Hearty casseroles, pasta bakes, mashed potatoes with gravy, steaming soups — fall comfort food is on everyone’s mind as soon as the days become shorter and the temperature takes a drop. It’s no secret that seasonal changes have a direct impact on our mood and energy levels. This weather often leads to food cravings for more filling and fatty fare.
While the dreary and cold weather may have us feeling blue, there’s no reason to let our health suffer — especially because some sources of carbs benefit our bodies and our minds as well. Did you know that consuming more fruits and vegetables has been linked with an improved mood and increased feelings of satisfaction towards life?
If the arrival of fall has you feeling less than ideal, here are 10 healthy sources of carbs you should add to your plate to lift your mood and regain your pep!
We also highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest meatless, vegan, plant-based and allergy-friendly recipe resource to help you get healthy!
Potatoes are a fall staple and with good reason — they form the base of many comforting and delicious dishes and they’re good on their own, too (like in this recipe for Herbed Hasselback Potatoes). Potatoes are rich in carbohydrates and contribute to the synthesis of tryptophan, an amino acid which helps our brain produce serotonin, the feel-good hormone. Potatoes are also a good source of B-vitamins, zinc, iron, folate, potassium, and fiber.
Want to get your fill of potatoes in every shape or form? We’ve got the goods for you! Try this Super Simple Potato Curry, this Stretchy Potato Cheese, and this Spiralized Potato Crust Pizza With Kale Pesto. These Plantain Sweet Potato Tacos With Guacamole and these delicious Schezwan Baby Potatoes will also quickly become part of your meal rotation.
Bananas are a well-known energizing quick snack but did you know that this sugary fruit can actually improve your mood? They contain B-vitamins and naturally occurring tryptophan which aid in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter (and hormone) important in mood regulation and sleep. Bananas are also rich in magnesium, a nutrient whose deficiency leads to fatigue and lethargy. So, load up on bananas if you want to get sustainable energy and a stable mood!
If eating a plain banana is not your thing, boost your mood and get energized with this Breakfast Banana Split, this Banana French Toast, and this Banana Foster Oatmeal. You can also checkout These 12 Vegan Recipes That Will Appeal to the Banana Lover In You!
If oats aren’t a staple in your pantry and you’re looking for foods that will increase your mood and energy levels this fall, it’s time to remedy that right now. Oats should be on the menu because they are packed with complex carbs which ensures a steady stream of glucose to your brain, maintaining your energy to peak levels all day. They’re also rich in protein, B-vitamins, magnesium, iron, calcium, and potassium, all of which contribute to your brain health and the production of feel-good hormones.
Want something comforting and energizing to start your morning? Try these Fermented Carrot Cake Oats, these Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats, and these Hazelnut Oatmeal Baked Pears. We also suggest making this Mushroom Steel Cut Oatmeal Risotto and this Savory Lentil Oatmeal Taco Bowl if you’re looking for something savory.
This popular grain is not only delicious and versatile, it can actually improve your mood significantly. Why? It contains B-vitamins, magnesium, iron, and all amino-acids which contribute to the production of serotonin in the brain. Quinoa is also a complex carb which means that it doesn’t spike your blood sugars, giving you a slow-release of carbohydrates throughout the day. How great is that?
Not sure what to do with quinoa? Try this Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed With Quinoa Mushroom Pilaf, this Sweet Potato and Quinoa Chili, this One-Pan Cheesy Mexican Quinoa, or this Coconut and Turmeric Fried Quinoa With Green Veggies. This Mushroom Quinoa Risotto and this Indian Quinoa and Chickpea Stir-Fry also make great fall lunch or dinners that will give you sustainable energy.
Lentils are a great fall food — you can make comforting stews and soups with them — and they’re incredibly nutritious. Did you know that they contain B-vitamins, iron, selenium, and fiber? Lentils are also rich in amino acids, they actually have the third highest level of protein out of any legume, soybean, nut, and seed. This characteristic is especially important when it comes to mood regulation because getting enough amino acids ensures the proper production of neurotransmitters in your brain.
Get energized and get your soup fix with this Moroccan Miso, Lentil, and Pumpkin Soup, this Miso Soup With Garlicky Lentils, Kale, and Mushrooms, this Red Lentil Soup With Fresh Cilantro and Lemon, or this Red Curry Soup With Lentils. Wondering what else you can make with lentils? Then, check out these 21 Protein-Packed Vegan Recipes for Lentil Lovers.
Broccoli may be a famous unappetizing vegetable for kids all over the nation but it truly doesn’t deserve a bad rep — especially when it comes to physical and mental health! Consuming broccoli on a regular basis can help you ward off negative moods and depression since it contains vitamin B6, calcium, and good amounts of amino acids which all play a role in reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation via their effect on neurochemicals in your brain.
