with real maple syrup.
  • Puree 1 cup of defrosted raspberries or mixed berries (add honey to sweeten to taste)
  • Spread with nut butter and sliced fresh seasonal fruit on top: berries, mango, peach, pear
  • Mix plain grass-fed Greek yogurt with honey to taste, sprinkle chopped nuts on top
  • Mix a tablespoon or two of cream cheese with honey – or raspberry/strawberry preserves-  to taste and spread on top
  • Make “sammie”, a pancake sandwich with above cream cheese, Greek yogurt or peanut/almond butter. Cut in half or in quarters for little hands
  • Berry Chia Jam – Gimme Some Oven

Skip Aunt Jemima and fake “maple” syrup. High fructose corn syrup is an industrial food product, far from “natural” and bad for your health.

[su_expanding_quote_web alignment=”right” source_site=”Dr. Axe” source_url=”” full_quote=”Similar to the contrast between whole and refined grains, unrefined natural sweeteners like maple syrup contain higher levels of beneficial nutrients, antioxidants and phytochemicals than white table sugar or high fructose corn syrup. When used in appropriate amounts, maple syrup nutrition benefits can include the ability to lower inflammation, supply nutrients and better manage blood sugar.” short_quote=”Unrefined natural sweeteners like maple syrup contain higher levels of beneficial nutrients, antioxidants and phytochemicals than white table sugar or high fructose corn syrup.”]

Adjust the recipes to use whole-wheat and/or spelt flour instead of all-purpose flour. You can also replace 1/4 or 1/2 cup of  flour for oats for more fiber and micronutrients.

If a recipe calls for buttermilk

  • mix 1 cup milk with 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
  • let it sit 10 – 15 minutes before mixing in.

After weekend breakfast, place remaining pancakes in a Ziploc bag with parchment paper in between the pancakes. This prevents them from freezing together. Remember to label and date the bag!

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Pancakes

Berries and Nut Pancakes

Carrot Cake Pancakes

Cottage Cheese Pancakes from Weelicious

This is a great way to add protein into your pancakes.

Pumpkin Pancakes from Cooking Classy


  • Replace all-purpose from with 1 cup whole-wheat flour and 1 cup spelt flour i
  • Reduce sugar from 1/4 cup to 2 tablespoons.

Rasperwee Pancakes from Weelicious


  • Use half whole-wheat flour and spelt flour
  • Replace agave with honey or brown sugar

Red Beet Pancakes from Weelicious

Smoothie Pancakes from Jamie Oliver

Sweet Potato Pancakes

Green Vegan Pancakes from Weelicious


  • reduce the baking soda from 1 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon
  • use coconut oil instead of vegetable oil

Which pancakes are you going to make?

Nut Crusted Salmon

This nutrient dense, delicious recipe is also good brain food.

Salmon is rich in Omega-3 essential fatty acids that

  • help build brain cells
  • fight inflammation in the brain and
  • increase production of brain growth hormones that give your brain the ability to grow and change

Nuts have a mix of protein, healthy fats and slow-burning carbohydrates. They’re also rich in fiber, zinc, iron and essential vitamins.

You can add veggies tossed with olive oil, sea salt and minced garlic to roast with the salmon. Some of my favorites are:

  • asparagus
  • green beans
  • broccoli

Leftovers make a filling second meal.

  • Toss roasted salmon and veggies with greens, add rainbow vegges (carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes, etc)
  • Add to a grain bowl, mix in additional veggies and drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette or pesto
  • Make a wrap with pesto and greens

Good Mood Rainbow Foods

What colors are on your plate? How many colors from nature do you eat each day?

Rainbow vegetables and fruits are powerful brain foods. They provide the micronutrients necessary for your physical and mental health:

Rich in powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and DNA-enhancing properties, they fuel your brain, provide essential nutrients and reduce inflammation. There is a strong link between inflammation, mood, and mental health.

Loaded with fiber, these foods also feed the good bacteria in your gut.  The trillions of bacteria in your gut influence your mood, brain functions and mental health. Rainbow foods are good mood foods.

