Mood Boosting Foods

It can happen to all of us…… the post holiday slump.  The frigid weeks of January that follow the hype, anticipation, and celebration of the holidays , can leave us feeling worn out and devoid of energy .  But whether you dine out or hibernate and cook at home, you can rise your body out of that slump with the help of various nutrients.

This post looks to highlight several ingredients which can still be found locally this time of year and share with you how we incorporate them on the Print. menu but also give you some recipes to use when you are cozy at home while the snow piles up and the temperatures drop.

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HERRINGS

Many people do not realize that herrings are very similar to sardines and thus can be used as a substitute in recipes.  I tried them in this Baked Sardines with Pepperonata recipe from Food & Wine but I subbed pickled beets for the peppers : http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Baked-Sardines-in-Pepperonata-51205500

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Or you can go the classic route and pickle them, which is a great option because they keep for a month in the fridge and make for an easy snack or quick meal.  These are some we made at Print. in red wine vinegar with juniper, onions, and dill and we serve with egg salad and dark Nordic Rye bread.

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Here is a basic recipe for Swedish Glassblowers Herring that can be tweaked with seasonings of your own liking and when they are pickled you can toss them in creme fraiche or sour cream for a richer cream style herring to which curry powder and apples make another excellent addition.

http://honest-food.net/2011/03/08/swedish-pickled-herring/

You may be wondering how this little fish has the ability to help you dodge the winter doldrums…. well, first off since they are a smaller fish and lower on the food chain they, according to Dr. Weil, “don’t  accumulate the contaminants that are so common in large, predatory fish. Furthermore, these fish haven’t been endangered by overfishing as some other species of fish have, so you can eat them with a clear environmental conscience. In fact, since predatory species have been vastly overfished, we have twice as many sardines today as we had 100 years go” (www.Dr.Weil.com).

Nutritionally speaking herrings are high in Omega-3 Fatty Acids which are , “ essential fats that also play an important role in normal brain development and function. Research indicates omega-3s down-regulate inflammation, and may help reduce the risk and symptoms of a variety of disorders influenced by inflammation, including heart attack, stroke, cancer, and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis” (www.drweil.com).

BRUSSELS SPROUTS

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These are obviously still on the stalk , which help keep the sprouts fresher and firmer.  You can still find them at the market on the stalk and if you get adventurous like many Chefs you can actually prepare the stalk too! At Print. we serve them sautéed and roasted in many of our dishes for the earthy unctuous flavor they add.

Furthermore, they add a lot of nutrients as brussels sprouts are not only high in Vitamins C and K, fiber, and most importantly they contain some of the highest levels of Phytochemical called glucosinate than any other vegetable. Glucosinate  has been proven in studies to detoxify the body and even prevent cancer. This information is detailed on the site World’s Healthiest Foods : http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=10

POTATOES

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I was surprised to read about all the health benefits of this often demonized starchy vegetable in the Recipes for Health section of the New York Times.  Martha Rose Shulman reminds us that in fact potatoes , especially when eaten with the skin on, are a great source of “ B vitamins and vitamin C, potassium and fiber, with some protein and lots of complex carbohydrates” (Shulman, New York Times).

Just like skins on fruits, potato skins also can hold a lot of pesticide and insecticide residue so it is important to choose organic or sustainably farmed spuds.

At Print. we roast and serve fingerlings alongside many proteins starting at breakfast through to dinner.  At home, cooking with potatoes can become mundane, so I am submitting a recipe for this unique Chinese dish where the spuds are shredded and stir fried with chilis and garlic and topped off with vinegary sauce, giving them a new texture and flavor profile (be sure to keep the skins on though) ;)   http://www.tastehongkong.com/recipes/hot-and-sour-potato-shreds/

Obviously, there are many foods that are high in nutrients and can help boost our bodies and minds, but I wanted to list a few of those that are locally available this time of year and sometimes are not thought of as super foods .  The reason that I did not mention the K- word …you probably can guess it….(kale) … is because it is actually getting harder to find locally as the ground begins to freeze . However some local growers are still harvesting some in hoop houses, particularly the heartier curly types.  We do serve a wonderful kale salad at Print. with Lacinato kale, local asian pears and spiced pumpkin seeds.  It is no wonder it is a top seller , when you learn that kale is not just all about hype and Brooklyn trend setting, the nutrients found in kale have ability to boost your mood.  If you are an avid kale nosher and want to read more about the hottest vegetable of the decade check out this article from NY times Magazine: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/20/magazine/who-made-that-kale.html?_r=0

Whatever you choose to consume, we wish you a happy, healthy, and fulfilling New Year!

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