Smart Tips and Delicious Recipes To Boost Your Mood

Health mag editor shares tips and picks for lasagna, Greek pizza and cookies.

March 22, 2008 — -- Today on "Good Morning America Weekend," Frances Largeman-Roth, senior food and nutrition editor at Health magazine, shared her tips for eating to boost your mood, and some delicious recipes to try at home.

Need an AM boost? Instead of that second cup of coffee, try an ounce of walnuts on top of yogurt with some berries mixed in. Largeman-Roth explained that walnuts have omega three fatty acids and contain biotin (a.k.a. vitamin H), which "helps you use the energy you get from other foods, helps you metabolize them."

Feeling blue? Try reaching for something green. "Several studies have found that if you lack folic acid, if you are not getting enough in your diet, it can lead to depression. So, stay happy by getting enough of it in your diet." Largeman-Roth also recommended sneaking it into foods you love, such as garden lasagna (recipe below), if you don't feel like eating straight asparagus spears.

Trying to unwind? Skip the glass of red wine and, instead, grab some spinach. Because spinach is very rich in magnesium — 40 percent of your daily need — it can actually have a relaxing effect. "It can lower your blood pressure, so you can eat it cooked or sneak it in by putting it on a pizza."

Having trouble sleeping? Though we all know turkey can help make you drowsy, hummus spread with some pita bread might just be a better option. "It's the combination of the carbohydrates in bread and the tryptophan in the chick peas ... because the carbohydrates increase the serotonin in your brain and helps you drift off to sleep."

Sweet tooth? Next time you crave a muffin, donut or something sweet, look for something with whole grain and brown sugar, instead of with refined sugar and flower. Largeman-Roth says that processed sugar will just cause you to crash, and suggests a healthier cookie recipe below.

Garden Lasagna

Prep: 30 minutes; Cook: 60 minutes

Ingredients:

1½ teaspoons olive oil

3½ cups (1 pound) chopped zucchini

1 cup chopped onion 2/3 cup chopped carrot

1½ cups fresh corn kernels or frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed

1 cup chopped fresh basil

½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

¼ cup all-purpose flour

3 cups 1% low-fat milk

1 cup 1% low-fat cottage cheese

½ cup (2 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Cooking spray

9 (about 5 ounces) no-boil lasagna noodles (such as Barilla)

1 cup (4 ounces) preshredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini, onion, and carrot; sauté 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from heat; stir in corn, basil, ¼ teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

3. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Place flour in a large saucepan; gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in cottage cheese, Parmesan, nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

4. Spread ½ cup white sauce in bottom of an 11- x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 3 noodles over sauce; top with half the vegetable mixture (about 2 cups) and one-third of the remaining white sauce (about 1 cup). Top with 3 noodles, remaining vegetable mixture, half the remaining sauce, and 3 more noodles. Spread the remaining white sauce over noodles. Cover with foil and bake at 400° for 25 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with mozzarella, and bake an additional 25 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand 15 minutes.

*Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 square of lasagna)

Nutritional Information:

CALORIES 346
FAT 9g (sat 5g,mono 3g,poly 1g)

PROTEIN 23g
CHOLESTEROL 27mg

CALCIUM 440mg

SODIUM 556mg
FIBER 4g

IRON 2mg
CARBOHYDRATE 44g

Greek-Style Pizza

Prep: 5 minutes; Cook: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

1 (12-inch) prepared pizza crust

½ cup pizza or spaghetti sauce

½ cup chopped bottled roasted yellow bell peppers

2½ ounces crumbled goat cheese

1¼ cups baby spinach leaves

Preparation:

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place pizza crust on a baking sheet. Spread pizza or spaghetti sauce over crust; top with roasted yellow peppers, crumbled goat cheese and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. 2. Bake 10 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Sprinkle spinach leaves evenly over the top of the hot pizza and cut into 8 equal slices.

*Yield: Makes 4 servings (serving size: 2 pizza slices)

Nutritional Information: CALORIES 346
FAT 7g (sat 4g,mono 1g,poly 0.0g)
PROTEIN 14g
CHOLESTEROL 15mg
CALCIUM 127mg

SODIUM 807mg
FIBER 9g
IRON 2mg

CARBOHYDRATE 60g

Oatmeal-Date-Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup whole-wheat flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1½ cups regular oats

½ teaspoon salt

1 lightly beaten egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup chopped pitted dates

3 ounces coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and add brown sugar. Stir until smooth. In a medium bowl, combine all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking soda, oats and salt. Combine the butter mixture with the dry ingredients, and add egg, vanilla and chopped dates. Fold in bittersweet chocolate. Mix well and spoon mixture by tablespoon-fulls out onto lightly greased (or silicone baking mat–covered) baking sheets. Bake for 12 minutes, until tops are dry to the touch.

*Yield: Makes 32 cookies (serving size: 1 cookie)