[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”full” source_author=”Drew Ramsey, MD” source_title=”Eat to Beat Depression and Anxiety” full_quote=”Mother Nature created a world full of brightly colored fruits and vegetables – all with their own unique phytonutrients to promote health. These rainbows – sometimes referred to as “brainbows” – are chockful of fiber and phytonutrients. Flavonoids are responsible for the bright colors. Purple foods like eggplant and berries, boast phytochemicals called anthocyanins, which have amazing anti-inflammatory properties. Orange options like carrots and sweet potatoes, get their sunny color from, which convert into brain-boosting vitamin A. Reds – from strawberries to tomatoes – signal lycopene, an antioxidant dynamo.” short_quote=”Mother Nature created a world full of brightly colored vegetables, all with their own unique phytonutrients to promote health”]

Here is a quick list of rainbow foods, and reasons to eat them. How many of these foods do you eat?

Greens are SO nutrient-dense, I’ve written about them separately — Good Mood Leafy Greens. and 10 Ways to Boost Your Mood with Leafy Greens. Aim to eat greens every day.


Colors Foods Benefits
Red Beets

Cherries / Cranberries

Kidney beans

Red apples and pears

Red bell peppers

Red cabbage


Red potatoes

Red quinoa



Improves memory and mood

Decrease brain fog

Improves digestion

Improves heart health

Lowers blood pressure

Orange Carrots


Peaches /apricots




Butternut squash

Sweet potatoes

Improves digestion

Boosts immunity

Helps cells communicate

Prevents cellular damage

Improves better cognitive performance reduces risk of cognitive decline

Purple Blueberries / Blackberries




Purple grapes

Purple carrots

Purple cabbage

Purple potatoes

Black quinoa

Black beans

Improves memory

Improves circulation

Boosts brain activity

Boosts immunity

Improves digestion

Blood sugar regulation

White Onions / garlic









White radishes

White beans

Reduces blood pressure

Boosts immunity

Helps new cell growth

Improves blood circulation

Helps detoxification

Protects cells

What to Do?

Which fruits and veggies do you regularly eat?  What can you add to build a rainbow in your meals?

  • Identify opportunities to make small, positive changes.
  • Find ways to build a rainbow in every meal.
  • Expand your palate and maximize the range of nutrients that are beneficial to your brain.
  • Eat for pleasure. Eat for life!

Here are a couple of ways to put more colors on your plate:

Bean Salads

Potato Salads

Grain Bowls – Wholefully

Sheet Pan Dinners – Cooking Classy

Sheet Pan Dinners

[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”full” source_author=”Leslie Korn” source_title=”Nutrition Essentials for Mental Health” full_quote=”Eat all the colors of the “brainbow”. Eat whole, nutrient-dense foods from the whole color spectrum to obtain your nutrients. Preparing fresh food is an act of self-nourishment, emotionally as well as physically. The stressors of modern-day life cause us to dissociate from the simple, self-care rituals that invigorate us. Food gathering, preparation, and sharing is a ritual that when done well, leads is into a parasympathetic state of relaxation and provides the endorphin rush of attachment and connection.” short_quote=”Eat whole, nutrient-dense foods from the whole color spectrum to obtain your nutrients.”]

Next Steps

  • Aim for at least 3 – 4 colors on your plate each meal
  • List the fruits and veggies you regularly eat
  • Try 1 new veggie each week
  • Find new ways with a veggie you love
    • Breakfast smoothie
    • Grain bowl
    • Roasted, pureed, shredded
  • Share! Let me know how it goes. I’d love to cheer you on 😊

Updated from August 2021 post.

4 Nutrient-Dense Breakfast Casseroles

Cereal and juice, toast and coffee – standard American breakfast staples – quickly convert to glucose (blood sugar). High blood sugar, especially first thing in the morning, sets you up for a blood sugar roller coaster that can continue throughout the day and night.