Get your energy and your greens in with this Asian Healthy Broccoli Salad, this Crunchy Fresh Broccoli Quinoa Salad, and this Broccoli Cashew Fried Rice. You can also try this 10-Minute Seitan ‘Beef’ and Broccoli, this Lemon and Walnut Linguine With Roasted Broccoli, and this Hearty Lentil Broccoli Bolognese for your fall dinners. Can you say yum?
Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, are a staple in plant-based cuisine, as they should be. These legumes are not only rich in folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc, and phosphorus but they are a literal energy powerhouse. Did you know that they are one of the best sources of complex carbohydrates you can find? As they contain a good amount of fiber, chickpeas are a filling and heart-healthy food that also give you sustained energy.
Want to get more energy-boosting chickpeas on your plate? Then try this Spicy West African Chickpea and Kale Curry, this Warm Potato Salad With Spinach and Chickpeas, this Tangy Curried Chickpea Salad, and these Mediterranean Grilled Chickpea-Stuffed Avocados! You can also check out these 28 Super Creative Chickpea Recipes and these 15 Protein-Packed Vegan Recipes That Feature Beans, Chickpeas, Lentils, and More!
8. Butternut Squash
Butternut squash, also called ‘winter squash’, is a vibrant fall food that can increase your energy levels and mood if you consume it regularly. It contains good amounts of vitamin A, E and C, potassium, calcium, potassium, and fiber. Butternut squash is also rich in vitamin B6, folate, thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and manganese. Its impressive nutritional content plays a major role in balancing your neurochemistry, thus improving your mood. Its nutrient punch also ensures that you won’t get fatigued and lethargic (usual symptoms of mineral deficiency — especially in magnesium and B-vitamins).
Looking for ways to enjoy this delicious fall squash? Then look no further than this Taco-Stuffed Butternut Squash With Refried Black Beans, this Butternut Squash and Black Bean Bisque, this Butternut Squash and Black Bean Chili, and these Butternut Squash Steaks.
This versatile protein source in the plant-based world doesn’t need an introduction — it’s a sponge that soaks up any marinade and flavor you want to give which results in delicious meals every single time (if you know how to prepare it)! It turns out — not too surprisingly — that tofu can give you sustained energy and focus throughout the day while also helping with your mood. How? Well, it contains all eight essential amino acids which are the building blocks for neurotransmitters in your brain and it’s packed with calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and folate — minerals that keep you energized. Tofu also contains small amounts of vitamin B6, choline, thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin which are important nutrients for the brain as well.
Lacking inspiration when it comes to tofu dishes? We suggest making these Tofu Vegetable Kebabs with Peanut Sauce, this Southern-Fried Tofu With Maple Dill Sauce, and this Spicy Black Pepper Tofu. These Grilled Tofu Steaks With Orange Ginger Glaze and these Easy Spicy Peanut Tofu Bites are also worth a try.
Did you know that buckwheat doesn’t actually contain wheat at all and that it is, in fact, a pseudo-cereal? Buckwheat is a seed that resembles a grain, hence the misnomer. Even though it’s not a grain, it has similar benefits for your body and brain — its consumption wards off heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. This pseudo-cereal also has a beneficial effect on your nervous system because it’s rich in essential amino acids such as lysine and arginine. As such, it contributes to the proper functioning of the neurotransmitters in your brain, giving you a better mood. The mighty seed is also nutrient-rich, containing copper, magnesium, and antioxidants such as flavonoids.
If you’re unfamiliar with buckwheat and are looking for recipes to try — we suggest you give this Sugar-Free Buckwheat Granola, these Buckwheat Crispy Treats, and these Buckwheat Crêpes With Mushrooms and Chard a chance. You won’t regret making these delicious recipes, we promise!
Recommended Resources and Recipes to Get You Started
Want to find more information about foods and recipes that will give you energy and raise your mood? Here are a few articles that might interest you:
- Elevate Your Mood and Get Happy With These 11 Foods!
- 10 Ways Eating Plant-Based Can Improve Your Mood
- Nutritional Benefits of Vanilla Bean for Your Mind and Mood
- These 5 Plant-Based Foods Can Transform Your Mood
- 10 Foods That May Benefit Your Brain Better Than Antidepressants
- 10 Foods That Can Help You Boost Your Productivity
- How to Help Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) with Diet
Learn How to Cook Plant-Based Meals at Home!
Reducing your meat intake and eating more plant-based foods is known to help with chronic inflammation, heart health, mental wellbeing, fitness goals, nutritional needs, allergies, gut health and more! Dairy consumption also has been linked to many health problems, including acne, hormonal imbalance, cancer, prostate cancer and has many side effects.
For those of you interested in eating more plant-based, we highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest plant-based recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! And, while you are at it, we encourage you to also learn about the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet.
Here are some great resources to get you started:
- Weekly Vegan Meal Plans
- Plant-Based Health Resources
- Plant-Based Food & Recipes
- Plant-Based Nutrition Resources
- The Ultimate Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition
- Budget-Friendly Plant-Based Recipes
- High Protein Plant-Based Recipes
- Plant-Based Meal Prep
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