Okay, we get it: “Tuna Casserole” doesn’t exactly sound ultra-appetizing (unless you are a bit of a tuna fanatic).
But my mom used to make this as one of her signature dishes growing up—and I have to say that although the title doesn’t necessarily stimulate the typical foodie’s salivary glands, I crave this dish occasionally. It’s basically like a hug in casserole form.
Plus, as we continue through these dark winter days, we could all use a little comfort food—especially if that comfort food has uplifting effects on our mood.
So, if those dark and cold days are getting you down, whip up this dish. You’ll have leftovers for days. You’ll also definitely keep coming back to this one (I can attest to that, and I used to be the biggest picky eater!).
During winter, the days might seem all doom and gloom.
It’s no secret that Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) impacts many people due to the physiological effects this time of year has on the human body. And this is also why light therapy is so effective for those with SAD. Simply put, our bodies aren’t getting what they need, specifically without as much sunlight.
But you can counterbalance this a little bit by paying close attention to what you eat! While it’s super tempting to indulge and “treat yourself,” try to steer clear of those fast food and pre-packaged items.
Instead, opt for healthy and delicious dishes made at home to show up for yourself, like this tuna casserole (again, don’t let that title stop you from trying this one!).
The magic of tuna casserole resides in its tuna and veggie content. But it doesn’t really taste “healthy.” Rather, you get a similar dose of comfort as you would with a good ol’ mac and cheese. So, how can you make this yummy and cozy meal?
(We love this recipe from Spend With Pennies - which we slightly tweaked.)
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 18 minutes
There are a few other options with this casserole! You can add parsley to the main casserole portion and crumb toppings. You can also mix mushrooms, lentils, beans, or other veggies into it to really amp up that nutritional content.
Lastly, you could cut up some sourdough bread (into cubes) and sprinkle them on top, broiling the casserole for just a couple of minutes or until the bread is toasted.
Related Article: 20 Things You Can Do This Winter To Keep Life Fun
The hero of the show is—you guessed it—tuna! But there’s more here to love. So, how can tuna casserole contribute to a better mood? What should you know? Let’s start with our star.
Tuna falls into the “fatty fish” category, which is well-known to improve brain function and enhance one’s mood. Jam-packed with omega-3 fatty acids, tuna helps reduce depression symptoms.
If you’re not into tuna, salmon is also a viable alternative to obtain those omega-3s. Although, it will change the taste of this casserole a bit (but also probably would be quite good! Let us know if you do this!).
Peas also have a spot here when it comes to feeling better and, well, happier. These small but mighty seeds (yes, they are a seed!) have fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin B6.
Research indicates that vitamin C is associated with lower mood disturbances and may help with confusion and anger issues. Meanwhile, vitamin B6 has been shown to significantly reduce anxiety, depression, and even stress.
Add fiber into the mix, and you’ll feel heaps better. Fiber helps slow the digestion of food, which, in turn, regulates blood sugar levels. This means you won’t experience high blood sugar spikes followed by low dips. Instead, you’ll have a steady mood and steady energy!
Milk is basically one of the most perfect foods on the planet, unless you’re lactose intolerant (then maybe not! Opt for lactose-free varieties instead.). It has a great balance of protein, fat, and carbs.
On top of this, it has small amounts of tryptophan, an amino acid associated with better melatonin and serotonin production. This means it can help you sleep better, which is a great way to maintain a good mood. It also naturally lifts your mood up via stimulating serotonin production. Basically, you can’t go wrong here!
Related Article: 10 Stress-Reducing Foods to Help You Unwind and Relax
Think of food as medicine. Or at the very least, consider food the foundation of your physical and mental health. When your body has the nutrients it needs to produce those feel-good hormones and neurotransmitters, you naturally feel better.
Making delicious at-home recipes, like this tuna casserole, can ensure you treat your body right and don’t fall into a pit of despair. Inevitably, there are more things everyone should do to enhance their mental health. Yet, get your basics down, like your diet, then build from there.
Photo by bhofack2
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