This affects your energy, focus and mood. These blood sugar roller coaster also wreak havoc on your body (cells, tissues, organs) as it tries to balance the blood sugar and insulin racing around. (Insulin is the hormone your body uses to store excess glucose.) Chronically high blood sugar and insulin cause inflammation. Chronic inflammation leads to metabolic diseases like diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular and even Alzheimer’s.

Breakfast casseroles provide a nutrient dense balance of macronutrients and a variety of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals) to balance your blood sugar for stable, steady energy. This will also improve your focus, your mood and boost your immune system and brain function.

  • Protein provides building blocks for your tissues, antibodies that strengthen your immune system, insulin and glucagon that regulate your blood sugar and energy levels, and for neurotransmitters that affect your memory, focus and more
  • Fats are essential for numerous functions and structures such as your hormones and provides slow burning energy. They also help you absorb soluble vitamins (A, D, E & K), slow down digestion and regulate hunger
  • Carbs: Carbs are a quick source of fuel for your muscles and brain, provide fiber for healthy gut bacteria, slows down your digestion and helps regular elimination of waste. Combined with fat and protein, carbs help your body fight infections, grow new body tissue (bones and skin) and lubricate our joints

These casseroles are based on eggs, which are a powerhouse of nutrients:

  • 5 – 7 grams of protein per egg
  • brain healthy B vitamins
  • essential minerals calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, manganese
  • important lesser-known nutrients like choline an essential nutrient that improves cognitive function and disease fighting nutrients like lutein and zeaxanthin. These anti-inflammatory carotenoids may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration, decrease cancer risks, and improve cardiovascular health

So versatile! Omnivore or vegetarian. Change them up with additional/different veggies, herbs and spices for more flavor and nutrient density

  • Leafy greens and cruciferous family of vegetables are some of nature’s most nutrient dense foods
  • Rainbow vegetables provide a wide diversity of essential micronutrients. Each color (green, red, orange, white) represents a whole family of immune boosting and healing compounds
  • Flavor compounds in herbs and spices are powerful antioxidants and many also have antibacterial, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties
[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”full” source_author=”Sarah Ballantyne MD” source_title=”Paleo Principles: The Science Behind the Paleo Template” full_quote=”Nutrient dense refers to the concentration of nutrients (vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, essential fatty acids, and essential amino acids per calorie of food. The Standard American Diet is energy-rich, but it’s also nutrient-poor: the types of food that many people eat each day are high in added sugars, refined grains, and industrially processed oils, but lack the vitamins and minerals (and other health-promoting compounds) found in whole foods. The result is a high prevalence of nutrient deficiency” short_quote=”Nutrient dense refers to the concentration of nutrients per calorie of food”]

Make a double recipe Saturday or Sunday to have leftovers for breakfast or lunch during the week.

Traditional strata – Color My Food

Strata is a brunch dish made from a mixture of bread and egg giving it a custard-like texture. There are innumerable variations using different vegetables, meat (sausage, ham) and/or cheese. The name strata (layers) comes from layering the bread with filling. Prep the day before and chill overnight. Bake in the morning.

Potato-based Casserole Well Plated

Skip the bread, use potatoes. You can also use sweet potatoes instead for extra nutrients. Use leftovers
Add additional spices (like cumin, chili, paprika) and/or fresh, chopped herbs (such as basil, cilantro or parsley)

Hash Brown Casserole Two Healthy Kitchens

Frozen hash browns are a helpful staple. Just remember to defrost them first. Mix hash browns into the mixture OR use them as a base and pour your egg mixture over like with a strata.


Mexican Breakfast CasseroleThe Gracious Wife

This recipe I make for brunch with friends, or when family staying with us. It is always a huge hit – with or without the sausage.

Do you have a favorite breakfast casserole?


