Whether we suffer from anxiety or not, we all can likely relate to the feeling of not being able to turn our brain off. This can lead to a slew of health issues, from not being able to get a good night’s sleep to having trouble focusing during the day. One in thirteen people around the globe lives with an anxiety disorder, making it the most common mental health disorder worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). That number has likely doubled by now, as we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. While fast-acting anti-anxiety medication, such as Xanax and Ativan, may offer instant relief, it can become addictive and often comes with its own troublesome side effects.

As we’ve noted previously, CBD offers a plant-based alternative for treating anxiety. It’s been shown to help many lower their levels of anxiety and inflammation, which is the core issue of many diseases, including depression.

I chatted with Certified Health Coach and founder of CBD wellness brand Mbrace.life, Gloria Pope, about the benefits of CBD for sleep as well as an alternative for managing anxiety. A nutritionist and trainer, Pope shared two delicious recipes infused with anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory superfoods.

ANTI-ANXIETY RECIPE #1: WALNUT & HAZELNUT BUTTER

Did you know that walnuts are the #1 anti-anxiety food? Packed with the amino acid trypotphan, walnuts help in raising serotonins which naturally make us feel more relaxed. Most nuts in general are also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which help reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Walnut & Hazelnut Butter

Ingredients

  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 1 cup hazelnuts
  • 1/2 tsp salt we like pink Himalayan salt

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C)
  • Spread the Walnuts and the Hazelnuts on a baking sheet, sprinkle with sea salt, and roast in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until they begin to brown.
  • Remove the nuts from the oven and allow them to cool.
  • Transfer the nuts to the food processor and blend until finely ground – about 5 to 10 minutes – until it begins forming a fine meal, and then the oils in the nuts will begin to be released. Keep blending until the nuts liquefy and the mixture becomes creamy. 
  • Add a bit more sea salt to taste and spoon the nut butter into a small glass jar. 

ANTI-ANXIETY RECIPE #2: RAW CACAO CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

Dark chocolate is another superfood when it comes to brain health. A significant source of tyrosine, which is linked to increases in dopamine, dark chocolate boosts our emotional well-being by stimulating the pleasure centers of our brain while also reducing cortisol levels.

“Raw Cacao powder is an unprocessed chocolate superfood that is filled with magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium and antioxidants to name a few,” says Pope. “Cacao contains a compound called PEA (or phenethylamine), which triggers the release of endorphins and mood-enhancing neurochemicals in the brain.”

These are released naturally when engaging in sexual activity or when falling in love, so it’s no wonder eating dark chocolate is known as a mood enhancer!”

This rich and creamy mousse recipe starts off with avocado, which may give you pause (avocado and chocolate?) but it creates a creamy, healthy fat base that is undetectable taste-wise. Like walnuts, avocados are also a solid source of tryptophan and omega-3s. Avocados are also a significant source of vitamin B-6, which those who experience depression can be deficient in. If you’re over the age of 50, women should consume 1.5mg of B-6 daily and men should consume 1.7mg. A whole avocado will give you about one-fourth (0.4mg) of the recommended dosage, and it tastes delicious in recipes like the one below or on its own!

Raw Cacao Chocolate Mousse

Servings: 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 avocado ripe
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/4 cup nut milk we like almond or cashew
  • 2 tbsp raw Cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt we prefer pink Himalayan salt

Instructions

  • Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until it turns in to a creamy mousse, about 3 – 4 minutes.
  • Spoon the mixture in a glass jar and cool in the fridge before eating. Enjoy!

Exercise & Sleep to Beat Anxiety

Naturally, Pope also focuses on the importance of exercise and sleep to manage anxiety. “We know that exercise is good for our physical health, but research has also found that low levels of physical activity are associated with anxiety,” she says. “It doesn’t matter how far you run, or if you run or walk fast or do both, being outside in the fresh air produces oxygen and endorphins which will reduce anxiety. When you have a lot on your mind, cardio like walking or running can help you take your mind of the anxiety.”

“When your sleep is compromised, it can affect your mood and impair your ability to cope with the stress you encounter,” Pope adds. “Take a few drops of CBD before you close your eyes and it will calm your thoughts so that you can fall asleep and stay asleep.”

About Gloria Pope

Gloria Pope is a IIN Certified Health Coach, Nutritionist and Trainer. The founder of Mbrace.life offers one-on-one personalized Health Coaching / training, and Mbrace.cbd offers organic CBD-infused wellness products. Gloria is from Amsterdam and was raised in Spain, is fluent in English, Dutch and Spanish. She moved to Miami in her twenties to pursue the vibrant Miami hospitality industry by creating cocktails at the most prestigious hotels and restaurants in Miami Beach. After 7 years of mixing beverages she moved to New York City and put all of her energy into health and wellness. She is passionate in helping others find better ways to move, eat, deal with stress, and design actionable steps to achieve the best in life.

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