Saturday, 31 January 2015

Winter Wellness - Part 2

Last week I started my series on Winter Wellness and part one investigated which foods could help fend off a cold. Today I'm looking at how certain foods can boost your mood and beat the winter blues.

Sometimes it really does feel like the Winter drags on, there might not be any snow, but the days are short, cold, damp or icy. Recently we've been having a spell that's freezing cold one day, warmer the next (no ice in the morning) and then back to being cold the next day again but with an ice-chilling wind thrown into the mix! The weather just can't seem to make its mind up. You wake up in the dark and by the time you finish your days work and start your journey home its dark again. The Winter months are enough to get anyone down in the dumps, whether you're scraping the ice off your car or waiting in the cold and wet conditions for public transport, winter does seem to drag on. But wait, could there actually be a reason why you feel so drained of energy and feeling miserable? 

Enter Vitamin D! Vitamin D is made by our bodies from direct sunlight and in the winter months especially here in England where we have shorter days we are not exposed to enough direct sunlight. Even in the Summer months we will only be exposed to about four hours a day of direct sunlight and that's if we're outside! 

From the small amount of research I have undertaken it has been confirmed that you won't be able to eat your way through winter and get enough vitamin D, but I do have some good news. There is one food that does contain some vitamin D and I absolutely love it - those who know me well, will have already guessed - Yep its mushrooms! 

The amazing 'shroom is able to make vitamin D when it is exposed to ultraviolet light. But there is a downside, most mushrooms are grown in the dark and therefore do not contain vitamin D! However there are certain varieties that are grown in environments which use ultraviolet light to encourage the creation of vitamin D. We just have to find them! 

After a quick internet search Marks and Spencer came up trumps with their "Vitamin D Mushrooms". Their packaging says it all: "just one serving, (3 caps) of tasty vitamin D mushrooms provides 100% of your daily vitamin requirement".

One more reason to love the 'shrooms!

Other foods to ease the winter blues include:
Foods which are high in omega-3, magnesium and the B vitamins are the champions of well-being winter wellness! Vitamin B12 is an important vitamin as it's job includes helping produce brain chemicals that affect your mood.

Flax Seeds - These bad boys are one of the highest sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which over the years have said to be beneficial to your health in numerous ways, including the potential to influence your mood. Get sprinkling!

Chia Seeds - Another great source of omega-3's, important for brain health.

Hemp Seeds - Yet another great source of omega-3's with the added benefit that they also contain many B vitamins. It has also been reported that hemp seeds can improve your mood and even alleviate symptoms such as depression or anxiety.

Leafy Greens - Get munching on kale, the daddy of leafy greens! Other top leafy greens include spinach, swiss chard and other collard greens. They provide so many nutrients including high amounts of vitamin C, magnesium, B vitamins, calcium, fibre and omega-3's! Super Green Smoothie anyone?

Brazil Nuts - A great source of selenium, which affects your mood, insufficient levels of this nutrient can make you irritable, anxious and generally just feeling done in. 

Oats - Releasing their energy slowly thanks to their low glycaemic index, will keep your mood stable as well as your blood sugars.

Bananas - A good source of vitamin B6 and magnesium, which provides you with energy to help you combat the day.

Berries - I've added berries to the list as they help from the side lines. When you are already exhausted and have nothing left to give its very hard to stay upbeat, especially if stress hits, in any form. Berries are the stress busters, so when you need that extra help reach out for a handful of berries rather than your typical comfort food.

Avocados - Another helper from the sidelines is the beautiful creamy avocado, a great source of B vitamins which help combat stress. They also help to lower your blood pressure, which is great if you've blown your top! Make yourself some guacamole and chill....

Fortifed foods - Some foods such as Nutritional yeast (yummy cheesey flavour) are fortified with vitamin B12 and some cereals are fortified with vitamin D, just check the ingredients to make sure they are vegan.

Supplements - You may decide that taking a supplement is also beneficial to you, but that's a personal decision which I won't try and influence you on either way.

As you can see from the list above there are some foods which will help with your well-being as well as boosting your immune system. So lets get cooking and introduce or increase our intake of these foods into our diets.