  1. Haas, Elson M, (2006).  Staying Healthy with Nutrition, New York, NY: Random House Inc.
  2. Ballantyne, Sarah, (2017). Paleo Principles: The Science Behind the Paleo Template, Canada, Victory Belt Publishing Inc.
  3. Sharma, Praveen. “Inflammation and the Metabolic Syndrome. “Indian Journal of Clinical Biochemistry : IJCB, Springer-Verlag, Oct. 2011,
  4. Shoelson, Steven E, et al. “Inflammation and Insulin Resistance. “The Journal of Clinical Investigation, American Society for Clinical Investigation, July 2006,

Nourishing Breakfast Classes for You

Do you struggle to get moving in the morning? Are you stuck in a rut with breakfast? Eating nutrient dense foods can help you and your family feel better physically, mentally and emotionally. This online breakfast class series is designed to help you create sustainable habits to help lower your risks of disease, and improve energy, focus, mood.

Thursdays at 11 am CST

Register today 😊

Class 1: Awesome Oats and Ancient Grains
Cereal is a Standard American Diet staple. Oat-based breakfasts make an easier transition to more nutrient-dense meals for balanced energy, improved focus and strengthened immune system.

You will learn how to

  • leverage key nutrition concept to obtain nutrient density (more nutrients per calorie)
  • improvise using the ingredients in your kitchen based on your personal preferences and family favorites
  • alternate or replace with other ancient grains such as quinoa and buckwheat

You will get 4 core recipes that you can spin off into different variations

  • Nutritious cake-inspired oatmeal
  • Savory oats
  • Baked oats
  • Overnight oats

Class 2: Egg-Powered Breakfasts
Eggs are a powerhouse of nutrients: 5 grams of protein per egg are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Combining eggs with plant foods increases not only nourishment for your body and stable energy, but also satiety – keeping you fuller longer. Bye-bye snacking!

You will learn

  • Tips and tricks to bring leafy greens, vegetables, herbs, and spices into your eggs in delicious, nutritious combinations
  • How to jumpstart nutritious breakfast with dinner leftovers

You will get 4 core recipes

As well as tips to make different variations. Recipes can be either omnivore or vegetarian. Make them on the weekend and have breakfast ready to go on busy mornings

  • Breakfast Casserole, including overnight options
  • Frittatas and Omelets
  • Quiche (no crust, nutritious crust options (hash brown, sweet potato, quinoa, or cauliflower crust)
  • Quinoa Muffins

Class 3: Nutrient-Dense Pancakes and Muffins
Pancakes, waffles, and muffins are breakfast staples in most U.S. households.

You will learn

  • how to load them with veggies, protein, and fiber instead of highly refined flour and sugar
  • increase nutrient-density with nuts/seeds and spices
  • top them with brain-healthy berry purees, chia “jam” and other nutritious options

You will get 5 core recipes to spin into different variations

  • Whole-wheat pancakes
  • Oat-based pancakes
  • Gluten-free pancakes
  • Fruit muffins
  • Savory muffins

Class 4: Sweet Potato Round Up
Part of the good mood orange food family, sweet potatoes are loaded with an abundance of disease-fighting nutrients essential for health. They are rich in:

  • Vitamins A, C and E (one sweet potato has 5x the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A)
  • Minerals such as magnesium and potassium. Potassium helps maintain fluid and electrolyte balance in your body’s cells, 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 boosts your immune system

You will learn

  • how to load them with veggies, protein, and fiber instead of highly refined flour and sugar
  • increase nutrient-density with nuts/seeds and spices
  • top them with brain-healthy berry purees, chia “jam” and other nutritious options

You will get 4 core recipes to make different variations

  • Sweet potato breakfast bowl
  • Sweet potato breakfast hash
  • Sweet potato waffles, “traditional” or savory
  • Breakfast stuffed sweet potatoes

Breakfast Series Bonus!
When you complete the series, you will get a Breakfast Meal Planner Template to help you build a sustainable, nourishing breakfast routine.

What is your favorite breakfast?

5 Good Mood Red Cabbage Recipes

In a farewell to February and a tribute to red/purple foods, here is a round up of delicious, nutritious red cabbage recipes. Cabbage is one of the most nutrient-dense foods. Purple cabbage has additional powerful phytochemicals (natural chemical compounds in plants) called anthocyanins that are good for your brain.

