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Try This Spinach Strawberry Walnut Salad: The Secret to a Happier Mind?

By Krista

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Last Updated: January 12, 2023

Are you feeling like you’re striving to be happy but can never quite get there? You might be falling into the happiness fallacy.

The happiness fallacy occurs when we are so set on being happy that we begin to view “happiness” as a destination rather than a feeling brought about by our circumstances and mindset.

The truth is that when you focus on improving other aspects of your life, like your diet, you end up creating a happier state of mind. 

Simply put: You have to lay the foundations for your body to be able to produce the hormones that lead you to feel happy. (Not to mention, learning to enjoy the present moment goes a long way!)

So, let’s start doing this right here and right now—beginning with your diet.

Add this spinach strawberry walnut salad to your regular meal rotation and start feeding your brain the food it needs to help you feel good.

 

 

Spinach Strawberry Walnut Salad

This salad offers the perfect side dish to fish, steak, or just plain ol’ chicken. In fact, we recommend adding a protein source on top or to the side to truly ramp up the benefits that this salad has to offer (and to balance blood sugar levels with ease!). 

In other good news, you can also prepare this ahead of time. Just ensure you keep the dressing aside (don’t mix it until you’re ready to eat it!) so that the spinach doesn’t get soggy. The entire recipe makes four servings, so you can also make it for the entire family or make it and have it throughout your busy week. 

Plus, it’s a salad, meaning this recipe is really straightforward. (No fancy chef skill required!)

 

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients

For the dressing:

  • ¼ cup of red wine vinegar
  • 1 shallot (chopped)
  • 1 cup of fresh strawberries (quartered)
  • 1 tablespoon of strawberry preserves
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • ⅓ cup of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

For the salad:

  • 5 ounces of spinach
  • 2 ounces of walnuts (chopped)
  • 3 ounces of crumbled goat cheese
  • 8 ounces of strawberries (quartered)

Preparation

  1. Add all of the dressing ingredients, except olive oil, to a blender, then blend until smooth. Keeping the blender running, slowly add the olive oil until thoroughly mixed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Place the spinach in a large salad bowl (or individual bowls if you intend to save some for later). Drizzle a small amount of the dressing on the spinach. Toss the spinach to coat it, then add the strawberries, walnuts, and goat cheese. Drizzle a bit more dressing over the toppings.
  3. Enjoy!

Make sure not to overdo it with the dressing. You only need a little bit to make all of these delicious flavors truly shine!

Related Article: Your Happiness Level: 5 Ways You Can Supercharge It

 

 

How Does This Salad Improve Your Mood?

Inevitably, the effects won’t happen right away. For improved mental health via a healthy diet, consistency is key!

However, there are a few critical ingredients in this salad that make it a mood-boosting favorite. So, let’s take a closer look.

Why bother with this recipe? We’ve got a few reasons (besides the fact that it tastes incredible).

1. Omega-3s

Could eating walnuts be the secret to happiness? Maybe! 

This is considered the nut to eat for improved mental health and brain health—and this is primarily all thanks to its omega-3 content. Studies show how deficits in omega-3s may contribute to the development of mood disorders, including depression and anxiety.

On top of this, omega-3 fatty acids may help keep your memory sharp and prevent cognitive decline as you age. So, basically, even if this salad isn’t to your fancy, you should probably grab a handful of walnuts every now and again!

 

2. Antioxidants

Both walnuts and strawberries come jam-packed with some serious antioxidant punch.

Antioxidants help protect your body from harm caused by free radicals (a natural byproduct of metabolism). A diet rich in antioxidants is crucial to protect your brain and avoid inflammation that may lead to depression or other mood disorders.

In fact, antioxidants and depression have been studied extensively. Again and again, the research shows that a higher antioxidant intake is associated with a lower risk of depression. 

This is also why eating a whole foods diet is important. Those nicely pre-packaged and processed foods simply don’t contain many (if any) antioxidants since many of these antioxidants we get from plants.

So… your parents were onto something when they scolded you to eat your veggies. Plant food really is the bee’s knees.

 

3. Magnesium

Magnesium is a great mineral to reduce stress.

This means that it can also help us feel calm and happy. Research shows how magnesium plays a critical role in mood regulation due to its role in nerve transmission. Other studies further show how increasing the intake of magnesium may help alleviate depression.

In this tasty and colorful salad, a 100-gram serving of spinach contains 79 milligrams of magnesium, which accounts for almost 25% of the daily recommended amount of this mineral. 

Related Article: Top 8 Books That Can Help With Overcoming Depression

 

 

Spinach Strawberry Walnut Salad: Taste the Flavors of Happiness!

One last quick tip here… 

If you truly want to improve your mood, try practicing mindfulness as you eat this salad. Reduce distractions (This means not watching TV or scrolling your phone). Simply sit and enjoy the different textures and flavors of this dish. Aim to chew each bite 12-20 times. 

Why bother doing this?

Well, becoming more mindful (aka being present in the moment) is associated with increased mood and life satisfaction. So, why not combine two in one? This salad amps up the nutrients you need for a mood boost, and practicing mindfulness can take that to a whole other level! Bon appetit!

Read Next: Your Ultimate Mindfulness Guide: Become More Happy and Less Stressed

Photo by Secha6271 

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