The start of semester two is always a little tough. The summer holidays are depressingly far away, but at the same time, those end-of-year exams are way too close for comfort. Maybe you’ve just started university this year and you’re still navigating the transition, or maybe the thought of 10-hour lecture days after mid-year break is filling you with dread. Maybe you’ve just moved out of home, and into the scary and perplexing world of cooking and laundry and rent.
Never fear – whatever it is that’s giving you grief, this scientifically proven* stress-less salad is sure to calm and re-focus your mind and body. You might also learn a thing or two about neurotransmitters.
*based on this article (link: http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20909426_2,00.html) that I read online yesterday, and also the fact that I ate this salad for lunch and I feel really good right now.
- Two handfuls of baby spinach
Any green leafy vegetables contain folate, which makes dopamine, a pleasure-inducing neurotransmitter. Leafy greens also contain magnesium, which has a role in regulating emotions.
- A small handful of blueberries
Slightly expensive for a broke med student, but packed full of antioxidants and also delicious, so treat yourself a little! You can also use dried blueberries (or cranberries) – they’re sweeter and last longer in your pantry.
- Half a can of mixed beans
High-protein foods such as beans contain tryptophan, which helps produce serotonin, another neurotransmitter that regulates hunger and feelings of happiness and well-being. Beans are also great for your cardiovascular health, and are an excellent source of slow-release energy.
- Some crushed pistachios
You only need to buy a few of these from the bulk foods section of the supermarket. Pistachios are thought to reduce acute stress by lowering blood pressure and heart rate. Take them out of their shells, wrap them in some glad wrap or a tea towel and beat them with a moderately heavy object to crush (this act in itself can be stress-relieving). Alternatively, you can use any other nut or seed.
- Quarter of an avocado
The good fats will satisfy your lunchtime hunger and conjure up comforting memories of holiday brunches.
You can easily whip up a vinaigrette dressing by putting 2 parts olive oil and 1 part vinegar in a bowl, plus some salt and pepper. Beat vigorously to combine (or use a salad shaker if you’re fancy).
Toss everything together in a big bowl. Put the avocado in last so it doesn’t become squashed and coat everything in an unappetising green-brown goop.
That’s it! Enjoy!