[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”full” source_author=”Drew Ramsey, MD” source_title=”Eat to Beat Depression and Anxiety” full_quote=”I want to give a special shout-out to anthocyanins, the compounds you can find in reddish-purplish foods ranging from blackberries to red cabbage. I don’t like to play favorites, but these molecules are something special. These flavonoids have long been known to exhibit extraordinary anti-inflammatory properties. They have also been linked to improved memory and mood states.” short_quote=”These flavonoids exhibit extraordinary anti-inflammatory properties. They have also been linked to improved memory and mood states”]


Shred a whole cabbage in a food processor to use throughout the week. In addition to using in these meals you can

  • Add a handful into leafy green salads
  • Replace rice with the shredded cabbage and use base for curry, bean dishes
  • Add a handful on top of chili or bean soups

Nutrient-Dense Cabbage Mushroom Ramen Soup – Color My Food

Creamy Red Cabbage Soup – Easy Healthy Recipes
Topping options

  • Micro greens or chopped parsley
  • Toasted pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds

Braised Red Cabbage – Maria Ushakova
I made this with Roasted Pork Tenderloin, a classic pairing with cabbage in Germany and Austria. The leftover braised cabbage I mixed, about 1/4 cup or so, into leafy green salads.

Roasted Red Cabbage and Brussels Sprouts – Color My Food

This is so pretty. And super nutrient dense!


  • Use broccoli instead of Brussels sprouts
  • With or without potatoes
  • Use sweet potatoes instead of potatoes
  • Experiment! What other veggies could you add?

Pesto Roasted Cauliflower and Purple Cabbage – Sanity of Lack Thereof

I never thought I’d ever say I am crazy for cauliflower. Yet here I am. Especially for roasted cauliflower. Yum! When I learned how powerful cauliflower is for our immune system, I set out to find ways to make it taste good. Suddenly I have found so many possibilities!  This is an especially nutrient-dense recipe because it has both cauliflower and red cabbage.
Pesto is a favorite in our house. I always make a double batch to use later in the week:

  • on roasted fish or broiled chicken breasts
  • spread on toast and broiled with tomato for breakfast with goat cheese on top
  • a generous dollop mixed into salad
  • on a tortilla wrap with greens, olives and goat cheese


Nut Crusted Salmon

This nutrient dense, delicious recipe is also good brain food.

Salmon is rich in Omega-3 essential fatty acids that

  • help build brain cells
  • fight inflammation in the brain and
  • increase production of brain growth hormones that give your brain the ability to grow and change

Nuts have a mix of protein, healthy fats and slow-burning carbohydrates. They’re also rich in fiber, zinc, iron and essential vitamins.

You can add veggies tossed with olive oil, sea salt and minced garlic to roast with the salmon. Some of my favorites are:

  • asparagus
  • green beans
  • broccoli

Leftovers make a filling second meal.

  • Toss roasted salmon and veggies with greens, add rainbow vegges (carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes, etc)
  • Add to a grain bowl, mix in additional veggies and drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette or pesto
  • Make a wrap with pesto and greens

Nutrient-Dense Cabbage Mushroom Ramen Soup

This delicious immune-boosting, brain-healthy, cancer-fighting soup combines some of nature’s most nutrient-dense foods.


Cabbage, part of the nutrient-dense cruciferous family, is rich in vitamin K which can help boost memory. Red cabbage has additional antioxidant phytochemicals that protect neurons from damage caused by oxidative stress. These flavonoids can also help improve mood and memory.


Ginger has proven anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. It is digestive aid that helps breakdown of protein, and it soothes the gastrointestinal tract.  It can also help cognitive functioning, focus and memory.


Nutrient-dense mushrooms are rich in essential brain nutrient B vitamins and minerals like zinc and manganese. There are several immune-boosting ingredients empower your body to react quickly and powerfully when we are exposed to disease-causing pathogens such as viruses and bacteria.

Onions and Garlic

Throughout history people recognized onions and garlic offered immune protection and could help them get well faster when they got sick. Onions and garlic are rich in:

  • anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds
  • antioxidant flavonoids shown to boost memory and protect neurons from injury
  • brain essential B vitamins


Seaweeds are one of the best foods to obtain essential minerals. The high mineral content supports nervous system function. They also contain high amounts of vitamins, as well as protein.

