We’ve reached the point in fall when we’ve turned back the clocks and are gearing up for the dark part of the year ahead…how are you feeling? I’m checking in because it’s especially important this time of year to be mindful of the increased risk of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which sets in for many of us and impacts our mental well-being.I’ve experienced it since I was a kid—I remember being 12 years old and noticing how (extra) sad I felt in the darker months. Even for a moody kid like me, it was a noticeable change I dreaded every year. It wasn’t until I was in school studying to become a dietitian in my mid-twenties that I started putting the pieces together and learning what could make me feel better.
Thankfully, there are several powerful mood-modifying foods which can keep us healthy through the winter months and combat the feelings of depression brought on by SAD. Some of these foods include yogurt, nuts, fruits and vegetables, and one of my favorites: salmon.
Not only is salmon an incredibly tasty and easy to prepare fish, but this superfood’s nutritional profile is hard to beat. A 3-ounce (or ~ 100g) serving of salmon is a great source of protein and provides Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin D. You can get the full scoop on salmon’s nutrients here.
Omega-3s in fatty fish like salmon have been shown to help offset the effects of the stress hormone cortisol and support a better mood and improved cognitive function. The Vitamin D salmon provides, helps offset the lack of sunlight we experience in the darker months of the year, supporting our immune system function. Furthermore, the tryptophan and Vitamin B12 in salmon have also been associated with improved mood, as tryptophan is a precursor to mood-regulating neurotransmitter serotonin. Lots to love!
In recent weeks, I’ve been revisiting one of my old favorite salmon recipes: Easy Miso Salmon.
Easy Miso Salmon
- 1 tbsp red or white miso paste
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lb wild salmon
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- To make miso marinade, whisk together miso paste, vinegar, garlic, maple syrup, and 1 tbsp olive oil. Pour over salmon and allow to marinate for at least an hour.
- Bake salmon until opaque, about 10-15 minutes. Season with lemon, salt, and pepper to taste.
I like to pair this recipe with a green cooked veggie (greens help boost folate, another important nutrient for mental health) and a complex carb like roasted sweet potato which supports stable serotonin levels, since the body uses carbs to help produce this mood-regulating neurotransmitter.
Looking for more salmon recipes? Another one of my favorites is my Stress-Busting Sheet Pan Dinner, which is the perfect meal to make when it’s been a long day and you want something easy, tasty and healthy for dinner.
I’d love to know if you try either of these salmon recipes or which salmon recipe is your go-to! Take a picture and tag me on Instagram @jesscordng Drop a comment below to let me know!