Wednesday, 1 February 2017

February 2014: depression

There are many kinds of depression: the looking-out-of-the-window-and-seeing-the-weather kind or, miles removed, clinical depression. What follows holds for both the big and the small. There's no specific diet that works, but

* complex carbs like wholegrains, fruits and vegetables, have a lasting positive effect on brain chemistry, mood, and energy level. Avoid refined carbohydrates, primarily sugar(y foods), for they provide only temporary relief. So does caffeine!

* lack of folic acid deficiency, can cause personality change and depression. Most abundant in spinach, lentils, raw beetroot and sunflower seeds. Easily destroyed by cooking. [1]

* even being just a bit short of B-vitamins may produce subtle changes in mood.
People who are depressed appear to have low levels of vitamin B6 and serotonin. And certain drugs like contraceptives and HRT can interfere with our use of B6 (in spinach, sunflower seeds, potatoes, chicken, mushrooms, kale and garlic), and create borderline deficiency.

* vitamin B12 is not well absorbed as we age. If low, it can contribute to depression and memory problems. In liver, lamb, beef, (shell)fish, yeast, raw egg yolk. [2]

* calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium and zinc play a role in the development/prevention of depression, irritability and mood swings. [3]

* eat protein several times a day, and at least three meals including breakfast. Drink plenty of water.

Diet and lifestyle changes are not a cure-all. But as food affects your mood, you might as well eat the good stuff.
For some good (and two fun!) sites on the subject, see below.
And did you know that running releases powerful endorphins which combat depression? This works especially if you run outside, in nature, rather than in a less cheerful gym-environment.

If the weather is suitable: garlic, early peas, carrots, parsnips, green/red cabbage, onion sets. Apple trees, if the weather isn't too severe and the ground not waterlogged or frozen.

Veg: beet, broccoli, brussels, cabbage, carrots, chard, celeriac, kale, cavolo nero, leek, parsnip, potato, pumpkin, rocket, spinach, swede, turnip, jerusalem artichoke, chicory, corn salad, endive, kohlrabi, salsify, winter purslane.
Meat: goose, mallard, partridge, pheasant, venison.
Fish: bib, cockles, crab, dab, flounder, lobster, mackerel, oysters, pollack, scallops, seabass, whiting.

Pumpkin seeds are an easy way to get your minerals, plus many other nutrients. They may help with: prostate problems, stress, depression, sleeplessness, parasites and heart disease. See

Thrive is a national charity that helps people with a disability to start or continue gardening: after a stroke and with heart disease; sitting down and from a wheelchair; with sight loss; with a weak grip; with one hand; if you can't bend easily, etc. See

grate raw, and mix with (cooking) apple. Dress. A delicious winter salad, no leaves needed, though you can add some if you have them (rocket for instance).

100g spinach (best for folate), kale or cabbage,  200g purple sprouting broccoli  • 150g mushrooms • 2 cloves garlic • butter/dripping/vegetable oil • 3 tblsp tamari/soy sauce • 1 tblsp sesame seeds
Slice spinach roughly and chop broccoli into medium-sized chunks. Crush garlic. Chop mushrooms roughly. Heat oil in a wok, add garlic, mushrooms and sesame seeds. Stir and cook for 5 mins, until the mushrooms are lightly browned and their juice has evaporated. Add broccoli. Stir, cover for 3 mins. Add spinach. Cover for 2-4 mins, until it starts to wilt. Remove wok from heat. Serve immediately.

1 lamb kidney, 2 tblsp flour, 1 tblsp butter, 2 beaten eggs, salt, pepper, chopped parsley.
Removing fat and interior sinew, cut into 2cm pieces. Toss in seasoned flour. Heat ½ tblsp butter. Once foam has subsided add kidneys: cook stirring often until brown all over, about 5 mins. Remove from pan, reserve. Return pan to heat, add remaining butter. When foam subsides, add eggs. Once the eggs have begun to set, add kidneys and parsley to one side. When the eggs are to your liking fold omelette in half. Serve immediately with toast.

450g spinach, butter, 15g flour, 1/8 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper, nutmeg, 120ml cream, 60g cream cheese, 1 minced onion, 2 minced garlic cloves, 60ml water, (ab. 25g grated mature cheese).
Melt 3 tbls. butter; stir in flour, salt, pepper, nutmeg. Slowly whisk in cream; stir in cream cheese. Whisk until smooth; remove from heat. In 2 tblsp butter, slowly cook onions and garlic until transparent; stir spinach and water into pan. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 8 mins or longer if spinach is perpetual. Add spinach mix to creamy mixture, stir till hot. Fold in grated cheese if you like - I prefer it without.

250-500g scallops, bunch of spring onions, oil, butter, 2-3 tblsp sour cream.  
Dust the scallops with flour. Chop onions, including the green parts. Heat 2 tblsp olive oil, and 2 tblsp (unsalted) butter, almost to smoking point. Add onions, saute 30-40 secs till they smell good. Keep the heat high, toss in the scallops, just brown them all over, while stirring. When they are slightly browned add cream, stir with a wooden spoon until the scallops are coated. Serve over steamed rice/noodles.

100g uncooked lentils (any type but not orange*), 2 leeks, 5 leaves of kale without the stalks or some spinach, 2 carrots, 1 parsnip, 3 potatoes, 1 chopped onion, 2 cloves crushed garlic, 1tblsp olive oil/butter, 1 tblsp tomato puree, 600ml water, bay leaves, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds smashed, chilli powder, 1tsp yeast extract/soy, salt, pepper. If you have them, add cardamom and turmeric. Putting in a clove while it's cooking helps with flatulence.
Heat oil, saute onion and garlic for 5 mins. Slice leeks into rings. Cut carrots into 1/2 cm chunks; potato, parsnip, kohlrabi into 1 cm cubes. Add them all to the pan with the cumin and saute for a few minutes while stirring. Then add tomato puree, yeast/soy, bay, water and lentils. Stir. Cover and cook for about half an hour till everything is practically done, making sure it doesn't dry out. Then add chopped kale/spinach and cook till that is done as well, not too long. Season, serve!

Half chopped savoy, olive oil, 1 tblsp curry powder, soy sauce, handful sultanas, handful sunflower seeds, lemon juice.
Heat oil and soy, add cabbage, sultanas, curry and sunflower seeds. Stir fry until just tender (keep the crunch). At the end add lemon juice. Serve immediately.

50g kale, 1/3 leek, 150g potatoes, 1/2 small raw beetroot, tiny onion, ab. 40g goats' cheese in pieces, 1/2 smallish apple, ginger, (garlic) salt.
Chop potatoes quite small, take stalks off kale and chop too. Cook in salted water till just done, drain. Chop leeks (garlic) and onion, grate beet, and saute those three together till nearly soft. Then add drained potatoes and kale and stir and fry softly till all is hot and done. Add the pieces of cheese and put a lid on till they start to melt. Serve.

Good websites about depression:
For medication dangers, have a look at

And for light relief(!):

[1] Folic acid is abundant in dark leafy greens (spinach especially), lentils and other beans, sunflower seeds and raw beetroot.
[2] See Thought for Food March 2013 for foods which supply vitamin B12.
[3] See Thought for Food April 2013 for foods which supply various minerals.

Main picture: Allie Brosch. Thank you, Allie.

NEXT MONTH: Be kind.