Sesame seeds

Rich in calcium and abundant in other minerals, particularly zinc and iron, sesame seeds also provide vitamin E.

Crunchy Healthy Broccoli Salad

Some of the most nutrient-dense (nutrients per calorie) foods on the planet are:

  • Greens (including cruciferous like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage)
  • Beans
  • Onions
  • Mushrooms
  • Berries
  • Seeds/Nuts

Eating lots of these vegetables give us optimal amounts of immune-protective micronutrients that can fend of disease.

This salad combines 4 of those superfoods: broccoli, onions, nuts, and berries. It’s a delicious, nutritious way to eat more broccoli and change up dinner salad from leafy greens. Leftovers make a great lunch topped with some chicken and/or leftover grains.


  • Add leftover bacon, chopped
  • Add avocado, diced
  • Use pumpkin or sunflower seeds instead of nuts
  • Use raisins or other dried fruit instead of cranberries
  • Add 1/2 cup chopped cilantro or parsley
  • Mix in arugula or baby spinach for a more robust salad
  • Add leftover quinoa, brown rice or other grain for a “meal salad”
  • Top with leftover chicken

Delicious No-Oats Oatmeal

Granted it’s not oatmeal but what else to call it? Creamy and satisfying, nutrient-dense and RESTART friendly, this paleo cereal made itself a permanent part of my breakfast rotation. Add “cake-inspired” toppings for visual delight, gratifying contrast of texture and increased nutrient-density.

  • Carrot Cake
  • Lemon Blueberry
  • Apple Pie

What other combinations could you try? Isn’t it a whole new spin on breakfast?!

Veggie-Loaded Egg Bake

Plant-rich and nutrient-dense, use this as a base recipe and mix it up with different vegetables. Add sausage, smoked salmon, leftover chicken, or ground beef. Make a double recipe and enjoy it throughout the week for breakfast or lunch.


  • Finely slice kale or Swiss chard, instead of spinach
  • Replace basil with parsley or cilantro. Or other finely chopped herbs such as rosemary, thyme, dill or oregano. If using fresh herbs, use spinach as the greens as it is more neutral than other greens
  • Or use arugula for the greens and skip the fresh herbs
  • Use finely chopped broccoli instead of greens
  • Add other veggies: asparagus, cauliflower, peas, green beens…
  • Add leftover chicken, bacon, sausage, ground beef

Toppings (optional)

  • Chopped fresh herbs
  • Sliced avocado
  • Chopped jalapeño

Serve with green smoothie from Simple Green Smoothie, a bowl of berries or Orange and Pineapple Medley


White Bean Dip

We usually have hummus or bean dip in our house. It’s a quick snack with rice cakes, pretzels, carrot/celery sticks. Dips make a great sandwich or wrap spread, simply add shredded carrots, spinach (or other green like arugula, baby kale etc) and a sprinkle of pumpkin or sunflower seeds

It’s also an easy appetizer, served with pita or corn chips or to dress it up, spread on toast squares or triangles with a sprig of herb of choice (pending the variation)

Beans are a pantry staple. A can of white beans can be a dip in 10 minutes.


Variation 1: White Bean Black Olive Dip

  • Add 1/4 cup black olives, chopped

Variation 2: Southwest White Bean Dip

  • Add 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Add half a jalapeño, chopped

Variation 3: Herbed

  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary (or basil)

Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce

Cauliflower was a boring vegetable I pretty much ignored until I discovered its exceptional health boosting powers.

[su_expanding_quote_book source_author=”Michael Greger MD” source_title=”How to Not Die” full_quote=”Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and kale can potentially prevent DNA damage, activate defenses against pathogens and pollutants, help prevent lymphoma, boost liver detox enzymes and target breast cancer cells. The component responsible for these benefits is thought to be sulforaphane, which is formed almost exclusively in cruciferous vegetables.” short_quote=”Cruciferous vegetables can potentially prevent DNA damage, activate defenses against pathogens and pollutants, and help prevent cancer”]

And Alfredo sauce was something I avoided as heavy, fatty and too white. I like color in my food after all. But my family loves Alfredo sauce.