Lunch - Winter Wellness Loaded 'Shrooms
(serves 2)


2 Tsp Flax seeds
6 Tsp Cold water 
30g Oats
1 pack M&S Vitamin D mushrooms
1 Clove of garlic
50g Kale (no thick stalks)
2 Tbsp Hemp seeds
2 Tbsp Ground almonds
3 Tbsp Nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp Chives, finely chopped
1 Tsp Soy sauce
Salt & Black pepper to taste


Mix the ground flax seed with the cold water until combined and place in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Place the oats into a food processor and whiz to a flour consistency and pour into a bowl.

De-stalk the mushrooms, trim the stalks and place in the food processor. Put the mushroom caps topside down on a baking tray and put to one side while you prepare the stuffing.

Add the garlic to the food processor and whiz until finely chopped. Add the kale and whiz again until the kale is cut into small pieces.

Tip the kale mixture into the bowl with the oat 'flour'.

Add the hemp seeds, ground almonds, nutritional yeast and salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.

Add the soy sauce and the chopped chives and give everything another good mix, it will start sticking together, which is what you want.

Spoon the mixture into the mushroom caps, pressing the mixture down as you go. You will have a fair amount of stuffing so pile it high!

Bake in a moderate oven for 20 - 30 minutes, if the tops start to brown, place some foil over the dish for the last 10 minutes or so.

 Enjoy on a bed of salad leaves, remember the darker the better! :o)

The loaded 'shrooms are great with a little tahini sauce, balsamic glaze or a little vegan mayonnaise or like me a combination!


Snack - Winter Wellness Happy Bites (Makes 16)
If you like sticky sweet treats, then sorry, these aren't for you, but remember refined sugar isn't that good for you! There is a little sweetness in there from the agave nectar and then when you bite into a piece of date or cranberry you get a little extra sweetness which I find is just enough to tickle your taste buds especially for breakfast on the run or a quick happy bite! 

1 Tbsp Ground Flax seed 
3 Tbsp Cold water
200g Oats, divided
20g Walnuts
40g Ground almonds
30g Chopped dates
20g Shelled hemp seeds
20g Milled Chia Seeds
15g Goji berries
15g Dried cranberries
2 Tsp Mixed Spice
2 Tsp Baking powder
2 Bananas
150ml Hemp milk
100g Silken tofu
1 Tbsp Agave nectar
2 Tsp Vanilla extract


Mix the ground flax seed with the cold water until combined and place in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Line a baking tray with grease proof paper so you can easily remove the happy bites after cooking.

Put 150g of the oats into a food processor and whiz to a flour consistency. Pour into a bowl with the remaining oats.

Add the walnuts to the food processor and whiz until finely chopped, pour into the bowl with the oats.

Add the remaining dry ingredients and give everything a good stir so it all combined.

Slice the bananas into the food processor and add the remaining wet ingredients and whiz until you have a thick gloopy sauce

Pour the wet ingredients onto the dry ingredients and top with the flax mixture from the fridge. Give everything another good stir and transfer to the baking tray.

Bake in a moderate oven for 20 minutes, they will be ready when the tops are golden brown and they have a little spring when they are pressed.

Remove from the oven and let cool in the baking tray before removing.

Enjoy for a quick on the go breakfast or a snack to keep you smiling.

I think adding some berry goodness in the form of blueberries would be a great addition!


To keep you in top form I thought it would be nice to share with you two more of my well used aromatherapy blends. 

Aromatherapy Blends to enhance your mood

Down in the Dumps Blend (for use in a oil burner)
2 Drops Benzoin
1 Drops Jasmine
2 Drops Lemon

Drop the oils into the water and as the candle warms the water and oils the fragrance will circulate your room. To me the benzoin essential oil is like a big cuddle and the jasmine and lemon give you a lift.

If you want to use as a room spray, add water to a small spray bottle and add 3 drops of benzoin and lemon and 2 drops of jasmine. Shake before use.

Sometimes, when we are stressed, tired or finding it difficult to switch off our thoughts we may find it difficult to sleep. If that's you, then this blend is for you! You can use the oils as a bath soak to help you unwind or use in an oil burner. 

Sleep Assistance Blend (double quantities for a bath)
2 Drops Frankincense
1 Drops Lavender
1 Drops Ylang Ylang

You can also use the oils as a pillow spray, again add double quantities to a spray bottle and spritz your pillow 5 minutes before you go to bed. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Please check that the aromatherapy oils are suitable and safe for you to use personally.

Jasmine x


  1. Some great tips. I will definitely be looking for those vitamin d mushrooms in M and S.

  2. How cool are they? I hope you've fully recovered now? :o) x


Thanks for leaving a comment, Jasmine x