Happy Salad RecipeA Happy Meal For Real

This week we’re going to look at a few external ways we can affect our levels of happiness. In a word: food. We are what we eat, and to our good fortune, there are many foods that can actually boost our happiness. So food makes the mood and yes, chocolate is involved.

We all tie food to our happiness. Eats that bring us joy can be as simple as a hot dog at a ballgame, a well decorated birthday cake, a lovingly prepared special occasion recipe or a pull out all the stops Thanksgiving meal with family and friends. The great thing about finding that food happiness is that you don’t need to be a master chef to create amazing happiness for yourself and those around you.

No food recipe for happiness metaphors here. We’re focusing on just a few of the many foods that can literally make you happy.

Salmon – It’s all about the “healthy” fats in this fish. There are a lot of the very best Omega 3 fatty acids in Salmon which have been proven to boost mood. Simply put, these fatty acids make you happy and their effects last. And salmon is such a flexible food – there are many easy and delicious ways to prepare it. My favorite now that spring is here is on the grill.

Spinach – Popeye was on to something decades ago. Not only did spinach give him super strength, it also made him a pretty likeable, happy guy. We all know there’s a lot of good iron in this super food. In addition to the minerals in spinach there are vitamins that help make your hair and skin look great, and dietary magnesium for energy metabolism. We are always at our happiest when our energy levels are high.

Berries – Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cranberries, and strawberries top the list of these super food designated fruits. While all fruits and veggies contain some level of antioxidants, berries are among the foods highest in antioxidants, which in turn help your body fight stress – and we all believe that less stress is good for our happiness, right?

Red Wine – In moderate amounts, red wine boosts your brainpower and carries a lot of other health benefits. Plus, relaxing with a girlfriend with a glass of red wine is always a great way to distress. That’s a double bonus.

Dark Chocolate – Chocolate is healthy and makes you happy. Those are perhaps the sweetest words you’ll ever hear. This sweet treat is high in magnesium, a mineral that helps relieve anxiety. The darker the chocolate (cocoa is the real star of the show) the greater the benefit. Most of us know what a nibble or two of chocolate in the middle of the afternoon can do for our mood and energy level the rest of the day.

It’s no secret that diet has tremendous effects on out short and long term health and happiness. If you truly are what you eat, it’s a great idea to focus on healthy foods that are known to make you happy. And as with most things in life – everything in moderation.

I’m excited to share with you one of my very favorite happy foods. It’s a great, light, healthy and amazingly tasty summer salad, featuring some health-happy ingredients. I’ve been making this easy salad for friends and family for years. I’m always happy to make it and it’s never failed to please.

Happy Salad Recipe

(our name for it!) – Serves 4 friends

* Start with a half-cup of walnut halves, or pieces (remember the healthy, happy Omega 3s we talked about in salmon? Walnuts are high on the chart too!)

* A quarter cup of sugar (I like to use brown sugar)

* 3 cups of baby spinach

* A half cup of dried cranberries, raspberries and/or sliced strawberries – (in addition to the health benefits we covered, the vitamin C in berries helps absorb the iron in the spinach)

* A half cup gorgonzola cheese crumbles

* Raspberry vinaigrette or raspberry walnut dressing

Start by putting the walnuts and the sugar in a skillet. Stir constantly over medium heat until the sugar has melted and coated the walnut pieces. Then spread them out on a piece of aluminum foil to cool. The remainder of the ingredients goes in a salad bowl – gently toss with the dressing (the amount is up to you), then plate on salad plates and top each with some of the candied walnuts, and enjoy!

If you want to go further and make this a happy meal, simply bake, broil or grill some salmon as a main course, then have a bit of red wine and dark chocolate for dessert. Easy. Tasty. And it will make you happy!

So don’t just eat healthy girlfriends, eat happy!

What food makes you happy? What is your favorite meal/food with friends? Share in the comments!

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