This recipe happily marries the benefits of cauliflower with my family’s eating pleasure. Simple and quick to make, it can also be a vegan Alfredo sauce.

Recipe Variations

  • Use almond milk or broth for a lighter meal
  • Use dairy milk for a creamier sauce
  • Add 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan for a special treat

Serving Variations

  • Toss with whole-wheat fettuccini, cooked shrimp and peas
  • Toss with bowtie pasta, chopped up leftover chicken and sautéed mushrooms
  • Saute sliced onion, sliced red bell pepper and coarsely chopped kale and toss with pasta
  • Toss with steamed edamame and pasta

White Bean and Kale Stew

I may be a little obsessed with nutrient-dense foods and repeating over and over again how greens, beans and onions are an immune-boosting power cocktail, but putting aside repetition, this soup is flavorful and sticks to the ribs.


  • Add other vegetables (bell pepper, a turnip, maybe a cup of chopped broccoli or cauliflower) depending on what is in my refrigerator
  • Garbanzo beans or kidney beans if that was on hand
  • Add sausage (cook with the chopped onions)
  • Add leftover cooked chicken when adding the kale
  • Use other greens (spinach, swiss chard) instead of kale

Turkey Sausage and Garbanzo Soup

Easy to make, simple and delicious this soup is protein-rich and light in carbs.

The original recipe is spicy but because of my daughter, rather than including the jalapeno in the soup itself, I chop it up put on top with the avocado and chopped cilantro when serving.


  • Instead of turkey sausage, use Italian sausage or Mexican chorizo
  • Instead of garbanzo, use white beans (or any other beans)
  • Add one or two chopped carrots
  • Add 1 chopped bell pepper (any color)
  • Add one potato, chopped smalle  so it doesn’t prolong  cooking time
  • The last 5 minutes, add spinach, kale or other chopped greens (swiss chard, mustard greens)

Soba Noodles with Mushroom and Cabbage

Cabbage does not sound exciting, but the flavors of this dish are marvelous!

I’m always looking for delicious ways to maximize the nutrients in our meals and this recipe fits the bill exceptionally well because it includes 5 of 6 GBOMBs (Greens, Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries, Seeds/Nuts), the most nutrient-dense foods.

Mushrooms and cabbage are powerful anti-cancer foods and this dish is loaded with them. It’s a quick dinner recipe, easily adapted to different ingredients.

Leftovers are even more delicious as the flavors meld and… it’s also yummy cold; double the recipe and voila! Lunch to take to work or to enjoy later in the week. So despite the most unattractive name of this recipe, it is a most attractive dish to make for many reasons.

[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”right” source_author=”Joel Fuhrman MD” source_title=”Super Immunity” full_quote=”Cruciferous vegetables (such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and turnips) have a unique chemical composition with proven and powerful immune-boosting effects and anticancer activity. A 20% increase in cruciferous vegetables intake corresponds to a 40% decrease in cancer rates…Mushrooms contain many unusual disease-fighting compounds that empower the body to react quickly and powerfully when we are exposed to viruses and bacteria. Frequent consumption of mushrooms can decrease the incidence of breast cancer by up to 60%. The combination of mushrooms and greens is a powerful anticancer cocktail. (Green vegetables include kale, cabbage, collards and cruciferous)” short_quote=”The combination of mushrooms and greens is a powerful anticancer cocktail”]


  • For family friendly-dinner, leave the Sriracha out of sauce and have it on the side
  • As is for a one-dish vegan dinner
  • Use any cabbage: purple, Napa, baby bok choy
  • Add other veggies: finely sliced carrot, broccoli, bell peppers etc
  • Replace soba noodles with udon or whole-wheat spaghetti
  • Add frozen shrimp, letting them cook in the steam from the veggies
  • Add leftover chicken, I’ve even added leftover steak, thinly sliced